New start-up to reduce global methane emission
Serving as a bridge between science and industry
Methane contributes significantly to climate change. Emission reduction of this greenhouse gas has shown high potential in quickly slowing down global warming. Utrecht University researcher Hossein Maazallahi recently founded his start-up Maaz Maps to accelerate methane emission reduction at the global scale. “My company operates with the latest academic knowledge. Although many questions are still unanswered, we have developed enough methods which are suitable for application in the real world.”
For more than a decade, Hossein Maazallahi has been researching methane emissions. Using various measurement technologies, he studied methane emissions from different sources in different European countries, from east to west. In doing so, he developed and applied innovative ways to determine what the location of the source is, what kind of source it is, and quantify the amount of emissions. A few months ago, he defended his dissertation on methane emission studies in urban areas. Soon after, he started his postdoc research at Utrecht University supported by the Environmental Defense Fund to collaborate with Seoul National University to study methane emissions in Seoul, South Korea.
Parallel to his academic career, Maazallahi launched the start-up Maaz Maps. The general aim of this company is to accelerate methane emission reduction efforts. It does so by serving as a bridge between industry and academia. “I have been doing research in this area for so long, and I can clearly see that together we can do way better”, he says passionately. “My company operates with the latest academic knowledge. Although many questions are still unanswered, we have developed enough methods which are suitable for application in the real world. This is important, because the clock is ticking. We need to act now and move toward mitigation.”
Energy, waste and agriculture
Methane emissions are a serious problem. In 2021, a global methane emissions reduction pledge was launched and signed by more than hundred countries. Emissions are highest in the energy, waste and agriculture sectors. In the energy sector, methane is released into the atmosphere either intentionally or unintentionally during oil and gas production and transportation. In the waste sector, wastewater treatment plants and the decomposing of organic material at landfill sites are sources of methane. In the agricultural sector, there are many sources of methane emissions, such as cattle, manure and rice cultivation.
The clock is ticking. We need to act now and move toward mitigation
Currently, the instruments for methane detection are there. They can be installed onboard cars, drones, airplanes, or even satellites. During his PhD research, Maazallahi improved the attribution techniques of these measurement instruments. In other words, he found a way to determine the kind of source the detected methane emissions originated from, such as combustion, gas leaks, or microbial sources. These attribution techniques are continuously improving, but are now good enough to be applied in the real world.
Despite his academic background, Maazallahi is no stranger in the industry. And when word got out, he was quickly approached for one of his first projects. The European Gas Research Group (GERG) contracted his startup and Utrecht University to scientifically evaluate emission reports from measurements at Zelzate compressor station in Belgium. Meanwhile, he has become experienced in working with industrial partners. "Lab situations and field situations are quite different. Our recommendations need to be relatable", he says. In the future, Maazallahi wishes to cooperate with similar overarching parties: “The outcomes are absolutely beneficial to everyone.”