High resolution methane measurements from UAVs
Sparv Embedded is helping Linköping University to integrate a high precision CH4 (methane) sensor from Aeris Technologies with the Sparvio system. The sensor has an unprecedented CH4 resolution for its size, measuring variations smaller than one ppb (parts per billion). This is more than enough to map background levels, around 2 ppm. To use the same unit, the sensor measures at 0.0001 ppm resolution. After we adapted the sensor for UAV use, the payload weighs in at 1.8 kg. This is light enough to be flown around 10 minutes with a fairly small quadcopter. If given more attention, the weight could be pushed down a lot more.
This offers an exciting possibility for more convenient sampling of methane, a gas with a greenhouse effect 84 times stronger than carbon dioxide when counted over 20 years after releasing the gas into the atmosphere. In spite of this, methane emissions are still largely ignored by industries and regulation. Can more measurements help to raise awareness of the environmental importance of methane?
The picture below is from the preparations for a demo on May 15th. It shows a quadcopter hovering with the white Aeris sensor attached underneath. The quadcopter also carries a Sparvio sensor system that synchronizes data from Aeris with readings from an ultrasonic wind sensor, GPS and other sensors. Sparvio logs all data and transmits it to a ground station to visualize on a map in real-time. In the end, the combination of all data will be used to calculate not only the location of methane emission sources, but also the quantity of gas flow.