Scientists Hunt Down Methane Leaks in Mobile Labs

Though it still involves drilling for fossil fuels, the natural gas boom has actually been seen by many as a good thing in the fight to curb climate change. That’s because burning natural gas to produce electricity yields just half the carbon dioxide emissions that burning coal does. But we only reap those benefits if that natural gas is contained inside pipelines and other gas infrastructure like it’s supposed to be. In fact, if methane—the main component of natural gas—leaks into the atmosphere, it can actually have huge impacts on the climate: Methane is up to 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide. Because of this, there has been a renewed focus on stopping methane leaks at the source. And we caught up with a team from Carnegie Mellon University that’s trying to figure out just how big this problem might be. (Reporting by Reid Frazier / Video by Ryan Loew)

 

WATCH: The Hunt for Methane Leaks Goes High-Tech

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This story is part of our series Follow the Pipeline, which explores the health and environmental impacts of the region's expanding natural gas infrastructure.