Optical gas imaging camera improves polymerization process safety

22 May 2012

Process operators at the Borealis high-pressure, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plant in Stenungsund, Sweden have employed a FLIR GF306 optical gas imaging camera to detect potentially dangerous gas leaks.

In the LDPE production process - ethylene is converted into polyethylene in a high-pressure polymerization reaction. Traditionally, the company used gas 'sniffers' - devices which measure the concentration of a certain gas in one single location and generate a concentration reading in parts per million (ppm).

An operator of the FLIR GF306 stated "The main advantage of the optical gas imaging camera is that it provides you with the possibility to detect gases in real-time visually,” explained an operator at the plant. “Whereas sniffers just give you a number, an optical gas imaging camera allows you to detect gas leakage anywhere within the field of view of the camera. This speeds up the inspections considerably."

With the optical gas imaging camera Borealis is now able to do a quick scan at every start-up, which allows process operators to scan approximately 80% of the entire plant in about 30 minutes. To do the same task with gas sniffers would need a team of ten people working for two days.

The implementation of the FLIR GF306 optical gas imaging camera has been seen by Borealis to increase the safety within the plant and reduce the environmental impact of their LDPE production process. To download a copy of the application report and view the video please visit www.flir.com/cs/emea/en/view/?id=56408.

The gas visualization functionality of the FLIR GF-Series optical gas imaging cameras is based on infrared absorption. Gases absorb electromagnetic radiation in certain parts of the spectrum. FLIR GF-Series optical gas imaging cameras contain a spectral filter, a focal plane array and optics that are specifically tuned to such a part of the spectral range. Since the gas absorbs infrared radiation it blocks radiation from objects behind the gas, causing gas leaks to show up as either a black or a white plume in the thermal image, depending on whether the user opted for the 'white hot' or the 'black hot' settings.

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