Stable Isotope Measurements of Carbon Dioxide, Methane, and Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Using Frequency Modulation Spectroscopy

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Kristy Nowak-Lovato, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, United States
Seepage from enhanced oil recovery, carbon storage, and natural gas sites can emit trace gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. Trace gas emission at these locations demonstrate unique light stable isotope signatures that provide information to enable source identification of the material. Light stable isotope detection through surface monitoring, offers the ability to distinguish between trace gases emitted from sources such as, biological (fertilizers and wastes), mineral (coal or seams), or liquid organic systems (oil and gas reservoirs). To make light stable isotope measurements, we employ the ultra-sensitive technique, frequency modulation spectroscopy (FMS). FMS is an absorption technique with sensitivity enhancements approximately 100-1000x more than standard absorption spectroscopy with the advantage of providing stable isotope signature information. We have developed an integrated in situ (point source) system that measures carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide with isotopic resolution and enhanced sensitivity. The in situ instrument involves the continuous collection of air and records the stable isotope ratio for the gas being detected. We have included in-line flask collection points to obtain gas samples for validation of isotopic concentrations using our in-house isotope ratio mass spectroscopy (IRMS). We present calibration curves for each species addressed above to demonstrate the sensitivity and accuracy of the system. We also show field deployment data demonstrating the capabilities of the system in making live dynamic measurements from an active source.