Are there dangers of gas in telecommunications? 

The telecommunication industry contains includes cable providers, internet service providers, satellite providers and telephone providers and confined spaces. Even simple above ground termination boxes may contain gas hazards generated from the cable runs underground. Gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide can run through cable trunking accumulating in termination boxes and manifesting as hazards when the termination box is opened.

The risk of danger occurs when a worker is sent to carry out tasks involving opening up of enclosed volumes that may not have been accessed for a period of time. All telecommunications companies have these in abundance.

What are the Dangers?

Those working in the telecommunications industry are at risk from a variety of gaseous dangers, many of which could cause harm to their health and safety. Though less obvious, these risks should be taken as seriously as falls from heights or electrocution, and they require a similar level of training. A worker must not climb to an elevated position without a harness, similarly they shouldn’t be accessing confined spaces without appropriate confined space training. Awareness of the dangers present and minimising the risks that could lead to adverse effects is a well-known safety principle. Training and proper PPE can help protect workers from these hazards.

Gas Hazards and Risks

As there are many confined spaces in the telecommunication industry workers are at risk from the presence of hazardous and toxic gases there. Hazardous gases can also be linked to seemingly simple above-ground termination boxes. Gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide sometimes travel through the cable trunking, and therefore, when the termination box is opened, a build-up of these gases can be released.

Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces with high levels of methane in the air reduce the amount of oxygen available to breathe and therefore can cause mood changes, speech and vision problems, memory loss, nausea, sickness, facial flushing and headaches. In more severe cases and prolonged exposure, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness. There is also a risk of fire as methane is highly flammable.

Carbon monoxide (CO) consumption also poses serious health issues to workers, with those ingesting the toxic substance facing flu-like symptoms, chest pain, confusion, fainting arrhythmias, seizures, or even worse health effects for high or long lasting exposures. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) poisoning causes similar issues, as well as delirium, tremors, convulsions, and skin and eye irritation. Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant gas that can displace oxygen and hance dizziness.

Our solution

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include Tetra 3 and T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard and Xgard Bright. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the telecommunication industry our panels include Gasmaster.

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in telecommunication visit our industry page for more information.

Transportation and Key Gas Challenges 

The transportation sector is one of the largest industries in the world, spanning a variety of applications. The sector offers services concerned with the movement of people and cargo of all types, across air freight and logistics, airlines and airport services, road and rail, transportation infrastructure, trucking, highways, rail tracks, and marine ports and services. 

Gas hazards during transportation  

The transport of dangerous goods is regulated in order to prevent, accidents involving people or property, damage to the environment. There a numerous gas hazards including the transportation of hazardous material, air conditioning emissions, cabin combustion and hangar leaks.  

The transportation of hazardous materials poses a risk to those involved. There are nine classification areas specified by the United Nations (UN) including explosives, gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidising substances, toxic substances, radioactive materials, corrosive substances and miscellaneous goods. With the risk of an accident occurring being more likely when transporting these materials. Although the biggest cause for concern within the industry being the transportation of non-flammable non-toxic gas is asphyxiation. As a slow leak in a storage container can drain all of the oxygen in the air and cause the individuals in the environment to suffocate. 

Leaks within aircraft hangars and fuel storage areas of highly explosive aviation fuel is an area that must be monitored to prevent fires, equipment damage, and at the worst fatalities. It is essential to choose a suitable gas detection solution that focuses on the aircraft rather than the aircraft hangar, avoids false alarms, and can monitor large areas. 

Not only is it the external environment that faces gas risks in transportation, those working in the sector also face similar challenges. Air conditioning emissions poses a gas hazard threat due to the burning of fossil fuels leading to a subsequent emission of carbon monoxide (CO). high levels of CO in a confined area such as a vehicle cabin, of more than the normal level (30ppm) or an oxygen level below normal (19%) can result in dizziness, feeling and being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Therefore, proper ventilation in these spaces with the assistance of a gas detector is paramount to ensuring the safe of those working in the transportation industry.  

Similarly, in the air sector cabin combustion and fuselage fires, in the central portion of an airplane, poses a real threat. Although flame retardant materials are applied, if a fire does start the cabin’s trim and fittings can still generate toxic gases and vapours that could be more dangerous than the fire itself. Inhalation of harmful gases caused by a fire in these environments tend to be the main direct cause of fatalities.  

Transportation Standards and Certifications 

Each mode of transport, (road, rail, air, sea and inland waterway) has its own regulations but they are generally harmonized with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), enacted in the USA in 1975, states that regardless of the type of transportation, any company whose goods fall into one of the nine categories specified as hazardous by the UN, must comply with the regulations or risk fines and penalties. 

Those working in the transport sector in the UK must comply with the requirements laid out in the UN Model Regulations which assigns each dangerous substance or article a specific class that correlates how dangerous it is. It does this via the packing group (PG) classification, according to PG I, PG II or PG III. 

From an European standpoint the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) governs the regulations on how to classify, pack, label and certify dangerous goods. It also comprises vehicle and tank requirements and other operational requirements. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (2009) also is relevant in England, Wales and Scotland. 

Other relevant regulations include the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Navigation (ADN), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instruction 

Our solution 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include T4x, Clip SGD, Gasman, Tetra 3, Gas-pro, T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard, Xgard Bright, IRmax. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the transportation industry our panels include Gasmaster and Vortex 

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in transportation visit our industry page for more information.  

Detecting dangers in dairy: What gases should you be aware of? 

Global demand for dairy continues to increase in large part due to population growth, rising incomes and urbanisation. Millions of farmers worldwide tend approximately 270 million dairy cows to produce milk. Throughout the dairy farm industry there are a variety of gas hazards that pose a risk to those working in the dairy industry.  

What are the dangers workers face in the dairy industry?

Chemicals

Throughout the dairy farm industry, chemicals are used for variety of tasks including cleaning, applying various treatments such as vaccinations or medications, antibiotics, sterilising and spraying. If these chemicals and hazardous substances are not used or stored correctly, this can result in serious harm to the worker or the surrounding environment. Not only can these chemicals cause illness, but there is also a risk of death if a person is exposed. Some chemicals can be flammable and explosive whilst others are corrosive and poisonous. 

There are several ways to manage these chemical hazards, although the main concern should be in implementing a process and procedure. This procedure should ensure all staff are trained in the safe use of chemicals with records being maintained. As part of the chemical procedure, this should include a chemical manifest for tracking purposes. This type of inventory management allows for all personal to have access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) as well as usage and location records. Alongside this manifest, there should be consideration for the review of current operation.  

  • What is the current procedure?  
  • What PPE is required?  
  • What is the process for discarding out of date chemicals and is there is a substitute chemical that could pose less of a risk to your workers? 

Confined Spaces

There are numerous circumstances that could require a worker to enter a confined space, including feed silos, milk vats, water tanks and pits in the dairy industry. The safest way to eliminate a confined space hazard, as mentioned by many industry bodies, is to employ a safe design. This will include the removal of any need to enter a confined space. Although, this may not be realistic and from time to time, cleaning routines need to take place, or a blockage may occur, however, there is a requirement to ensure there is the correct procedures to address the hazard. 

Chemical agents when used in a confined space can increase the risk of suffocation with gases pushing out oxygen. One way you can eliminate this risk is by cleaning the vat from the outside using a high-pressure hose. If a worker does need to enter the confined space, check that the correct signage is in place since entry and exit points will be restricted. You should consider isolation switches and check that your staff understand the correct emergency rescue procedure if something were to happen. 

Gas Hazards

Ammonia (NH3) is found in animal waste and slurry spreading on farming and agricultural land. It is characteristically a colourless gas with a pungent smell that arises through the decomposition of nitrogen compounds in animal waste. Not only is it harmful to human health but also harmful to livestock wellbeing, due to its ability to cause respiratory diseases in livestock, and eye irritation, blindness, lung damage, alongside nose and throat damage and even death in humans. Ventilation is a key requirement in preventing health issues, as poor ventilation heightens the damage caused by this gas.  

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is naturally produced in the atmosphere; although, levels are increased through farming and agricultural processes. CO2, is colourless, odourless, and is emitted from agricultural equipment, crop and livestock production and other farming processes. CO2 can congregate areas, such as waste tanks and silos. This results in oxygen in the air to be displaced and increasing the risk of suffocation for animals and humans.  Sealed silos, waste and grain storage spaces are specifically dangerous as CO2 can accumulate here and lead to them being unsuitable for humans without an external air supply. 

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen oxides (NOx). At worst, it can cause sudden death when consumed even from short term exposure. This gas can cause suffocation and is emitted from silos following specific chemical reactions of plant material. It is recognisable by its bleach-like smell and its properties tend to create a red-brown haze. As it gathers above certain surfaces it can run into areas with livestock through silo chutes, and therefore poses a real danger to humans and animals in the surrounding area. It can also affect lung function, cause internal bleeding, and ongoing respiratory problems. 

When should gas detectors be used?

Gas detectors provide added value anywhere on dairy farms and around slurry silos, but above all: 

  • When and where slurry is being mixed 
  • During pumping and bringing out slurry
  • On and around the tractor during slurry mixing or spreading 
  • In the stable during maintenance work on slurry pumps, slurry scrapers and the like 
  • Near and around small openings and cracks in the floor, e.g., around milking robots 
  • Low to the ground in poorly ventilated corners and spaces (H2S is heavier than air and sinks to the floor) 
  • In slurry silos 
  • In slurry tanks 

Products that can help to protect yourself 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Installation of a fixed gas detector can benefit a larger space to provide continuous area and staff protection 24 hours a day. However, a portable detector can be more suited for worker’s safety. 

To find out more on the dangers in agriculture and farming, visit our industry page for more information. 

Did you know about the Sprint Pro Tightness Tester?

Pressure testing is all in a day’s work for many gas engineers, but the right equipment can make all the difference.  

Did you know that you can use the Sprint Pro flue gas analyser to carry out tightness testing, with no need for additional U gauges or other bulky equipment? In this post we’ll explore how and why you can tightness test with the Sprint Pro. 

What is tightness testing? 

Tightness testing is a type of pressure test, applied to a gas supply system at the meter. Other forms of pressure testing include the let-by test (which checks for leaks in the emergency control valve [ECV]), temperature stabilisation test, standing pressure at the meter test (a measurement of the gas when it’s stationary), and working/operating pressure at the meter test (which assesses the flow and pressure of gas when appliances are being used). 

Tightness testing measures the pressure in gas pipes, in order to find evidence of leaks. A tightness test is generally carried out after a let-by test and temperature stabilisation test. The tightness test is sometimes followed by a purge and then a standing pressure test, followed by a working/operating pressure at the meter test. This allows the engineer to make a full assessment of the system.  

Using the Sprint Pro to conduct a tightness test 

All Sprint Pro models except the Sprint Pro 1 can be used to tightness test. To begin, go into the pressure menu and select let-by/tightness. You will need to attach the pipe and matching pressure relief valve to the Sprint Pro’s positive pressure inlet – the valve makes setting the desired pressure, and adjusting it if required, very easy.  

As you scroll through the Sprint Pro’s pressure menu, you’ll find that tightness testing follows let-by testing and temperature stabilisation. Full instructions for tightness testing are given in the Sprint Pro manual (click here for a PDF version).  

It is very important to note that the parameters for tightness testing, and any increases/drops in pressure that are permitted, depend on many variables, such as the age and size of the pipework, whether appliances are attached and several others. Ultimately, you as the engineer must decide whether to pass or fail the tightness test when the analyser displays the results. 

Once the test is completed, you can either print the results immediately (although this erases them from the system) or save them to the log (and they can always be printed from there). Alternatively, if you have the Sprint Mobile/Crowcon HVAC Companion app, you can Bluetooth directly to your tablet or smartphone. 

Why use a Sprint Pro for tightness testing? 

Using a Sprint Pro for pressure testing means less to carry around (no bulky water gauges, for example) and the clarity of results displayed digitally. The Sprint Pro also creates an audit trail in the form of digital logs, which can provide great peace of mind in case of any dispute or query.

The Benefits of MPS Sensors 

Developed by NevadaNano, Molecular Property Spectrometer™ (MPS™) sensors represent the new generation of flammable gas detectors. MPS™ can quickly detect over 15 characterised flammable gases at once. Until recently, anyone who needed to monitor flammable gases had to select either a traditional flammable gas detector containing a pellistor sensor calibrated for a specific gas, or containing an infra-red (IR) sensor which also varies in output according to the flammable gas being measured, and hence needs to be calibrated for each gas. While these remain beneficial solutions, they are not always ideal. For example, both sensor types require regular calibration and the catalytic pellistor sensors also need frequent bump testing to ensure they have not been damaged by contaminants (known as ‘sensor poisoning’ agents) or by harsh conditions. In some environments, sensors must frequently be changed, which is costly in terms of both money and downtime, or product availability. IR technology cannot detect hydrogen – which has no IR signature, and both IR and pellistor detectors sometimes incidentally detect other (i.e., non-calibrated) gases, giving inaccurate readings that may trigger false alarms or concern operators. 

The MPS™ sensor delivers key features that provide real world tangible benefits to operator and hence workers. These include: 

No calibration  

When implementing a system containing a fixed head detector, it is common practice to service on a recommended schedule defined by manufacturer. This entails ongoing regular costs as well potentially disrupting production or process in order service or even gain access to detector or multiple detectors. There may also be a risk to personnel when detectors are mounted in particularly hazardous environments. Interaction with an MPS sensor is less stringent because there are no unrevealed failure modes, provided air is present. It would be wrong to say there is no calibration requirement. One factory calibration, followed by a gas test when commissioning is sufficient, because there is an internal automated calibration being performed every 2 seconds throughout the working life of the sensor. What is really meant is – no customer calibration. 

The Xgard Bright with MPS™ sensor technology does not require calibration. This in turn reduces the interaction with the detector resulting in a lower total cost of ownership over the sensor life cycle and reduced risk to personnel and production output to complete regular maintenance. It is still advisable to check the cleanliness of the gas detector from time to time, since gas can’t get through thick build ups of obstructive material and wouldn’t then reach the sensor. 

Multi species gas – ‘True LEL’™  

Many industries and applications use or have as a by-product multiple gases within the same environment. This can be challenging for traditional sensor technology which can detect only a single gas that they were calibrated for at the correct level and can result in inaccurate reading and even false alarms which can halt process or production if another flammable gas type is present. The lack of response or over response frequently faced in multi gas environments can be frustrating and counterproductive compromising safety of best user practices. The MPS™ sensor can accurately detect multiple gases at once and instantly identify gas type. Additionally, the MPS™ sensor has a on board environmental compensation and does not require an externally applied correctional factor. Inaccurate readings and false alarms are a thing of the past.  

No sensor poisoning  

In certain environments traditional sensor types can be under risk of poisoning. Extreme pressure, temperature, and humidity all have the potential to damage sensors whist environmental toxins and contaminants can ‘poison’ sensors, leading to severely compromised performance. Detectors in environments where poisons or inhibitors may be encountered, regular and frequent testing is the only way to ensure that performance is not being degraded. Sensor failure due to poisoning can be a costly experience. The technology in the MPS™ sensor is not affected by contaminates in the environment. Processes that have contaminates now have access to a solution that operates reliably with fail safe design to alert operator to offer a peace of mind for personnel and assets located in hazardous environment. Additionally, the MPS sensor is not harmed by elevated flammable gas concentrations, which may cause cracking in conventional catalytic sensor types for example. The MPS sensor carries on working. 

Hydrogen (H2)

The usage of Hydrogen in industrial processes is increasing as the focus to find a cleaner alternative to natural gas usage. Detection of Hydrogen is currently restricted to pellistor, metal oxide semiconductor, electrochemical and less accurate thermal conductivity sensor technology due to Infra-Red sensors inability to detect Hydrogen. When faced with challenges highlighted above in poisoning or false alarms, the current solution can leave operator with frequent bump testing and servicing in addition to false alarm challenges. The MPS™ sensor provides a far better solution for Hydrogen detection, removing the challenges faced with traditional sensor technology. A long-life, relatively fast responding hydrogen sensor that does not require calibration throughout the life cycle of the sensor, without the risk of poisoning or false alarms, can significantly save on total cost of ownership and reduces interaction with unit resulting in peace of mind and reduced risk for operators leveraging MPS™ technology. All of this is possible thanks to MPS™ technology, which is the biggest breakthrough in gas detection for several decades. The Gasman with MPS is hydrogen (H2) ready. A single MPS sensor accurately detects hydrogen and common hydrocarbons in a fail-safe, poison-resistant solution without recalibration.

For more on Crowcon, visit https://www.crowcon.com or for more on MPSTM visit https://www.crowcon.com/mpsinfixed/  

Carbon Dioxide: What are the dangers in the Food and Beverage Industry? 

Almost all industries must monitor gas hazards, with the food and beverage industry no exception. Although, there is a lack of awareness regarding the dangers of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the dangers those working in the industry face. CO2 is the most common gas in the food and beverage industry because it is used in the carbonation of drinks, to propel beverages to the tap in pubs and restaurants and to keep food items cold during transportation in the form of dry ice. It is also naturally produced in beverage manufacturing processes by leavening agents like yeast and sugar. Although CO2 may seem harmless at first glance as we exhale it with every breath, and plants need it for survival, the presence of carbon dioxide becomes a problem when its concentration rises to dangerous levels.

The Dangers of CO2

Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere (typically 0.04% in air). CO2 is colourless and odourless, heavier than air, and tends to sink to the floor. CO2 collects in cellars and at the bottom of containers and confined spaces such as tanks or silos.

Since CO2 is heavier than air, it quickly displaces oxygen at high concentrations can result in asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen or breathable air. Exposure to CO2 is easy, especially in a confined space like a tank or a cellar. Early symptoms of exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide include dizziness, headaches, and confusion, followed by loss of consciousness. Accidents and fatalities occur in the food and beverage industry due to a carbon dioxide leak. Without proper detection methods and processes in place, everyone at a facility could be at risk.

Gas Monitors – what are the benefits?

Any application that uses carbon dioxide puts workers at risk, and the only way to identify high levels before it’s too late is to use gas monitors.

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Installation of a fixed gas detector can benefit a larger space such as plant rooms to provide continuous area and staff protection 24 hours a day. However, a portable detector can be more suited for worker safety in and around the cylinder storage area and in spaces designated as a confined space. This is especially true for pubs and beverage dispensing outlets for the safety of workers and those unfamiliar with the environment, such as delivery drivers, sales teams or equipment technicians. The portable unit can easily be clipped to clothing and will detect pockets of CO2 using alarms and visual signals, indicating that the user should immediately vacate the area.

Personal gas detectors continuously monitor the air in workers’ breathing zone when worn correctly,  to give them better awareness and the information they need to make smart decisions in the face of danger. Not only can gas monitors detect carbon dioxide in the air, but they can also alert others if an employee is in danger. Carbon dioxide can be monitored using a single gas monitor or by using a multi-gas monitor with a dedicated carbon dioxide sensor. It is important to note the carbon dioxide can escalate to dangerous levels before an oxygen sensor would alarm.

What is IR Technology? 

Infrared emitters within the sensor each generate beams of IR light. Each beam is measured by a photo-receiver. The “measuring” beam, with a frequency of around 3.3μm, is absorbed by hydrocarbon gas molecules, so the beam intensity is reduced if there is an appropriate concentration of a gas with C-H bonds present. The “reference” beam (around 3.0μm) is not absorbed by gas, so arrives at the receiver at full strength. The %LEL of gas present is determined by the ratio of the beams measured by the photo-receiver. 

Benefits of IR technology 

IR sensors are reliable in some environments that can cause pellistor-based sensors to function incorrectly or in some cases fail. In some industrial environments, pellistors are at risk of being poisoned or inhibited. This would leave a worker on their shift unprotected. IR sensors are not susceptible to the catalyst poisons so significantly enhance safety in these conditions. 

Pellistor technology is considerably less expensive than IR technology, reflecting the comparative simplicity of the detection technology. However, there are several advantages of IR over pellistors. These include IR technology provides fail-safe testing. The mode of operation means that if the infrared beam failed, this would register as a fault.  In normal pellistor operation, conversely, a lack of output is ordinarily an indication that no flammable gas is present, but this could also be the result of a fault. Pellistors are susceptible to poisoning or inhibition; a particular concern in environments where compounds containing silicon, lead, sulphur and phosphates, even at low levels. IR instruments don’t, themselves, interact with the gas.  Only the IR beam interacts with the gas molecules, so, IR technology is immune to poisoning or inhibition by chemical toxins. In high concentrations of flammable gas, pellistor sensors can burn out. As with poisoning or inhibition, this would probably only be picked up by testing.  Again, IR sensors are not affected by these conditions. Low levels of oxygen mean that pellistor sensors won’t work. This can be the case in recently purged tanks, but also in confined spaces generally, where pellistors may be ineffective.  IR technology is effective in areas where oxygen may be reduced or absent. 

Factors that affect IR technology  

Exposure to high levels of flammable gas can cause “sooting” of pellistors, reducing their sensitivity and potentially leading to failure. Pellistors require oxygen to function, however, IR sensors can be relied on in applications such as fuel storage tanks where there is little or no oxygen, due to flushing with inert gas prior to maintenance, or which still contain high levels of fuel vapours. The fail-safe nature of IR sensors, which automatically alert you to any fault, provides an additional layer of safety. Gas-Pro IR measures in %LEL and has been certified for use in hazardous areas as defined by both ATEX/IECEx and UL. 

Knowing when the technology has failed  

IR sensors are reliable in environments that can cause pellistor-based sensors to function incorrectly or in some cases fail. In some industrial environments, pellistors are at risk of being poisoned or inhibited. This leaves workers on their shifts unprotected. IR sensors are not susceptible to these conditions, so significantly enhance safety. 

Problems with IR sensors 

IR sensors do not measure hydrogen, and they usually don’t measure acetylene, ammonia of some complex solvents either except for some specialist sensor types. 

If nothing is done to prevent it, moisture can build up inside IR sensors on the optics scattering the IR light and causing a fault.  

The fail-safe nature of IR sensors, which automatically alert you to any fault, provides an additional layer of safety, and this results in a fault if there isn’t enough light getting through the system e.g., if the light is being scattered form the beam. 

IR sensors have very high resistance to interference or inhibition by other gases and are suitable for both high gas concentrations and use in inert (oxygen free) backgrounds where catalytic pellistor sensors would perform poorly. 

Products  

Our portable products such as Our Gas-Pro IR and Triple Plus+ help customers to detect potentially explosive gases where traditional, “pellistor,” catalytic sensors will struggle – especially in low oxygen or ‘poisoning’ environments. And allow for the measurement of hydrocarbons at both % LEL and % Volume ranges making this instrument ideal for tank and line purging applications. 

To explore more, visit our technical page for more information. 

Intrinsic Safety – What does it mean? 

Intrinsic safety is an explosion prevention technique used to ensure safe operation of electrical equipment in a hazardous area. This technique uses a low-energy signalling technique that reduces the energy within the equipment to below that required to initiate an explosion, whilst maintaining an energy level this is an be used for its operation.  

What is a hazardous area? 

A hazardous or explosion-prone relates to an environment that has vast amounts of flammable substances such as combustible particles, gases, vapor. Hazardous industrial areas include oil refineries, mining, distilleries and chemical plants. The main safety issue in these industrial scenarios is that of flammable vapours and gases. This is because when they are mix with oxygen within the air, they can establish an explosion-prone environment. Food processing factories, grain handling facilities, recycling operations, and even flour mills generate combustible dust, which is why these are classed as too hazardous locations. Hazardous places are classified in terms of zones on the basis of the frequency and duration of the occurrence of an explosive atmosphere. Areas subject to flammable gas hazards are classified as either Zone 0, Zone 1 or Zone 2. 

How does it work? 

Intrinsic safety prevents sparks and heat from being generated from any electrical equipment, devices or instruments that otherwise ay have initiated an explosion in a hazardous area. Hazardous spaces may belong, but are not limited to, to the following: petrochemical refineries, mines, agriculture grain storage, wastewater, distilling, pharmaceutical, brewing, and utilities. 

Intrinsic safety is achieved with the use of a Zener Diodes which limits voltage, resistors that limit the current and a fuse to cut off electricity. Equipment or devices that may be made intrinsically safe must first be approved for use in an intrinsically safe system through a competent authority, such as the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Factory Mutual (FM), National Electric Code (NEC), and the Instrument Society of Measurement and Control (ISA). 

The advantages of Intrinsic Safety 

The main advantage is that it provides a solution to all problems that occur in a hazardous area regarding equipment. It prevents the cost and bulk of explosion proof enclosures, with additional cost savings as a result of the ability to use standard instrumentation cables. Additionally, the maintenance and diagnostic work can be performed without shutting down production and ventilating the work area. 

Levels of protection  

Intrinsic safety relates to three levels of protection, ‘ia’, ‘ib’ and ‘ic’ that aim to balance the probability of an explosive atmosphere, assessing the probability of whether that is an ignition capable situation that may occur. 

‘ia’  

Offers the highest level of protection and any equipment that is given this level is generally considered adequately safe for use in the most hazardous locations (Zone 0) with two faults.  

‘ib’  

This level is considered adequately safe with one fault is considered safe for use in less frequently hazardous areas (Zone 1).  

‘ic’  

This level is given for ‘normal operation’ with a unity factor of safety is generally acceptable in infrequently hazardous areas (Zone 2). 

Level of protection 
Countable faults 
ATEX Category 
Normal Zone of use 
ia 2 1 0
ib 1 2 1
ic 0 3 2

 

To note, although it is normal for a whole system to be allocated a level of protection, it is also possible for different parts of the system to have different levels of protection.  

World Hydrogen Summit 2022

Crowcon exhibited at the World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition 2022 on the 9th – 11th May 2022 as part of the event designed to advance development in the hydrogen sector. Based in Rotterdam and produced by the Sustainable Energy Council (SEC), this year’s exhibition was the first Crowcon has attended. We were excited to be part of an occasion which fosters connections and collaboration between those at the forefront of the heavy industry and drives the hydrogen sector forward.

Our team representatives met various industry peers and showcased our Hydrogen solutions for gas detection. Our MPS sensor offers a higher standard of flammable gas detection thanks to its pioneering advanced molecular property spectrometer (MPS™) technology that can detect and accurately identify over 15 different flammable gases. This showcased an ideal solution for hydrogen detection due to hydrogen having proprieties that allow for easy ignition and higher burn intensity compared to that of petrol or diesel, therefore poses a real explosion risk. To find out more read our blog.

Our MPS technology had interest due to this not requiring calibration throughout the life cycle of the sensor, and detects flammable gases without the risk of poisoning or false alarms, thereby having a significant saving on total cost of ownership and reduce interaction with units, ultimately providing peace of mind and less risk for operators.

The Summit allowed us to understand the current state of the hydrogen market, including key players and current projects, allowing for potential developed a greater understanding of our product needs in order to play a major role in the future of hydrogen gas detection.

We look forward to attending next year!

Gold Mining: What gas detection do I need? 

How is gold mined?

Gold is a rare substance equating to 3 parts per billion of the earth’s outer layer, with most of the world’s available gold coming from Australia. Gold, like iron, copper and lead, is a metal. There are two primary forms of gold mining, including open-cut and underground mining. Open mining involves earth-moving equipment to remove waste rock from the ore body above, and then mining is conducted from the remaining substance. This process requires waste and ore to be struck at high volumes to break the waste and ore into sizes suitable for handling and transportation to both waste dumps and ore crushers. The other form of gold mining is the more traditional underground mining method. This is where vertical shafts and spiral tunnels transport workers and equipment into and out of the mine, providing ventilation and hauling the waste rock and ore to the surface.

Gas detection in mining

When relating to gas detection, the process of health and safety within mines has developed considerably over the past century, from morphing from the crude usage of methane wick wall testing, singing canaries and flame safety to modern-day gas detection technologies and processes as we know them. Ensuring the correct type of detection equipment is utilised, whether fixed or portable, before entering these spaces. Proper equipment utilisation will ensure gas levels are accurately monitored, and workers are alerted to dangerous concentrations within the atmosphere at the earliest opportunity.

What are the gas hazards and what are the dangers?

The dangers those working within the mining industry face several potential occupational hazards and diseases, and the possibility of fatal injury. Therefore, understanding the environments and hazards, they may be exposed to is important.

Oxygen (O2)

Oxygen (O2), usually present in the air at 20.9%, is essential to human life. There are three main reasons why oxygen poses a threat to workers within the mining industry. These include oxygen deficiencies or enrichment, as too little oxygen can prevent the human body from functioning leading to the worker losing consciousness. Unless the oxygen level can be restored to an average level, the worker is at risk of potential death. An atmosphere is deficient when the concentration of O2 is less than 19.5%. Consequently, an environment with too much oxygen is equally dangerous as this constitutes a greatly increased risk of fire and explosion. This is considered when the concentration level of O2 is over 23.5%

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

In some cases, high concentrations of Carbon Monoxide (CO) may be present. Environments that this may occur include a house fire, therefore the fire service are at risk of CO poisoning. In this environment there can be as much as 12.5% CO in the air which when the carbon monoxide rises to the ceiling with other combustion products and when the concentration hits 12.5% by volume this will only lead to one thing, called a flashover. This is when the whole lot ignites as a fuel. Apart from items falling on the fire service, this is one of the most extreme dangers they face when working inside a burning building. 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, this is because 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. According to statistics from the Department of Health, the most common indication of CO poisoning is that of a headache with 90% of patients reporting this as a symptom, with 50% reporting nausea and vomiting, as well as vertigo. With confusion/changes in consciousness, and weakness accounting for 30% and 20% of reports.

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S)

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a colourless, flammable gas with a characteristic odour of rotten eggs. Skin and eye contact may occur. However, the nervous system and cardiovascular system are most affected by hydrogen sulphide, which can lead to a range of symptoms. Single exposures to high concentrations may rapidly cause breathing difficulties and death.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) can cause several harmful effects on the respiratory systems, in particular the lung. It can also cause skin irritation. Skin contact with (SO2) causes stinging pain, redness of the skin and blisters. Skin contact with compressed gas or liquid can cause frostbite. Eye contact causes watering eyes and, in severe cases, blindness can occur.

Methane (CH4)

Methane (CH4) is a colourless, highly flammable gas with a primary component being that of natural gas. High levels of (CH4) can reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air, which can result in mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache. In severe cases, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness. Although, if exposure is for a longer period, it can result in fatality.

Hydrogen (H2)

Hydrogen Gas is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas which is lighter than air. As it is lighter than air this means it float higher than our atmosphere, meaning it is not naturally found, but instead must be created. Hydrogen poses a fire or explosion risk as well as an inhalation risk. High concentrations of this gas can cause an oxygen-deficient environment. Individuals breathing such an atmosphere may experience symptoms which include headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting and depression of all the senses

Ammonia (NH3)

Ammonia (NH3) is one of the most widely used chemicals globally that is produced both in the human body and in nature. Although it is naturally created (NH3) is corrosive which poses a serve concern for health. High exposure within the air can result in immediate burning to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Serve cases can result in blindness.

Other gas risks

Whilst Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) doesn’t persist within the environment, improper storage, handling and waste management can pose severe risk to human health as well as effects on the environment. Cyanide interferes with human respiration at cellular levels that can cause serve and acute effects, including rapid breathing, tremors, asphyxiation.

Diesel particulate exposure can occur in underground mines as a result of diesel-powered mobile equipment used for drilling and haulage. Although control measures include the use of low sulphur diesel fuel, engine maintenance and ventilation, health implication includes excess risk of lung cancer.

Products that can help to protect yourself

Crowcon provide a range of gas detection including both portable and fixed products all of which are suitable for gas detection within the mining industry.

To find out more visit our industry page here.