Abstract

This paper describes the design and testing of a laboratory prototype dual He–Ne laser system for the detection of methane leaks from underground pipelines and solid-waste landfill sites using differential absorption of radiation backscattered from topographic targets. A laboratory-prototype dual cw carbon dioxide laser system also using topographic backscatter is discussed, and measurement results for methanol are given. With both systems, it was observed that the time-varying differential absorption signal was useful in indicating the presence of a gas coming from a nearby source. Limitations to measurement sensitivity, especially the role of speckle and atmospheric turbulence, are described. The speckle results for hard targets are contrasted with those from atmospheric aerosols. The Appendix gives appropriate laser lines and values of absorption coefficients for the hydrazine fuel gases.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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