Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detection Improves Safety at Ammonia Plant

A major fertilizer manufacturer in the Asia Pacific region expanded its safety profile by installing Incus Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detectors in areas of vulnerability throughout its plant.

Like most facilities in the industry, this plant was equipped with traditional fire and gas detectors; however, there were still some areas of the plant that were not effectively being monitored and protected. The plant’s processes produced large volumes of light gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Each of these gases tend to rise and disperse quickly, making traditional fixed-point detectors ineffective in identifying the presence of these highly hazardous gases.

One area of susceptibility to flammable gas leaks was a 40-meter hydrogen storage tank in the urea unit. Aware of the risk for escaping gas posed by the flange connections on the tank, maintenance personnel were required to scale the vessel to check its integrity multiple times per week – a process which incurred large operational costs to the plant. After the company experienced a small hydrogen fire from a leaking pipeline in the urea unit, they turned to ultrasonic detection to provide earlier and more reliable warnings of gas leaks in these challenging locations.

Since the gas is under pressure, most leak sizes produce ultrasonic noise which the detectors “hear”, triggering necessary alarms and safety responses. Emerson’s Incus Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detector features failsafe operation, providing continuous coverage of the area. Since it is factory calibrated for life, there is no need to perform onsite calibrations which are common with traditional gas detectors. This eliminated an estimated 64 man-hours per year and a savings of $50,000 based on their installation base of ten Incus units. Additionally, the rugged design of the Incus allows it to withstand the harsh air of the urea plant, eliminating the need for regular replacements and decreasing maintenance costs by an estimated 70 percent over traditional safety devices.

Click here to read the full ultrasonic gas leak detection case study.