Emission quantification using the tracer gas dispersion method: The influence of instrument, tracer gas species and source simulation

Antonio Delre, Jacob Mønster, Jerker Samuelsson, Anders Michael Fredenslund, Charlotte Scheutz*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The tracer gas dispersion method (TDM) is a remote sensing method used for quantifying fugitive emissions by relying on the controlled release of a tracer gas at the source, combined with concentration measurements of the tracer and target gas plumes. The TDM was tested at a wastewater treatment plant for plant-integrated methane emission quantification, using four analytical instruments simultaneously and four different tracer gases. Measurements performed using a combination of an analytical instrument and a tracer gas, with a high ratio between the tracer gas release rate and instrument precision (a high release-precision ratio), resulted in well-defined plumes with a high signal-to-noise ratio and a high methane-to-tracer gas correlation factor. Measured methane emission rates differed by up to 18% from the mean value when measurements were performed using seven different instrument and tracer gas combinations. Analytical instruments with a high detection frequency and good precision were established as the most suitable for successful TDM application. The application of an instrument with a poor precision could only to some extent be overcome by applying a higher tracer gas release rate. A sideward misplacement of the tracer gas release point of about 250 m resulted in an emission rate comparable to those obtained using a tracer gas correctly simulating the methane emission. Conversely, an upwind misplacement of about 150 m resulted in an emission rate overestimation of almost 50%, showing the importance of proper emission source simulation when applying the TDM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)59-66
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Diffusive emissions
  • Multiple analytical instruments
  • Release precision ratio
  • Tracer misplacement error
  • Emission factors
  • Wastewater treatment

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