Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

William J. Emery

Second Advisor

Jarett Bartholomew

Third Advisor

Xinzhao Chu

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Thayer

Fifth Advisor

Greg Rieker


Simulation, design, and analysis are combined in this effort to realize a UAV-scale instrument for fugitive gas detection. The contributing material to the industry begins by extending and correlating an integrated Gaussian plume model useful for instrument predictions and trade studies, regardless of the instrument type or molecule of interest. A variety of generally applicable plots are produced from this foundation, including receiver operator curves for leak rate detectability vs. wind speed, beam diameter vs. leak rate detectability, and plots for required scan densities. The atmospheric and instrument parameter trade studies are followed by hardware-specific analyses applicable to differential absorption lidar (DIAL) instruments. A synopsis of the lessons learned from hands-on experiences in the lab further define the design space for DIAL sensors. The dissertation culminates in the detailed design and analysis of two DIAL instrument concepts. The conclusion is that a DIAL instrument capable of reliably detecting a 50 SCFH plume in winds speeds up to 7 mph is on the threshold of being achievable on a quadcopter platform. Of special note is that the effort was funded by a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration grant and performed in collaboration with Ball Aerospace & Technologies.