Optical NIR Fixed-Position Passive Scanner for Methane Detection and Measurement

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Special Projects
Project Term:
06/21/2021 - 12/20/2022

Critical Need:

This topic seeks to support entrepreneurial energy discoveries, by identifying and supporting disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies within small businesses and collaborations with universities and national labs. These projects have the potential for large-scale impact, and if successful could create new paradigms in energy technology with the potential to achieve significant reductions in U.S. energy consumption, energy-related imports, or energy-related emissions. These specific projects address technology areas across ARPA-E’s mission spaces, with particular focus on: Advanced bioreactors; Approaches and tools to create enhanced geothermal systems; Non-evaporative dehydration and drying technologies; Approaches to significantly enhance the rate and/or potential scale of carbon mineralization; Separation of CO2 from ambient air (direct air capture); High-rate separation of dissolved inorganic carbon from the ocean to produce a CO2 stream; Advanced trees and other engineered biological systems for carbon sequestration; Innovative deep ocean collector designs for mining polymetallic nodules; Environmental sensors capable of operation in deep ocean environments for mining polymetallic nodules; and Non-carbothermic smelting technologies. Awards under this topic are working to support research and establish potential new areas for technology development, while providing ARPA-E with information that could lead to new focused funding programs. The focus of these projects is to support exploratory research to establish viability, proof-of-concept demonstration for new energy technology, and/or modeling and simulation efforts to guide development for new energy technologies.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Blue Sky Measurements will develop a near-infrared passive scanner using sunlight to detect and measure methane emissions at an oil or gas production well pad or drilling site. The proposed system will provide continuous daily measurements for less than the annualized cost of currently mandated twice-a-year surveys. This fixed-position sensor system will enable operators to continuously monitor their operations for fugitive emissions and enable owners to take corrective action when a leak occurs, minimizing the time between when a leak develops and when it is fixed. This enabling technology promises to help the oil and gas industry achieve the aggressive EPA-targeted 45% reduction in related methane emissions by 2025, a value equivalent to the emissions from one-third of coal-fired power plants.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Robert Ledoux
Project Contact:
Dr. John Lievois
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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