ExxonMobil developing technology for remote detection of fugitive emissions

DOHA, Qatar -- ExxonMobil Research Qatar has partnered with a U.S.-based firm, Providence Photonics, to develop a Remote Gas Detection (IntelliRedâ„¢) technology that integrates computer vision algorithms and infrared (IR) optical technology to achieve autonomous detection of hydrocarbon plumes.

The IntelliRed system is designed to provide early warning to operations personnel in case of gas releases and to detect fugitive gas emissions, but could also have applications to monitoring critical pieces of equipment for abnormal temperatures and to assist in plant security by monitoring fence lines for intruders.

The IntelliRed system utilizes an IR camera and integrated cooler assembly, paired with a computer vision algorithm that analyses the video output from the IR imager to determine the presence of hydrocarbon plumes. Most hydrocarbon plumes have strong absorption peaks in a narrow mid-wave IR region.

The algorithm takes advantage of the difference in contrast between a hydrocarbon plume and the background in each pixel of an IR image and the temporal changes due to plume behavior for the analysis. The algorithm compares sequentially collected IR images and uses a multi-stage confirmation process to confirm the detection and has multiple filters that mitigate interferences like steam, and other moving objects such as humans and trees.

The IntelliRed camera assembly enclosure has obtained explosion proof certification using the ATEX standard to allow for deployment at classified/hazardous areas in oil and gas processing facilities. Instrument air is used to purge the system.

Multiple deployment opportunities at process facilities are currently underway. Results from field testing at these process facilities will help researchers investigate the effect of temperate and harsh weather conditions, the effect of varying temperatures and gain a better understanding of equipment wear and tear and maintenance requirements.

Work has also been undertaken to compare the performance of the IntelliRed system versus existing detection technologies, most commonly point and path detects. Existing technologies require dispersed gas to physically contact the point sensors or move between the source and sensor of a path detector, while the IntelliRed system can detect hydrocarbon plumes remotely.

Field testing shows that the IntelliRed system can provide early leak detection as compared to traditional technologies.