What is Methane Monitoring and Why Is It Important?
Methane is the simplest alkane, a dominant greenhouse gas, second to carbon dioxide, that is composed of 1 carbon molecule and 4 hydrogen molecules. Its chemical formula is CH4. Lighter than air, this is likely the most bountiful organic compound on earth. Though it is quite crucial to transport from its source, this kind of gas is not lethal when inhaled, but it can cause suffocation as it reduces the quantity of oxygen taken in. The primary use of methane is as a fuel. The oxidization of this gas is highly exothermic. The energy released is used to heat homes and commercial buildings; it is also used in the production of electric power. Aside from cooking and heating and creating electricity, some countries have cities that have buses that run on this natural gas instead of the usual gasoline. It is then a source of energy because it gives about 252 kcal (kilocalories) of heat energy in a cubic foot when scorched.
Methane is formed or made by bacteria, anaerobic bacteria to be exact, and these organisms are considered to be among the oldest forms of life on earth, can survive without oxygen. They basically break down the natural substance and make gas as their waste product. This compound or aftermath is natural gas we know today. CH4 is also formed daily by anaerobic bacteria. Even in a cow’s, sheep’s, camel’s and buffalo’s digestive system has methane in it. It is present in areas that has very small amount of oxygen or no oxygen at all.
Methane can be perilous because the combination of this gas and air when confined in an area can start explosive situations. An explosion may come off if the quantity of methane in the air increases by 5 to 15 percent or even more. This is the reason why it is important to do CH4 monitoring in the air at all times. If increased amount of methane is formed in the air, this can be detrimental because oxygen may not be enough for humans to breathe.
Methane monitoring is a must in some countries especially in areas where there is landfill to make sure that elevated concentrations of this gas are known or detected before a combustion happens and will be hazardous to landfill workers and the people living in the area. The most basic goal for monitoring is the public’s safety as well as the workers’. Landfill operators are actually requires to monitor the presence of CH4 at the site perimeter every three months or quarterly and to make sure that methane is within the Lower Explosive Limit. Concentrations of methane gas are normally measured utilizing portable gas detection gadgets or units such as an explosimeter or methane meter. A lot of meters for SO2 monitoring or methane monitoring have two scales, each for the detection of trace amounts CH4 or SO2 and the other one for recognizing large amounts of it.
Methane monitoring is best done after a low pressure system similar to typhoons and thunderstorms have passed in the area because certain gases will increase in the landfill more at this time. Climatic conditions may also affect the rate of gas measured during the period where monitoring is done.
asIRView is a software that gathers and shows measurement information in real time. It is used for NH3 Monitoring (Ammonia), HCl Monitoring (Hydrogen Chloride), CH4 Monitoring (Methane), HF Monitoring (Hydrogen Fluoride), CO2 monitoring (Carbon Dioxide) and O2 Monitoring (Oxygen).