The U.S. shale gas boom has added 32 percent to the world’s total potential natural gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This is creating domestic demand for a variety of process technology, including gas monitoring equipment that detects compounds such as hydrogen sulfide in gas processing plants and pipelines.
The shale gas trend and market potential has caught the eye of one Japanese gas detection equipment maker and solutions provider, Komryo Rikagaku Kogyo K.K. In the U.S., Canada, and South America, the organization is known as Kitagawa America, based in Pompton Lakes, N.J.
According to Kazuhiko Ikeda, the gas equipment supplier’s export group general manager based in Kawasaki, Japan, Kitagawa supplies compact sampling systems that can detect more than 200 gases. They include the Kitagawa Gas Detector Tube System, which employs a “custom syringe” (aspirating pump) that draws 100 cc of air through a detachable, shatter-proof glass tube containing various reagents carried on silica gel depending on the target gas to be detected. The tubes are calibrated on a single pump stroke and provide direct reading of gas concentrations.
Gases can be detected and measured from the percentage level to the part-per-million (ppm) level based on color changes (colorimetric stain) observed within the tube. Measurement times are rated by Kitagawa in seconds, and the shelf life of the tubes varies between one and three years. Each tube is wrapped in a thin transparent film that guards against shattering and, if the tube does break, prevents reagent from dispersing.
Besides single gas detector tubes, Kitagawa also offers qualitative tubes for detecting inorganic or organic gases. The inorganic tubes can identify ammonia, amines hydrochloric acid, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and phosphine, among other gases, as well as the organic gases acetylene, methyl mercaptan, and acetic acid at concentrations down to 5 ppm. The organic tubes can detect 38 gases or vapors including hexane, toluene, and formaldehyde.
Besides the monitoring of gas leakages from pipelines, the system can also be applied to monitor catalyst poisoning, mine safety, breath testing for vehicle drivers, measurement of pollutants in flue gas, and prevention of gas explosions.
Kitagawa also produces air flow indicators, portable/personal gas monitors, and fixed gas detection systems. It serves the oil and gas, chemical, pulp and paper, ag and food, and semiconductor industries, among others.
One other company, St. Louis-based Emerson, is also making moves in the gas monitoring arena. It has acquired Groveley Detection Ltd. to expand its Emerson Process Management’s safety monitoring portfolio.
Groveley Detection produces ultrasonic gas leak detection solutions for both offshore and onshore oil and gas installations. According to Emerson, the U.K. company was the first to develop a piezo-electric based ultrasonic gas leak detector for extreme industrial applications.
Groveley will join the company’s Rosemount Analytical business unit. Emerson says the acquisition “significantly strengthens” its market position with Groveley’s detection technology, which complements its own Net Safety fixed gas detection and flame detection product line. Groveley’s products are used in a broad range of energy exploration and processing applications, in addition to industrial plants.
“The acquisition of Groveley expands our capabilities to offer the most comprehensive solution to our customers for their total safety monitoring requirements,” says Ken Biele, president of Emerson Process Management’s Analytical Group. “The addition also leverages our companies’ synergies in sales, marketing, engineering, and other key operational areas.”
Emerson Process Management operates in the chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment, mining and metals, food and beverage, and life sciences industries. Besides supplying equipment, the company provides industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management, and maintenance services.
A multitude of gases is detectable with an aspirating pump-based measuring system.