President & Director of Innovation
Thomas A. Fox (Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Sc) is co-founder, President, and Director of Innovation at Highwood Emissions Management. He has worked for years to build bridges between industry, government, and academia that facilitate the evaluation and implementation of emerging methane measurement technologies. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Calgary Center for Smart Emissions Sensing Technologies and an M.Sc. from McGill University in satellite remote sensing and agricultural land-use.
Over the past decade there has been rapid growth in new technologies to measure and mitigate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. This inspired Thomas to lead the world’s first and most comprehensive review of methane technologies. From 2017 to 2019 he led an international team of experts analyzing dozens of systems and reporting their findings in an open-access publication [link]. For a shorter and less technical overview of the study, please read the article Thomas wrote for The Conversation [link]. From 2016 to 2020 Thomas contributed to the development, deployment, and testing of new drone and vehicle-based leak detection systems at the University of Calgary.
Forward-looking policies must enable the adoption of emerging tools by avoiding prescriptive reliance on legacy technologies and methods. However, technologies should only be approved for use if their effectiveness can be demonstrated to regulators. In 2018, regulators and technologists wanted to know how to demonstrate and approve new technologies. To answer this question, Thomas co-initiated a set of three workshops in two countries, bringing together over 100 stakeholders from government (EPA, ECCC, AER, CDPHE, CARB, etc.), industry (Shell, Exxon, etc.), nonprofits, technology innovators, solutions providers, consultants, and industry groups. The resulting consensus framework is publicly available [link]. Thomas later worked with Canadian regulators to implement a version of the framework.
Many technology developers are unfamiliar with the O&G industry and are often surprised to find strict safety protocols, limited infrastructure, and adverse environmental conditions. Field experience is essential to understand how new technologies can be deployed in the oil patch. Since 2016, Thomas has participated in major methane field trials for emerging technologies, including the Mobile Monitoring Challenge [link], the Alberta Methane Field Challenge [link], and the Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program Effectiveness [link]. Thomas is safety and OGI-certified and experienced in controlled release testing & technology performance.
Field testing of proposed policies and new technologies can be cost-prohibitive or require many years of demonstration. From 2017-2020, Thomas led invention and development of the Leak Detection and Repair Simulator (LDAR-Sim), a respected software product designed to evaluate emerging leak detection technologies, methods, programs, and policies [link]. LDAR-Sim is a geospatial modeling framework that can test new technologies and policy proposals over many years and under representative empirical input data for emissions, technology performance, policy requirements, infrastructure, and environment. LDAR-Sim can answer questions like “What technologies are most appropriate for my assets?”, “How can I cost-effectively achieve my mitigation targets?”, and “How many technology systems will be required to be compliant with government regulations?