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Bacharch Device Misreading Methane Levels

Victoria Burguess1 year ago

According to the New York Times, the Bacharch Hi Flow Sampler, a device that is used to measure methane leaks from industrial sources, may be dramatically underestimating the leakage amount.

About Possible Methane Leak Misinterpretation 

An inventor of the technology that the device relies on said that the amounts of methane gas that is being released could potentially be much higher than what the device is showing. This could potentially have a ripple effect on the impacts of climate change because the device has possibly not been reading the methane emissions correctly.

According to the author of a paper studying said device and methane emissions, Touché Howard, there are two sensors that his ‘back-pack like’ tool. One sensor is used for low levels of methane emissions and the other is for high levels. When levels exceed the first sensor, the machine automatically switches to the second.

However, unless the tool is calibrated regularly, the switchover between sensors may fail. Therefore, the amount of methane recorded is not necessarily the amount emitted.

How Far Off Are the Current Methane Readings?

There is no way to measure the severity of inaccuracy this malfunction causes without independent measurements of the exact time. This could mean that the levels could be multiples of what the sensor is actually portraying.

The company that creates the sampler insists that the findings by Howard are not accurate because these misinterpretations of the device could be from other factors.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that they will run more tests to see whether or not this methane emission sampler is to be relied upon.


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