The new Gasbot methane-sniffing robot from Sweden’s Orebro Unviersity could be used to detect leaking gas pipes and rogue methane emissions. The futuristic robot designed to monitor decomposing garbage at landfills would be armed with twin laser scanners, a GPS system, and a remote gas sensor, and it may even be able to generate energy from the captured methane.
A large amount of human-produced methane, emitted when bacteria breaks down garbage in the absence of oxygen, can be attributed to landfills. The robot, controllable via remote sensor, may prove to be a valuable tool in fighting the greenhouse effect. Not only that, but its sensor does not require direct interaction with the substance to measure it; instead, it has a laser beam that can localize leaks in its path.
However, the problems of dumping garbage into earth containers will remain. In 2010, the Sierra Club task force found that facilities dedicated to transforming landfill gas to energy actually increased the amount of rogue methane. This created serious doubts about the possibility of LFGTE electricity replacing fossil fuel electricity.
The issue of landfill greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is particularly evident in North Dakota and Montana, where millions of cubic feet of methane gets burned into carbon dioxide daily. This occurrence is so dramatic it can be seen from space.
Lead Image from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources