Marie Donlon | July 15, 2022

A spinout company from the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) is tracking oil and gas leaks in real time using laser technology.

Startup LongPath Technologies is using dual frequency comb laser spectrometers — originally developed for exploring how atoms work — to detect possible methane leaks from oil and gas activities.

Source: CU BoulderSource: CU Boulder

According to its developers, roughly 50 ft towers are used to shoot a laser at a series of targets covering thousands of acres in a bid to detect methane leaks that oil and gas companies could then immediately fix, thereby mitigating the impact on the environment.

Capable of working 24 hours a day, seven days a week without human involvement, the laser technology is currently in use by oil companies ranging from Colorado to Texas, sweeping over the landscape and identifying the invisible methane leaking from pipes.

“This is a rare win-win situation. This technology allows the oil and gas industry to clean up its operations in a way that’s beneficial to them. And simultaneously it’s a huge win for the environment, the climate, and local communities who are experiencing air quality issues from leaks of natural gas,” the company explained. “The cost of our monitoring also way more than pays for itself in terms of the increased efficiency of operations.”