The unit can measure the hydrogen sulfide concentration of several incoming shale gas feeds simultaneously, which is unique to the Applied Analytics OMA-300 Series.

Fracking is the term used for hydraulic fracturing, which is a technique used that targets shale gas – which is the natural gas trapped within deep rock layers.

Much like historic drilling rushes, the fracking craze of the past decade has been characterised by wide speculation over reserve sizes, disputes over valuable land rights, proprietary extraction technologies, and different region-by-region legislation.

The undeniable allure of domestic shale gas, especially for countries dependent on foreign oil, has led to the fast-tracked acceleration of fracking projects around the world.

And due to this “new frontier” fracking landscape, the shale gas industry is filled with many eager players, with projects ranging from massive operations to small ‘wildcat’ rigs in highly populated areas.

This variety of sources means that the shale gas can vary wildly in quality and composition, specifically, sulfur content.

Yet the energy companies that purchase the extracted gas are still responsible for making sure the incoming feeds from fracking operations meet quality standards before distributing the gas to consumers.

The logistical challenge is to validate sulfur content in these diverse gas sources without slowing distribution or increasing costs.

The facility at which natural gas is physically delivered from one company to another (i.e. from a frack site to a pipeline operator) is known as a “custody transfer point.”

At this station, the gas purchaser must measure hydrogen sulfide concentration in the feeds or risk pipeline damage, work hazards, and providing contaminated gas downstream to consumers.

Using online UV spectrophotometers, the hydrogen sulfide concentration of an incoming shale gas feed is continuously monitored in real time; a multiplexed configuration uses a single analyser unit to watch H2S levels in several incoming streams simultaneously.

Furthermore, full-spectrum background correction (unique to Applied Analytics’ OMA-300 Series) secures the measurement accuracy against the high variation in shale gas composition, specifically the fluctuation of chemicals that would cause cross-interference in a more rudimentary analytical system.

Most importantly, the fully automated nature of these systems means that they are integrated at the custody transfer point with no effect on the process, other than seamless sulfur monitoring.