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ThermoVision conquers burning issue

01 April 2007

In densely populated West-European countries solid household waste is collected and carried to a waste incineration plant. Some plants use the combustion heat to fuel up an adjacent waste-to-energy-system, which provides heat and power to nearby residential areas.

Infrared image showing hot spots in the waste. This means a danger of spontaneous self-combustion and fire.
Infrared image showing hot spots in the waste. This means a danger of spontaneous self-combustion and fire.

The thousands of metrics tonnes of solid waste stored in the ‘waste bunkers’ is potentially flammable, due to pressure, spontaneous chemical reactions and build up of methane gas.

To combat the problem m.u.t. provides infrared, camera-based early fire detection systems in waste bunkers across Europe. “Preliminary planning is the hardest part of the job”, says Werner Hagedorn, account manager for the early fire detection products. “We have to define the best place to install the camera then divide the entire waste bunker into zones.”

FLIR Systems, which has its UK base in Kent, was chosen to ThermoVision A40-M cameras. The fix-mounted cameras offer a spectral range of 7.5 to 13 ìm, allowing vision through smoke and dust. Its 320x240 pixel uncooled microbolometer detector provides thermal sensitivity and infrared imaging. Visual Basic C++ and LabView software development kits are designed for smooth application integration.

One A40 camera, mounted on a pan stilt and placed in an appropriate protective housing, is able to inspect a surface of up to 2,000m². The camera registers the surface temperature of the waste, comparing it to the maximum temperature defined by the waste bunker operator.

Hagedorn says: “The A40-M has an uncooled detector and needs virtually no specific maintenance. That makes infrared monitoring of waste processing, as well as in many other industrial applications, affordable.”

The m.u.t. engineers divide the bunker surface zones. The camera checks every zone subsequently and its FireWire output provides temperature information and infrared imaging to the crane operator’s monitor screen in real-time. The operator is also able to steer the camera from his working place. Three alarm levels marked by visual, as well as sound alarms, warn the crane operator of substantial temperature differences on the waste surface in a particular zone. The waste is then mixed and turned, transferred to another zone, or carried directly to the oven for combustion.

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