Machine Design

Wireless camera network protects petrol plant

A 14-camera network tied wirelessly to a single PC keeps watch over pressure vessels at a Chevron gas-separation plant in Texas.

Infrared cameras from Mikron Infrared are mounted in sealed enclosures with IR-transparent windows. They are positioned to monitor temperatures up to 2,600°F inside a pressure vessels at a gasification plant. Positive pressure from an air purge system keeps out dirt and dust.

High-resolution monitors display real-time color-coded temperature data from the remote IR cameras trained on the pressure vessels.

Chevron teamed with Mikron Infrared Inc., Hancock, Mich. (, to install the cameras and tie them together with MicroSpect R/T software. The 14 infrared cameras are 10 to 40 ft from the vessel and monitor and record temperatures at 448 discrete locations on the surface of two 60-ft-high shells surrounding the pressure vessels. Each camera has a field of view measuring 29° wide, and 22 ° high, with a 30-cm-to-infinity focusing range. They detect temperatures up to 2,000° C ± 2°C. Data is displayed graphically with color-coded temperatures. Thermal imaging data is used not only for safety, but to learn more about the chemical processes going on inside.

The cameras are mounted in airtight enclosures with IR-transparent windows. Air from a purge system provides cooling air and maintains constant positive pressure inside the housings. The positive pressure keeps out dirt and dust, and protects against explosions in volatile atmospheres. The cameras have built-in Ethernet boards for wireless data transfer. The system's wireless aspects made installation quick and simple and eliminated the need to run a fifth of a mile of conduit between the cameras and control room.

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