Laser technology ups industry estimates of refinery VOC emissions

A new gas measuring system is forcing the UK oil industry to revise estimates of its emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from refineries. The measured emissions are three or four times higher than those predicted by standard estimating methods, and can help companies pinpoint sources which are both causing pollution and wasting valuable product.

The new mobile measurement system has been developed by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). It is based on a tuneable laser and a sensitive detector. The DIAL - differential absorption lidar - system produces pulses of laser light which scan the atmosphere. Light back-scattered towards the source is measured to produce a picture of gas concentrations along the path of the laser. Data from different pulses are assembled by computer into a t

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