How to Find Methane Gas Leak
Gas leaks can cause big problems in the industrial and commercial sectors. Not only can they bring operations to a grinding halt while vital repairs take place, they can also pose a serious risk to the health and safety of plant operatives and other surrounding infrastructure. Costly downtime and reputation-damaging incidents are risks that must be understood and mitigated, following stringent guidelines set out by advisory boards.
While methane does exist at a low background level within the atmosphere, it can become a problem when concentrations are high, and environments are improperly monitored and controlled. Not only is there a risk of explosion, methane can cause illness and even death when exposure is prolonged.
These dangers to health and property are best prevented through careful monitoring of air quality over time, to ensure that methane levels always remain within safe parameters. The detection of anomalously high methane levels is often a strong indicator that there is a leak somewhere within the system, and should this ever occur it should be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
What are the signs of a methane leak?
While methane is a relatively low odour gas, most industrially and domestically used methane contains an additive which gives it a characteristic smell of rotten eggs. This unpleasant smell is often the first sign that a leak has taken place and further investigation can then take place.
Aside from the distinct smell, people who are experiencing the ill effects of methane exposure often complain of headaches, nausea, chest pains, slurred speech, memory loss, and impaired judgement. If these symptoms present themselves then action must be taken to remove those affected from the source of the exposure, and seek immediate medical attention. Ideally, a leak will be detected and dealt with before it can cause illness. Read more on what are the dangers of methane gas.
In large and well ventilated spaces, the smell and physical effects that can present themselves during methane exposure can be hard to detect, or might not be present at all. Good ventilation makes it less likely that workers will experience negative health effects, and unpleasant smells are effectively removed from the area. Occasionally a methane leak can present as a loss of gas pressure within the system, which reduces productivity and can be costly if the leak continues unchecked.
Detecting methane leaks
Detecting methane leaks quickly and accurately reduces the likelihood that the leak will have dangerous or expensive consequences. While physical symptoms and the presence of a rotten egg smell are indicators that a leak is taking place, the best way to detect these issues before they can become serious problems is through natural gas leak detection and the use of specialist methane sensors and monitoring equipment.
Portable and fixed gas analysers and gas detectors make use of lasers to detect the light spectrum of air locally, and find the specific frequency of methane. As well as detecting its presence, these sensors can also accurately read the levels present, down to low level concentrations of 0.5 parts per million of methane.
Sensors are vital in the early detection of leaks, and portable units have the benefit of allowing technicians to pinpoint the exact location of the leak so that repairs can begin quickly. Sensors can also be used to gain a picture of methane concentrations over time, ensuring that levels are consistently safe and acceptable.
Surface emissions are easily monitored in this way, providing accurate data and maintaining safe and cost effective operations. It is also possible and advisable to monitor other potential sources of methane leaks, such as subterranean systems, groundwater, and emissions from landfills and waste management systems.
Frequent monitoring of all systems which use methane should be standard practice, with historical data stored for analysis. It is in the best interests of companies in the industrial sector to ensure that all gas systems are fully operational and maintained correctly. Incidents can largely be avoided by monitoring for gas leaks appropriately, and industrial methane monitoring systems are a cost effective solution which provides peace of mind while ensuring regulations are being met.
Upgrading your methane leak detection methods can be done quickly and disruption is minimal. Those involved with monitoring must also be fully trained in the correct use, maintenance and calibration of the equipment, as well as the reporting procedures.