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Scientists study new landfill gas tool

New tools for measuring methane emissions could help landfill operators maximise energy recovery, according to scientists.

New research commissioned by Defra has tested the use of optical radars to measure the gas leaking from landfill sites for the first time.

Currently landfill gas, which accounts for 41% of UK methane emissions and around 3% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas, is modelled rather than measured. But this pilot study could be the first step to developing measurement tools for use at all landfill sites.

The research was carried out by scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Royal Holloway, University of London. Rod Robinson, principal research scientist at NPL, told MRW the measuring method involved “scanning a laser beam through the atmosphere” to measure the gas.

He said: “We get a methane emission rate from various parts of the landfill. For this study we took measurements at nine sites, partly to see if that approach was an appropriate tool to get more data on methane emissions.”

The study also looked at methane oxidisation.

While the research was primarily commissioned to get a better idea of the climate contribution of landfill gas, Robinson said the measurement tool is could also be used to find gas leaks and increase capture efficiency for energy recovery.

Defra is expected to assess the results to see whether direct measurement of emissions is appropriate for gathering further data. A spokesman said the pilot had shown the technology works ahead of wider study.

He said: “This was done so we could we could quantify this gas capture tool. Now we feel it did work well on this project, we will analyse that data, look and plan for a wider project. Then we can look to build a national picture which we can share with the industry.”

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