The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) in West Virginia provides a unique opportunity in the field of unconventional energy research. By studying near-surface atmospheric chemistry over several phases of a hydraulic fracturing event, the project will help evaluate the impact of current practices, as well as new techniques and mitigation technologies. A total of 10 mobile surveys covering a distance of approximately 1500 km were conducted through Morgantown. Our surveying technique involved using a vehicle-mounted Los Gatos Research gas analyzer to provide geo-located measurements of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The ratios of super-ambient concentrations of CO2 and CH4 were used to separate well-pad emissions from the natural background concentrations over the various stages of well-pad development, as well as for comparisons to other urban sources of CH4. We found that regional background methane concentrations were elevated in all surveys, with a mean concentration of 2.699 ± 0.006 ppmv, which simply reflected the complexity of this riverine urban location. Emissions at the site were the greatest during the flow-back phase, with an estimated CH4 volume output of 20.62 ± 7.07 g/s, which was significantly higher than other identified urban emitters. Our study was able to successfully identify and quantify MSEEL emissions within this complex urban environment.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Oct 15, 2018
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