LumaSense Technologies’ director of product management, Lenny Shaver, explains how the company’s IR and pyrometer technologies can improve flare monitoring
Flaring systems are common in many industries to burn gases before they enter the atmosphere. The safe operation of a flaring system requires the continuous monitoring of pilot flames and flared gases to ensure that vented gases are ignited.
As regulatory pressure to monitor flares has increased, reliable pilot monitoring signals are often required to ensure reliable flare status records. Imaging systems can provide pilot status recording and flaring event record recordings, and as such have become critical reporting tools for flaring systems.
Traditionally, flare monitoring is performed using thermocouples for pilot flame verification. Extreme conditions caused by the associated heat can cause failures, leaving operators unable to monitor until the next scheduled maintenance service. In addition, flame movement and changing weather conditions can add more obstacles to reliable long-term monitoring.
Thermal imaging with FlareSpection
One particular challenge is that flare tips in close proximity can cause interference, as interposing flames disrupt readings. The LumaSense FlareSpection system is designed to provide the clearest flare image and pilot flame monitoring for applications with multiple flare tips in close proximity. With the LumaSense-designed software, reliable pyrometers, and an imaging camera, both pilots and flaring can be monitored effectively, irrespective of weather conditions.
The flare monitoring thermal imaging system enables users to confirm flare operation remotely and automatically, detecting differences in heat signatures of the flare stack. Designed with reference to specific spectral ranges, calibrations and optics, this system is able to focus clearly through moisture, heavy rain and fog at even great distances.
With an adjustable mount and base, the powerful lens and high resolution camera offer a clear view of flare details from a convenient ground-mounted location. The camera is protected in a stainless steel enclosure with an integrated site tube to prevent dust and dirt on the window, allowing for use in rugged industrial locations.
In addition, the system includes the capability to log performance for audits, record video for reviewing of historical events and set up alerts for measurements that may fall outside user-defined limits. The software also easily connects to the plant DCS via protocols such as Modbus, OPC-enabling closed loop integration.
Quasar flare stack monitoring
LumaSense’s E2T Quasar M8100 series has also been used by the petrochemical industry for more than 16 years, to provide continuous duty monitoring of pilot flames, including hydrocarbon and hydrogen flames. With a sight-through optical system and swivel mount, the Quasar M8100 can be located up to a quarter of a mile (400 m) away from the stack.
The output of the Quasar M8100 pyrometer system provides a 4mA or 20mA switched output for pilot flame detection. In this case, 4mA represents a flame, and 20mA means “No Flame” (triggering an alarm).
Custom electronics will adapt to target movement, varying luminosity and most climate conditions. The alarm delay circuit can be adjusted for a specific location or application, eliminating the risk of false alarms from temporary loss of signal as a result of intermittent flames, adverse weather and wind.
Using the LumaSense FlareSpection and E2T Quasar flare monitoring systems in tandem – combining both a pyrometer-based flare monitoring system and an imaging system – enables a reliable and safe flare monitoring system. This provides pilot and flaring status signals and imaging display in real-time, all of which can be scaled to the customer requirements.
Plant managers, as well as regulatory bodies, expect immediate notification and automated monitoring of critical safety systems such as flares. With continuous, online monitoring and corresponding software, operators can get an accurate picture of the flare 24/7 and receive alerts when out of acceptable range, allowing them to operate safely and with full compliance.