The Importance of Early Gas Detection in Battery Storage

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the rise of lithium-ion batteries has revolutionised the energy landscape. These compact powerhouses have helped shift our society away from complete fossil fuel dependence, powering the rise of electric vehicles and enabling us to store renewable energy on a previously impossible scale. However, lithium-ion batteries are not an entirely risk-free energy source and can be volatile, which is a cause for concern for battery energy storage systems (BESS) who need to safeguard people – and their assets – from danger.

The Explosive Rise of Batteries

With the rise in lithium-ion batteries, has come a rise in high-profile cases of thermal runaway causing extraordinary damage through explosive fires, causing untold harm to the local environment, as well as eye-watering repair costs. Indeed, the widely-known risks of toxic thermal runaway has caused some pushback against the establishing of BESS sites, making it of paramount importance that battery energy supply can be made demonstrably safer.

Thermal runaway, characterised by uncontrolled heat generation and rapid battery failure, can lead to catastrophic consequences such as fires and explosions. What’s more, as heat can trigger thermal runaway in other batteries, the failure of one can lead to the failure of many, compounding the potential damage cost. While BESS insurers are well aware of such a risk, and have stipulations in place regarding fire, once fire has broken out the damage is already done. Prevention is always better than the cure, and so as suppliers and stakeholders in the lithium-ion battery industry, it’s imperative we address these risks head-on and prioritise safety measures to protect both assets and lives.

The Need for Early Gas Detection

Fortunately, FM Global and UL, two of the world’s largest public safety testing labs, have recognised the importance of gas detection in mitigating the risks associated with lithium-ion battery storage. Their documentation and standards serve as a testament to the critical role that early gas detection plays in ensuring the safety and reliability of energy storage systems. By adhering to these guidelines and implementing comprehensive gas detection strategies, suppliers can bolster their safety protocols and instil confidence in their products.

One of the key indicators of an impending thermal runaway event is the off-gassing from the compounds within the battery. As the internal components degrade or are subjected to extreme conditions, gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen may be released, as well as other flammable gases ethylene and propylene. Detecting these gases early is critical, as it provides an opportunity to intervene before the situation escalates further, averting potential disasters. However, ensuring your gas detection system is able to recognise the wide variety of toxic and combustible gases accurately without getting poisoned is crucial. If it’s not accurate, it’s simply not effective and you’re putting your people and property at risk.

Cutting-Edge Gas Detection

While the importance of fire safety and suppression systems in mitigating the risks of lithium-ion battery fires is well-documented, the significance of gas detection systems is often overlooked. Unlike fires, which are often visible and generate smoke, gas emissions can go unnoticed until it’s too late. This gap in awareness underscores the need for robust gas detection solutions to complement existing safety protocols.

Crowcon’s patented MPS™ technology, specifically designed to fill the void left by other gas sensors, offers a reliable and effective solution for detecting gas emissions at the earliest stages of battery failure. The MPS sensor uses advanced micro-pellistor technology to detect a wide range of gases with unparalleled sensitivity and accuracy, able to detect gases at extremely low concentrations, allowing for early intervention and prevention of thermal runaway events. Furthermore, its compact design and ease of integration make it an ideal choice for both new installations and retrofitting existing systems. With Crowcon’s MPS sensor, suppliers can proactively monitor gas emissions and take prompt action to mitigate risks, ensuring the safety and integrity of their lithium-ion battery storage solutions.

Safeguarding a Battery-Powered Future

The importance of early gas detection in battery storage cannot be overstated. Not only can the cost of failing to detect the early warning signs be devastating to your business, but as suppliers and stakeholders in the energy industry, it is our collective responsibility to prioritise safety and implement robust measures to mitigate risks. The only way to do this is through an innovative and rigorous approach to gas detection. By investing in advanced gas detection technologies, you will not only be safeguarding your assets, but the very future of energy storage, helping pave the way for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Contact the Crowcon team today to learn more about how their innovative solutions can enhance the safety and reliability of your battery storage systems. Together, let’s build a brighter and safer battery-powered future.

Battery Safety: What is Off-Gassing and Why Does it Occur​?

Batteries have become an integral part of our daily lives, powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. But have you ever considered the potential risks associated with the batteries that enable the seamless functioning of these devices? While advancements in battery technology have revolutionised the way we live, it’s crucial to explore the potential hazards these power sources pose.

Lithium-ion batteries are combustible and hazardous, with the potential of dangerous and explosive thermal runaway – which can not only have devastating consequences for the environment and property but can threaten human life. Therefore, it is important to understand the first signs of a possible disaster – off-gassing.

Understand Off-gassing: The Silent Emission

Off-gassing refers to the release of gases from lithium-ion batteries often as a result of abuse or misuse. When a battery is subjected to conditions such as overcharging, over-discharging, or physical damage, it can lead to the breakdown of internal components, causing the release of gases. These gases typically include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other volatile organic compounds – which can be toxic for anyone who may come in contact with them.

Explaining Off-gassing Dynamics:

Off-gassing dynamics differ based on battery setups. In enclosed setups like racks or small housings, off-gassing can accumulate within the confined space, increasing the risk of pressure buildup and ignition. In open setups, such as outdoor installations, off-gassing may dissipate more easily, but still poses risks in poorly ventilated areas.

How Off-gassing Occurs and the Timeline:

Although not always a guaranteed precursor to thermal runaway in lithium-ion batteries, off-gassing events typically occur early in their failure. Thermal runaway occurs when a battery undergoes uncontrolled heating, leading to a rapid increase in temperature and pressure within the cell. This escalation can ultimately result in the battery catching fire or exploding, posing significant safety hazards.

The timeline for off-gassing can vary depending on the severity of the abuse and the type of battery. In some cases, off-gassing may occur gradually over time as the battery undergoes repeated stress, while in other instances, it may occur suddenly due to a single event, such as overcharging.

Factors in which Off-gassing can occur:

  • Physical Damage: Any damage to the battery, such as punctures or crushing, can cause internal components to degrade, leading to off-gassing.
  • Overcharging: Excessive charging can cause the decomposition of electrolytes within the battery, leading to gas generation.
  • Overheating: Like off-gassing, excessive heat can trigger thermal runaway by destabilising the battery’s internal chemistry.
  • Over-discharging: Discharging a battery beyond its recommended limit can also result in the release of gases.
  • Internal Short Circuits: Any malfunction that causes a short circuit within the battery can initiate thermal runaway.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Faulty manufacturing processes can introduce weaknesses in the battery structure, making it more susceptible to thermal runaway.

What are the dangers of Off-gassing buildup?

Off-gassing buildup can lead to the battery storage container turning into a pressure vessel that is just waiting for a spark to ignite. To mitigate this risk, it’s crucial to have a monitored ventilation system in place. Additionally, compliance with FM standards is essential, as BESS should maintain lower than 25% LFL or have a container that can open to vent gas, ensuring safety in case of off-gassing.

Why Early Detection of Off-gassing is Critical:

Early detection plays a critical role in preventing catastrophic battery incidents. By identifying signs of off-gassing at the onset, operators can intervene before the situation escalates into thermal runaway. Here’s why early detection is crucial:

  1. Preventative Maintenance: Early detection allows for timely maintenance and corrective action to address battery issues before they worsen. Routine monitoring of off-gassing can help identify underlying problems in battery systems, such as overcharging or internal damage, enabling proactive maintenance to mitigate risks.
  2. Risk Mitigation: Off-gassing serves as an early warning sign of potential battery failures. By monitoring off-gassing levels, operators can implement risk mitigation measures, such as adjusting charging parameters or isolating malfunctioning batteries, to prevent thermal runaway and its associated hazards.
  3. Enhanced Safety: Timely detection of off-gassing enhances safety for both personnel and property. It provides an opportunity to evacuate affected areas, implement emergency protocols, and minimise the impact of battery-related incidents on surrounding environments. Additionally, early intervention reduces the likelihood of injuries and property damage resulting from thermal runaway events.
  4. Cost Savings: Detecting off-gassing early can help avoid costly repairs or replacements of damaged batteries and equipment. By addressing issues proactively, operators can extend the lifespan of batteries, optimise performance, and avoid unplanned downtime, resulting in significant cost savings over time.
  5. Regulatory Compliance: Many regulatory standards and guidelines mandate the monitoring of off-gassing as part of battery safety protocols. Early detection ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and demonstrates a commitment to maintaining safe battery operations in accordance with industry standards.

Incorporating robust gas detection systems and technologies for early detection of off-gassing is essential for proactive risk management and maintaining the integrity of battery systems. By prioritising early detection, stakeholders can safeguard against potential hazards, minimise disruptions, and promote the safe and sustainable use of battery technology across various applications.

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For more information on battery safety, download our eBook ‘The Battery Boom: The Explosive Rise of Thermal Runaway and how you can prevent it’.

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A Battery Powered Future: The Rise of Lithium-ion batteries and what it means for sustainability efforts

As we collectively move towards a greener future in which the shift to sustainable energy solutions have become a core global socio-political issue, lithium-ion batteries have come centre stage as a possible solution. Thanks to their ability to store large amounts of energy in a comparatively lightweight and compact form, they have revolutionised everything from consumer wearables to electric vehicles. But to what extent is a battery-powered future truly the perfect energy solution we’ve been looking for?

Facilitating greener energy opportunities

The rise in lithium-ion batteries comes with a plethora of advantages as we shift away from fossil fuel dependence, contributing to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Particularly in relation to the electrification of transportation through electric vehicles (EVs). By powering EVs with clean electricity stored in batteries, the transportation sector can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and decrease emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. As the EV sector becomes more competitive, and with many governments incentivising the rise of EVs, battery technology advancements continue to improve the range, charging speed, and affordability of EVs, accelerating their adoption and further reducing reliance on internal combustion engine vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries also play an increasingly crucial role in stabilising power grids, allowing the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, into the electricity grid. The sun doesn’t always shine and it’s not always windy – but by storing excess energy generated during periods of high production and discharging it when needed, batteries facilitate a reliable supply of clean energy in a reliable, stable way which had previously been difficult to achieve. By optimising energy management and reducing losses associated with traditional energy systems, batteries contribute to more efficient and sustainable energy use across various sectors.

Just how green are lithium-ion batteries?

However, the increasing prevalence of batteries has come with its own set of environmental implications. The extraction and processing of the rare earth metals such as lithium and cobalt are often conducted under exploitative conditions in mining regions, and the extraction process can also have significant environmental impacts, including habitat destruction and water pollution. Furthermore, the disposal of lithium-ion batteries at the end of their life cycle also poses concerns about recycling and the potential for hazardous waste to leak into the environment.

However, there is another area of concern with lithium-ion batteries which, with their increased usage, has led to a rise in dangerous incidents: their volatile and combustible nature. Anyone who has seen thermal runaway of lithium-ion batteries cannot fail to recognise the risk attached to their increased use. Even the failure of small-scale lithium-ion consumer electronic device can cause deadly and devastating explosions and fires, which makes the storage and use of batteries on a larger scale in need of robust safety measures.

Risk management with lithium-ion batteries

Fortunately, there are ways of mitigating the risk attached to lithium-ion batteries. Commonly, Battery Management Systems (BMS) are used to monitor battery charge level, voltage, current and temperature- which can help identify issues with any batteries. However there is a more efficient and reliable way of detecting thermal runaway: gas detection.

Ahead of thermal runaway, the batteries undergo a process of ‘off-gassing’, in which increased quantities of toxic VOCs are released. By monitoring the gasses around the batteries, and signs of stress or damage can be identified before thermal runaway begins.

At present, many insurers focus on the risk of fire, encouraging Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to have processes in place to ensure fires can be controlled and managed as quickly and effectively as possible. However, as lithium-ion batteries are highly sensitive to temperature, once a fire has begun in one battery, it is likely any other batteries in proximity will also be irrevocably damaged- or begin thermal runaway themselves. The solution is simple: identify the problems at the earliest possible stage through gas detection, and ensure fires can’t start in the first place to more robustly safeguard against disaster. 

You can’t put a price on safety

The cost attached to investing in sophisticated gas detection is negligible in contrast with the cost of fire – roughly 0.01% of the cost of a new project – making it an obvious choice for those seeking to mitigate risk with manufacturing, storing and using lithium-ion batteries. The damage to the property, cost to human health (and even life), alongside the harm caused to the natural environment with potential contamination issues following battery failure are all extensive and significant. Combined with the threat to maintaining a business on top of the damage control required, the need to avoid complicated and expensive clean-up operations is paramount. This is something the Crowcon team understand better than anyone.

Crowcon will work closely with you to ensure your business and personnel are as safe and secure as possible through cutting-edge gas detection technology, such as the MPS™ sensor. Our Molecular Property Spectrometer™ (MPS™) technology accurately detects over 15 hazardous gases in one, allowing for a higher standard of flammable gas detection and greater confidence in your battery safety.

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While realising the full potential of lithium-ion technology still requires addressing the environmental and social challenges associated with its production, maintenance and disposal, the increasing prevalence of lithium-ion batteries represents a significant step towards a more sustainable and cleaner energy future. Innovation in the maintenance and enhanced efficiency of renewable energy technologies, such as rechargeable batteries, is a crucial step in detaching society from dependence on fossil fuels. From powering our everyday devices to driving the transition to electric transportation and renewable energy, lithium-ion batteries are at the forefront of the sustainability revolution – and the Crowcon team are on hand to help make a greener and safer future for generations to come.

For more information on battery safety, download our eBook ‘The Battery Boom: The Explosive Rise of Thermal Runaway and how you can prevent it’.

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Want to know more about how Crowcon can help safeguard your business’ future with premier gas detection systems? Click here to get in touch for an obligation-free chat with a member of our team.

The Critical Role of Regular Servicing for Gas Detectors

7 reasons why regular servicing for Gas Detectors is critical

Gas detectors play a critical role in ensuring the safety of workers and infrastructure  by promptly detecting and alerting them to the presence of harmful gases. Whether used in industrial settings or laboratories, these devices are designed to provide early warnings, preventing potential disasters. However, like any other equipment, gas detectors require regular servicing to maintain their effectiveness and reliability.

1. Ensuring Accuracy and Reliability:

One of the main reasons for servicing a gas detector is to ensure its accuracy. Over time, sensors and components can degrade due to exposure to harsh environmental conditions, dust, or contaminants. For example, the detector may read 46% LEL when the true level is 50% LEL. Regular servicing involves calibrating the detector to maintain its precision in detecting even the slightest traces of hazardous gases. Accurate readings are vital for timely and appropriate responses to potential threats.

2. Compliance with Safety Standards:

Adhering to safety standards and regulations is paramount in any setting where gas detectors are present. Many industries and institutions have specific guidelines regarding the use and maintenance of gas detection equipment. Regular servicing ensures that the detectors meet or exceed these standards, helping organisations remain compliant and avoid legal ramifications. Sophisticated instruments not only keep a log of their calibration history, but also the devices’ upcoming due date.. Calibration certificates are produced during production, and after servicing as a record.

3. Legislation and Industry-Specific Regulations:

Gas detector maintenance is often governed by legislation and industry-specific regulations. For instance, in the European Union, the ATEX directive regulates equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres, including gas detectors. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasises the importance of maintaining a safe working environment. While OSHA doesn’t have specific regulations on gas detector servicing, adherence to general safety standards is crucial. Similarly, international standards like those developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provide guidelines for proper maintenance.

4. Extended Lifespan of Equipment:

Gas detectors are an investment in safety. Regular servicing not only enhances their performance but can also extend their life expectancy. Preventive maintenance, such as cleaning, calibrating, and replacing worn-out parts, can significantly contribute to the longevity of the equipment, thereby reducing the frequency of replacements, saving both time and resources.

5. Minimising False Alarms:

A well-maintained gas detector is less liable to trigger false alarms. False readings result in complacency as well as a decreased trust in the equipment, potentially putting individuals at risk. Regular maintenance helps identify and resolve potential issues that could trigger false alarms, ensuring the detector only activates solely in the presence of a real threat.

6. Emergency Preparedness:

Gas detectors play a critical role in emergency response systems.

Regular servicing increases their responsiveness, providing early detection of gas leaks and allowing for swift evacuation or containment measures. In emergency situations, the reliability of gas detectors can make a significant difference in minimising damage and ensuring the safety of workers.

7. Cost-Effective Maintenance:

While servicing may be perceived  as an extra expense, it is essential to recognise it as a proactive and cost-effective measure. Regular maintenance helps identify potential issues before they escalate, preventing costly repairs or replacements. Investing in servicing is a minor price to pay compared to the potential consequences of equipment failure.

Ensuring Safety and Reliability

The significance of routinely servicing gas detectors is unquestionable. Whether utilised in industrial or commercial environments, these instruments play a crucial role in safeguarding the safety of workers lives as well as the business infrastructure. A properly maintained gas detector not only ensures accurate and reliable performance, but also promotes in adhering to safety standards, prolonging equipment duration and reducing false alarms. Prioritising the regular servicing of gas detectors is unquestionable in contributing to the safeguarding of workers lives and infrastructure.

For more information about servicing or calibration contact our team or visit our worldwide distributors to discover your local service and calibration centre.

Keeping Yourself Gas Safe this Summer

Maintaining gas safety is equally crucial during the summer months as it is in winter. While gas central heating may be deactivated during summer, your boiler continues to serve hot water needs, and you may also rely on a gas cooker for cooking purposes. Additionally, it’s important to consider gas-powered barbecues, which are commonly used and enjoyed by a significant portion of the population. Over 40% of individuals own a gas barbecue, with around 30% utilising it on a weekly basis for convenient outdoor meals.

When it comes to gas safety there’s no off-season, neglected appliances and boilers can pose a severe risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, potentially leading to fatal consequences. Here is everything you need to know about key challenges throughout the summer.

BBQ safety

During the summer, we often enjoy outdoor activities and extended evenings. Whether rain or shine, BBQs become the highlight, typically causing minimal concerns aside from the weather or ensuring thorough cooking. However, it’s crucial to recognise that Gas safety extends beyond homes and industrial settings, as BBQs require special attention to ensure their safety.

While carbon monoxide‘s health risks are widely acknowledged, its association with BBQs often goes unnoticed. In unfavourable weather conditions, we might opt to barbecue in areas like garages, doorways, tents, or canopies. Some may even bring BBQs inside tents after use. These practices can be extremely dangerous, as carbon monoxide accumulates in such enclosed spaces. It’s essential to emphasise that the cooking area should be positioned far from buildings, well-ventilated with fresh air, to mitigate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Familiarising oneself with the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning is vital, including headaches, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, collapse, or loss of consciousness.

Additionally, the storage of propane or butane gas canisters in garages, sheds, and even homes presents another potential hazard. Without realising it, the combination of an enclosed space, a gas leak, and a spark from an electrical device can result in a potentially deadly explosion.

Gas safety on holiday

When you’re on holiday, gas safety might not be your top concern, but it remains essential for your well-being. Gas safety is equally crucial during your holiday as it is at home, as you may have limited knowledge or control over the condition of gas appliances in your accommodation. While gas safety is generally similar in caravans and boats, camping in tents presents unique considerations.

Gas camping stoves, heaters (such as table and patio heaters), and even solid fuel BBQs can emit carbon monoxide (CO), posing a potential risk of poisoning. Therefore, bringing these items into an enclosed space, like a tent or caravan, can endanger anyone nearby. Additionally, it’s important to recognise that gas safety regulations may vary in different countries. While it may not be feasible to be familiar with all local regulations, you can prioritise safety by following simple guidelines.

Tips for gas safety on holiday

  • Inquire about the servicing and safety checks of gas appliances in your accommodation.
  • Bring along an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Note that the appliances in your holiday accommodation may differ from those at home. If instructions are unavailable, seek assistance from your holiday representative or accommodation owner.
    • Recognise signs of unsafe gas appliances:
      • Black marks or stains around the appliance.
      • Lazy orange or yellow flames instead of blue.
      • Excessive condensation in your accommodation.
    • Never use gas cookers, stoves, or BBQs for heating purposes, and ensure proper ventilation when using them.

An Introduction to the Oil and Gas Industry 

The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, making a significant contribution to the global economy. This vast sector is often separated into three main sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream. Each sector comes with their own unique gas hazards. 


The upstream sector of the oil and gas industry, sometimes referred to as exploration and production (or E&P), is concerned with locating sites for oil and gas extraction the subsequent drilling, recovery and production of crude oil and natural gas. Oil and gas production is an incredibly capital-intensive industry, requiring the use of expensive machinery equipment as well as highly skilled workers. The upstream sector is wide-ranging, encompassing both onshore and offshore drilling operations. 

The major gas hazard encountered in upstream oil and gas is hydrogen sulphide (H2S), a colourless gas known by its distinct rotten egg like smell. H2S is a highly toxic, flammable gas which can have harmful effects on our health, leading to loss of consciousness and even death at high levels. 

Crowcon’s solution for hydrogen sulphide detection comes in the form of the XgardIQ, an intelligent gas detector which increases safety by minimising the time operators must spend in hazardous areas. XgardIQ is available with high-temperature H2S sensor, specifically designed for the harsh environments of the Middle East. 


The midstream sector of the oil and gas industry encompasses the storage, transportation and processing of crude oil and natural gas. The transportation of crude oil and natural gas is done by both land and sea with large volumes transported in tankers and marine vessels. On land, transportation methods used are tankers and pipelines. Challenges within the midstream sector include but are not limited to maintaining the integrity of storage and transportation vessels and protecting workers involved in cleaning, purging and filling activities. 

Monitoring of storage tanks is essential to ensure the safety of workers and machinery. 


The downstream sector refers to the refining and processing of natural gas and crude oil and the distribution of finished products. This is the stage of the process where these raw materials are transformed into products which are used for a variety of purposes such as fuelling vehicles and heating homes.  

The refining process for crude oil is generally split into three basic steps: separation, conversion and treatment. Natural gas processing involves separating the various hydrocarbons and fluids to produce ‘pipeline quality’ gas. 

The gas hazards which are typical within the downstream sector are hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen and a wide range of toxic gases. Crowcon’s Xgard and Xgard Bright fixed detectors both offer a wide range of sensor options to cover all the gas hazards present in this industry. Xgard Bright is also available with the next generation MPS™ sensor, for the detection of over 15 flammable gases in one detector. Also available are both single and multi-gas personal monitors to ensure workers safety in these potentially hazardous environments. These include the Gas-Pro and T4x, with Gas-Pro providing 5 gas support in a compact and rugged solution.

Why is gas emitted in cement production?

How is cement produced?

Concrete is one of the most important and commonly used materials in global construction. Concrete is widely used in the construction of both residential and commercial buildings, bridges, roads and more. 

The key component of concrete is cement, a binding substance which binds all the other components of concrete (generally gravel and sand) together. More than 4 billion tonnes of cement is used worldwide every year, illustrating the massive scale of the global construction industry. 

Making cement is a complex process, starting with raw materials including limestone and clay which are placed in large kilns of up to 120m in length, which are heated to up to 1,500°C. When heated at such high temperatures, chemical reactions cause these raw materials to come together, forming cement. 

As with many industrial processes, cement production is not without its dangers. The production of cement has the potential to release gases which are harmful to workers, local communities and the environment. 

What gas hazards are present in cement production?

The gases generally emitted in cement plants are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2), with CO2 accounting for the majority of emissions. 

The sulphur dioxide present in cement plants generally comes from the raw materials which are used in the cement production process. The main gas hazard to be aware of is carbon dioxide, with the cement making industry responsible for a massive 8% of global CO2 emissions. 

The majority of carbon dioxide emissions are created from a chemical process called calcination. This occurs when limestone is heated in the kilns, causing it to break down into CO2 and calcium oxide.  The other main source of CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels. The kilns used in cement production are generally heated using natural gas or coal, adding another source of carbon dioxide into addition to that which is generated through calcination. 

Detecting gas in cement production

In an industry which is a large producer of hazardous gases, detection is key. Crowcon offer a wide range of both fixed and portable detection solutions. 

Xgard Bright is our addressable fixed-point gas detector with display, providing ease of operation and reduced installation costs. Xgard Bright has options for the detection of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, the gases of most concern in cement mixing. 

For portable gas detection, the Gasman’s  rugged yet portable and lightweight design make it the perfect single-gas solution for cement production, available in a safe area CO2 version offering 0-5% carbon dioxide measurement. 

For enhanced protection, the Gas-Pro multi-gas detector can be equipped with up to 5 sensors, including all of those most common in cement production, CO2, SO2 and NO2.

Confined Space Entry 

Confined Space Entry (CSE) is a location that is substantially enclosed although not always entirely, and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby such as a lack of oxygen. As they are dangerous, it must be noted that any entry to confined spaces must be the only and final option in order to carry out work. Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice, Regulations and guidance is for employees that work in Confined Spaces, those who employ or train such people and those who represent them. 

Confined Space Identification 

HSE classify Confined Spaces as any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk, as outlined above. 

Although, most confined spaces are easy to identify, identification is sometimes required as a confined space is not necessarily enclosed on all sides. Or exclusive to a small and/or difficult to work in space – grain silos and ships’ holds, can be very large. Although, these areas may not be that difficult to get in or out of, some have several entrances/exits, where others have large openings or are apparently easy to escape from. Some confined spaces (such as those used for spray painting in car repair centres) are used regularly by people in the course of their work. 

There may be instances where a space itself may not be defined as a confined space, however, while work is ongoing, and until the level of oxygen recovers (or the contaminants have dispersed by ventilating the area), it is classified as a confined space. Scenarios include welding that would consume some of the available breathable oxygen, a spray booth during paint spraying, using chemicals for cleaning purposes which can add volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or acidic gases, or an area subjected to significant rust which has reduced available oxygen to dangerous levels. 

What are the Rules and Regulations for Employers? 

Under the new OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards, the obligation of the employer will depend on what type of employer they are. These include the controlling contractor, the host employer, the entry employer or sub-contractor.  

The controlling contractor is the main point of contact for any information about PRCS on site. 

The Host employer: The employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place. 

Employer can’t rely solely on the emergency services for rescue. A dedicated service must be ready to act in the event of an emergency. The arrangements for emergency rescue, required under regulation 5 of the confined space regulations, must be suitable and sufficient. If necessary, equipment to enable resuscitation procedures to be carried out should be provided. The arrangements should be in place before any person enters or works in a confined space. 

The Controlling contractor: The employer who has overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. 

The Entry employer or Sub-Contractor: Any employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit-required confined space. 

Employees have the responsibility to raise concern such as helping highlight any potential workplace risks, ensuring that health and safety controls are practical and increasing the level of commitment to working in a safe and healthy way. 

The Risks and Hazards: VOCs 

A confined space that contains certain hazardous conditions may be considered a permit-required confined space under the standard. Permit-required confined spaces can be immediately dangerous to operator’s lives if they are not properly identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. Permit-required confined space can a defined as a confined space where there is a risk of one (or more) of the following: 

  • Serious injury due to fire or explosion 
  • Loss of consciousness arising from increased body temperature 
  • Loss of consciousness or asphyxiation arising from gas, fume, vapour, or lack of oxygen   
  • Drowning from an increase in the level of a liquid
  • Asphyxiation arising from a free-flowing solid or being unable to reach a respirable environment due to being trapped by such a free-flowing solid 

These arise from the following hazards: 

  • Flammable substances and oxygen enrichment 
  • Excessive heat 
  • Toxic gas, fume or vapours 
  • Oxygen deficiency
  • Ingress or pressure of liquids 
  • Free-flowing solid materials 
  • Other hazards (such as exposure to electricity, loud noise or loss of structural integrity of the space) VOCs. 

Intrinsically Safe and suitable products for Confined Space Safety 

These products are Certified to meet local Intrinsically Safe Standards. 

The Gas-Pro portable multi gas detector offers detection of up to 5 gases in a compact and rugged solution. It has an easy-to-read top mount display making it easy to use and optimal for confined space gas detection. An optional internal pump, activated with the flow plate, takes the pain out of pre-entry testing, and allows Gas-Pro to be worn either in pumped or diffusion modes. 

Gas-Pro TK offers the same gas safety benefits as the regular Gas-Pro, while offering Tank Check mode which can auto-range between %LEL and %Volume for inerting applications. 

T4 portable 4-in-1 gas detector provides effective protection against 4 common gas hazards: carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, flammable gases, and oxygen depletion. The T4 multi gas detector now comes with improved detection of pentane, hexane, and other long chain hydrocarbons. 

Tetra 3 portable multi gas monitor can detect and monitor the four most common gases (carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen, and hydrogen sulphide), but also an expanded range: ammonia, ozone, sulphur dioxide, H2 filtered CO (for steel plants). 

What are the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood, and coal. It is only when fuel does not burn fully that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous. When CO enters the body, it stops the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. CO is poisonous as you cannot see it, taste it, or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning.  


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prohibit worker exposure to more than 20ppm (parts per million) during an 8-hour long term exposure period and 100ppm (parts per million) during a 15 minute short term exposure period. 

OSHA standards prohibit worker exposure to more than 50 parts of CO gas per million parts of air averaged during an 8-hour time period. The 8-hour PEL for CO in maritime operations is also 50 ppm. Maritime workers, however, must be removed from exposure if the CO concentration in the atmosphere exceeds 100 ppm. The peak CO level for employees engaged in roll-on roll-off operations during cargo loading and unloading) is 200 ppm. 

What are the dangers? 

CO volume (parts per million (ppm) Physical Effects

200 ppm Headache in 2–3 hours  

400 ppm Headache and nausea in 1–2 hours, life threatening within 3 hours.  

800 ppm Can cause seizures, severe headaches and vomiting in under an hour, unconsciousness within 2 hours.  

1,500 ppm Can cause dizziness, nausea, and unconsciousness in under 20 minutes; death within 1 hour  

6,400 ppm Can cause unconsciousness after two to three breaths: death within 15 minutes 

Around 10 to 15% of people who obtain serve CO poisoning go on to develop long-term complications. These include brain damage, vision and hearing loss, Parkinson’s disease, and coronary heart disease.   

What are the health implications? 

Due to the characteristics of CO being so hard to identify, i.e., colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas, it may take time for you to realise that you have CO poisoning. The effects of CO can be dangerous.  

Implication to Health  Physical Effects 
Oxygen Deprivation  CO prevents the blood system from effectively carrying oxygen around the body, specifically to vital organs such as the heart and brain. High doses of CO, therefore, can cause death from asphyxiation or lack of oxygen to the brain.  
Central Nervous system and Heart Problems  As CO prevents the brain from receiving sufficient levels of oxygen it has a knock-on effect with the heart, brain, and central nervous system. Symptoms including headaches, nausea, fatigue, memory loss and disorientation.  

Increased levels of CO in the body go on to cause lack of balance, heart problems, comas, convulsions and even death. Some of those who are affected may experience rapid and irregular heartbeats, low blood pressure and arrhythmias of the heart. Cerebral edemas caused because of CO poisoning are especially threatening, this is because they can result in the brain cells being crushed, thereby affecting the whole nervous system. 

Respiratory System  As the body struggles to distribute air around the body as a result of carbon monoxide due to the deprivation of blood cells of oxygen. Some patients will experience a shortness of breath, especially when undertaking strenuous activities.  

Every-day physical and sporting activities will take more effort and leave you feeling more exhausted than usual. These effects can worsen over time as your body’s power to obtain oxygen becomes increasingly compromised.  

Over time, both your heart and lungs are put under pressure as the levels of carbon monoxide increase in the body tissues. As a result, your heart will try harder to pump what it wrongly perceives to be oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of your body. Consequently, the airways begin to swell causing even less air to enter the lungs. With long-term exposure, the lung tissue is eventually destroyed, resulting in cardiovascular problems and lung disease. 

Chronic Exposure  Chronic exposure can have extremely serious long-term effects, depending on the extent of poisoning. In extreme cases, the section of the brain known as the hippocampus may be harmed. This part of the brain is accountable for the development of new memories and is particularly vulnerable to damage.  

Whilst those who suffer from long-term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning recover with time, there are cases in which some people suffer permanent effects. This may occur when there has been enough exposure to result in organ and brain damage.  

Unborn Babies  Since foetal haemoglobin mixes more readily with CO than adult haemoglobin, the baby’s carboxy haemoglobin levels become higher than the mothers. Babies and children whose organs are still maturing are at risk of permanent organ damage.  

Additionally, young children and infants breathe faster than adults and have a higher metabolic rate, therefore, they inhale up to twice as much air as adults, especially when sleeping, which heightens their exposure to CO. 

 How to meet compliance?

The best way to protect yourself from the hazards of CO is be wearing a high quality, portable CO gas detector. 

Clip SGD is designed for use in hazardous areas whilst offering reliable and durable fixed life span monitoring in a compact, lightweight and maintenance free device. Clip SGD has a 2-year life and is available for hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO) or oxygen (O2). The Clip SDG personal gas detector is designed to withstand the harshest industrial working conditions and delivers industry leading alarm time, changeable alarm levels and event logging as well as user-friendly bump test and calibration solutions.  

Gasman with specialist CO sensor is a rugged, compact single gas detector, designed for use in the toughest environments. Its compact and lightweight design makes it the ideal choice for industrial gas detection. Weighing just 130g, it is extremely durable, with high impact resistance and dust/water ingress protection, loud 95 dB alarms, a vivid red/ blue visual warning, single-button control and an easy-to-read, backlit LCD display to ensure clear viewing of gas level readings, alarm conditions and battery life. Data and event logging are available as standard, and there is a built-in 30-day advance warning when calibration is due.  

Balloon gas safety: The dangers of Helium and Nitrogen 

Balloon gas is a mixture of helium and air. Balloon gas is safe when used correctly but you should never deliberately inhale the gas as it is an asphyxiant and can result in health complications. Like other asphyxiants, the helium in balloon gas occupies some of the volume normally taken by air, preventing that air being used to keep fires going or to keep bodies functioning.  

There are other asphyxiants used in industrial applications. For example, use of nitrogen has become almost indispensable in numerous industrial manufacturing and transport processes. While the uses of nitrogen are numerous, it must be handled in accordance with industrial safety regulations. Nitrogen should be treated as a potential safety hazard regardless of the scale of the industrial process in which it is being employed. Carbon dioxide is commonly used as an asphyxiant, especially in fire suppression systems and some fire extinguishers. Similarly, helium is non-flammable, non-toxic and doesn’t react with other elements in normal conditions. However, knowing how to properly handle helium is essential, as a misunderstanding could lead to errors in judgement which could result in a fatal situation as helium is used in many everyday situations. As for all gases, proper care and handling of helium containers is vital. 

What are the dangers? 

When you inhale helium knowingly or unknowingly it displaces air, which is partly oxygen. This means that as you inhale, oxygen that would normally be present in your lungs has been replaced with helium. As oxygen plays a role in many functions of your body, including thinking and moving, too much displacement poses a health risk. Typically, inhaling a small volume of helium will have a voice-altering effect, however, it may also cause a bit of dizziness and there is always the potential for other effects, including nausea, light headedness and/or a temporary loss of consciousness – all the effects of oxygen deficiency. 

  • As with most asphyxiants, nitrogen gas, like helium gas, is colourless and odourless. In the absence of nitrogen detecting devices, the risk of industrial workers being exposed to a dangerous nitrogen concentration is significantly higher. Also whilst helium often rises away from the working area due to its low density, nitrogen remains, spreading out from the leak and not dispersing quickly. Hence systems operating on nitrogen developing undetected leaks is a major safety regulatory concern. Occupational health preventive guidelines attempt to address this increased risk using additional equipment safety checks. The problem is low oxygen concentrations affecting personnel. Initially symptoms include mild shortness of breath and cough, dizziness and perhaps restlessness, followed by rapid breathing chest pain and confusion, with prolonged inhalation resulting in high blood pressure, bronchospasm and pulmonary edema. 
  • Helium can cause these exact same symptoms if it is contained in a volume and can’t escape. And in each case a complete replacement of the air with the asphyxiant gas causes rapid knockdown where a person just collapses where they stand resulting in a variety of injuries. 

Balloon Gas Safety Best Practice 

In accordance with OSHA guidelines, mandatory testing is required for confined industrial spaces with the responsibility being placed on all employers. Sampling atmospheric air within these spaces will help to determine its suitability for breathing. Tests to be carried out on the sampling air most importantly include oxygen concentrations, but also combustible gas presence and tests for toxic vapours to identify build ups of those gases. 

Regardless of the duration of stay, OSHA requires all employers to provide an attendant just outside a permit-required space whenever personnel are working within. This person is required to constantly monitor the gaseous conditions within the space and call for rescuers if the worker inside the confined space becomes unresponsive. It is vital to note that at no time should the attendant attempt to enter the hazardous space to conduct a rescue unassisted. 

In restricted areas forced draft air circulation will significantly reduce the build-up of helium, nitrogen or other asphyxiant gas and limit the chances of a fatal exposure. While this strategy can be used in areas with low nitrogen leak risks, workers are prohibited from entering pure nitrogen gas environments without using appropriate respiratory equipment. In these cases, personnel must use appropriate artificially supplied air equipment.