Twelve different technologies from 11 organizations from drones to plane and truck monitors aimed at detecting and measuring methane emissions have been selected to advance to the testing phase of the Mobile Monitoring Challenge, the competition’s sponsors announced this week.

The Natural Gas Initiative, presented by Stanford University and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), announced the finalists for field testing of adaptive methane leak detection technologies “deployed on trucks, drones and planes.”

“Developing innovative solutions will be instrumental in reducing methane emissions,” said Sara Ortwein, President of XTO Energy, an affiliate of ExxonMobil. “The Mobile Monitoring Challenge lays the groundwork to leverage novel and cost-effective technologies that could help companies find and manage emissions in a faster, more efficient way.”

Solving methane emissions through advanced technologies that are also “cost-effective” is the focus of the Mobile Monitoring Challenge, emphasizing collaboration over confrontation.

Submissions came from start-ups, established companies, and academia, including the University of Calgary, ABB Los Gatos, Advisian, Baker Hughes, Picarro, and SeekOps, Inc. that focused on drones, while Aeris Technologies, Bluefield Technologies, Heath Consultants, and the University of Calgary offered truck systems. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Kairos Aerospace submitted entries in the plane category. ExxonMobil and Schlumberger served as industry advisers reviewing the proposals.

Field testing will begin in April, with most drone and truck-based systems being tested April 9-13 and again in early May at Colorado State University’s Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center in Fort Collins, Colo. The testing will be administered by Stanford’s Natural Gas Initiative. University scientists will carry out a series of large-scale methane releases that are controlled at a single location. Study teams will be challenged to to find and quantify the methane released.

According to a press release, aircraft-mounted systems and select drone and truck offerings will be tested in late May in California.

The goal is to commercialize the best technologies by 2019.

Participants believe the challenge taps into the technological revolution that is advancing the way the oil and gas industry monitors and mitigates emissions.

“There’s an enormous opportunity for utilization of unmanned aerial systems for detection and characterization of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector,” said Andrew Aubrey, Ph.D., Founder and CEO at SeekOps, Inc.

That includes incorporating remote technologies that can approach more challenging areas for the oil and gas industry.

“There’s a revolution happening in the gas sensing technologies world,” said James Scherer, Ph.D., CEO at Aeris Technologies, Inc., in a statement. “Mobile methane detection is the next frontier for the oil and gas industry, and we look forward to demonstrating the accuracy of our laser-based analyzer.”

The results of the competition will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

“Going through the scientific peer-review process adds another layer of validation to our study and will help businesses and policy makers to make informed choices to achieve methane reduction targets,” said Arvind Ravikumar, a Stanford postdoctoral research fellow.