Ammonia is one of the most widely used chemicals and requires safety measures for handling and storage in order to prevent hazardous releases. However, no reliable measures have been developed for early warning and situational assessment of such incidents. Warning for ammonia releases becomes an ever more urgent problem considering increasing worldwide demands for ammonia., and the prospect of ammonia playing a major role in the transportation and storage of hydrogen as green fuel will eventually catapult the demand for ammonia production and storage to new heights.
Automated early detection of gas leaks and tracking of moving gas clouds in case of an incident would be critical for leak response and mitigation. This combination of risk prevention and incident mitigation was the design task for the early warning solution that was installed at CHEMELOT chemical park in Geleen, The Netherlands. The site is near a densely populated campus, requiring warning of a release incident within minutes. Once ammonia is in the air, the propagation of the moving cloud must be tracked and mapped live until it reaches the fence. The remote monitoring solution covers large areas and can locate a gas anywhere within sight. The early warning solution is based on spectroscopic analysis (Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy) that allows safe identification and mapping of hundreds of different chemicals – both flammable and toxic – over distances up to 4 km.