Gary Stanley of Yorkshire-based TQ Environmental explains the importance of leak detection and developing the skills to provide this crucial service.
The need for the right leak detection system has never been greater, whether meeting legal requirements or protecting a business from potentially losing thousands of pounds worth of refrigerant and damaging the environment.
We are committed to delivering the best possible solution, both in terms of equipment and training engineers to the highest level.
TQ Environmental is a UK manufacturer, using local suppliers to help us bring our systems to market, and we have recently celebrated our 30th anniversary. We have our own training centre within our HQ, close to the M1, where we offer presentations and training on our full range of systems for interested engineers, contractors, consultants or end users.
Because we recognise the importance of giving our customers the skills to do the job, we operate an open door policy so guests can visit and view the entire manufacturing and testing process.
What Is leak detection?
The continuous emission and ambient air pollution monitoring and analysis of air samples to determine whether there is a leak. Leak detection is usually a fixed installation with sensors located at points where refrigerant might be expected to accumulate in the event of a leak.
Fixed leak detection overview
Fixed leak detection systems will immediately alarm if there is a leakage of toxic, flammable or asphyxiate gases, thus enabling businesses to comply with the latest F-Gas regulations as well as Health & Safety at work regulations and EN378 & EN14624 standards.
Having a fixed system can provide businesses with a healthier and safer environment for staff and members of the public on their sites. It is an early warning system which can save people’s lives. Leak detection systems can also help the environment by reducing the leakage of refrigerant gases into the atmosphere, also saving money on refrigerant costs if a leak is detected.
Leak detection applications
Leak detection systems can be found wherever commercial and industrial refrigeration systems are installed, both onshore and offshore. This include power stations, hospitals, oil rigs, retail, supermarkets, food distribution centres, ice rinks, ships, breweries, meat processing plants, schools’ hotels, car parks and recycling facilities.
Choosing a system
Consider which gases must be measured and in what quantities, as well as the specific requirements on site. Also, what would be the most appropriate sensor technology to use i.e. infra-red, semi-conductor, Pellistor or an aspirated system. How many sensors are required and where should they be positioned to ensure maximum coverage?
When ammonia detection is required, for example, it is common practice to have a hard-wired fixed leak detection system installed. This would consist of a central main control panel which gives alarm levels in its display and locations of individual hard-wired sensors. thus, giving you continuous detection coverage. Also, via an output from the main control panel a building management system or fire alarm system can be connected to the leak detection system. This system would require simple calibration at least once a year.
An aspirated / sampling system which has an infra-red sensor located in its control panel is another type of a leak detection system which is in the marketplace today, using infra-red technology this aspirated system can sample different detection points at timed intervals. Benefits of this system are its multi-port sampling capability, the opportunity to monitor several gases, programmable zone locations, it is an attractive solution where the infra-red sensor has long life expectancy. Again, this system requires simple calibration once a year.
Gas monitoring solutions – manufactured in the UK
Residential, hotels and office locations may also be required to have a fixed leak detection system. This would depend on the categorisation of a room where an air conditioning system has been installed and what access is permitted to that room, this is explained in more detail in BS EN378.
In hotel rooms if leak detection is required, you would have an individual hardwired room sensor which will alert the occupant in the room, if there was a refrigerant leak detected, this would consist of an alarm buzzer being activated in the sensor. The sensor can also be connected to the fan coil in the room which will notify the air conditioning system that a leak has occurred.
Alternatively, you can also have a standalone leak detection system, which will run independent to the hotels air conditioning system, this would consist of a hardwired room sensor which is connected to an area alarm panel which would cover each hotel floor (usually situated in dry riser). This in turn would be connected a main panel situated in the reception area. This panel would give reception information as to which room sensor is in alarm allowing the hotel staff to contact the occupant in the room and make sure that they are safe and well. This system would also require a function test each year to make sure that each sensor would be in working order.