Methane Detectors Challenge

The Methane Detectors Challenge (MDC) is a groundbreaking partnership between Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), oil and gas companies, U.S. based technology developers, and other experts.

This collaboration aims to catalyze the development and deployment of stationary, continuous methane monitors. So far, the competition has led to several cost-effective, state-of-the-art options – including sensor and laser technologies that oil and gas companies are already adopting.

In January, Statoil became the first energy producer to purchase and install a new solar-powered technology device to continuously detect methane leaks, reduce emissions and minimize waste. The device was approved and tested through the Methane Detector Challenge and designed by Quanta3.

“We believe oil and gas production should be leak free,” said Dirk Richter, founder and CEO of Quanta3. “When I heard about the Methane Detectors Challenge and size of the emission problem in the oil and gas sector, I was inspired to put my research background in laser-based systems to work to develop a 24/7 monitoring technology.”

In addition, California’s PG&E has since installed a low-cost laser technology developed by Acutect Inc., a San Francisco-based startup company.

“The Methane Detectors Challenge created the framework through which I was able to bring together a Chinese manufacturer of laser-based methane detection components and a team of product development engineers I’d previously helped spin out of Carnegie-Mellon, SenSevere LLC,” said Peter Foller, founder of Acutect Inc. 

In August, Shell launched a Quanta3 sensing system to continuously monitor methane emissions at a shale gas site in Alberta, Canada.

By advancing technologies to market, this innovative partnership is adding to the pool of more than 130 U.S. companies creating jobs by offering solutions to the methane problem.

Why Methane Matters

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas. In its first twenty years, methane has more than 80 times the global impact of carbon dioxide. The largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. and globally comes from the oil and gas industry. The good news? This can be fixed, benefitting both business and the environment.


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 The Impact of Collaboration & Innovation