Plan for the Present and the Future when Choosing Gas Detection Technology

The upcoming implementation of new European emission standards could potentially impact over 140,000 new and existing processing facilities throughout the European Union. The new legislation will regulate emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and dust into the air. Therefore, many operators at medium combustion plants are focused on determining the best emissions monitoring technology to meet the new requirements. In a recent article appearing in Process Engineering magazine, Emerson’s Edward Naranjo joined other industry experts in commenting on recent trends and developments in gas detection technology.

“Large unwanted escapes of combustible gases lead to fire and explosions,” Naranjo warns. “Even at low gas concentrations, combustible airborne contaminants may cause acute and chronic effects on plant personnel, and if gas is dispersed beyond the fence line, affect residents of the surrounding community.” He explains that in the complex make-up of modern process plants, there can be a multitude of potential leak points.

Naranjo goes on to expand on trends. “Technology is improving on two major fronts to increase detection efficiency,” he says. “First, manufacturers are developing area monitors like open path gas and ultrasonic gas leak detectors. Because these devices provide large areas of coverage, they stand better odds at detecting a gas release regardless of wind velocity and orientation. Second, computer-aided design tools, field mapping software, and fluid mechanics modelling programs are enabling end users to identify the optimum number and placement of detectors to achieve a detection coverage commensurate with the level of risk.”

Looking ahead, Naranjo believes process manufacturers will come to put their faith in gas imagers as the emerging technology improves. But technology, whether proven or leading edge, can never do the whole job. As well as driving improvements in cutting-edge leak detection technology, process manufacturers should remember the importance of doing the basics.

“Process safety or environmental monitoring instrumentation is no substitute for inherently safe plant design and good maintenance practices,” says Naranjo. “Equipment sized appropriately and maintained is less liable to leak. Establish and follow maintenance programs for field instruments and monitor the integrity of pipework and vessels. Because of their high failure rates, stakeholders should pay particular attention to the maintenance of control valves and pumps.”

There’s a lot more interesting advice in this article – take a look.

What are your tips on safe plant design?