Environmental impact of hydrocarbon emissions and gas leaks is huge. Gases like methane, for example, are powerful greenhouse gases. It can remain in the atmosphere for up to 12 years and cause significant heating of the atmosphere overtime. Methane’s contribution in warming the planet is immense. Methane alone has caused the global temperatures to rise by 1℉ since pre-industrial era.
Methane’s rising presence in the atmosphere is due to increasing anthropological activities, including gas leaks in industrial settings. Apart from causing global warming, methane can cause huge losses in terms of money and human lives. Unidentified gas leak sources pose a major and immediate risk to workers. You can imagine how it becomes so important to identify and fix these leaks. Optical gas imaging using Drone OGI sensors have emerged as a viable solution in this context.
Optical Gas Imaging
Optical Gas Imaging or OGI is a crucial technology used to detect and visualise fugitive gas emissions in various industries. It plays a vital role in environmental protection, safety, and regulatory compliance. Traditionally, OGI inspections were conducted by ground-based personnel, which would be time-consuming and sometimes dangerous. However, advancements in drone technology, with the use of drone OGI have revolutionised OGI testing by offering a safer, more efficient, and cost-effective solution.
The Role of OGI in Emission Detection
OGI technology utilises infrared cameras to capture images of gas leaks that are invisible to the human eye. By identifying and quantifying these emissions, OGI helps industries reduce their environmental impact, maintain safety standards, and comply with regulations. OGI sensors can also complement drone GPR missions that conduct subsurface terrain mapping to identify potential hydrocarbon storage spaces underground.
Challenges in Traditional OGI Testing
Conventional OGI inspections often involve personnel walking around industrial facilities, using handheld OGI cameras to scan for leaks. While effective, this method has its limitations:
- Safety Concerns: Some leaks may be located in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas, putting inspection personnel at risk.
- Time-Consuming: Inspecting large facilities can be time-consuming and may disrupt normal operations.
- Incomplete Coverage: Human limitations in terms of fatigue and concentration can result in missed leaks.
- Costly: The manpower, equipment, and time required for traditional OGI inspections can be expensive.
The Solution: Drone OGI
Drones equipped with OGI cameras have transformed the way gas leak inspections are conducted. Here are the key advantages:
- Safety: Drones can access hard-to-reach or hazardous areas, reducing the risks to human inspectors.
- Speed and Efficiency: Drones cover large areas quickly, reducing inspection time and minimising operational disruption.
- Comprehensive Coverage: With the ability to fly over extensive facilities, drones can provide thorough inspections, leaving no areas unchecked.
- Cost-Effective: While initial investment in drone OGI equipment may be significant, the long-term cost savings are substantial, thanks to reduced labour and time.
Choosing the Best Drone OGI Equipment
To fully harness the benefits of drone OGI, it’s crucial to select the best equipment. Here are some factors to consider:
- OGI Camera Quality: The camera’s sensitivity to gas emissions and its resolution are critical for accurate detection.
- Drone Performance: Look for a drone with a long flight time, stability, and the ability to carry the OGI camera payload.
- Data Management: Ensure the drone OGI system provides efficient data storage, retrieval, and analysis capabilities.
- Regulatory Compliance: Verify that the equipment meets relevant industry standards and regulatory requirements.
The DJI Matrice 210 (M210) drone equipped with Falcon laser sensors plays a significant role in the field of Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) by offering a comprehensive and efficient solution for detecting and visualising gas emissions. The Falcon laser sensors on the drone are capable of generating high-quality images, particularly in the infrared spectrum. This is essential as it allows the detection of gas leaks that can’t be seen or smelled. The DJI M210 drone can be flown to areas that might be difficult or hazardous for human inspectors to access, such as industrial sites with complex structures or remote pipelines. This remote sensing capability enhances safety by reducing the need for personnel to enter potentially dangerous locations.
OGI sensors are incredibly useful to detect gases that otherwise go completely unnoticed. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), for example, remains outside the realm of human senses as it’s a colourless, odourless and non-flammable gas. SF6 is usually emitted from power utility industries and has caused a lot of emissions so far. Fortunately, with the arrival of OGI technology, it is now possible to detect SF6 gas leaks in the early stages itself, as shown by the Czech utility company ČEPS. The company was able to save millions of dollars worth of utility equipment and also cut down on SF6 emissions.
Drone OGI can be used in varied settings and finds some real world applications in these industries.
- Oil and Gas: Detecting methane emissions at drilling sites, refineries, and pipelines.
- Chemical Plants: Identifying volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
- Energy Production: Monitoring gas leaks at power plants and substations.
- Landfills: Scanning for methane emissions in waste disposal sites. This can be done in combination with drone GPR
Optical Gas Imaging is an indispensable tool for detecting and mitigating gas leaks in industrial settings. The integration of drone OGI cameras has enhanced the efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness of gas leak inspections. By choosing the best drone OGI equipment and implementing it in various industries, we can improve environmental protection, safety, and regulatory compliance. The future of OGI testing is undoubtedly airborne, and the benefits are clear: safer operations, reduced environmental impact, and significant cost savings.