- December 21, 2021
- MSA Safety
Dec. 21, 2021 - Engineers responsible for industrial plant process safety where ammonia (NH3) is produced, stored, or is in use will find the new online MSA NH3 Fixed Gas Detection Resource Center explains in detail its physical properties, toxic exposure symptoms, and how the broad range of gas detection sensor technologies available from MSA takes the guesswork out of reliable area safety monitoring.
The growing use of ammonia and the danger of toxic NH3 gas leaks require continuous area monitoring in industrial plants to protect people, equipment, and nearby communities. NH3 is both a toxic gas threat and a combustible gas explosion threat under certain conditions. It is used in fertilizer and petrochemical production, chillers/refrigeration/freezers, HVAC, pharmaceuticals, pulp/paper, leather and hydrogen (H2) alternative energy production.
Detecting ammonia is a challenge in almost all types of large industrial plants. Their crowded production environments typically include a complex array of tanks, pipes, pumps, and valves that twist their way through multiple product production lines. NH3 gas is lighter than air and when leaks occur this gas can form clouds, which float away from the leak source or, if there is moisture in the air, then they can travel closer to ground level.
The consequences of failing to detect an ammonia gas leak can be devastating. For this reason and depending on the plant, the applications, the products, and processes, there is no single NH3 sensor technology that offers total protection. That’s why MSA offers a variety of NH3 fixed gas detectors, and they are typically layered and overlapped to monitor specific leak threats to help mitigate risk.
ELDS Open Path Gas Sensing
Ideal for fertilizer plants and other wide area or perimeter monitoring tasks, enhanced laser diode spectroscopy (ELDS) technology is a laser-based open path gas sensing detection method. ELDS sensors are calibrated specifically to target NH3 according to its unique harmonic fingerprint. ELDS technology ensures accurate gas detection while helping to eliminate false alarms that can result in plant shutdowns.
MSA’s electrochemical sensors employ a unique class of ionic electrolyte liquids with an evaporation-resistant profile that resists extreme humidity swings and temperatures (-40 to +60°C) unlike traditional electrochemical sensors.
For industrial or commercial chilling, refrigeration, freezers, and HVAC, photoacoustic infrared (PAIR) sensor systems provide an easy-to-install ammonia detection solution. PAIR sensing offers the earliest level of detection of NH3 leaks for plant safety. Unaffected by temperature and humidity swings, PAIR sensors operate for months with virtually zero drift
With omnidirectional sensing based on ultrasonic acoustic technology, the leak monitoring of NH3 production lines, storage tanks, and pipelines occurs at the speed of sound. Ultrasonic gas leak detectors listen for high pressure gas leaks and are unaffected by wind direction or gas dispersion making them ideal for outdoor environments. Artificial neural network (ANN) technology distinguishes gas leak noise from other plant or area background noise to avoid nuisance false alarms and unnecessary plant shutdowns.
Catalytic bead sensors have a long history in area monitoring of combustible hydrocarbon gases, such as NH3. They operate based on the catalytic oxidation gas detection principle. Careful matching of the sensor’s active and reference elements ("beads") results in negligible (zero) drift with respect to changes in humidity, pressure, and temperature.