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May 09, 2023 . 3min read
Optical gas imaging (OGI) uses thermal imaging to detect gas emissions. It is used in the industrial safety and inspection sector to find dangerous gas leaks and intervene fast and efficiently.
There are currently close to 2 million kilometers of pipeline around the world and this figure is due to grow by 3% over the next 10 years. Given that 20% of methane emissions originate from fossil fuels transported in these pipelines, monitoring is required to reduce these environmentally harmful losses.
So, how is OGI used for maintenance and monitoring? How and at what level of maintenance is it used?
This article provides all the details. We will also address using IR for continuous monitoring of installations, which is currently carried out in addition to periodic inspections.
- The different types of maintenance performed by OGI technology
This involves foreseeing potential gas leak-related accidents to prevent them from happening. Continuous monitoring of at-risk areas helps detect anomalies outside of inspections. This consists of detecting the formation of gas clouds to trigger the appropriate maintenance response, generally initiated by an inspection of the zone. The presence of gas therefore needs to be detected and localized. This application is perfectly suited to OGI technology, which is capable of detecting invisible gas with the naked eye and from a distance.
This type of maintenance consists of performing periodic inspections with a view to discovering potential anomalies and carrying out repairs. It involves using LDAR (Leak Detection And Repair) programs. The minimum frequency of these inspections is set out in legislation. The industries concerned have to prove their compliance by declaring how much gas is released into the atmosphere, so as well as needing to detect gas leaks, they also have to be able to identify the gas, localise the leak for repair, and quantify the amount of gas emitted. For example, the Oil & Gas sector has permission to release a certain quota of gas, as their methods make some emissions inevitable. Quantifying leaks helps check whether emission levels comply with these thresholds, so fines can be levied for non-compliance.
OGI technology is designed to detect and localize leaks. The quantification is often confirmed by a sniffer more suited to the job. Two devices (camera and sniffer) are often connected wirelessly to automate the quantification input.
Fortunately, curative maintenance is the least common, as it consists of detecting the presence of a gas, and localizing and quantifying it following an anomaly or accident, before undertaking any emergency procedures. The most recent off-shore accidents have highlighted the need for very high-performing solutions for analysing these leaks remotely, which is why using OGI technology is also pertinent.
- The advantages of continuous monitoring using OGI compared to periodic inspections
Governments and insurance companies are increasingly demanding measures be taken to pre-empt potential accident risks. These measures can be carried out occasionally as part of an infrastructure inspection or following an incident, or carried out continuously to detect any gas forming on the site.
Periodic inspection surveys are necessary but laborious. These surveys have slower response times, creating a greater risk for humans and the environment and leading to reduced productivity for industrial installations. The sporadic nature of these surveys means they only provide a brief snapshot; leaks that start after a survey may not be found until the next inspection.
Continuous monitoring using OGI
Considerable efforts are being made to find affordable, practical ways to implement leak detections and repairs across the industry. This naturally requires the use of continuous autonomous monitoring systems across the industry, rather than periodic manual inspections (several times a year).
Industry professionals are therefore motivated to reduce the cost of these operations. The first area in which costs can be reduced is labor. The need for continuous automated monitoring is therefore evident.
Moreover, environmental policies, particularly in the US, are tending towards stricter controls to drastically reduce harmful gas emissions. To do this, they also advise increasing the frequency of inspections or using continuous monitoring, which is much more effective on both existing and new installations.
Using OGI to detect gas is now officially recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an effective and key way to inspect industrial sites. This means OGI has become essential to the sector for the maintenance plans for installations requiring regular or even constant monitoring.
If you would like to find out more about the advantages of thermal vision for gas detection, we can offer a 15-minute call with our expert, who can provide guidance and answer all your questions.