Gas Detection

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.

ABB helps improve safety and profitability of oil and gas pipelines with drone-based gas leak detection

Leaks in gas distribution and transmission pipelines present serious safety risks and result in lost revenue and profits to producers.  The ABB Ability mobile gas leak detection system is a digital solution that for the first time, enables drone deployment in the identification of gas leakages. The new solution is being launched at ABB’s customer event in Houston to complement the existing range of ABB mobile gas leak detection systems suitable for all facilities.

The ABB Ability mobile gas leak detection system benefits from drone deployment as it enables faster identification of leaks, requires less man hours to implement and costs less to operate as it covers wide, hard-to-reach areas. To avoid false readings, it can distinguish between biogenic methane, the source of which is ruminant animals, manure and shallow coal and oil deposits, from thermogenic methane from natural gas.

The solution uses patented cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy to detect methane and ethane with a sensitivity more than 1000 times higher than conventional leak detection tools. Particularly robust yet simple, the Off-Axis Integrated Cavity Output Spectroscopy (OA-ICOS) has extreme sensitivity that allows ABB to quickly identify potential methane emissions at a greater distance while flying, which is not possible with other sensors.

ABB’s analysis software automatically processes the collected methane, ethane, GPS and wind data to create a simple, easy to use report in either GIS compatible or PDF formats. These reports can be used to quickly identify areas in the pipeline network that potentially have leaks.

Additionally, the software features, such as the ABB Ability cloud storage tools, allow quick and efficient distribution of data and reports to all stakeholders anywhere in the world. Authorised users can view the progress of flights in real-time as well as review and act on processed leak reports.

In March 2018, ABB was one of six companies invited by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Stanford University to represent the drone sector in the controlled testing phase of the Mobile Monitoring Challenge (MMC), a competition to advance mobile methane monitoring technologies at oil and natural gas facilities.

As well as being used for drones, the ABB Ability mobile gas leak detection system is used in urban distribution vehicles and hand held inspection devices, meaning that all three methods of gas detection can be deployed in conjunction with one another to provide optimal safeguarding of both people and the environment.

FLIR launches its first uncooled methane gas detection camera

FLIR Systems has announced the FLIR GF77 Gas Find IR, its first uncooled thermal camera designed for detecting methane. This handheld camera offers inspection professionals the features they need to find potentially dangerous, invisible methane leaks at natural gas power plants, renewable energy production facilities, industrial plants, and other locations along a natural gas supply chain. The GF77 provides methane gas detection capability at roughly half the price of cooled gas inspection thermal cameras, to empower the oil and gas industry to reduce emissions and ensure a safer work environment.   

Based on the award-winning design of the FLIR T-Series camera platform, the lighter weight GF77 features an ergonomic design, a vibrant LCD touchscreen, and a viewfinder to make it easy to use in any lighting conditions. The camera is engineered specifically to detect methane in order to improve gas inspections and reduce the chance of false readings. The GF77 also offers FLIR’s patented High Sensitivity Mode (HSM), which accentuates movement to make tiny gas plumes more visible to the user.

FLIR designed the GF77 to include its most updated technological features, including laser-assisted autofocus to help inspectors target leaks better, and one-touch contrast improvement that makes gases stand out clearly against the background. Additionally, a rapid-response graphical user interface helps professionals increase efficiency by allowing them to organize job folders, record notes, and add GPS location annotation on the camera.

“Optical gas imaging technology is a real benefit to industries that use or produce methane, but the cost of the technology has been a barrier for some customers,” said Jim Cannon, president and CEO of FLIR Systems. “The FLIR GF77 Gas Find IR gas detection camera is built around an uncooled, longwave infrared detector, which costs less to produce than our higher performance, cooled cameras, and therefore we can provide it to customers at a more attractive price point. By providing the industry with access to this groundbreaking technology, we can help improve the safety of professionals on the job.”

Drone inspection for gas detection

Gas sensors for the detection and monitoring of harmful substances within the environment such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane are essential elements of environmental risk assessment.

Used in a wide range of industries, processes and applications they touch our every day lives monitoring toxins found in landfill and agriculture right down to modified atmosphere packaging. But what do you do when faced with monitoring gas levels in areas where no man should go? This is the issue which presented itself to Edinburgh Sensors‘ clients, NTCR Consulting.

NTCR are NASA contractors who specialise in the field of harsh environment technology. Tasked with helping a customer conduct volcanic research they had to find a solution to help them navigate and conduct their research in an area which was difficult to access and inhospitable. A gas sensing drone was the answer. As an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) this provided a versatile solution to access this hazardous and potentially contaminated terrain.

With an emphasis on CO2, H2S and SO2 a gas sensing drone was developed with enhancements including sensor options for CH4 and O3. The device included one of Edinburgh Sensors’ own high sensitivity laser diodes with the additional option of up to four electro-chemical sensors. The sensors can be customised to a variety of specifications for species and sensitivity ranges.

Volcanic Drone Inspection, Italy

You can watch the UAV drone inspection test of the NTX minigaps Instrument Solfatara and Vulcano Deployment conducted in Italy below.

Solutions for Gas Sensing

Edinburgh Sensors have a range of gas sensors to suit a variety of gases. Manufactured to the highest specification, they can be integrated into a wide range of systems for fast and reliable measurements of CO, CO2 and CH4. The company is able to provide bespoke solutions to meet research and technical requirements suitable to a wider range of gases.

JBS&G adds another Tiger PID to portfolio of gas detection instrumentation

Australian environmental consultancy, JBS&G has purchased another well-proven Tiger handheld volatile organic compound (VOC) monitor from Ion Science.

This latest handheld photoionisation detector (PID) is being used on a major new project and was chosen for a number of performance benefits as well as the free extended five year warranty.

JBS&G is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading and most respected providers of environmental services, including contaminated land, groundwater remediation, impact assessment, due diligence, EPA accredited auditing, hazardous materials and occupational hygiene assessment. The company has worked on some of the largest and most complex environmental assessment and remediation projects in the countries.

Aaron Smith, senior consultant at JBS&G, commented: “We use PIDs on a daily basis to help implement our many contaminated land projects. The company owns several VOC monitors, including Ion Science instruments, and often rents extra ones too to cope with the ebb and flow of business. We have been using the handheld Tiger detector for many years without a problem and found it to be a robust, reliable, fast, accurate and user-friendly solution.

He continued: “A major new project prompted the need for a further PID and we did not hesitate in choosing another Ion Science Tiger especially with the free five year warranty when the instrument is registered within one month of purchase.”

Ion Science’s Tiger is being used by JBS&G to detect the presence of airborne concentrations of VOCs emitted from soils contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons and other substances. The results are interpreted and used to assess potential health risk to site workers and the surrounding members of the public.

JBS&G’s uses the Tigers to monitor VOCs in a wide variety of applications, including contaminated soils (headspace and soil vapour), surface water, groundwater, unknown chemical compounds, under and above ground petroleum storage tanks, abandoned buildings, service pits, sewers, as well as other confined spaces.

JBS&G benefits from multiple PIDs within its business across all states of Australia. They are used on a daily basis during contaminated land investigations and other assessments of potential hazardous substances. Data is manually recorded on score sheets or downloaded to a PC where formal reporting is required.

The Tiger’s PID sensor utilises advanced patented Fence Electrode technology, a three-electrode format with increased resistance to humidity (up to 99 per cent RH) and contamination. This maximises accuracy and dependability by removing high backgrounds and false-positives in high-humidity environments. The anti-contamination design also reduces calibration frequency.

Aaron added: “We use the PID to assess potentially contaminated land, air and materials which makes the Tiger’s anti-contamination design very important in providing the most accurate results possible.”

The Tiger incorporates the recently released MiniPID 2 sensor, which offers a raft of benefits to instrument functionality, including reliable operation at extreme temperatures and more repeatable performance.

Other advantages of the MiniPID 2 are lower running current, robust lamp illumination and more reliable operation at extreme temperatures.  It gives stability, control and reliability benefits that are unavailable in other PID designs.

The Tiger is designed for rapid detection, with an unrivalled response time of just two seconds, and the widest measurement range of one part per billion (ppb) up to 20,000 parts per million (ppm).

It offers worldwide Intrinsic Safety (IS) certification and also meets ATEX, IECEx, North American and Canadian standards. Inexpensive disposable parts such as filters and lamps are easy to change, minimising downtime. Simple connectivity to a PC via the USB allows data to be downloaded quickly.

“The overall service from Ion Science has been excellent and we will definitely be using more of their monitoring instruments in the future,” Aaron concluded.

How to use infrared technology for gas detection

FLIR Systems, through its Infrared Training Centre (ITC), has announced a live online tutorial on 25 May 2017 that addresses the subject ‘Discover how you can use infrared technology for gas detection’.

Presented by Steve Beynon, a leading specialist with over 10-years experience of optical gas imaging, this live online tutorial will provide an overview of how infrared technology is successfully used for gas leak detection. Attendees will learn what type of infrared camera is needed, be given examples of gases that can be identified as well as discussing environmental conditions required, safety considerations, and much more.

A basic overview of thermal science will also be given to demonstrate how this application works. In addition, the tutorial will address what users of this technology can do to get the most out of their equipment.

Register here for this free live tutorial session.

The Infrared Training Center (ITC) is the training arm of FLIR Systems. ITC infrared certifications are globally recognized and are designed to exceed the requirements of international infrared thermography certification standards. The staff of ITC participate in infrared certification committees to ensure that they are aware of the latest developments in international standards.