The wake of growing safety concerns - mostly in the oil and gas industry - optical flame detection technology was developed and has made grade strides in the last few decades. Optical flame detectors are now a mainstay in fire and gas protection systems across many industries.
Decades of research and development have not, however, produced a “perfect” detector or class or detectors, nor has any single detector managed to demonstrate superiority or even effectiveness in all applications. Because of this, wherever operators elect to use optical based flame detection, a comprehensive detector selection process must be undertaken to review the available technologies and their appropriateness for the specific intended application. These reviews should consider the range and field of view of the detector, the fuel types present in the fire zone, the types of activities that occur in the fire zone and adjacent areas that may be in the detector’s field of view, and a number of other technical aspects of the detector. These same selection criteria should also be part of the MOC process whenever detectors are replaced with new or alternative models.
Many of the important considerations for detector selection have received varying levels of attention in literature, but most of the available literature does not attempt a comprehensive overview of the technical issues relevant to detector performance. This presentation attempts to provide a more thorough review of technical aspects of detector performance in the hopes of improving knowledge and clarity on the subject.
Dr. Pittman holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University and received the university’s Safety Engineering Certificate in August 2015. He has 10 years of experience with process safety research, working mostly with Texas A&M’s Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center (MKOPSC). After receiving his doctorate, he briefly served as a post-doctoral research scientist with MKOPSC before joining Smith and Burgess to work as a Safety Relief Engineer. He now works with Micropack (Detection) Americas as a Fire and Gas Detection Consultant. He has worked in fire protection for 2 years.
He has authored or co-authored 7 peer-reviewed papers and numerous technical papers on topics including the West Fertilizer explosion, risk communication, confirmation of process de-energization and fire protection. He was the instructor for Texas A&M’s Industrial Safety Engineering class as well as short-courses offered by MKOPSC.
William Pittman, PhD
Fire and Gas Detection Consultant
Micropack Detection (Americas)
James McNay BSc MIFireE CFSP MIET
Lead Technical Safety Consultant
Micropack (Engineering) Ltd