EGU21-16140, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Detection and quantification method intercomparison of methane emission from natural gas distribution network leaks in Hamburg, Germany

Hossein Maazallahi1,2, Antonio Delre3, Lena Buth1, Anders Michael Fredenslund3, Ina Nagler1, Charlotte Scheutz3, Stefan Schwietzke4, Hugo Denier van der Gon2, and Thomas Röckmann1
Hossein Maazallahi et al.
  • 1Utrecht University, IMAU, Physics, Utrecht, Netherlands (
  • 2Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 4Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Berlin, Germany

On October 14, 2020 the European Commission adopted the EU methane strategy[1]. Measurement-based reporting of methane emissions will be crucial and may become legally binding. A variety of different methods are in use to quantify methane emissions from natural gas distribution networks, some attempting to quantify the pipeline leak under the ground, others attempting to quantify the emissions to the atmosphere. Comparisons between these methods are essential, as each method has its own advantages and limitations. In August and September 2020, we conducted an extensive campaign to compare three different methods, the mobile survey method, the tracer release method, and the suction techniques, to quantify emission rates of leaks from the natural gas distribution network in Hamburg, Germany. The mobile measurement technique employed two different cavity ringdown analyzers to identify and quantify methane, ethane and carbon dioxide using a moving vehicle. The tracer release technique measured methane and the tracer gas acetylene also with fast laser methods during driving or stationary deployment in a vehicle at an identified leak location. The suction method deployed soil sondes around an identified leak and measured methane in a stream of air pumped out of the soil until an equilibrium was reached.  In total, we targeted 20 locations that had been identified by mobile measurements or by the routine leak detection of the local gas utility, GasNetz Hamburg. For numerous locations we detected several emission outlets from e.g., cavities, cracks or drains and we used measurements of the ethane to methane ratio to identify possible mixture of fossil and microbial sources. We will compare the different quantification methods, including their suitability for routine application and precision and accuracy in emission quantification.


How to cite: Maazallahi, H., Delre, A., Buth, L., Fredenslund, A. M., Nagler, I., Scheutz, C., Schwietzke, S., Denier van der Gon, H., and Röckmann, T.: Detection and quantification method intercomparison of methane emission from natural gas distribution network leaks in Hamburg, Germany, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16140,, 2021.

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