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Plastic plant ups safety with thermal cameras

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The Borealis plant in Stenungsund, Sweden, which produces high-pressure, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), is now using an infrared camera to detect potentially dangerous gas leaks. Engineers at the plant are using the Flir GF306 optical gas imaging camera for their safety checks.

In the LDPE production process, ethylene, a highly flammable hydrocarbon, is converted into polyethylene in a high-pressure polymerisation reaction.

Before the purchase of the Flir camera, Borealis used gas 'sniffers', devices which measure the concentration of a certain gas in one single location and generate a concentration reading in parts per million.

An operator of the Flir GF306 stated: ‘The main advantage of the optical gas imaging camera is that it provides you with the possibility to detect gases in real-time visually. Whereas sniffers just give you a number, an optical gas imaging camera allows you to detect gas leakage anywhere within the field of view of the camera. This speeds up the inspections considerably.’

Using the camera to carry out a quick scan, Borealis process operators are able to scan approximately 80 per cent of the entire plant in about thirty minutes. To do the same task with gas sniffers would need a team of 10 people working for two full days.

The implementation of the Flir GF306 optical gas imaging camera has been seen by Borealis to increase the safety within the plant and reduce the environmental impact of their LDPE production process.

The Flir GF306 optical gas imaging camera contains a cooled Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) that produces thermal images with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels at a thermal sensitivity of 25mK (0.025°C).

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