Undergrad student takes climate change science to the streets

August 24, 2023 by Chris Sasaki

For physics undergraduate student Sebastian Ibarra Mendez, monitoring levels of methane in the GTA is a natural extension of a project he began in high school in Colombia.

As a student in Cajicá, Ibarra Mendez developed a methane detector for homes — not unlike a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm — designed to alert users of harmful levels of the gas leaking from domestic stoves. He won a national competition with the idea, which he has dubbed the Air Keeper, and is working to perfect the design and take it to market.

Now entering his fourth year of a physics and statistics major with a minor in computer science, Ibarra Mendez has been measuring methane leaks of a different kind as a Climate Positive Energy (CPE) summer undergraduate researcher.

He and Mishaal Kandapath — a former CPE summer researcher — have been monitoring levels of methane throughout the GTA by towing a gas analyzer behind a bicycle. The mobile device measures the concentration of methane along different routes, revealing plumes or hotspots with higher-than-normal emission levels. 

Read the full article.