PetroSense hydrocarbon sensors and their applications

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Courtesy of PetroSense, Inc

The increasing concern about hydrocarbon contamination of process water and produced water has created an increasing need for in-situ, real time, and accurate low cost instrumentation that can provide rapid detection and easily usable in the field.

PetroSense sensors [1,2] represents “best in breed” technology for the detection of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH). PetroSense sensors are incorporated in both a portable, field screening instrument (the PHA-100) and a continuous monitoring system (the CMS-4000). These sensors utilize fiber optic systems and are designed for in-situ, real time measurements of TPH and other related pollutants.

PetroSense sensors operate in air (vapor), water and soil. PetroSense sensors are non-specific detectors for TPH, semi-volatile hydrocarbons (e.g., diesel fuel, heating fuels, etc.), trichloroethylene/perchloroethylene and many other related compounds. The detection capability of these sensors is unaffected by high humidity, or by naturally occurring methane. PetroSense sensors have been used in a variety of applications:

  • In-situ vapor measurements in wells
  • In-situ water measurements in wells
  • Cooling Tower monitoring
  • Water measurements in bailed samples from wells
  • Surface water measurements
  • Tracking of a hydrocarbon leak in progress (plume migration)
  • In-situ monitor for vapor extraction systems
  • Leak detection for above ground and underground storage tanks
  • Leak detection for pipelines
  • Storm water runoff monitoring
  • Sample screening for laboratory analyses
  • Site assessment
  • Groundwater remediation

Although these sensors are non-specific, there is a relative response characteristic for the different compounds that are detected. The PetroSense sensors have a very strong response for aromatic and other large hydrocarbon compounds. This makes these sensors very useful for the detection of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes), which is used as a tracer for TPH leaks/contamination. The characteristic relative response factors (RRF’s) can be determined for specific sites. The sensors can be calibrated for specific compounds expected at a given site, or the non-specific readings can be converted to the concentrations of these specific compounds by use of the appropriate RRF’s.

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