The energy industry is the very backbone of our industrial and domestic worlds, supplying essential energy to industrial, manufacturing, commercial and residential customers around the globe. With the inclusion of fossil fuel industries (petroleum, coal, LNG); electricity generation, distribution and sales; nuclear energy and renewable energy, the power generation sector is essential in supporting the increasing demand for power from emerging countries and an increasing world population.
Gas Hazards in Power Sector
Gas detection systems have been installed extensively in the power industry to minimise potential consequence through the detection of gas exposure with those working within this industry are exposed to a variation of power plant gas hazards.
The transport and pulverisation of coal poses a high risk of combustion. Fine coal dust becomes suspended in air and highly explosive. The smallest spark, for example from plant equipment, can ignite the dust cloud and cause an explosion that sweeps up more dust, which explodes in turn, and so on in a chain reaction. Coal power plants now require combustible dust certification, in addition to hazardous gas certification.
Coal power plants generate large volumes of carbon monoxide (CO) which is both highly toxic and flammable and must be accurately monitored. A toxic component of incomplete combustion, CO comes from boiler casing leaks and smouldering coal. It is vital to monitor CO in coal tunnels, bunkers, hoppers and tipper rooms, along with infrared-type flammable gas detection to detect pre-fire conditions.
With hydrogen fuel cells gaining popularity as alternatives to fossil fuel, it is important to be aware of the dangers of hydrogen. Like all fuels, hydrogen is highly flammable and if it leaks there is real risk of fire. Hydrogen burns with a pale blue, almost invisible, flame that can cause serious injuries and severe equipment damage. Therefore, hydrogen must be monitored, to prevent seal-oil system fires, unscheduled shutdowns and to protect personnel from fire.
In addition, power plants must have back-up batteries, to ensure the continued functioning of critical control systems in cases of power outage. Battery rooms generate considerable hydrogen, and monitoring is often carried out in conjunction with ventilation. Traditional lead acid batteries produce hydrogen when they are being charged. These batteries are normally charged together, sometimes in the same room or area, which can generate an explosion risk, especially if the room is not properly ventilated.
Confined Space Entry
Confined space entry (CSE) is often considered to be a dangerous type of work performed in power generation. It is therefore important that the entry is strictly controlled and detailed precautions are taken. Lack of oxygen, toxic and flammable gases are risks that can occur during work in confined spaces, which should never be considered as simple or routine. However, the hazards of working in confined spaces can be predicted, monitored, and mitigated through the use of portable gas detection devices. 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.
Elimination of these gas hazards is virtually impossible, so permanent workers and contractors must depend on reliable gas detection equipment to protect them. 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, Gasman, Tetra 3, Gas-Pro, T4, and Detective+. Our fixed gas detectors are used in many applications where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard, Xgard Bright, XgardIQ and IRmax. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions that measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the power industry our panels include Vortex and Gasmonitor.
To find out more on the gas hazards in the power industry visit our industry page for more information.