Gas Detection

Signal Group announces new senior appointment

The UK based gas analyser manufacturer Signal Group has announced the appointment of Stephane Canadas as Sales and Marketing Manager. “In recent years we have invested heavily in product development, so this is a great time for Stephane to join the company,” comments Signal MD James Clements. “In many respects, our latest products are significantly ahead of other analysers on the market, so Stephane will be focused on expanding our global distribution network and explaining the advantages of these instruments to our rapidly expanding customer base.

“As an electronics engineer with 30 years of experience in instrumentation, working in product management, projects, sales and marketing positions for world leading automation and analytical companies, Stephane has hit the ground running at Signal, and we are delighted to welcome him to the team.”

Stephane says: “With my technical background and a career spent understanding the needs of engineers, I am hugely excited by this opportunity to exploit the impressive features that Signal has designed into its products.

“The new Series IV analysers, with removable screens and the latest communications capabilities, will disrupt the gas analyser market, and the prospect of QAL 1 approval for the Signal FIDs will be of great interest to any organisation with a need to measure VOC emissions.”

Born in France, but having lived most of his life in the UK, Stephane is bilingual and is particularly looking forward to developing Signal’s international operations.

Vaisala wins Finnish Innovation Award with novel biogas measurement instrument

The groundbreaking Vaisala MGP261 biogas instrument has today been announced as a winner in the Finnish Quality Innovation competition, where it won the Circular economy and carbon neutrality innovations category. After being recognised as an outstanding example of innovation in the field of sustainable technologies, the instrument now advances to the finals of the global Quality Innovation Award competition.

“This is a great recognition for a product as revolutionary as the MGP261. The Vaisala CARBOCAP MGP261 Multigas Instrument for Methane, Carbon Dioxide, and Humidity was first introduced in early 2019, with instant benefits for the biogas industry. The Vaisala MGP261 transforms waste into value: The better the entire process is monitored and optimised by reacting to changes in gas composition and humidity, the more efficient the biogas plant becomes. This translates directly into improved profitably for customers and is also good for the planet,” says Vaisala Project Manager Otto Tierto.

A sustainable solution for a greener tomorrow

Industrial and municipal waste and wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and even farms can produce electricity and heat from biowaste by using a combined heat and power engine. But running one profitably means improving the quality of the produced biogas; this has been a tough goal to achieve, until now.

The Vaisala MGP261 is the world’s first in situ three-in-one biogas measurement instrument. It works directly in the biogas stream and is Ex certified up to zone 0.

“We all need to do everything we can to halt the climate change by transitioning to a circular economy and turning waste into energy,” says Jutta Hakkarainen, Vaisala’s Industrial Measurements business’ Strategy and Business Development Director. “In a resource-efficient business, raw materials are used in an economical and sustainable manner instead of letting them go to waste. Vaisala’s MGP261 multigas instrument helps the biogas production processes become more efficient and improves the biogas quality.”

CO2 traffic lights rely on Sensirion’s CO2 sensor technology

ISIS IC has chosen Sensirion’s SCD30 CO2 sensor for its CO2 signal lights for classrooms, thus enabling reliable and accurate measurements in schools. The SCD30 is the ideal solution for determining air quality and for applications in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) sector.

Scientists have proven that SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses are mainly spread by aerosols exhaled by infected people. In enclosed indoor spaces (classrooms, offices, gyms, theaters, etc.), the main source of aerosols and CO2 is the human body itself. High CO2 concentrations in rooms are therefore accompanied by high aerosol levels, which in turn indicate inadequate ventilation and also increase the risk of infection. Measuring CO2 is therefore a useful method for assessing air quality with respect to CO2 and aerosol concentration, and enables simple, clear, and feasible ventilation recommendations to be made. In the cold season in particular, it is possible to achieve a balance between preventing the building becoming too cold through ventilation, and reducing the risk of viral infection.

“As the expert in environmental sensor technology, Sensirion is the ideal partner for our CO2 traffic lights. Thanks to its high accuracy, compact size, and excellent performance, Sensirion’s SCD30 CO2 sensor met all our requirements,” says Dirk Unsenos of ISIS IC. “In the meantime, we have already been able to gain important insights during our pilot projects in schools, which are significant with regard to safety and acceptance in daily classroom use.”

“While larger respiratory droplets sink quickly to the ground, aerosols can float in the air for a long time. It is therefore especially important to monitor and optimise air quality in classrooms. We are convinced that the CO2 signal light with its reliable measurement and instructive traffic light colors can help to monitor air quality and thus minimise the risk of infection and improve students’ concentration,” says Pascal Gerner, Director Product Management at Sensirion.

Sensirion’s SCD30 sensors, based on CMOSens technology, enable high-accuracy carbon dioxide measurements at an attractive price-performance ratio. In addition to the CO2 sensor, a first-class humidity and temperature sensor is used on the same sensor module.

ION Science launches new global websites

In a key strategic move to reflect the changing needs of its global customer base, Cambridgeshire-based ION Science – leading manufacturer of gas detection instrumentation for occupational health and environmental monitoring applications – has launched re-designed Global websites at www.ionscience.com.

Duncan Johns, Managing Director at ION Science

Boasting a streamlined, modern design, ION Science’s striking new website offers the ultimate user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality while allowing visitors to see the full product portfolio for both its gas and leak detectors and sensors and components.

As well as providing visitors with better access to its advanced range of gas and leak detectors and OEM Gas Sensors, the website offers technical knowledge and expertise in any language, through the comprehensive resource centre containing valuable gas guides, application articles and customer case studies.

The site has a wealth of Customer Support content in document and video formats covering Customer service and technical support, instrument and sensor software, accessories and service and calibration.

Duncan Johns, Managing Director at ION Science comments: “We are excited for people to see our new website. The re-design reflects our on-going growth and continued commitment to the development of high-performance gas detection equipment and OEM gas sensors for use on a worldwide basis.”

ExRobotics unmanned robot incorporates ION Science Falco fixed PID

Throughout unmanned facilities within the oil and gas industry, a human presence is generally still needed for regular inspection work, so deploying Ex certified robots (ATEX and IECEx Zone 1) incorporated with the ION Science Falco, can have a significant positive impact on safety by minimising worker field trips, which in turn reduces operating costs.

ION Science’s Falco VOC (volatile organic compound) monitor boasts fast response times and several innovative design features. The instrument’s typhoon technology prevents condensation forming on the sensor making it ideal for use in high humidity and harsh weather conditions.

Ian Peerless, Operations Director at ExRobotics comments: “Our robots are used in the oil and gas industry mainly for first response, fugitive emission and preventative maintenance. The introduction of more stringent fugitive emission regulations and the subsequent opening up of new markets prompted the need for a fixed gas detection instrument that could be incorporated into our remotely operated ExR-1 robot.

“The ION Science Falco VOC monitor was recommended by a significant player in the oil industry who conducted extensive performance tests and trials at a large refinery where the Falco came out on top. When ExRobotics did testing of its own, we also found the detector to be robust and reliable.”

The ExRobotics ExR-1 robot is equipped with camera’s for visual inspection, microphones for sound monitoring and the Falco gas detector for leak detection. It sends an alarm to the control room if a leak is detected.

ExR-1 with Falco navigates autonomously through installations and find its way back to its docking station to recharge. This means that inspectors and operators can reduce their visits to remote or hazardous locations, greatly improving their work safety.

Improving cereal storage facilities with gas sensing

Storage of cereal crops and other foodstuffs is an essential part of ensuring a sustainable and robust food supply. Cereal crops are typically harvested between mid-July to mid-September but with careful storage can be kept for periods longer than a year. Successful storage of cereals involves the balance of a variety of environmental conditions to ensure the maintenance of quality and the original properties of the grain, including weight and appearance. Ideally, stored grain should be able to match freshly harvested grains in terms of nutrition and appeal.

Poor quality storage not just threatens global food security, a growing concern in a world with expanding populations and energy demands, but also comes with a significant financial cost. Maize crops lost to poor storage conditions account for $500 million to $1 billion of lost revenue for the developing world alone.

These are strong motivations to find reliable methods for the monitoring and optimising of environmental conditions for grain storage. Common reasons for spoilage of stored cereals include water and humidity damage, invasion by insects or microorganisms, or even decomposition. Common approaches to kill invasive species were to fumigate storage silos with toxic chemicals but this only addresses the issue of damage by organisms and has become generally less popular with time due to concerns about the safety of using such chemicals on foodstuffs. However, it has been found that by using modified atmospheric conditions that, not only can temperature and humidity damage be minimised, but the decomposition rate slowed and even the growth rates of microorganisms minimised.

Modified Atmospheres

Modified atmospheric conditions mean an environment that deliberately has its gas composition controlled, often by complete replacement of the local atmosphere with a combination of deliberately chosen gases. These are commonplace in all areas of food preservation, from the packaging on supermarket shelves for meat and vegetables, to their use in storage silos for cereals.

Some of the advantage of using modified atmospheric conditions for cereal storage over traditional physio-chemical methods is that there are fewer safety concerns associated with the use of chemical products and several contributors to cereal spoilage can be tackled with the same process. For example, one of the most common causes of food spoilage in humid areas is the uptake of water by the cereal, which often leads to mold growth and decomposition. Reducing the humidity in the environment does not just have to be done with a physical dehumidifying process, such as using a refrigerant to condense water out of the air, but can be done by increasing the nitrogen concentration. Increased nitrogen and oxygen concentrate can also be used to kill insects and microbes.

One gas that is often carefully controlled in modified atmospheric conditions is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is often used in high concentrations to inhibit insect life in the cereal for preservation, but detection, of carbon dioxide levels can be very useful as an indicator of spoilage of crops.8 As decomposition of the cereal starts to occur, a combination of carbon dioxide, and highly toxic carbon monoxide, are produced and this can be used as a diagnostic for the quality of the storage. One of the issues, if decomposition occurs due to the presence of microorganisms, is if the problem is not rectified quickly, the microorganisms will continue to grow and more of the cereal will be wasted.

Sensitive gas monitors can, therefore, help not just to ensure modified atmospheric conditions are optimal but to check for signs of spoilage, or also the formation of toxic gases. Grain silos will can become anaerobic environments and spoilage can produce large volumes of carbon dioxide, which could lead to the asphyxiation of workers and so gas monitoring is required as part of health and safety legislation.

Many cereal storage facilities are retroactively fitted with modified atmosphere equipment and so easy to install and robust independent gas monitors are the perfect complement for that. To that end, Edinburgh Sensors offer a wide range of OEM gas sensors based on nondispersive infrared (NDIR) technology, a highly sensitive and accurate approach for the detection of many gaseous species such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

For cereal storage facilities, Edinburgh Sensors‘ GasCard NG is the ideal way to ensure optimal storage conditions for crops. As the device is calibrated in factory, no reference gas is required, (the detector is suitable for use with a series of different gases but one device can detect one gas sat a time), and installation and use is designed to be as straightforward as possible. As in the case of spoilage the change in carbon dioxide levels may be very small, the accuracy of ±2% in measuring carbon dioxide concentrations between 0 – 100 % is ideal.

The GasCard NG can easily be connected to external data logging devices using a RS232 interface or TCP/IP protocol. As the sensor is provided with logging software, it only needs a connecting cable to be purchased to be up and ready for real-time data logging. With a short warm-up time of a minute and a response time of less than 90 seconds, the GasCard NG is also suitable for high throughput measurements on a rapidly changing and complex environment of a storage silo, ensuring problems can be detected and solved before they evolve any further and significantly reducing food spoilage.

IR detectors used in breath gas analysis

Due to the high demand for medical technology, LASER COMPONENTS Detector Group has switched its production of IR detectors to multi-shift operation. The components manufactured in Arizona are important key elements in the examination of the CO2 level in breath gas analysis. Due to the current situation, production capacities in the medical technology sector must be increased significantly to provide urgently needed equipment.

In spectroscopic breath gas analysis, PbSe detectors can quickly detect the smallest fluctuations in CO2 concentration even without additional cooling. They can therefore be integrated into medical devices in a space-saving manner. In ventilators, the carbon dioxide content of exhaled air is measured to check whether the patient has absorbed the oxygen provided.

LASER COMPONENTS Detector Group’s portfolio includes all common IR technologies. The production facility in the U.S. state of Arizona primarily manufactures (x-)InGaAs-PIN photodiodes, pyroelectric DLaTGS and LiTaO3 detectors, and PbS and PbSe detectors. With many years of experience and employees who are known in the industry as proven experts, LASER COMPONENTS Detector Group has established itself as the global market leader for PbSe technology. In the E.U., LASER COMPONENTS is leading the campaign to extend RoHS exemptions to continue use of this technology in such important industries as medical technology.

LASER COMPONENTS’ IR detectors are supplied to well-known medical technology manufacturers. Coordination with these customers currently determines the international day-to-day business in order to ensure rapid delivery of critical components.

Ion Science instrument used for monitoring VOCs at Guernsey waste transfer station

Guernsey’s States Works is using an Ion Science TigerLT handheld photoionisation detector (PID) to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being emitted from an odour control system installed at Guernsey’s waste transfer station. Supplied by distributor Shawcity and chosen for its portability, high detection rates and range of response factors, the instrument is helping to prevent the escape of malodours into the surrounding environment.

States Works is using the Ion Science TigerLT PID instrument at three outlet ports on each of the transfer station’s odour control carbon filter vessels where it is monitoring VOCs being emitted at quarter, half and three quarters depths of the carbon filter media. It enables States Works to estimate usage of the media so they can be replaced to ensure malodours are not being released into the environment.

Yannic Bearder, Senior Environmental Monitoring Technician at States Works, comments: “Part of our role is to ensure that the new waste transfer station and old landfill sites are not affecting the environment or impacting the local community.

“The company that installed the odour control system at the waste transfer station recommended we use Ion Science’s Tiger PID to measure VOCs from the three outlet ports to help assess utilisation of the carbon filter media.”

The TigerLT instrument is being used by States Works for weekly monitoring of VOCs with the data downloaded manually via USB and logged onto a spreadsheet.

Ion Science’s TigerLT, which offers worldwide Intrinsic Safety (IS) certification for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, is a streamlined, low cost version of Ion Science’s well proven Tiger PID model.

Like all Ion Science PID instruments, the TigerLT incorporates the company’s market-leading PID technology with advanced patented fence electrode system. This three-electrode format ensures increased resistance to humidity and contamination for ultimate reliability and accuracy in the field.

With a detection range of 0.1 – 5,000 ppm utilising a standard two-point calibration protocol, Ion Science’s robust TigerLT also offers an unrivalled industry response time of just two seconds and equally quick clear down.

Both simple to operate and service, the TigerLT offers easy access to the lamp and sensor with batteries that can be safely replaced in hazardous environments. The intrinsically safe instrument also meets ATEX, IECEx, UL and CSA standards.

Yannic continues: “Ion Science’s distributor Shawcity recommended the Ion Science TigerLTVOC monitor as it met our requirement for portability, high detection rates and range of response factors. Although the instrument is only being used outdoors for short periods of time, it also has a reassuringly rugged design.”

The TigerLT six pin MiniPID detector cell with anti-contamination design dramatically extends run time in the field. Low cost filters and lamps can be easily changed in minutes, minimising downtime.

It features long life rechargeable Li-ion batteries which give up to 24 hours usage. Fast battery charging allows the instrument to be fully charged in 6.5 hours, while eight hours of use can be achieved from 1.5 hours of charging time.

TigerLT features a protective, removable boot for harsh environments while a large, clear back-lit display allows for easy viewing in any light condition. It is IP 65 rated against water ingress. An integrated torch is designed for directing the instrument’s probe into dimly lit areas. Other features include a loud 95 dB audible alarm and multiple language support.

Ready to use, straight out of the box, the TigerLT does not require complicated set up procedures via a PC to perform basic functions.

“After a brief overview from Shawcity, we have found the Tiger extremely easy to use and reliable,” adds Yannic.

Gas monitoring in frozen and dried food storage

There are many different approaches to food preservation for extending the lifetimes of perishable goods. From pickling, salting, canning or jellying, all of these approaches have different effects on the properties of the preserved produce and are suitable for different types of food. Two of the most widely used methods for food preservation are freezing and dried food storage.

The low temperatures involved in freezing food kill and prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms and help to reduce nutrient loss. Drying foods, on the other hand, achieve bacterial growth inhibition by removing moisture from the food and slows down the enzyme activity alongside this.

As well as the atmospheric conditions during the freezing or drying process being important for maximizing the quality of the produce, the relative ratios of different atmospheric gases and humidity is also crucial during the storage of preserved foods. For dried products such as flour or cereals, ‘modified atmospheric conditions’, or storage of the food in specific, controlled mixture of gases, can extend shelf life by up to three times by inhibiting chemical reactions that lead to degradation and spoilage.

Modified Atmospheres

Modified atmospheric conditions are now commonplace in the packaging, storage, and transport of all kinds of food products, from fresh to frozen produce. High carbon dioxide and reduced oxygen levels can be beneficial for killing invasive insect species or microorganisms that would otherwise grow on and spoil the food as it was stored. High nitrogen concentrations can be used as a humidity control for keeping dried foods as it can help preserve food quality while extending food lifetimes.

By using gas mixtures to replace insecticides and the addition of preservatives such as nitrites to meats, modified atmospheric package, and controlled atmosphere storage offer a versatile and effective way to preserve foods without the need to add additional chemicals or processing stages.

The main gases of interest for modified atmosphere storage are carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. However, controlling and maintaining the concentrations of these gases, particularly for dried food storage can be challenging. Optimum conditions often require very precise levels of control, with gas concentration ranges needing to be within 1 % of a given value. The other challenge for foods such as cereals is that they continue to produce and release gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide so the atmospheric conditions require constant adjustment. Monitoring gas levels is advantageous not just for maintaining optimum storage conditions, but also as increased carbon dioxide production can be an early indicator of food spoilage.

Frozen and Dried Food Storage

Gas monitoring for frozen and dried food comes with a particular set of challenges. Often, the freezing process is performed using carbon dioxide as a cryogen. The carbon dioxide is normally used in its solid form, known as ‘dry ice’, which has a temperature of – 79◦C. This allows rapid cooling of the food to help reduce risk of contamination and preserve food quality.

However, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety indicating that CO2 levels of 40 000 ppm (4%) are immediately dangerous to life and health with 10-hour workplace exposure limits being set at much lower limits. Foods may also be kept in similar cryogenic conditions during transportation and before use to reduce food wastage so reliable gas monitoring during the freezing and storage process is an essential part of health and safety.

For dried foods, even dried fruits produce not insignificant levels of carbon dioxide over time so for storage of large volumes of dried fruits, such as in grain barges, carbon dioxide monitoring is key for both food preservation and worker safety.

Gas Detection

For frozen and dried food storage, real-time gas monitoring and logging can help prevent unnecessary wastage while keeping produce in its optimal conditions. To achieve this requires gas detectors capable of constant, online analysis and with rapid response times and good accuracy.

Edinburgh Sensors are one of the market leaders in the development and production of non-dispersive infrared sensors (NDIR). As many hydrocarbon gases and molecules like carbon dioxide absorb infrared light very efficiently, NDIR sensors offer a very sensitive approach to detecting even small concentrations of such molecules.

Some of the NDIR sensors offered by Edinburgh Sensors include the Gascard, the Guardian NG, and the GasCheck. All of these devices have minimal need for recalibration and long device lifetimes and are capable of self-correcting measurements over a range of humidity conditions (0 – 95 %) ensuring they always achieve the best accuracy and reliability.

All of Edinburgh Sensors’s products can be interfaced with networking data logging systems or more complex control software if setting up feedback systems to maintain active control over modified atmospheric conditions is desirable. In the case of the Gascard, this can be done with on-board R323 connections but the Boxed Gascard version of this instrument can also be quickly connected via USB for immediate use.

With accuracies for carbon dioxide monitoring typically in the ± 2 % range, Edinburgh Sensors has a variety of solutions for gas monitoring even in challenging environmental conditions and offer full pre- and post-purchase technical sales advice.

Al Masaood relies on the BM25 multi-gas detector

The BM25 from Oldham-Simtronics, part of 3M Gas & Flame Detection, is a rugged multi-gas area monitor designed to ensure safety in hazardous environments.Testimony to this fact can be provided by Al Masaood Oil & Gas, which following its formation in 1971, became one of the first oil and gas suppliers and contractors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Al Masaood has supplied around 800 BM25 portable gas detectors into a host of onshore and offshore projects, including 200 of the latest-generation wireless models. The company acquires the units directly from Oldham-Simtronics.

“We selected the BM25 because we can trust and depend on its performance in the harsh environments in which we operate,” states Ammar Maarouf, Department Manager, Airloop & H2S Safety Services, Al Masaood Oil & Gas. “The BM25´s robust construction and intelligent design make it one of the best detectors to be deployed in applications where area monitoring is a critical part of the safety system.”

The BM25 was designed for team protection or area surveillance, and is ideally suited to perimeter monitoring, rig overhauls, and mobile or short-term work where fixed detection systems are not practical. Providing the capability to monitor one-to-five gases simultaneously, the BM25 packs the benefits of a fixed area monitor into a rugged, user-friendly and transportable instrument; a factor that has long-appealed to Al Masaood.

Around 10 years after the introduction of the first-generation BM25, the monitor continues to be the tried and trusted go-to solution within the transportable gas detection market.

With over 900 employees, Abu Dhabi-based Al Masaood Oil & Gas provides advanced energy services into upstream and downstream operations. Its Air Loop & H2S Safety business unit also supplies, calibrates and services various application-specific products across the UAE, including portable gas monitors, for both sales-based and rental-based projects.

“Provide us with a challenge and we’ll find the right solution,» says Mr Maarouf. »Portable gas detection and area monitoring has been a key competency for many years, and here we rely on various solutions from 3M Gas & Flame Detection, including the PS200 multi-gas detector, as well as the BM25.”

Up to five gases can be monitored simultaneously using the BM25; interchangeable sensors are available for AsH3, CO, CO2, H2, HCl, HCN, NO2, NH3, O2, PH3, SiH4 and SO2. When the BM25 detects a hazardous level of gas, the top-mounted beacon sends a flashing, bright signal in all directions while emitting a powerful, 103dB siren alarm.

“The standard BM25 can send alarms via alarm transfer cables, however, the latest-generation BM25 Wireless sends alarms, faults and readings using a 2.4GHz wireless signal,” explains Mr Maarouf. “This set-up can create a safety perimeter around a detected atmospheric hazard, or transmit a manually initiated emergency signal over a wide area.”

Powered by a NiMH battery pack, the BM25 multi-gas monitor offers up to 170 hours of continuous run time. Other standard features include STEL (short-term exposure limit) and TWA (time-weighted average) values, as well as a data-logging capacity of more than four months.

The BM25 Wireless provides networking and communication to the Oldham-Simtronics MX40 controller, which centralises the data and can display up to 32 measurements in real time. When a BM25 signals an alarm, the MX40 also goes into alarm mode and can, for example, control internal relays and order other monitors to transmit the alarm as well. The control panel displays real-time gas concentrations, field device status, battery levels, network RF signal quality and fault diagnostic conditions.

“To date we’ve supplied around 200 BM25 Wireless gas detectors,” says Mr Maarouf. “In fact, I think we were the first in our region to offer them. Our customers love the simplicity and the speed in which they can be deployed to keep workers safe.”

The Oldham-Simtronics BM25 Wireless can be used as a stand-alone monitor or linked into a mesh network to provide gas detection over a large area. The mesh network allows peer-to-peer connection with all other units in the network to send, receive and relay data. As a result, detectors can communicate around obstructions and alter communication paths should a monitor be removed for recharging or servicing. A total of 30 BM25 Wireless units may be meshed together in a single network, while up to 16 independent networks can co-exist without interference.

“We have used the BM25 and BM25 Wireless for so many years because they offer five-gas capability and are compact and extremely reliable in comparison with competitor units,” states Mr Maarouf. “We also like the excellent connectivity of the BM25 Wireless unit, which offers added-value for our clients as there is no need to use transfer cables for the alarm. A good stock of detectors is maintained at Al Masaood so that we can respond quickly to customer requirements.”

With 14,000 units in operation worldwide, BM25 multi-gas detectors are technologically capable and highly proven devices. This latter point is particularly important in safety-critical oil and gas applications, where any failure to detect dangerous gases could have disastrous consequences.