Improving operational safety in ammonia installations by a remote early warning system


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Accidental releases of ammonia constitute severe risks and common issue of conventional detection systems are the lack of early warning functionality and limited situational awareness. The scanfeld early warning for gas leaks is bridging this gap. Reliable early warning systems for the prevention of major gas releases are crucial for all types of ammonia processing installations and especially new greenfield applications such as energy storage or direct propulsion. The highest possible safety standards are required for a positive public perception and the acceptance of ammonia technologies in general.

Our optical remote sensing solution is a particularly suitable method for the close surveillance, early detection, and situation assessment of ammonia gas releases. More specifically, the scanfeld system based on FTIR spectroscopy provides chemical specificity by spectral fingerprinting and independence from lighting and weather conditions. Detected gas clouds are visualized in an intuitive display. Specific warning levels keep the operators updated with a live situation assessment.

We introduce a remote monitoring solution for the continuous surveillance of ammonia installations. As a typical example, the solution for the OCI Nitrogen OMM plant at the CHEMELOT industrial park in Geleen, NL, is presented. Two sensor units generate more than a million spectroscopic measurements each day covering the complete production site. From the continuous analysis of these data streams sophisticated algorithms generate situation assessment data that warns plant operators of unexpected gas emissions. Such warnings comprise the threat level and precise information about the detected substance, the measured amount, the location of the emission, and the duration of the events. Once ammonia is airborne, the propagation of the moving cloud is tracked and mapped live until it is dispersed. Our remote monitoring solution covers large areas and can locate the gas anywhere. The design goal of the solution is to eventually cover the entire industrial park CHEMELOT north.

The functionality of our scanfeld solution can be applied to any installation processing ammonia where gas leaks need to be detected as early as possible to avoid hazardous situations. The scalability of the solution permits to start with a limited surveillance area and easily ramp-up the coverage.