Fugitive Emissions Abatement Simulation Toolkit (FEAST): Advancing the business case for methane emission reduction from energy production and paving the path to deployment for methane measurement technologies
The United States has become the global leader in oil and gas production over the last several years. That development, while creating economic growth and enabling significant reductions in air pollution, still presents environmental challenges. Methane is a powerful climate-forcing gas. Methane leaks must be minimized to safeguard the climate; doing so also conserves a valuable salable product. To advance that value proposition, Assistant Professor Arvind Ravikumar is conducting internationally significant research on natural gas infrastructure using economic and technical analyses, life-cycle assessments and statistical techniques to develop workable, cost-effective policy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Center for E3 is working to connect that leading research to decisionmakers in government and industry, both nationally and internationally, through the development of robust decision support tools.
The Fugitive Emissions Abatement Simulation Toolkit, or FEAST, is an open-source model that was originally created by Professor Ravikumar and research colleagues at Stanford University to model the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of various leak detection and repair (LDAR) technologies and regimes in natural gas production. At HU, Professor Ravikumar is leading an interdisciplinary faculty/student team from HU’s ISEM and Computer Science programs to refine and enhance FEAST. The model is being enhanced to provide a way to incorporate data from new scientific studies, and by incorporating new leak detection technologies as new modules in the program. This work enables regulators and businesses to understand the expected effectiveness of various leak detection technologies and regimes in a way that would be costly to demonstrate in the real world at scale. Technologies can also be modeled in a hybrid fashion, and equivalency can be determined between different LDAR programs. Further, FEAST can also provide an estimate of the cost-efficiency of different LDAR programs. These enhancements allow for more flexible regulatory approaches and efficient business decision-making.
There is widespread interest among regulators, industry, and other academics in tools that will equip decisionmakers with a tool to better understand the design and economics of more pragmatic methane mitigation policies and practices. To make FEAST broadly available to industry and regulators, the Center for E3 is creating a robust, first-of-its-kind, open-sourced, web-based FEAST tool. Professor Ravikumar is joined in this work by Professor Iheb Abdellatif, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Information Technology & Management, who will focus on functionality enhancements and the development of the web-based version of FEAST and mobile applications.
In the FEAST enhancement project, the Center:
- Incorporates the latest research-based modeling on methane measurement technologies
- Incorporates additional data sources and detection technology simulation models
- Actively seeks partnerships with diverse data sources (e.g., well fields in different locations) to be incorporated into the FEAST model to increase its usefulness and achieve robust national reach
- Works with partners to identify/develop FEAST enhancements
- Is developing a user-friendly front-end website that will allow:
- easy access to the model by regulators, gas producers, utilities, and other stakeholders
- non-technical web users to access the FEAST system via web and mobile applications
- companies to input proprietary data from their distribution networks and choose the most cost-effective technology and deployment platform
- Guides the model’s software development to enhance capabilities, improve functionality, and maximize its real-world usefulness for industry, utilities regulators, NGOs, academic institutions, and other stakeholders.
- Develops/implements education, and outreach to user groups, and create ongoing dialogue with policymakers, industry, and stakeholders via Website user interface, Webinars, Conferences, and Reports
New Applications of FEAST
Natural gas production activities is only one source of methane emissions from the natural gas sector. Research suggests that natural gas distribution systems are also a significant source of methane leakage. Utilities are searching for a tool that would enable cost-effective management and minimization of what is a source of lost salable product and climate and air quality damage. To meet that urgent need, the Center for E3 is working to significantly expand the usability and application of FEAST by adding the ability of FEAST to evaluate leak detection technology and LDAR regimes for natural gas distribution systems. The Center is partnering with the Gas Technology Institute in this critically important research and solution development.
The Center’s work will result in a science-based decision support tool that facilitates cost-effective methane emissions reduction across the full value chain of the oil and gas sector: production, transmission, and distribution.