Gas Detection

New Detector Improves Reliability of Gas Network Surveys

Jul 07 2016 Comments 0

The reliability of gas network surveys is set to improve with the new IRwin methane leak detector and probe system from INFICON (Switzerland). 

The system’s highly sensitive IR sensor reacts fast to presence of natural gas and recovers quickly after exposure. This minimises the risk of an operator missing a leak during a survey. Concentrations as low as 1 ppm can be measured. 

The detector is connected to an ergonomically designed, mono-wheel carpet probe. This helps the operator to easily follow the kerb or cracks in the pavement. The carpet probe is designed to cover large paved surfaces but can, with its single wheel, also reach into corners, cracks and places with limited access. The detector’s intuitive user interface gives the operator instantaneous feedback. 

A built-in GPS receiver automatically logs the surveyed route and pinpoints the location of detected leaks. Reports can be uploaded to a laptop using a Bluetooth interface. 

The system will provide a valuable tool for anyone working with gas leakage surveys for gas network operators, private landowners and the public sector. 

The rapid reaction time of the unit is due to a newly developed IR sensor with an extremely wide measuring range, from 1 ppm to 100% methane. The ability to use IR at the lower end of the spectrum ensures much faster reaction and recovery than a conventional semiconductor sensor, which is traditionally used to detect gas in low concentration.  

The highly selective IR-sensor reduces cross-sensitivity to other gases significantly. A built-in ethane analysis function enables the operator to distinguish between marsh gas and natural gas within minutes.

Weighing just 1.4 kg (3 lbs), the unit is easy to carry in its shoulder case or harness. The patent pending mono-wheel carpet probe reduces weight, improves ergonomics and ensures maximum dexterity. A simple flip of the wrist turns the probe 180 degrees and enables the operator to reach under parked vehicles and other obstacles. The carpet probe can also be locked in position while lifting the unit over obstructions such as garden fences. A bell probe is available for pinpointing leaks or for surveying uneven surfaces. Both the carpet probe and the bell probe can be carried by the operator without effort during survey, avoiding the need to return to the van for equipment. 

“This is an instrument that the operator can trust. The last thing any operator wants is any lingering doubt as to whether a leak was missed,” says Marco Rottler, Product Manager at INFICON. 

“We have addressed market concerns by developing a new sensor that gives rapid reaction and recovery, plus resilience to cross contamination from other sources. This means an alarm can be trusted and that an all-clear from the system means just that,” says Rottler.

The system is designed in accordance with the German DVGW regulations. It comes with a hand probe with 1.5 m hose, rod, rod extension, bell probe, carpet probe and strap, all of which can easily be carried by the operator. The system also includes transport case and charging units. Battery operating time is a minimum of eight hours. The unit is protected to IP65.

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