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Fast and intrinsically safe storage tank monitoring

FLIR Systems has published an application note that describes how a Belgian storage tank inspection company are using the FLIR GFx320 optical gas imaging camera to monitor for fugitive emissions in hazardous locations.

Tank storage companies cannot afford to have chemical leaks as a result of ageing assets or corroding storage tanks. To allow them to meet increasing safety and environmental regulations and to avoid huge fines, Belgian storage company – Antwerp Distribution and Products Operations (ADPO) relies on third party inspection agencies like The Sniffers to monitor its facilities for unwanted fugitive emissions. By using the latest GFx320 optical gas imaging camera from FLIR, inspectors from The Sniffers can monitor the ADPO assets up to nine times faster than with traditional Toxic Vapour Analyser (TVA) probes. In addition, because of the remote detection methodology of the FLIR GFx320 optical gas imaging camera they can get to work immediately without going through the hassle of requesting a hot work permit.

The ADPO site in the port of Antwerp, Belgium has 276 storage tanks of varying sizes from 150m3 up to 5000m3 storing 150 different liquid oil additives, intermediates, commodities and fine chemicals. In hazardous areas like the ADPO plant, there is always the risk of leaking gas vapour collecting and igniting with a stray spark or hot surface. Working in these environments requires specialist equipment such as the intrinsically safe FLIR GFx320 optical gas imaging camera.

The new application note describes how the GFx320 has eliminated the need to go through all the hassle of requesting a hot work permit which can be a time consuming and expensive process.

Operators at the Sniffers inspection agency report how the FLIR GFx320 is easy to carry and much more comfortable to work with than the usual TVA probe gear, especially when you are on site for an entire day. Using the GFx320 proprietary High Sensitivity Mode has allowed them to detect even smaller leaks very fast. In addition, the GFx320 is capable of measuring temperatures up to 350°C with an accuracy of ±1°C. This is critical for assessing thermal contrast between the gas compound and the background scene. Overall using optical gas and visual images from the GFx320 has been an invaluable tool to clearly demonstrate the severity of a leak thereby enabling ADPO to assess which actions they need to take to fix the leaks and prevent further economic loss.

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

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