Safeguard Against a Dangerous and Often Undetected Visitor in Gas Compressor Stations
Lubrication oil is commonly circulated through natural gas compressors in order to facilitate cooling and to prevent engine wear. These systems are highly pressurized and thus create a high risk potential for leakage. When leaks occur the lube oil often sprays into the atmosphere producing an oil mist or atomized cloud. And often leaks will stream continuously undetected for hours or even days without the proper detection technology in place. The mist not only creates an expensive, time-consuming clean-up project, but more importantly, can produce highly toxic smoke or burst into explosive flame upon contact with hot surfaces or engine spark ignitions.
It is not uncommon that gas transportation companies can report dozens of oil leaks per year and some of these leaks have ignited into flame events causing significant damage and production loss. Numerous industry studies have verified that both smoke and oil mist will almost always precede flame prior to an explosive event and have been proven to obscure or blind some optical flame detectors preventing fire warning and potentially leading to disaster.
The solution in this application is an explosion-proof oil mist detector. An effective detector should be equipped with a powerful infrared optical sensor that monitors ambient air for the presence of particulate matter such as dust and oil mist, and for products of combustion like smoke and carbon. The Net Safety Millennium Oil Mist Detector (Airborne Particle Monitor – APM) is the only Class1 Div1 detector of this kind available on the market today.
The principle of operation is based on the reflection of infrared radiation by airborne particles. Field-adjustable zero level of obscuration as well as multiple sensitivity settings allows for fine tuning within specific application conditions to optimize performance and eliminate false alarms. Sensor performance is also not effected by high volume air velocity which makes it ideal for various duct monitoring applications as well. Responses from the APM include actuation of relays, LED indicators, LED alphanumeric display and 4-20mA DC output for transmitting information to other devices.
Oil mist detectors are critical in the previously described natural gas compressor station system where lube oil is used to cool and lubricate compressors in pipeline or processing applications. Advanced detection systems provide compressor buildings with fast, accurate detection of lube oil leaks manifested by smoke or oil mist, providing a proven source of protection for plant and personnel. Natural gas transportation companies worldwide and several offshore platform operators have successfully implemented the Millennium Oil Mist Detector to supplement protection provided by optical flame detectors and fixed gas sensors in these specialized applications.