In early August, a specially equipped sports-utility vehicle detected four potential gas-pipe leaks while motoring along a California highway. The improved detection capacity is due to a recently developed, highly sensitive gas-leak detection technology.
The technology, developed by Picarro, Santa Clara, Calif., uses a patented form of cavity-ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) to detect gas leaks even while driving. CRDS measures the near-infrared absorption spectrum to determine what gas-phase molecules may be present in the air around gas pipes and in what concentration, states a Picarro white paper. It uses a three-mirror cavity and a tunable single-frequency diode laser to create a continuous laser wave. By measuring how long it takes the light intensity generated by this wave to decay, the technology can automatically and continuously detect gases in the air.