DOE announces gas well monitoring system

West Virginia researchers’ environmental monitoring system tracks volatiles, dust, light and sound.

A US Department of Energy (DOE) funded research program at the West Virginia University (WVU) department of community medicine has resulted in a self contained device to monitor environmental conditions during shale gas drilling. The units consist of battery-powered monitoring device and radio transceiver, and provide real-time measurement of volatile organic compounds, dust, light and sound. The units help operators comply (and demonstrate compliance) with environmental requirements. The requirement for monitoring is high in West Virginia where over 1,400 Marcellus wells are producing with permits issued for another 1,200 more. NETL-RUA researcher Dr. Michael McCawley developed the device to remotely monitor the environment around Marcellus shale gas wells. The device works in areas remote from power and where terrain may be an obstacle. The units are charged by solar panels and link to a base station module with a computer and cell phone modem that transmits data on to WVU.

The research was carried out under the auspices of the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Regional University Alliance for Energy Technology Innovation. NETL-RUA was formed in 2010 as a partnership between NETL and a consortium of five mid-Atlantic universities: West Virginia University, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech. The NETL-RUA research program assists NETL in conducting basic and applied energy and environmental research that supports DOE’s mission to advance U.S. national, economic, and energy security.

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