Assessment of the uncertainty of using an inverse dispersion technique to measure methane emissions from animals in a barn and in a small pen.

Gao, Z., Desjardins, R.L., and Flesch, T.K. (2010). "Assessment of the uncertainty of using an inverse dispersion technique to measure methane emissions from animals in a barn and in a small pen.", Atmospheric Environment, 44(26), pp. 3128-3134. doi : 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.05.032  Access to full text

Abstract

Dispersion techniques are useful for assessing the effectiveness of management practices in mitigating methane (CH4) emissions from animal operations. In this paper, the accuracy of an inverse-dispersion technique was examined for two common situations: 1) emissions from animals in a barn and 2) emissions from animals in a pen. For both situations, the accuracy of emission estimates generally increased with increasing fetch (scaled to barn height, h, or to pen width, s) between the source and the concentration measurement. The gas recovery ratio increased from 0.66 at 5 h to 0.93-1.03 at 10 h-25 h for the barn, and decreased from 1.59 at 0 Xs to 0.99 at 5 Xs and from 1.54 at 0 Xs to 1.09 at 5 Xs for the two small pen scenarios, due to the declining sensitivity of the dispersion model to errors in wind complexity and errors in the assumed source configuration. However, the relative uncertainty of the measured concentration increased with fetch due to the decreasing gas concentrations. Hence, improving the accuracy of emission estimates is a compromise between the source configuration sensitivity and the concentration measurement sensitivity. Fetches of about twice the size of the pen and about 10 times the height of the barn are suggested.