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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Durham University awarded funding from NERC for specialist research equipment

(16 January 2014)

The NERC funding will enable CeREES and ReFINE to purchase specialist equipment to identify and quantify greenhouse gas emissions at fracking sites and to undertake research sustainable use of natural resources.

Durham University has been awarded £228,000 for equipment to identify and quantify greenhouse gas emissions at fracking sites. The award was made by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of its Strategic Environmental Capital Call, which looks to develop long-term processes to identify and support strategic capital priorities within the UK environmental science community.

Securing this funding, led by Professor Fred Worrall, will enable Durham University based CeREES, the Centre for Geoenergy, and ReFINE, which researches fracking across Europe, to purchase specialist equipment, the Picarro Investigator.

ReFINE will use this equipment to measure at the same time the amounts of methane and CO2 that is moving downwind from targeted sites including shale fracking operations, and control sites such as high pressure pipelines and natural gas distribution sites. The equipment will also allow ReFINE to identify the source of the methane, with this research commencing in early 2014.

The Picarro Investigator is the only system on the market that is mobile and capable of measuring concentrations and isotopic ratios of CO2 and CH4 in the field. The time and money saved on deployment will enable science problems to be considered more quickly. The mobility and functionality of the equipment means that it can be deployed on a diverse range of projects focused on sustainable use of natural resources.

Professor Richard Davies, project lead of ReFINE, said: “This latest funding from NERC continues to strengthen our ability to provide the very best independent academic research on fracking across Europe. By being able to purchase this equipment it enables us to carry out detailed investigations on the level of emissions at fracking sites which is one of ReFINE’s research priorities.”

Further information on the NERC Strategic Environmental Capital Call

Further information on CeREES