Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have joined forces in a search for innovations in mobile methane leak monitoring technology.

“The Mobile Monitoring Challenge will be an independent and peer-reviewed effort to test methane detection and quantification technologies that could provide rapid and low-cost assessment of significant emissions sources over a large number of facilities,” they said.

Stanford and EDF are calling on engineers and technology developers to submit proposals by Oct. 31. Qualified applicants would have access to controlled field testing in Sacramento, CA, for remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

“We will invite select teams to take part in a single-partial blind study of controlled methane releases over a three-week period in early 2018. Stanford University scientists will design and administer a series of large-scale controlled methane releases at a single location, and study teams will do their best to find and quantify the methane released.”

Technologies should be ground-based (truck-mounted) or aerial (planes, satellites, etc.), and able to quickly assess leaks while in motion and off-site.

Stanford researchers plan to analyze each team’s findings and publish the results in open and peer-reviewed scientific journals.

In May 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued updates to the New Source Performance Standards designed to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds and toxic air pollutants, and began the process for regulating emissions from existing oil and gas sources. But stubbornly low natural gas prices are “reducing the economic incentive to employ expensive leak solutions,” Stanford and EDF said.

ExxonMobil Corp., which said Monday it is enhancing a methane emissions reduction program from its production and midstream facilities across the United States, will be a technical adviser for the Stanford and EDF Mobile Monitoring Challenge.