Because of the recent developments of the
shale gas industry the presence of methane gas and the
potential for methane gas migration is a growing concern.
Methane is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than
air and often goes undetected. Just like radon gas, methane
gas migrates naturally up through the soil, geological
materials, and through the groundwater and into your home or
water well. When
your water well is pumped, the drop in the level of the
water in the wellbore reduces the pressure within the
formation and permits more gas to migrate toward the
wellbore. If the well is not properly vented and there
happens to be substantial amounts of methane, the gas could
accumulate under the well cap near the electrical
connections for your well or the methane could enter with
the well water and outgas in your home.
The US Department of the Interior, Office of
Surface Mining, suggests that when the level of methane gas
in the water is less than 10 mg/L it is safe, but monitoring
is required at 10 to 28 mg/L, and immediate action is needed
above 28 mg/L. At a level of 28 mg/L, the water is fully
saturated with methane and it is likely that any air space
in the well is at or approaching the Lower Explosion Limit (LEL). The
air and out-gassing methane, not the water, is now
When to Test for Methane?
common question that is asked is when to test for methane in
your water well. Methane in well water is controlled by many
factors and conditions and it can be highly variable. If you
want to test under the conditions most favorable to methane
gas migrate it would be advisable to conduct testing when
one or more of the following conditions exist:
Barometric pressure is low and soils are saturated.
When snow cover is just beginning to melt.
Ground is frozen or ice covered.
Under long-term pumping conditions for the well when the
well is experiencing the lowest dynamic water level and
The most common method for detecting methane in water wells
is by manually measuring the gas in the headspace of the
water well with a gas detection instrument. The variability
in methane gas concentrations may require you to sample the
well three to four times per year to establish a realistic
baseline and provide some insight into background levels of
methane gas. However, these measurement methods only capture
a very limited amount of data and often miss detecting gas
Real-Time Methane Monitoring
With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) cost
effective wireless continuous monitoring solutions are now a
reality. These systems provide sound scientific data through
long-term baseline remote monitoring and real-time analysis.
Remote monitoring system transmits real-time data over
various wireless telemetry options to a cloud based
dashboard allowing experts to analyze problems and abnormal
situations. These man portable systems include integrated
batteries and solar charging providing long-term deployments
in remote locations saving on labor intensive manual data
sampling and costly travel. As a result better data
collection and measurement will improve our understanding of
methane sources and trends, and enable more effective
management of opportunities to reduce methane emissions.
RemoteMonitor CH4 Solution
The RemoteMonitor™ CH4 is a cost effective solution for
real-time continuous methane gas monitoring. Specifically
designed for deployments in remote areas without power or
wired Internet over long periods. Methane data is
transmitted in real-time over Cellular, WiFi, or Satellite
networks to a Cloud Dashboard. Integrated battery and solar
charging allows for long term field deployments.
The RemoteMonitor™ CH4records and transmits methane, barometric
pressure, and system data in real-time to a web based cloud
server which allows instant access to the data via a
standard web browser.
Continuous monitoring is vital for accurate quantification
and overall understanding of emissions. Manual sampling has
been the primary method for measurement. It is difficult to
capture the expected fluctuation in methane concentration
with this method; therefore it imposes a serious limitation
on accurate quantification.
Methane Sensor in Well Headspace
Value of Real-Time Data
Data from the
is captured and transmitted to the cloud in real-time
creating historic graphs for easy viewing. Methane,
atmospheric, and system health data are collected on
intervals from 10-minutes to once a day. The cloud portal
allows for easy management of devices deployed in the field.
Importance of Atmospheric Data Collection
It is important for the
real-time data collection device to capture atmospheric data
to predict methane emissions. The rate of methane emissions
will be strongly influenced by weather conditions. When
barometric pressure is falling methane gas will tend to be
forced out of the surrounding formations a short time period
as new pressure balances are established.
This variability in data is not accounted for with current
quarterly single point data collection methods.
Water Well Headspace Monitoring
The graphic below represents real-time data collected
monitoring a water well within range of shale gas wells. The
RemoteMonitor CH4 data collection shows the importance of
real-time continuous monitoring over manual single-point
data collections methods used today. The RemoteMonitor CH4
captured the times the water well pump turned on and moved
the methane gas out of the well headspace. Again, this is
another example of why continuous monitoring is so
Set Alarm Event