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In December 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new regulations to address fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas well sites and centralized production facilities. The regulations, for the first time, embrace recent advances in new methane detection technologies. They establish monitoring frequency and detection method requirements based on results obtained from using the FEAST model that a former Harrisburg University of Science and Technology researcher refined for three years at the Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3).

On the heels of that announcement last week, Federal pipeline regulators formally proposed their first regulations to reduce natural gas leaks from pipelines to reduce pollution and the effects of climate change. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that also specifically cited the FEAST model as a tool that has informed the development of the regulations.

Dr. Arvind P. Ravikumar began this research as an Assistant Professor of Energy Engineering at Harrisburg University and the Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy in September 2018. The Center works to involve Harrisburg University’s faculty, students, and curriculum in helping to solve real-world environment, energy, and sustainability problems, focusing on developing robust decision-support tools that translate science into action.

Ravikumar launched his Sustainable Energy Development Lab at the Center for E3, where he and his students undertook multidisciplinary research on critical energy topics, including greenhouse gas monitoring across scales, energy systems of the future, and climate policy.

Central to that work was the continued development of his Fugitive Emissions Abatement Simulation Toolkit, or FEAST, an open-source model initially created by Professor Ravikumar and research colleagues at Stanford University to model the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of various leak detection and repair (LDAR) technologies and regimes in oil and natural gas production. FEAST simulates various scenarios of leaks (and subsequent repairs) occurring over time using an empirical leak dataset according to a randomized process. The toolkit supports a variety of detection technologies, including Optical Gas Imaging (OGI), aerial surveys, drone surveys, and continuous monitoring systems and can model hybrid programs (e.g., aerial surveys followed by ground-level OGI surveys).

Dr. Ravikumar’s research at HU attracted close to $3 million in government, industry, and other funding, and he engaged deeply with various national and state government agencies in the US, in Canada, and industry groups. His work at HU involved collaborations with Stanford University, Colorado State University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Calgary (Canada), the Gas Technology Institute, and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI).

“Dr. Ravikumar and colleagues have done and continue to do great, inspiring, and impactful work. I’m grateful for his three years of doing that work at HU. I think it’s fair to say that, based on that, E3’s focus on evidence-based decision-making and the development of decision support tools and HU’s programs have – now twice – directly impacted national policy,” says John Quigley, Director of the Center for E3.

Additionally, professors Amjad Umar, Iheb Abdellatif, and Majid Shaalan supported Ravikumar’s work at Harrisburg University, and graduate students Khaled Iskandarani in the Computer Information Science program, Lyra Wang in the Analytics program, and post-docs Devyani Singh and Lydia Yang all worked with Ravikumar’s on FEAST here at HU. Ravikumar’s research at HU also employed Research Associates Chandler Kemp and Alan Strayer.

Dr. Ravikumar is now a Research Associate Professor on the University of Texas at Austin faculty, which he joined in September 2021.

About the Center for E3
Harrisburg University’s Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) was created in August 2017 to connect HU’s faculty, curriculum, and students to change-makers who work to combine environmental protection and sustainability practices with economic development. The Center partners with and solves problems for businesses and governmental entities, focusing on IT, data, and systems-based projects supporting evidence-based decision-making systems, policy development, and practice. ​


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