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article imageLow-cost sensor detects gas leaks in real-time

By Tim Sandle     Feb 8, 2017 in Technology
Glasgow - A new infrared imaging system, designed to provide low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks has been developed. Methane gas presents a public health risk and it is a contributor to climate change.
Behind the development of the sensor is Dr. Graham M. Gibson from the University of Glasgow, U.K. The sensor functions by capturing videos of methane gas leaking from a tube or pipe. In trials the sensor has successfully detected gas leaks at a rate of 0.2 liters per minute. In time the technology will be expanded to other wavelengths to allow for the detection of other types of gases and chemicals. Meanwhile, the technology will be commercialized for methane detection.
While there are different commercial systems available to detect methane gas, these are generally expensive and they do not function very well under extreme environmental conditions. In contrast, the new imaging system is not only of a relatively low cost, it offers a sensitivity comparable with other systems and it will detect methane gas leaks under a variety of environmental conditions.
At the heart of the new sensor is active hyperspectral imaging technology, which was developed by the company M Squared, together with a single-pixel camera manufactured at the university. Hyperspectral imaging works by projecting a series of infrared light patterns onto the area being examined by using a laser wavelength. The light is absorbed by any methane present, which creates light-scattering patterns. An image detailing where methane has absorbed the light is then reconstructed by detecting the light that scatters, and this is computationally compared.
The optics are relatively simple, Dr. Graham M. Gibson, who helped design the instrument, says in a research note: "One of the things that we found is that we don't necessarily need high-resolution images when detecting gas leaks. A relatively fast frame rate on your camera provides more information about where the gas is leaking from than having very high-resolution images."
The research has been published in the journal Optics Express, under the heading "Real-time imaging of methane gas leaks using a single-pixel camera."
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