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Sun 26 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Sensing danger

BW Technologies product application specialist, Richard Dunne, reveals the latest technology for gas detection.

BW Technologies product application specialist, Richard Dunne, reveals the latest technology for gas detection to Oil & Gas Middle East.

Portable devices are the quintessential modern day craze - is there an electrical implement which hasn't been engineered to fit into the palm of your hand? Gas detection devices are no different, although the importance of such tools cannot be overstated, potentially saving the lives of those working where hazardous gases are found.

For 20 years, BW Technologies (owned by Honeywell) has specialised in providing gas detection instrumentation, ensuring that industry workers are kept fully aware of any potentially dangerous situations.

This device is pretty much tamper proof – the end user cannot change calibration settings, or anything the company deems part of their standard. - Richard Dunne, BW Technologies.

In 2004 the company introduced the GasAlert Extreme, which went on to become the world's most used "zero-maintenance" portable gas detector.

Now the company has released its latest model in its line of portable the devices: the GasAlertMax XT. The device is capable of simultaneously monitoring for the dangerous hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), oxygen (O2) and combustibles (% LEL (lower explosive limit).

One of the most important features of the new device is the integrated sampling pump, which utilises the companies' SmartSample diaphragm pump technology.

"Rather than having to lower a unit into a confined space, the GasAlertMax XT will draw a sample from that confined space to the actual instrument by using a diaphragm pump within the unit, which is very powerful for its size," explains Richard Dunne, product application and training specialist EMEA, BW Technologies.

"The pump is built into the device, so it is a full gas monitor. You can run it in pump mode and it will draw the sample, and then you can switch the pump off and use it as a personal monitor in the confined space."

Another new feature of the GasAlert XT is the one button operation, which according to the company will offer ease of use and simple compliance to safety standards. The simplified interface will also make the device tamper proof, as configuration settings will be securely accessed via infrared connection to a PC.

"This device is pretty much tamper proof - the end user cannot go into the user options and change calibration settings, or anything the company deems part of their standard.

It is all controlled by an infrared link, so it is linked up to your computer, and from there you can activate or deactivate user options, change your alarm settings and you can download the data from the device as well," says Dunne.

"On previous units you were allowed to go into the user options and alter settings, but we found that people on their lunch breaks might play with device, and activate and deactivate options that they didn't want to. The one button stops people from doing that."

The units are also able to store up to 16 hours worth of data, which would enable workers to capture valuable information and transfer it to a PC where it could then be assessed.

"At the end of a shift, if an employee was exposed to gas, what they can then do is download the data and see the levels of gas he has been exposed to," explains Dunne.

The GasAlertMax XT is being manufactured in Calgary in Canada, and have been tested to ensure the device is rugged enough to cope with the rough nature of the oil and gas industry.

They have been given an IP rating of 66/67, meaning the container is dust tight, protected against water penetration and temporary submission in up to one metre of water.

"The lifespan of the product depends on the environment the units been used in, but if the customer is using it in the correct manner and calibrating it on a regular basis, then these units can last up to three, four or even five years," says Dunne.

The device is currently available in four different languages, but according to Dunne there are plans afoot to release the XT model with Arabic, Chinese and Russian languages, largely due to the demand for BW technologies products in these regions.

When pushed for the something that made the product standout fro the crowd, Dunne was quick to respond that the device was able to be so small due to the sensor it is fitted with.

"Our sister company, City Technology, has designed a sensor for us that is much smaller than our competitors sensors, so we can make our units smaller - for a full gas pumped instrument it is very small in size," he says.

"The problem we have had with gas monitors was if it was big and bulky, the customer would hang it up on fence post or a coat hanger and leave it there because it was becoming annoying. So it is a much more friendly size for the user."

The GasAlertMax XT was released in September. BW Technologies firmly expect it will become as successful as its predecessor the GasAlert Extreme.

Features• Integrated sampling pump using SmartSample technology

• Multi-language LCD displays all four gas concentrations (H2S, CO, O2 and combustibles) simultaneously

• Visual, vibrating and audible alarm indicators ·

• Low, High, TWA (time weighted average) and STEL (short-term exposure limit) alarms

• LCD icons help with notification of detector operation

• Built-in concussion-proof boot

• Rechargeable batteries with power for a 13-hour shift

• Block detection with semi-conductor pressure sensor

• One-button interface

• Tamper-proof field operation

(Source: BW Technologies)

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