High-tech emission control

Costly product losses to the atmosphere from industrial process plants can, and have been, quickly identified and turned to profit, claim Shell Global Solutions of their new economic atmospheric management service - that's based on their own experiences.

The comprehensive service offered by Shell Global Solutions draws on experience gained by the company in minimising ‘unquantifiable losses’ from its refineries and gas plants around the world.

Laser technology

In the first stage of any project, Shell Global Solutions’ laser technology is used to pinpoint significant product emissions. Maintenance crews can then take immediate action to fix the most serious problems and target investment to maximise returns. The survey takes 10-15 days depending on the size of the process plant. During this time the laser-based monitoring system provides detailed gas or vapour concentration maps across the entire complex.

Developed in conjunction with the UK National Physical Laboratory, the high-resolution differential absorption and light detection (DIAL) system pinpoints emissions to an accuracy of 2.5m from a distance of 1km with a sensitivity suitable for environmental control or loss management. Advanced 3D emission-data visualisation software gives easy-to-understand displays of losses emanating from the plant.

Plant operators can call on advice from Shell Global Solutions’ specialists to develop long-term, targeted maintenance plans. These specialists work alongside customers to implement maintenance in the most cost-effective way. This may mean installing a permanent emission monitoring system on plant to ensure continuous improvement and prevent recurrence. Ian Archibald of Shell Global Solutions said that the driving force behind the development of the management package has come from Sweden where process plant atmospheric monitoring has been mandatory for the past 10 years.

Other countries are considering following Sweden’s lead. “The introduction of stringent emission controls will also affect other industries such as chemical plants, airports, shipping companies and landfill sites. The programme helps operators to reduce expensive emissions and, at the same time, ensure operators get more from their long-term maintenance budgets. Every major programme we have carried out has resulted in net savings for our customers. If our first emission survey on a previously unsurveyed site fails to deliver results that lead to quantifiable benefits, we’re prepared to refund our charges,” said Archibald.

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