Methane is an odorless colorless gas. This makes it impossible for humans to detect its presence in the air. High levels of methane could be poisonous and this calls for employment of CH4 monitoring systems. Methane is also known for its thousands of uses; both domestic and industrial. It is recognized as a major source of energy which can be used for power generation, cooking, coal drying and driving of car engines. It is a nonrenewable scarce source of energy hence it is necessary to come up with suitable recovery methods. Monitoring systems make it possible to detect CH4 presence and employ suitable methods of capturing this multi-purpose gas.
A variety of instruments are currently used for CH4 monitoring at workplaces, industries and homes. Some are portable and can be carried around while others are fixed to monitor methane in a specific location. The instruments are always fixed at strategic points where methane is likely to leak into the air. Some of these instruments can measure extremely low concentrations of methane. For instance, the fiber optic type of methane monitor can be used to detect concentrations as low as 0.2%. The distance of detection from the instrument can extend up to 2 kilometers. Fiber optic cables are employed to make this possible.
The best alternatives to the infrared type are the laser based instruments. They make use of laser beams in place of infrared light. These instruments are a great improvement of the traditional types since they can detect methane without interference by other gases present in the air. They give quick results and can be used to monitor methane within a radius of 1km. The maintenance cost for these instruments is much lower as compared to that of traditional CH4 monitoring instruments. Various software have been developed to analyze and store data collected over a long period. This data can be used to check the progress made in monitoring methane.