Signal Group develops instruments to enable compliance with VOC emissions legislation. Stephane Canadas explains the vital role emissions monitoring plays in industry

volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from industrial processes. For example, according to the European Solvents Industry Group, total VOC emissions in the EU have been reduced by more than 60% since 1990. VOCs are released from industrial activities


that use organic chemicals such as solvents, as well as from engines and incinerators that burn organic materials and fuels. Both types of application require similar monitoring equipment, but this article will focus on those applications that involve solvents. Solvents are used widely in the chemical

industry as well as for cleaning and degreasing products and machinery, or dissolving, thinning and dispersing coatings, adhesives, paints and inks. Solvents evaporate readily at room temperature and represent a safety hazard in the workplace, so they are generally vented away from workers, and often require abatement prior to release. Solvent emissions have to be minimised

because of their environmental effects, which include the formation of ozone, a constituent of photochemical smog. In most countries, the emissions of regulated processes with the potential to release VOCs are issued with permits that include an emission limit for total organic carbon (TOC). The Standard Reference Method for the measurement of TOC is with a Flame Ionisation Detector (FID). In some cases, it may be necessary for the monitoring activity to speciate toxic VOCs or to distinguish between methane and non- methane VOCs.

European VOC Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) The main objective of the SED is to reduce the emissions of VOCs, and operators have two main compliance options. They may demonstrate compliance with a VOC emission limit value and fugitive emission


limits by submitting monitoring data. This data will either include annual or continuous monitoring results depending on the size of process’s VOC emissions. Alternatively, processes may use a solvent reduction approach to achieve the results that would be obtained from meeting a mass emission limit. The reduction scheme enables the operator to attain emission reductions, equivalent to those that would have been achieved if the emission limit values were to be applied. This could be by substituting products with a high solvent content for low solvent or solvent free products and/or changing to solvent free production processes. Under the SED, regulators require continuous

monitoring where the average emission, following abatement, is more than 10 kg/h of total organic carbon. Continuous monitoring is also required where the regulator considers it necessary to demonstrate compliance with VOC emission limits. If continuous monitoring is not necessary, the regulator will require periodic measurements, where at least three readings must be obtained during each measurement exercise. Where there is consistent compliance with emission limits, regulators may consider reducing the monitoring frequency requirement. However, the frequency should be increased, for example, as part of the commissioning of new or substantially changed activities. In addition to VOC monitoring, Signal’s

customers also use FIDs to measure the effects of mitigation measures; to check the performance of abatement equipment; for

process control, and to investigate diffuse emissions.

Monitoring on all levels As discussed, the level of monitoring required by regulators is dictated by the scale of an operator’s VOC emissions, with continuous monitoring required for the larger emitters and discontinuous monitoring for processes with lower emissions. Signal Group has therefore developed VOC analysers to meet both requirements – a portable heated FID (Signal MiniFID 3010) for periodic measurements and a continuous heated FID (SOLAR) for permanent installations. The continuous heated FID SOLAR analyser

can be easily fitted into a 19” rack cabinet for indoor or outdoor installation. The analyser has an embedded microprocessor which automatically starts the analyser upon receipt of a command from a detachable tablet, or from a remote installation with Signal’s S4i software. This command sets in place a sequence of analyser actions which prepare the analyser to take samples and report calibrated readings to the instrument’s internal datalogger. With an optional detachable tablet, users

are able to manage the analyser wirelessly up to 50m away. In addition, using the remote S4i software over an Ethernet connection, the analyser can be operated from anywhere at any time. This remote accessibility also means that the Signal after-sales team can monitor alarms, conduct remote calibration and even troubleshoot if necessary.

overnments from around the world have implemented environmental regulations to reduce the emissions of

Many MiniFID 3010 users

are process operators, but a larger number are

environmental consultants or test houses that provide monitoring services

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