Advanced technology enables automated 3D tracking of leaked gas

image: Researchers developed a way to reconstruct 3D images of a leaked gas cloud and overlay the information on a digital map. The method provides detailed information about the leak, such as location, volume and concentration, which can be used to provide early warnings, assess risks or determine the best way to fix the leak.
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Credit: Credit: Yunyou Hu, Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

WASHINGTON — Researchers have developed a way to create a 3D image of a leaked gas cloud that provides detailed information about the leak, such as location, volume and concentration. The new automated detection approach can be used to provide early warnings, assess risks or determine the best way to fix the leak.

“With the rapid development of society, there are now large facilities around the world where toxic, harmful, flammable and explosive chemicals are stored,” said study team leader Liang Xu of the research team. Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences† “If there is a leak at one of these installations, it is important to quickly gain insight into the composition, concentration, location and distribution.”

The researchers describe their new method in the journal Optica Publishing Group optics emphatically† It combines information from two external Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) imaging systems with precise positioning information from GPS and gyroscope sensors to create a 3D image of the gas cloud superimposed on a Google Earth digital map.

“Previously, when leaks occurred, the specific location and direction in which the gas was moving could not be determined,” said Yunyou Hu, lead author of the paper. “Our method of creating a 3D reconstruction of a gas cloud can be used to accurately find the latitude and longitude of the leaked gas. This information is important to determine who may be exposed and to plug the leak quickly, so that less gas is released into the atmosphere.”

Add a third dimension

FTIR spectroscopy is widely used in the quantitative remote detection of gaseous pollutants due to its high sensitivity, high resolution and ability to perform real-time measurements with a detection range of about 5 kilometers. However, a single FTIR remote-sensing imaging system provides only 2D information about a gas leak.

To get a 3D image, the researchers used two systems to obtain 2D measurements of a gas cloud from different perspectives. This information was then spatially recorded with location information obtained using GPS and gyroscope sensors. Putting the data into a computerized tomography-imaging algorithm called simultaneous algebraic reconstruction technique (SART) creates a 3D reconstruction of the gas cloud.

“Each voxel, or 3D pixel, in the 3D-reconstructed gas cloud contains 3D information about the longitude, latitude, concentration and height of the gas relative to the ground,” Hu said. “The precise positioning of the monitored space using GPS and gyroscope sensors was key to enable 3D quantitative reconstruction of gas clouds.”

Catching a gas leak

The researchers tested their method in an outdoor field experiment in which they used two scanning FTIR remote-sensing imaging systems to remotely monitor small amounts of sulfur hexafluoride and methane released over two minutes into a room measuring approximately 315 cubic meters. They were able to successfully generate 3D recreations of the gas clouds with longitude, latitude, height and concentration distribution for both gases.

“To apply our technique in a realistic scenario, two or more scanning FTIR imaging systems would need to be installed around the monitored area to form a cross-scanning network,” Hu said. “Our proposed method could then be used to create a 3D reconstruction of a leaking gas cloud which in turn could be used to locate the leak source and provide early warning information.”

The researchers are now working on optimizing the reconstruction method and plan to test the system in real industrial environments.

Paper: Y. Hu, L. Xu, H. Xu, X. Shen, Y. Deng, H. Xu, J. Liu, W. Liu, “Three-dimensional reconstruction of a leaking gas cloud based on two scanning FTIR remote imaging systems ”, opt. emphatically30, 14 (2022).


About Optics Express

Optics Express reports on scientific and technological innovations in all aspects of optics and photonics. The bi-weekly magazine offers rapid publication of original, peer-reviewed articles. It is published by Optica Publishing Group and is led by Editor-in-Chief James Leger of the University of Minnesota, USA. Optics Express is an open-access magazine and is available to readers online for free. For more information visit Optics Express

About Optica Publishing Group (formerly OSA)

Optics Publishing Group is a division of Optica, the society that promotes optics and photonics worldwide. It publishes the largest collection of peer-reviewed content in the field of optics and photonics, including 18 prestigious journals, the association’s flagship, and articles from more than 835 conferences, including more than 6,500 accompanying videos. With more than 400,000 journal articles, conference papers and videos to search, discover and access, Optica Publishing Group represents the full range of research in the field from around the world.

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