By: Johann Nunez – Sales Engineer.
“Excellence is never an accident; it is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.”
Q. Can you tell us about “Gas Detection”? Why is it important?
There are unique challenges that all companies are facing, whether they are working with hazardous materials or in an enclosed environment with hazardous gases. This is a common risk not only for workers in the field but also for the process itself. With these risks being present, employers need to safeguard workers and assets using gas detection equipment.
Gas detection is used to detect any hazardous atmosphere where a toxic or flammable gas, vapor, or mist exists in a concentration high enough to be a threat. Gas detectors can tell you if oxygen levels are too low or too high, hence representing a risk for the personnel on-site. So, the importance of a gas detector relies on the fact that it will detect a dangerous or life-threatening condition immediately.
Q. From your experience, what is the most common concern among customers when dealing with gas detectors?
Some of the most common questions when choosing a gas detector are:
- How Many monitors are needed to provide adequate protection?
- Which areas will be monitored locally, and which ones will be monitored from a remote location?
- What types of safety measures can be activated if a hazardous situation occurs?
- Will the environment affect sensor performance?
- Is there sufficient oxygen for the sensor type to respond?
- Is the target gas heavier or lighter than air?
- What is the area classification of the location of the installation?
- Are there other gases present that may react or cause a cross-interference with target gases?
There are so many things to consider when choosing the right detector for every application; Novatech will focus on evaluating all these questions to provide the solution that fits our customer needs.
Q. What Do we have to consider when designing a Gas detection system?
A gas detection system can be highly customizable, from the number of point detector combinations to automatic response functions or audible and visual alarms. Each process that requires gas detection must be carefully evaluated to identify and understand potential risks and the best possible monitoring and responses to reduce those risks. Therefore, areas where we should focus on will be:
- Understand the application,
- Identify potential danger points,
- Establish design goals,
- Determine gas characteristics,
- Profile the facility.
Q. How does Gas monitoring help in the prevention of fires?
For combustion to occur, three elements must be present at the right concentration: Heat, Oxygen, and the fuel source. Several gases can provide the fuel source element, so monitoring can help identify potentially hazardous situations before they occur. For example, monitoring oxygen levels can help identify an oxygen-rich environment that can increase fire likelihood. The primary purpose is to prevent the hazard before it is too late.
Q. What are the technologies available, and how to know which one I need?
Different sensor technologies have improved through the years and are still continuously evolving. New detection methods, more efficient power utilization, miniaturization of components – these are some of the reasons why it is our job to understand and explain the benefits and limitations of the different sensor types available, and how choosing the correct one will provide the safest protection.
Some of the technologies available are Catalytic bead, Infrared, electrochemical, photo-ionization detectors (PID), etc. Our focus is to select the one that will work best for you.
Sensors with a higher initial cost may have a lower overall cost of ownership over the sensor’s life and vice versa, but of course, at no time should cost be considered over safety.
Q. Where is the best place to install my Gas detector?
Sensor effectiveness is directly impacted by sensor placement; even the best sensor will not detect a hazard if placed too far from the release point. The idea is to provide maximum and redundant coverage area if possible to minimize false alarms and account for any barrier and air currents.
Q. What if the area where the sensor needs to be installed is classified as a “Hazardous location”?
Not all gas detectors are designed for use in classified areas. We need to know the highest zone or division the classified area is and ensure the detector selected is suitable for these areas. There are standards and approvals where the overall goal is to ensure that the equipment will perform safety in hazardous locations. Our job is to assist our customers in navigating through the certifications and approvals of the gas detection equipment they need.
Q. Fixed vs. Portable Gas detectors?
Fixed detectors are permanently mounted sensors that are used for continuous monitoring of gas concentrations to protect people, facilities, and equipment. In contrast, portable gas detectors refer to a handheld system that protects individual users. They are usually used in confined spaces or where fixed gas detection is not available. It can also be used to verify that an atmosphere is free of hazards before servicing an equipment.
Q. I understand the importance of a gas detector but is it expensive?
The sensor type determines the sensor’s cost, but maintenance and calibration can also play a significant role in determining the overall cost of ownership over the sensor’s lifetime. Sensors with a higher initial cost may have a lower overall cost of ownership over the sensor’s life and vice versa, but of course, at no time should cost be considered over safety. Our job is to help our customers by choosing the correct sensor type for their applications.