Natural Gas Leak Detection Methods
Natural gas has quickly moved in to replace coal as one of the leading forms of combustible fuel used both domestically and commercially to produce power. It is considered to be a very safe and reliable power source in these contexts, and is used to provide fuel for heating in more than 80% of homes in the UK and is a widely used power source in the commercial sector which draws about 40% of its power from natural gas.
While natural gas is one of the safest, most cost-effective and convenient fuels, its use is governed by strict guidelines in the UK. Aside from frequent checks on pressure and flow, it is also vital to carry out leak detection when there is a chance that a fault may have occurred within the system. Gas engineers use a range of detection methods to find and address these leaks.
Detecting a potential leak can be difficult in large commercial spaces. Natural gas is completely colourless, and in big places with lots of ventilation it can be easy to miss the tell-tale smell of a leak. If a leak is suspected, you might experience the following signs:
- A distinct rotten egg smell
- Hissing or whistling sounds near the suspected source of the leak
- Visible damage to the gas supply system
- Standing water may become cloudy or will begin to look dusty
Early detection of gas-related risks are vital in the commercial sector as they can be damaging to the health of workers exposed to them. Accountability must be taken to ensure that any potential leaks are dealt with before they can become a serious issue. The physical symptoms of exposure to natural gas can include the following:
- Dizziness and nausea
- Breathing difficulties
- Ringing in the ears
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
Detection of a gas leak
In many ways, industrial natural gas leak detection is similar to domestic detection. Most systems make use of monitors which assess the composition of the air in a space, and are connected to an alarm of some kind which provides feedback when gas levels are high. The appropriate gas analyser and gas detector will depend on the commercial or industrial setting, and the gases used on site.
Hydrogen gas detector
Hydrogen is completely colourless and odourless, and is used in many commercial sectors including the production of ammonia, plastics, solvents and agricultural fertilisers. Where there is a risk of hydrogen leaks, the installation of hydrogen detectors protects workers from exposure and allows reparative measures to be taken in a timely fashion.
Carbon monoxide detection
Carbon monoxide is another colourless, odourless and tasteless gases which can cause issues in the industrial or commercial setting. It is also non-irritant, which can make it difficult to identify. Carbon monoxide detectors constantly test the air over time, and will alert if the parts per million of carbon monoxide reach a certain level.
LPG gas detectors
These detectors monitor the levels of LPG, a mixture of propane and butane, and piped natural gas (PNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG). Some detectors work by being integrated directly into the gas supply, while others can be wall mounted.
Detecting natural gas leaks
As gas supply and distribution systems age, the chances that a leak will develop sharply increases. Gas surveys carried out using vehicular-based technology for roadside surveys or handheld devices detect natural gas leaks with a high degree of accuracy. Surveys can take place around your regular operations with minimal disruption. Read more on how to find a methane gas leak.
When a gas leak is suspected, it must be identified and resolved quickly to prevent harm to workers as well as minimising the chances that operations will be disrupted. These leaks can also cause environmental damage, which can be expensive to rectify and can also incur criminal charges depending on the nature of the incident.
Any company which handles natural gas must undertake reliable and efficient detection, quantification, and localisation methods to ensure rapid detection. Correct monitoring of gas supply and distribution systems gives better return on investment and is vital in industrial and commercial settings where reputations must be upheld. The QED Huberg product range includes specialist equipment for the detection of natural gas leaks which is used globally by the world’s leading gas suppliers and distributors.