Said to improve the reliability of gas network surveys, the new IRwin methane leak detector and probe system employs an IR sensor, reacting quickly to the presence of natural gas and recovering quickly after exposure, says supplier Inficon. This minimises the risk of an operator missing a leak during a survey. Concentrations down to 1 ppm can be measured.
The detector is connected to an ergonomically designed, mono-wheel carpet probe. An operator can easily follow the kerb or cracks in the pavement, says Inficon. The carpet probe is designed to cover large paved surfaces but can, with its single wheel, also reach into corners, cracks and places with limited access. And an intuitive user interface gives the operator instantaneous feedback.
A built-in GPS receiver automatically logs the surveyed route and pinpoints the location of detected leaks. Reports can be uploaded to a laptop using a Bluetooth interface.
Inficon says the system will provide a valuable tool for anyone working with gas leakage surveys for gas network operators, private landowners and the public sector.
The unit offers a rapid reaction time, attributed to a newly developed IR sensor with an extremely wide measuring range, from 1 ppm to 100% methane. The ability to use IR at the lower end of the spectrum ensures much faster reaction and recovery than a conventional semiconductor sensor, which is traditionally used to detect gas in low concentration.
The seemingly highly selective IR-sensor reduces cross-sensitivity to other gases significantly. A built-in ethane analysis function lets the operator distinguish between marsh gas and natural gas.
Weighing 1.4 kg (3 lbs), the patent pending mono-wheel carpet probe appears to score on weight, ergonomics and the dexterity afforded to the user. A “flip of the wrist” turns the probe 180 degrees and enables the operator to reach under parked vehicles and other obstacles. The carpet probe can also be locked in position while lifting the unit over obstructions such as garden fences. A bell probe is available for pinpointing leaks or for surveying uneven surfaces. Both the carpet probe and the bell probe can be carried by the operator without effort during survey, avoiding the need to return to the van for equipment.
“This is an instrument that the operator can trust. The last thing any operator wants is any lingering doubt as to whether a leak was missed,” says Marco Rottler, Product Manager at Inficon.
“We have addressed market concerns by developing a new sensor that gives rapid reaction and recovery, plus resilience to cross contamination from other sources. This means an alarm can be trusted and that an all-clear from the system means just that,” says Rottler.
The system is designed in accordance with the German DVGW regulations. It comes with a hand probe with 1.5 m hose, rod, rod extension, bell probe, carpet probe and strap. The system also includes transport case and charging units. Battery operating time is a minimum of eight hours. The unit is protected to IP65.