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AUSEA, a spectrometer Embarked on a drone to better track our greenhouse gas emissions

Honorary President Prize - Best Innovators 2020

A project presented by Frédéric Périé, Marc Baqué, Laurent Cazes, Ludovic Donnat et Julien Da Vela

The (Airborne Ultra-Light Spectrometer for Environmental Application) (AUSEA) is a miniaturized, robust and highly sensitive gas analyzer spectrometer. Its small size enables it to be mounted on a drone allowing it to accurately measure concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in areas that are difficult to access by other sampling and analysis methods. The tool increases TotalEnergies’s ability to conclusively quantify its greenhouse gas emissions, particularly to provide stakeholders with objective information on the Group’s impact on the environment.

A drone with unprecedented precision for the Oil & Gas industry

Developed in collaboration with the CNRS (the French National Research Center), the AUSEA spectrometer has characteristics that make it unique.

  • It is ultra-light, weighing only 1.4 kg. This light weight enables the use of commercially available low-powered drones. The tool is easy to produce, because the sensor is based on proven measuring techniques: diode laser spectrometers with two laser sources so that CH4 and CO2 can be measured simultaneously.
  • Its technology combines advanced miniaturization and a previously unequalled level of accuracy. This major advance delivers analytical performance of the highest quality for onboard measuring, with the guarantee of extremely reliable results in the quantification of concentrations of gases emitted.
  • The robustness of the sensor enables the drone to be positioned wherever needed for sampling, even in difficult conditions. It is easy for a trained operator to fly and highly versatile when it comes to taking measurements, particularly in difficult-to-reach points of emission.
Drone Ausea (Airborne Ultra-light Spectrometer for Environmental Application) - Exploration & Production - TotalEnergies

Validated and unrivaled monitoring

The emissions are modeled using two retroactive calculation algorithms fed with data from the sensor and the drone. The flight and quantification methods make it possible to identify emission points that could otherwise have passed unnoticed and to evaluate all emissions. We have carried out several validation pilots on a number of TotalEnergies sites, measuring concentrations of CO2 and CH4 and quantifying emissions:

  • for two flares at the Donges refinery in France,
  • for two offshore platforms (K5 and K6, Netherlands),
  • for the three onshore production sites in the OML58 field in Nigeria.

The system has been implemented on our controlled gas release platform and has proven to be better than all the other alternative techniques in terms of the accurate quantification of emissions.

AUSEA test phase at sea - Exploration & Production - Best Innovators 2020 - Total

Quantifying our greenhouse gas emissions, a strategic issue for Total

Current techniques for measuring greenhouse gas emissions are either cumbersome to implement or do not reflect the status of emissions in real time. By providing low-cost, data-rich measurements of unrivalled precision, AUSEA gives us the means to better identify, monitor and manage the actual levels of these emissions. In this way the technology is enabling us to improve our environmental performance based on accurate data, and demonstrate the validity of the use of gas as low-carbon energy.

The ultimate objective is to be able to perform routine checks on our sites and measurements on demand for specific analyses using an autonomous process that can be locally or remotely operated.

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