Gas Detection System

A Gas Detection System refers to an integrated plant-wide network of sensors, monitors, servers, and alarms designed for industrial facilities to detected hazardous gases, including combustible gas, toxic gas, dangerously low oxygen levels, and often flame detection as well.

Gas detection systems make use of a series of different gas detectors that must interface with central computer and alarm systems in a way that provides redundancy, particularly in instances of power failure (which in turn can lead to toxic or combustible gas releases).

Gas Detection System Providers

  • Sierra Monitor Corporation provide unparalleled gas detection system solutions, from simple gas sensors to multi-point intelligent gas detection systems making use of 2-way communication between gas sensors, the controller, and the plant DCS. The Sierra Monitor Sentry IT Smart Gas Detectors provide many ways to interface to facility-wide industrial controls.
  • Sensor Electronics¬†develops, designs and manufactures ¬†gas detection systems¬†including detectors, process gas analyzers and accessories that can be used to sense common and exotic gases.

Gas Detection System Challenges

An integrated gas detection system is a vital safety feature for many industrial manufacturing facilities. The presence of the gas detection system is not just a safety feature, but frequently a regulatory compliance issue as well.

The two primary challenges that any gas detection system must overcome are the difficulties of potential failure points, and of system integration.

Safe System Design

A gas detection system is only as strong as its weakest point, and gas detection systems are frequently so complex that there are many opportunities for failure that the system must take into account. The very basic failure point is the gas sensor itself. The physical gas detectors — either digital or analog — must be properly calibrated. Once calibrated the gas detectors should have some kind of self-monitoring capabilities to identify internal failure modes and alert the gas detection system of the potential loss of accuracy in its measurements.

Another potential and dangerous potential failure point in a gas detection system is a loss of power. A massive power outage has the potential to not only deactivate the hazardous gas detection system, but is also likely to cause exactly the kinds of events that trigger the release of toxic or combustible gases in the first place. With a loss of power containment or cooling system that keep hazardous gases safe could fail at the same time as the detection system to alert of the danger of the gases.

The solution to the power situation is usually independent of the gas detection system itself. Most industrial manufacturing facilities that deal with hazardous chemicals already have automatic back-up power systems. These backup generators should be integrated with the gas detection system to ensure that sensors, servers, and alarms receive this backup power in the event that the generators go online.

System Integration

The second major difficulty facing an integrated gas detection system are the challenges in integrating the system with existing controls and software.

Gas sensors, servers, alarms, and end computers may well all use different software protocols. In laymen’s terms, each of these elements of a gas detection system speak a different language. A gas detection system must be able to integrate into existing systems, and so protocol gateways must be able to efficiently translate this language barrier. Poorly implemented protocol gateways can result in systemic failures of a gas detection system. For this reason gas detection system providers are typically experts in translating between various network protocols.

 

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