Zero fugitive emissions

Paul Boughton

Global air quality standards, protecting public health and environmental concerns are increasingly hot topics not only for the politicians, but for your business success. Roger Bours reports

In the US the Clean Air Act is requiring industries to implement a Leak Detection and Repair programme (LDAR) to control fugitive emissions. The European Directive 2003/87/EC is directly aimed at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And similar legislation and codes are in force or being proposed for other major industrial regions around the world.

Fugitive emissions are often seen as an unavoidable by-product of industrial facilities. The source of fugitive emissions can either be intentional (ie, venting from tanks, controllers, compressor vents, stacks, etc) or unintentional (ie, equipment wear and tear/damage, improper or incomplete assembly of components, manufacturing defects, etc). In many cases, these leaks are overlooked because they have been considered insignificant and difficult to detect and measure.

Recent studies have shown that these leaks not only cost industry vast amounts of money from lost product, but they can pose considerable safety hazards and contribute significant emissions of methane (a greenhouse gas) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Because fugitive emissions are often invisible, have been unregulated and usually go unnoticed, industry has been faced with the challenge of finding a cost-effective, efficient and successful method to eliminate or reduce fugitive emissions.

Leak detection and repair (LDAR) is an approach to comply with increasing environmental regulations for reducing or avoiding the fugitive emissions of targeted chemicals into the environment. Process components subject to LDAR need to be periodically monitored to detect leaks, which are required to be repaired within a predefined time period.

Pressure relief valves (PRVs) are indispensable to the protection of many processes - and ultimately your business. Most of these widely used, critical safety components however are known to be continuous sources for leakage.

While pressure relief valves are a vital part of industrial processes, they can be a major source of process media emissions. Installing bursting discs upstream of Pressure Relief Valves, not only protects the valve, but greatly decreases emissions.

Affordable and effective in vapour and liquid applications, burst discs are 100 per cent leakage-proof and 100 per cent bubble tight. In fact, our standard achieved limits for bubble-tightness exceed industry regulations by far.

An additional effect achieved by reducing their exposure to corrosion, material build-up, polymerisation and simmering, pressure relief valves (safety relief valves) protected by the cost-effective Fike ValveGuard, extend the lifetime of these critical investments and increase their availability for function on demand.

Other cost saving advantages are:

- Possible exemption from PRV monitoring requirements.

- Zero emissions during normal operation means no collection and disposal costs.

- Significantly reducing possible fugitive emission fines.

- Zero daily PRV emissions calculations allow to sell emissions credits for increased profits.

The use of the valve/bursting disc combination allows for industries to respond in a positive manner to the new global emissions guidelines - protecting the environment and reducing maintenance costs and downtime.

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Roger Bours is Manager Pressure Relief, Fike Europe, Herentals, Belgium. or