Pipeline surveillance under hazardous conditions

Paul Boughton

A camera solution which features an autonomous power supply has been developed to monitor pipelines in remote areas.
The surveillance of pipelines, which often extend over long distances far from civilisation, is a demanding task: all technology used in such applications must withstand very rugged environmental conditions such as dust, extreme heat and cold, snow, and rain.
On top of that, components must be suitable for use in explosive atmospheres. The fact that a mains supply often cannot be made available for pipeline surveillance technology is another problem. For such tasks, R STAHL Camera Systems has developed a camera solution that features an autonomous power supply. Thanks to a nitrogen-filled housing, these cameras are extremely lightweight and robust.
In areas with explosive gas or dust atmospheres, all surveillance technology components must be explosion-protected. Up until now, users wishing to install cameras for plant monitoring faced the problem of having to integrate heavy enclosures with flameproof encapsulation (Ex d type of protection). R STAHL has developed an alternative that sidesteps the drawbacks of these systems: pressurised enclosures (Ex p protection) that are filled with nitrogen. A permanent positive pressure is established within the camera, which prevents dangerous gases in the surrounding atmosphere from entering. These cameras equipped with SNF Technology (sensor-controlled nitrogen filling) are so precisely designed that one initial nitrogen filling of the camera case suffices for life-long safe operation. Fixed supply lines or valves for refilling gas, which are usually required in Ex p-protected equipment, are therefore not necessary in SNF systems. A pressure sensor inside each unit safeguards the camera and cuts the power in the rare event that its enclosure suffers any massive damage on site.[Page Break]
SNF Cameras from R STAHL Camera Systems are lightweight, robust, and explosion-protected. They tolerate wide temperature ranges and are gas and water-proof. Depending on the camera type, they weigh only 0.6 to 15 kg. Even the heaviest type is therefore light enough to be installed by one person.
Furthermore, the cameras have an extremely high temperature tolerance. Made from grade 316 stainless steel, their robust, mechanically resistant housings ensure good heat exchange and allow for use in a -40 to 75 °C temperature range. Thanks to IP68/IP69K protection, lifespan and operating time are not affected even by constant exposure to rugged weather conditions, whether in a desert climate with sandstorms or in a maritime environment with an aggressive, saline atmosphere. They are therefore suited for use in pipeline surveillance. [Page Break]
For optimal surveillance in case of pipeline leaks, R. STAHL Camera Systems has developed a solution that is suitable for hazardous areas. It chiefly consists of an explosion-protected solar panel, an explosion-protected battery, and the EC-800 Thermal Imaging Camera. The solar panel and the battery ensure an autonomous power supply: even without any solar radiation, the camera can be operated for up to five days. The battery pack for hazardous areas is reliably protected against the ingress of water or dust, and is therefore suitable for use in desert environments. Requiring no external source of light, the Thermal Imaging Camera ensures a 100 per cent day-and-night surveillance. Available as a version with pan/tilt functions, the camera also provides panoramic vision and is designed for reliable pipeline monitoring.
R STAHL Camera Systems GmbH is based in Cologne, Germany. www.stahl-camera.de                                         
Fig. 1. SNF camera housings from R STAHL are filled with nitrogen once and then monitored by a pressure sensor.
Fig. 2. The EC-800 Thermal Imaging Camera ensures a 100 per cent day-and-night surveillance.

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