MIRTHE workshop to delve into trace-gas sensing for benefit-risk assessments of fracking

July 30, 2013
Princeton, NJ--"Fracking," or hydraulic fracturing of rock to release natural gas and/or oil, is a process that greatly increases the quantities of fossil fuels available for power generation, fuel, and raw material for plastics.

Princeton, NJ--"Fracking," or hydraulic fracturing of rock to release natural gas and/or oil, is a process that greatly increases the quantities of fossil fuels available for power generation, fuel, and raw material for plastics. The Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) Center at Princeton University will be holding a workshop on August 9, 2013 to engage companies, practitioners, policymakers/regulators, and other stakeholders to determine optimal requirements for sensor-system development and strategies for wide-scale, long-term deployment.

The involvement of MIRTHE in this topic stems from the use of mid-IR technology -- in particular, quantum-cascade-laser (QCL) based systems -- as sensing equipment for methane and other trace gases.

During the process of extracting fuel from the ground via fracking, it is possible that gases can be released into the air. The absence of reliable, comparative data on pre-, concurrent, and post-extraction levels of methane and other volatile compounds has led to uncertainty over the environmental impact of techniques like fracking, which may be used in combination with other extraction techniques such as horizontal drilling to explore considerable areas.

New mid-IR sensor systems being developed by MIRTHE can detect methane as well as other volatile gases down to trace quantities and over wide areas, and hold great promise for detailed benefit-risk assessment of areas designated for energy extraction, as well as long-term monitoring of existing sites.

The MIRTHE event, "Workshop on Air Quality Monitoring related to Energy Extraction," will be held from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. on August 9 at Princeton University. For the workshop agenda, see http://www.mirthecenter.org/documents/20130809_EnergyExtractionWorkshop_agenda.pdf. For additional information or to register for the workshop, please contact [email protected].

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