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WVU researchers to investigate methane emissions in shale gas development

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A team of researchers at West Virginia University's Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions will study the amount of methane emitted from dual fuel engines in the development of shale gas.

According to WVU, one of the biggest costs associated with shale gas development and utilization comes from the use of diesel fuel. Diesel engines power everything associated with well development, including the trucks that move equipment to a well site, the drilling rig itself and the compressors used for the hydraulic stimulation of wells.

Several companies are looking into possibly converting those engines to a mix of diesel and natural gas to reduce operating costs while using a domestic fuel source.

The WVU research team will look into the amount of methane emissions associated with dual fuel and dedicated natural gas technologies because of a $2 million trant from the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Andrew Nix, principal investigator and assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will lead the CAFEE team, which has a history of conducting alternative fuels research, in collecting data from in-use equipment operating in the Marcellus Shale region.

"This collection will help us identify and quantify in-use fugitive methane emissions," Nix said. "Our next step will be to develop test cycles to conduct additional laboratory testing at CAFEE's Engines and Emissions Research Laboratory to mitigate fugitive methane."