Gas imaging Lidar camera developed by QLM Technology Ltd

Published: 9 April 2021

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A quantum-enabled gas imaging Lidar camera able to visualise and quantify methane leaks caused by oil and natural gas extraction and use has been developed by QLM Technology Ltd, based in Bristol.

Supported by BP, National Grid, AMETEK Land, and the UK Government, the camera represents a step-change in measuring emissions of methane, the second most damaging greenhouse gas.

The main obstacle to stopping leaks from well-heads, storage, and distribution sites is not knowing where and when they are happening and how much is escaping. Often, the largest emission events at these sites are unplanned, intermittent releases, and without continuous, in-situ monitoring, emission measurements by any other means will provide erroneous emission estimates that can be too high or too low depending on when periodic monitoring takes place.

The quantum-enabled camera makes complete and continuous monitoring possible for the first time, identifying and quantifying emissions as they occur.

Murray Reed, CEO of QLM Technology, said: “Whilst the oil and gas majors have pledged to significantly reduce methane emissions in coming years, you can’t manage what you can’t measure; and no-one is measuring methane properly, continuously, and at scale.

The scale of the problem is enormous, with more than half a million active gas wells in North America alone, 2,000 offshore rigs and nearly 1,000 natural gas storage facilities worldwide.

In the UK alone, we have 24 pipeline compressor stations, which power long-distance natural gas pipes, and hundreds of above ground storage installations. All are leaking at some time.”

The launch of the quantum camera comes ahead of the UK-hosted UN climate change summit, COP26, in Glasgow. This is expected to set new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will require accurate monitoring to be enforced. The quantum camera makes this possible.

About QLM Technology Ltd.
QLM has been selected as one of 12 Bloomberg New Energy Futures (BNEF) Pioneers for 2021, from a pool of over 250 applicant

QLM Technology was founded by its Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Xiao Ai, after postgraduate research into single photon Lidar gas detection at the University of Bristol. He realised that his research, in which a Lidar beam simultaneously probed both the shape and the concentration of plumes of methane, could help achieve Net Zero through mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre at the university helped Dr. Ai form QLM Technology Ltd in 2017. Dr. Murray Reed, a photonics industry veteran with thirty years of experience commercialising cutting-edge technology in Silicon Valley, became CEO in June 2019.

QLM collaborates with industry, government and academia. Innovate UK is the major financial backer of the Single Photon Lidar Imaging of Carbon Emissions (SPLICE) project which developed the quantum-enabled camera. QLM continues to benefit from the expertise of the UK National Physical Laboratory.

First published: 9 April 2021