Distran announced the Ultra Pro X, the world’s first ATEX certified ultrasound camera for the oil and gas, chemistry and power plant industry that is designed for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Distran Ultra Pro X detects gas leaks of any gas type in industrial facilities. It pinpoints the location of the sound source – i.e., the source of the gas leak, from up to a 50-meter distance. Gas leaks commonly found in power plants and oil and gas facilities such as hydrogen, methane and compressed air can all be found by Ultra Pro X.
As an ATEX certified ultrasound camera, the Distran Ultra Pro X represents a revolutionary technology for surveying areas with potentially explosive gases. Instead of scanning each potential point of leak, Ultra Pro X allows to detect leaks from a safe distance outside of hazardous areas and to inspect closer once the area is deemed safe. The ATEX certification allows to improve the safety of personnel and asset.
Like Distran’s existing ultrasound camera, Ultra Pro X is a single-handed ultrasound camera that captures ultrasounds emitted by gas leaks. The acoustic information detected from its microphones is overlaid in real-time onto an optical image obtained by a high-resolution camera, offering a clear pinpointing of leaks. The leak rate quantification is also indicated in real time, allowing users to classify leaks and prioritize maintenance operations. Looking for gas leaks is an essential task within industrial plants, to increase personnel and asset safety, reduce environmental impact and maintain high asset availability.
Distran developed the world first ultrasonic camera in 2013, and now relies on a growing distribution network in over 40 countries. The Distran‘s team is consisting of a unique R&D group, numerous field service experts, former plant managers and Commissioning engineers.
NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX has successfully launched its 100th Falcon 9 rocket and 21st Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-21) on December 6th, 2020.
Aboard the newly redesigned Dragon cargo capsule, which docked to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, 7th December 2020, was a Distran Ultra Pro – a novel ultrasonic imaging device capable of pinpointing gas leaks based on the sound emitted. NASA selected the Distran Ultra Pro ultrasound camera to fly to the ISS to augment existing leak detection methods.
The station’s atmosphere is maintained at pressure comfortable for the crew members, and a tiny bit of that air leaks over time, requiring routine repressurization from nitrogen tanks delivered on cargo resupply missions. In September 2019, NASA and its international partners first saw indications of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate. The leak has presented no immediate danger to the crew or the space station. The crew isolated sections of the station to monitor pressure changes to find and repair this air leak starting in August 2020.
The Distran Ultra Pro acoustic camera displays the leak location and estimates equivalent pinhole leakage rates and limit of detection in real-time. This Swiss-made technology detects ultrasounds emitted by air flow as it rushes through small holes, seams, and cracks. The acoustic imaging is overlaid on an optical image in real time, offering clear pinpointing of leaks. Ultra Pro records vacuum and jetting ultrasounds emitted by any type of leak (steam, CO2, CH4, H2, etc.) offering a wide range of applications.
Tests have shown that Ultra Pro’s leak detection abilities are not impaired when the frequencies of noise-source energy are sufficiently far from the test frequency. Not all leaks produce ultrasound at the same frequency, and user selection of frequencies from 10-55 kHz is facilitated by an integrated, real-time spectrogram display. The Ultra Pro can potentially locate partially obstructed, hard-to-reach, or hidden leaks, potentially providing a great advantage as the ISS modules are filled with equipment racks, piping, cables, and experiment payloads.
Distran technology has been in use since 2013, mostly in the oil & gas industry, chemical manufacturing, and power plants. This versatile device, which can also pinpoint partial discharges, saves time and gas or electric consumable costs as well as it provides a safe manner to check for leaks from a distance.
Founded in 2013 in Zürich, Switzerland, Distran is the world leading ultrasonic camera manufacturer. Having invented the world’s first ultrasonic camera in 2013, Distran has a growing distribution network and cameras are being used currently in more than 43 countries. The Distran‘s team is consisting of a unique R&D group, numerous field service experts, former plant managers and Commissioning engineers.
Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) cameras have drastically changed the way methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) leak detection is performed. Instead of going to each potential leak point with the so-called “sniffers” or soap spray, OGI operators are able to detect leaks meters away, speeding-up the detection and enabling to detect leaks at unexpected locations. OGI also enables to visualize gas plumes and provide valuable insights when a large release happens.
Acoustic Leak Imaging (ALI) cameras, more recently introduced, allows to detect leaks from a distance too. More affordable than OGI, they also work with any kind of gas as long as it is pressurized, and detect the leak location and not the gas plume. But each techniques has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the application.
Through real use cases, we provide insights on: • How these two techniques compare • Which one suits better specific applications
ACOUSTIC LEAK IMAGING (ALI)
Gas leaks emit ultrasounds due to the turbulences created by the gas flow escaping a pressurized system. An ultrasound camera detects these ultrasounds using an array of microphone sensors: when a sound wave generated by a leak reaches the ultrasound camera, the sound wave hits each individual microphone at different times.
From these small-time differences, the ultrasound camera reconstructs the position of the leak source. This acoustic image is overlaid in real-time with an optical image obtained by the optical camera, allowing the user to clearly see the leak location.
OPTICAL GAS IMAGING (OGI)
OGI cameras are a special and more sensitive type of thermal cameras, which allow the visualization of gas plumes based on the infrared absorbing nature of certain molecules. Operators can see gas plumes as a contrast between the plume and the background.
Unlike thermal cameras, OGI cameras have a filter that only transmits radiation in a specific band of the infrared region. Therefore, only gases that absorb in that specific infrared band can be detected with this filter.
Filters for detecting different gases exist, the most common application of OGI cameras being the detection of hydrocarbon leaks.
Methane leak at a bolt – Detection & Quantification
How do ALI and OGI techniques compare?
ACOUSTIC LEAK IMAGING (ALI)
OPTICAL GAS IMAGING (OGI)
All gases, as long as the pressure difference is high enough (see below). Also works for under-pressure (vacuum leaks).
Mainly hydrocarbons (although, with a different filter it’s possible to detect ammonia or CO2). Not possible to detect IR-inactive molecules, such as hydrogen, nitrogen, air or noble gases.
REQUIREMENTS FOR GAS LEAK DETECTION
Minimum pressure difference (50 mbar, 0.7 psi) at the leak site is required for a gas leak to emit ultrasounds.
A temperature difference between the cloud and the background is needed.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE DETECTION CAPABILITIES
Ultrasound noises increase the detection limit of the camera. However, Distran has strategies to improve gas leak detection in these cases.
Wind can dissipate the cloud making it hardly visible. Humidity, or the presence of residual gases absorbing in the specific infrared band negatively influence the detection.
Real-time quantification by entering the type of gas and the system pressure in the camera’s interface.
Quantification requires using a tablet or a laptop, and a tripod to stabilize the image. It takes a few minutes to measure each leak. Estimations of leak rates are only available after a post-processing phase.
Distran Ultra Pro: recommended only – every 4 years.
Recommended periodically (every 3-4 years) or even necessary according to each brand.
ATEX CERTIFICATION / OPERATION IN HAZARDOUS AREAS
Since 2020, Distran Ultra Pro X is the only ATEX-certified (intrinsically safe) ultrasound camera available on the market.
Several OGI cameras exists in ATEX-certified (intrinsically safe) version.
Which method fits my application better?
Both ALI and OGI are advanced techniques for remote gas leak detection, improving inspection methods by easing and reducing time of inspection and by improving safety.
OPTICAL GAS IMAGING DISADVANTAGES
OPTICAL GAS IMAGING ADVANTAGES
Along with the price, it reserves the tool for specialists. Extensive training and experience needed to operate and reliably find leaks.
Quantification of leak rates takes time and effort (tripod, post processing, …), and is not possible on all leaks.
Wind and humidity adversely affect the detection.
The only solution to detect at a distance hydrocarbon in vents, leaks on fuel tanks. No pressure difference between the container and the atmosphere is needed.
Compliant with OOOOa standards.
ACOUSTIC LEAK IMAGING DISADVANTAGES
ACOUSTIC LEAK IMAGING ADVANTAGES
Not suited for detecting leaks in systems with less than 50 mbar / 0.7 psi.
Detection range is limited to 100 meters maximum.
The operator needs to learn to differentiate leaks from other ultrasound sources such as flow noise.
Only a 20-minute training is required for a basic use. Combined with a lower price than OGI devices, it can be made available to anyone, a particularly useful advantage in emergency cases.
Leak pictures are clearer, allowing a better documentation.
Leak rate quantification calculated and displayed live.
Hydrogen is enjoying an unprecedented momentum and is used in transportation, storage and many industrial processes. Supplying it to industrial users is a major business around the world. Indeed, many countries directly support investment in hydrogen technologies. For instance, in Europe where the European Commission has set ambitious goals* to increase the use of hydrogen over the next few years.
Hydrogen production, storage and transportation pose technical challenges, as hydrogen is highly flammable and checking for leaks is an essential step for its safe use. Ultra Pro X enables operators to perform fast and safe inspections.
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