FLIR’s thermal imaging technology has been helping facilities around the world reduce their fire risk, mitigating liabilities and keeping costs down.
FLIR’s thermal imaging technology has been used in facilities across the globe for fire prevention.
From warehouses to recycling sites and waste to energy facilities, protecting one’s site from damage is integral to keeping insurance premiums down.
According to Sean Towner, Sales Manager at FLIR Systems Australia, while CCTV cameras can monitor smoke or flames, the disadvantage is that by the time these are observed fire has already set in. Furthermore, a small amount of grey smoke against a grey background will not immediately be noticed.
FLIR’s thermal imaging cameras take the process of fire prevention a step further by providing an early warning response to hot spots that are detected. This is important for all types of sites, in particular those that contain contents prone to spontaneous combustion or are highly flammable.
Sean says the end result is potential savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – all the while preventing structural damage by identifying imminent fires at an early stage.
Thermal imaging cameras reveal hot spots on a remote video or PC monitor in real time, telling the viewer the precise temperature and location of those spots. The smart cameras can also be programmed to set a temperature at which an alarm signal is generated with multiple target spots and alarms available.
The technology is effective as it allows operators to convert thermal radiation emitted by objects into a thermal image calibrated to a temperature scale. The images are usually unseen to the human eye and can be sent to a digital storage device for analysis.
Sean says that the advantages of the technology are that they need no light whatsoever, the devices can see through smoke and also give an alarm before a fire breaks out. Furthermore, the ability to monitor a large area, produce good contrasted images and guide a fire extinguisher system to minimise damage also provide a high level of support for operators. He says that minimal maintenance is required.
In Stockholm, Sweden, Söderenergi – the Swedish energy provider for southern greater Stockholm, acquired a FLIR A615 thermal imaging camera to service one of the nation’s largest biofuel co-generation plants.
The facility needed to monitor large woodpiles for spontaneous combustion, as it required a constant supply of biofuels such as forestry waste and wood chips to ensure the plant ran smoothly. The facility burned biofuels to produce combined heat and power.
Regular inspections by visual monitoring and temperature probes allowed the company to previously spot upcoming heat development and prevent fires. However, this approach took many man-hours to do so reliably and thoroughly.
In 2015, Söderenergi issued a tender for a reliable fire prevention and monitoring system and was won by Termisk Systemteknik – a distributor of FLIR cameras.
As part of the installation Termisk installed 12 fixed FLIR A615 automation cameras to detect hot spots and early fires across an eight-hectare area. Claes Nelsson, Product Manager at Termisk, says the FLIR A615 is one of the proven FLIR cameras that the company likes to use in many of its fire detection projects.
Olle Ankarling, Plant Manager at Söderenergi Nykvarn, says the company risks losing its permit by not being able to control fires or prevent them from breaking out.
“Unfortunately with biofuels you cannot exclude risk entirely, even if all operations are performed by the book. That’s why we need to have a monitoring system to give us an early alarm,” he says.
“It is a very reliable camera and its high resolution enables us to reduce the number of cameras needed to scan the whole area which makes it very economical,” he says.
Claes says the information coming from the thermal imaging cameras is continuously combined with wind, temperature and precipitation data from a weather station.
“This allows the operators of the fuel terminal for example to see how long certain types of fuel can be stored. This is invaluable information for Söderenergi, which allows them to work much more efficiently.”
WASTE TO ENERGY FUNCTIONS
In Hamburg, Germany, high-tech company m.u.t GmbH chose FLIR Systems A40-M fix-mounted cameras as part of its waste to energy system. The cameras were installed in all of its waste bunker installations as the facility uses an incinerator to convert solid household waste into energy to provide heating and power to households in the area. As waste bunkers can be hazardous for the operator and the environment, the stored waste has to be permanently moved, mixed and turned by crane operators.
The thermal camera offers a spectral range of 7.5 to 13 micrometres allowing it to look through smoke and dust. Its 320-by-240-pixel uncooled microbolometer detector provides thermal sensitivity and clear infrared imaging.
One FLIR A40 camera mounted on a pan tilt and placed in appropriate protective housing was able to inspect a surface of up to 2000 square metres. The camera registers the surface temperature of the waste, comparing it to the maximum temperature defined by the waste bunker operator.
The m.u.t engineers divided the bunker surface into zones that depended on the size of the waste bunker. The camera checks every subsequent zone and its FireWire output provided temperature information and infrared imaging to the crane operator’s monitor screen in real time.
The operator was able to steer the camera from his working place. Three alarm levels marked by visual as well as sound alarms warned the crane operator of substantial temperature differences on the waste surface in a particular zone. The waste was then mixed and turned, transferred to another zone or carried directly to the oven for combustion.