photo of a man working at a pad site on a pneumatic controller

New Study Measures Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Production and Offers Insights into Two Large Sources

Release Date: 12/9/2014

Researchers find a small percentage of wells accounts for the majority of emissions.

AUSTIN, Texas - A team of researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and environmental testing firm URS reports that a small subset of natural gas wells are responsible for the majority of methane emissions from two major sources - liquid unloadings and pneumatic controller equipment - at natural gas production sites.

With natural gas production in the United States expected to continue to increase during the next few decades, there is a need for a better understanding of methane emissions during natural gas production. The study team believes this research, published Dec. 9 in Environmental Science & Technology, will help to provide a clearer picture of methane emissions from natural gas production sites.

The UT Austin-led field study closely examined two major sources of methane emissions - liquid unloadings and pneumatic controller equipment - at well pad sites across the United States. Researchers found that 19 percent of the pneumatic devices accounted for 95 percent of the emissions from pneumatic devices, and 20 percent of the wells with unloading emissions that vent to the atmosphere accounted for 65 percent to 83 percent of those emissions.


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photo of a methane molecule model

Unprecedented Measurements Provide Better Understanding of Methane Emissions during Natural Gas Production

Release Date: 9/16/2013

Completion emissions are lower than previously estimated; Data show emissions from pneumatic controllers and equipment leaks are higher than EPA national emission projections; Estimates of total emissions are similar to the most recent EPA national inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production.

AUSTIN, Texas - A new study from The University of Texas at Austin reports on extensive measurements of methane emissions - including the first measurements for methane emissions taken directly at the well pad - during completion operations for hydraulically fractured wells. A team of researchers from UT Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering and environmental testing firms URS and Aerodyne Research completed measurements at 190 natural gas production sites across the United States. The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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a photo of Dr. Allen and Cheryl Farmer accepting NSF reward in Washington DC


Left to right: Chemical engineering
professor David Allen, NSF Acting
Director Cora Marrett,
UTeachEngineering Program
Director Cheryl Farmer and John
Ekerdt. Allen, Farmer and Ekerdt
traveled to Washington, D.C., to
receive a $1.6 million grant to fund
a new UT Austin program to retain
students in engineering. Allen will
lead the program.


NSF Selects UT Austin for $1.6 Million Grant to Retain Engineering Students

from Cockrell School of Engineering Web Site 5/9/13


The National Science Foundation (NSF), Intel and GE have selected The University of Texas at Austin for a $1.6 million grant to support an education program aimed at retaining freshman in engineering majors by teaching calculus through hands-on activities. Freshman calculus courses are a major barrier for retaining engineering students at UT Austin.


UT Austin is one of nine institutions across the United States to receive a grant from Graduate 10K+, a public-private partnership created to fund projects whose aim is to improve retention of undergraduates in engineering and computer science. The grants are funded with $10 million in donations from Intel and the GE Foundation as well as a personal donation from Mark Gallogly.


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photo of Dr. Allen in work overalls and hard hat standing outside industrial site

EPA Appoints David Allen to Lead Science Advisory Board

from Cockrell School of Engineering web page, Oct. 26th 2012


David Allen, an engineer and internationally recognized expert in air quality at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB) for a two-year term. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Allen's appointment Oct. 15. Jackson said his expertise in environmental engineering is a great asset to the board.


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