Using High-Definition Infrared Optical Gas Imaging for N2O Leak Detection

Sep 5, 2018

Infrared cameras are typically perceived as tools for hydrocarbon detection. However, with the proper equipment, they can be used for a variety of chemical detection projects. For example, CleanAir recently received a request from a whipped cream manufacturer who was experiencing significant releases of nitrous oxide (N2O) in their production process. They employed a manually intensive leak detection method using a soapy mixture to identify the source of the leak. The leaks created a hazardous work environment and frequent production shutdowns.

CleanAir supplied an Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) solution using a FLIR camera with interchangeable band-pass filters as an alternative to the manual soap approach. Unlike the well-known FLIR GasFind cameras that have fixed filters for specific compounds, the FLIR SC8313 camera can be fitted with filters for a wide range of compounds – both hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon. This camera provides rapid frame-rate, high definition images to enable low detection limits for small leak detection.

Flexibility and high resolution come at a price, though. One of the disadvantages of the camera is that it is fairly large and not as portable as the GasFind cameras. It is designed to be used in a fixed position in a laboratory or other workspace. For this application, CleanAir designed a custom mobility solution allowing the camera to move from a stationary position in a lab out onto the production floor and be deployed as a mobile leak detector. 

This custom OGI system allowed the identification and repair of many N2O leaks across the production line. Short-term fixes were then put in place to either decrease or eliminate the leaks. Periodic inspections are being conducted until longer term solutions are implemented.

For information on custom OGI solutions from CleanAir, please contact lrouse@cleanair.com