GasSight

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Chemicals are added to the natural gas supply so that we, as consumers, can detect the smell from gas leaks. Unfortunately no such additive exists to allow us to see where the leak is coming from. The ability to directly image gas emissions has an immediate application for gas leak detection, both in the urban environment and in industrial processing plants. In this project we will address this gap in the market by developing GasSight, a low cost illumination and camera system that can visualise methane gas as it mixes with the air. GasSight will replace the large pixel array in a conventional camera with a low cost single photo-diode and a pattern projector (like those used in a digital data projector). The selectivity of the target gas is set by the wavelength of the illumination source. We will develop an active laser illumination system which has been tuned to an absorption band of methane in the short-wave infra-red spectrum. Conventional detector arrays that are sensitive to this short-wave infra-red are prohibitively expensive and hence, replacing them with a single photo-diode leads to very low cost systems.

This project builds upon a long-standing collaboration between the Optics Group at the University of Glasgow and M-Squared Lasers. The Optics group is internationally recognised for their expertise in the design of low-cost camera systems capable of seeing in the short-wave infra-red. M-Squared has expertise in transforming complicated laser systems, which require expert operation, into turn-key systems that need no user intervention. Their laser systems are well known for maintaining alignment for many years even in hostile environments.

The project will produce a prototype gas imaging system suitable for end user evaluation under realistic operational conditions.

Planned Impact

This project will create impacts for a range of stakeholders including business and industry, academia and the general public.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
The main impacts will be economic and will be felt initially by M2Lasers who will jointly develop and commercialise the GasSight system. The first exploitation route will be via channels that M2 has developed in the oil and gas industry as well as defence primes and various customers that have previously engaged in the field of environmental monitoring. This could be expected to lead to initial sales of £8.2m (60 units) in the first five years alone.

The project will support the establishment of an entirely new industry over the next 10-15 years with major economic benefits up- and down-stream. M2 itself fully expects new positions for 7 scientists, 2 engineers and 1 technician within 5 years of project end. Other spin-off benefits can be found in a myriad of sectors, e.g. improved extraction and prospecting in the Oil & Gas industry and securing the long term EEA GDP associated with navigation.

ACADEMIC IMPACTS
Any developments in computational imaging within this project could have an impact in the area of ghost imaging as improvements to the algorithms can be translated into the other field.

SOCIETAL BENFITS
There are a number of societal benefits associated with this project:

1) Security - In the detection of explosives and IEDs the benefits to innocent populations are obvious. If this can be accomplished with standoff detection systems then there will be less disruption to general life while still providing protection. Moreover, standoff explosive detection would be invaluable to reduce congestion in airports, where considerable staff time and equipment are required for screening of luggage.

2) Environmental - Benefits are foreseen in the oil and gas industry where leakages of methane in the atmosphere can have a catastrophic effect on the environment. GasSight can be deployed for gas sensing during exploation, transportation and refining as well as in other large chemical plants. In Alaska BP has over 200,000 miles of pipeline. A 1 inch leak in a 16 mile section cost the company $100m in lost production and fines. This is despite a $200m annual maintenance plan incorporating multiple technologies (EnerMc Ltd). Similarly in the US alone there are 350 billion cubic feet of fugitive emissions of the greenhouse gas methane. Methane, is 80 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Reducing leaks from gas fields and pipelines, petroleum wells that produce methane as a by product and cities distribution systems is a crucial step in the fight against global warming.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a portable shortwave infrared camera for imaging methane gas leaks. The camera incorporates an active illumination system which uses laser diodes that are wavelength tuned to an absorption band of methane. Sources of methane gas present in a scene absorb the laser light and are imaged as dark clouds against the background. We have implemented image processing to isolate the gas image information and overlay this onto a full colour image of the scene, allowing the operator to locate the source of the gas leak from a safe distance of a few meters.
More recently, compact embedded computers/controllers have been tested for operating the gas camera. This allows the technology to be applied to new applications requiring remote operation, such as drone mounted gas imagers.
Exploitation Route There is an emerging interest in the remote monitoring of gas pipelines for the energy supply networks, in particular for drone mounted methane imaging systems.
Sectors Energy

 
Description Quantic Partnership Fund
Amount £156,000 (GBP)
Funding ID P22016-­03 A 
Organisation University of Glasgow 
Department QuantIC
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 08/2019
 
Title Dual-Band Single-Pixel Telescope 
Description Development of a Dual-band wavelength imaging Single-Pixel Telescope. Simultaneous IR and visible images of wind turbines were recorded at a distance of 20km. System used as a testbed for comparing different detector technologies for single-pixel / computational imaging and for developing technologies for imaging at a distance. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact System was used to evaluate different detector technologies for computational imaging systems. Resulted in the optimum choice of detector technology for the GasSight camera. 
 
Title Flatfield Active Illumination 
Description Created a flatfield active illumination system for our gas imaging camera. Illumination system comprised of InGaAs laser diodes, wavelength tuned to a methane absorption, and engineered diffusers. Flat, even illumination profiles were created over a square region which was matched to the field of view of the IR sensing camera. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Gas images acquired from the GasSight camera are now less noisy. Better reliability of gas detection over the full field of view of the camera. 
 
Description GasSight (M Squared Lasers) 
Organisation M Squared Lasers Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research team at Glasgow has developed a camera demonstrator that can image at infrared wavelengths, in particular developed for imaging methane gas leaks. Glasgow University has supplied a demonstration system to M Squared Lasers in Glasgow for testing and evaluation. Glasgow University has continued to support M Squared Lasers in optimising the camera to improve detection sensitivity, frame-rate and to identify other gases to image, thus increasing the range of potential applications. In particular, Glasgow University has worked with M Squared Lasers to optimise the detection scheme for different imaging applications, eg. improving image resolution or speed. More recently, Glasgow has worked on image processing techniques to isolate the gas image information from the background scene, improving the reliability of the gas information overlay and reducing the level of false detections from a dynamically changing scene or from camera movement.
Collaborator Contribution M Squared Lasers have provided use of their tuneable lasers to test the camera technology for imaging over an extended wavelength range, potentially allowing imaging applications involving a range of different gases. They have been testing the demonstration camera technology for sensitivity at longer infrared wavelengths, 3-4 microns, assessing the potential to image a range of hydrocarbon cases. M Squared Lasers continue to assess the impact of the GasSight technology by showcasing the camera a international events such as Photonics West in San Francisco and Laser World of Photonics in Munich.
Impact Video demonstration of imaging a gas leak in a domestic setting. GasSight demonstration camera used to image gas escaping from a kitchen cooker hob. The resulting infrared gas data was colour coded and overlaid onto a high resolution colour image of the scene. The resulting video demonstration has had impact at technology showcase events, initiating numerous discussions on possible applications. A Further 10 months funding has been secured through a Quantic Partrnership Research Fund to add embeded computer control to the GasSight camera and to test the technology in remote application such as drone mounted gas pipeline monitoring.
Start Year 2017
 
Title Embedded Control of Comutational Imaging Systems 
Description Embedded hardware and software control of a single-pixel / computational imaging system. Successfully interfaced a digital micromirror device, the key component in most single-pixel / computational imaging systems, to an embedded computer that can be controlled over wifi. This will have potential applications in remote sensing applications of single-pixel cameras. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This work has generated interest within QuantIC, one of the UK quantum technology hubs, for remote sensing applications of single-pixel cameras. In particular, there is interest in developing a drone based IR imaging system for detecting chemicals in hazardous scenarios. 
 
Title Gas Image Data Overlay 
Description Developed software that uses colour video images to track camera movement and apply correction to images aquired using an infrared sensor at 1.65um. This results in the infrared camera being sensitive only to objects that absorb infrared, such as methane gas, in the scene that is being imaged and not due to changes in the scene, frame to frame, resulting from camera movement. The processed video images of the gas data is colour coded and overlaid onto the colour image of the scene. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This software improves the reliability of imaging methane gas leaks and reduces the possibility of false positive results arising from camera movement. The gas data overlay feature provides an easy to use interface to aid the user in successfully locating the source of a gas leak. 
 
Description Laser Photonics Munich 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Showcased a single-pixel camera for imaging in the shortwave infrared. Camera is sensitive to the wavelengths of light that are absorbed by methane gas, having potential applications for gas monitoring in industry and the environment. Discussed potential applications with industry professionals, including those wishing to monitor methane levels within agriculture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Photonics Tradeshow Berlin 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Showcased single-pixel infrared camera demonstrator along with other imaging technologies from QuantIC, one of the UK Quantum Technology Hubs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Photonics West San Francisco 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Showcased a single-pixel camera for imaging in the shortwave infrared, along with other imaging technologies from QuantIC, one of the UK Quantum Technology Hubs. Camera is sensitive to the wavelengths of light that are absorbed by methane gas, having potential applications for gas monitoring in industry and the environment. Discussed potential applications with industry professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Quantum Technology Showcase London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Showcased single-pixel infrared camera and infrared focal-plane camera demonstrators along with other imaging technologies from QuantIC, one of the UK Quantum Technology Hubs. Discussed potential applications with industry professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018