Use of infrared cameras to discover gaseous VOCs as part of a Fugitive Emissions Leak Detection And Repair (LDAR) regulatory compliance program is new to the chemical processing and oil refining industry. When performing inspections using optical imaging cameras, there is a need for compliance record keeping. The person using an optical imaging camera to find leaks must also record what they see and save it as a digital video file. This paper compares LDAR inspection processes that have been used for decades (Method 21 and Visual) with a new alternate inspection process designed around the use of optical imaging technology. A new test type, Enhanced Visual Inspection, is introduced here for the first time. Also discussed are operational and manpower issues to be considered when planning an initiative to use optical imaging for LDAR compliance. This paper introduces the SmartRoute(tm) concept. SmartRoute(tm) is a simple, low cost and effective work process for collecting video data in the field, storing it in a database, and recalling it for purposes of repair, compliance validation, and LDAR program auditing.
A lot of thought and effort has been put into the work practice of using Infrared Cameras for compliance with Leak Detection and Repair requirements. Significant financial resources are being spent to make this real. We just don’t get a whole lot of “new” when it comes to Leak Detection and Repair; so seeing these developments makes for an exciting time.
There are a number of facilities that are currently using the FLIR GasFindIR™ camera as part of their LDAR programs. They are having great success reducing overall emissions by finding and repairing leaking components, basically going above and beyond what Method 21 requires. Some of the more compelling things we are hearing is how much time and money is being saved by making an Optical Imaging inspection part of the repair cycle for component found leaking using Method 21. The ability to literally “see” exactly what is leaking and where it is leaking is transforming the “and Repair” part of Leak Detection and Repair.
I want to talk about something that is not getting a whole lot of attention in the circles where IR imaging for LDAR is being discussed. The topic is Data Collection and LDAR Data Management for Optical Imaging. I want to discuss how these mesh and present a meaningful workflow so that you can take advantage of your existing LDAR application for scheduling inspections and storing historical inspection information.