Thermal imaging improves safety at BP Saltend site

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BP Chemicals is using thermal imaging cameras to visualise and document gas leaks. Three Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) cameras from Flir Systems are being used at BP’s manufacturing and process research site at Saltend, UK.

The OGI camera was used to detect a range of gases, including methane and methanol, which are both predominant at the UK plant. In addition, a long wave (LW) version of the camera was used for detecting acetic acid, acetic anhydride and ammonia, three of the total of eight products processed at Saltend. The third was a camera designed to detect the highly poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas used in the manufacturing process.

The cameras spotted several gas leaks, but the Saltend site was largely well maintained and relatively few emissions were found from the 30-year-old facility.

Flir’s OGI cameras were chosen as they can scan large areas rapidly and pinpoint leaks in real time. The technology is designed for monitoring parts of the plant that are difficult to reach with contact measurement tools and many components can be scanned per shift without the need to interrupt the process. The cameras are also safe, as potentially dangerous leaks can be monitored from several metres distance.