ABB-built sensor improves 
methane emission monitoring from space

ABB-built sensor improves methane emission monitoring from space

A new optical sensor, built by ABB, makes it possible to pin-point the source of methane emissions, providing valuable insights into reducing a powerful greenhouse gas.

As part of our company purpose and sustainability strategy 2030, ABB is committed to enabling a low carbon society. By far the biggest impact we can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through our leading technologies.

One innovative solution is to map methane emissions on the earth’s surface from a satellite in orbit with a resolution that allows to distinguish emitters from one another. This advanced ABB-supplied optical sensor is mounted on the Hugo satellite from GHGSat, which specializes in greenhouse gas sensing services. While previously only larger regions of the earth’s surface could be surveyed, for the first time the new greater granularity now allows the identification of the source of emissions. ABB is currently manufacturing an additional nine sensor units to be launched by the end of 2022 for the first private satellite constellation dedicated to emission measurement.

Space offers the ideal location to freely monitor emissions across jurisdictions and quantitatively report on improvements. Our sensors will provide valuable insights which will enable governments and industries around the world to meet their emission reduction targets and reduce the negative impact on global warming.

"We selected ABB for its ability to deliver world-class instruments while meeting the challenges of a new space company like ours," said Stephane Germain, CEO of GHGSat. "We strive to innovate for the needs of the future, and we're excited to work with ABB to achieve that."

"ABB shares GHGSat's goal of reducing emissions through advanced technology, such as greenhouse gas sensing services. Our selection as the manufacturer for these advanced sensors demonstrates our expertise in this field and our ability to meet the requirements of private companies operating in outer space," said Marc Corriveau, General Manager ABB Measurement & Analytics Canada. “The space revolution is well underway and with our portfolio of unique space instruments and serial production of advanced measurement sensors for industrial applications, we are extremely well positioned to serve this emerging sector."

With its involvement in the Canadian SCISAT mission and the Japanese GOSAT series of satellites, ABB has been at the forefront of greenhouse gas sensing from space for more than two decades. The SCISAT sensor has been tracking long-term subtle composition changes in the earth's atmosphere down to parts per trillion of more than 70 molecules and pollutants since 2003. Weather agencies around the world base their predictions on ABB equipment flying onboard the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellites (NPP and JPSS), which saves lives by improving the timeliness and accuracy of weather forecasts for up to seven days.

ABB is also a global leader in earthbound continuous emission monitoring with over 60,000 systems installed in more than 50 countries. Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS) continuously record and evaluate emissions data across all industries. They provide important information for the environmental and economic operation of production facilities. The range includes ABB’s ACF5000 system, which monitors up to 15 gas components simultaneously.

ABB’s 2030 sustainability commitment is to help its customers reduce their annual CO2 emissions by 100 megatons – equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 million combustion cars, or a medium-sized European country.


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