Fluorinated (Freon) gases, which include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), are a family of man-made chemicals containing fluorine. These ’F-gases’ are extremely powerful greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming – most are between 1,000 and 20,000 times more powerful than CO2 in terms of their impact on the atmosphere.
Not only are F-gases harmful to the environment, they are also extremely toxic and represent a significant health risk if inhaled. SF6 also poses an asphyxiation risk as, once inhaled, it may be too heavy to expel from the lungs.
In EU, the use and emission of F-gases comes under Regulation 842/2006, which mandates leakage control and regular checks. Leakage checks must be carried out by certified personnel for all plant with equipment containing 3kg or more of F-gases. Frequency of leak checks depends on the amount of refrigerant charged. In addition, detailed records must be kept in a log book – failure to comply may lead to severe penalties.
Common uses of F-gases include:
- Refrigeration and air conditioning systems
- Heat pumps
- Fire-fighting equipment
- High voltage, gas-insulated switchgear
There are also many industrial applications including magnesium smelting, electronics manufacture and insulating foam manufacture.
Effective monitoring and detection of these gases is essential. Crowcon’s F-Gas infrared detector is a fixed-point detector specially calibrated to detect a wide range of F-gases. Rugged and easy to install, it can be connected to any control system which accepts analogue signals. Together with Crowcon’s Gasmaster control panel and Xgard toxic gas detector, the F-Gas detector provides an effective gas leak detection package.
In addition to protecting personnel from toxic gas risks, installing the F-Gas detector also offers the following benefits:
- Provides an early warning that the gas is leaking and thus maintains system efficiency and reduces potentially huge gas replacement costs
- Enables the supplier and user to comply with the mandatory F-gas regulations
- Helps to reduce the risk of leakage of powerful greenhouse gases into the environment
The detector operates from 24Vdc nominally and provides a 4-20mA signal (the output can also be set to 0-20mA, 0-2V, 0-5V or 0-10Vdc). It is compatible with most control systems or 4-20mA type controller. Housed in a rugged IP54 enclosure, the detector is suitable for use in non-hazardous areas such as plant rooms or switchgear rooms. With no moving parts, very little maintenance is required – just a bi-annual gas check (with re-calibration if necessary).
Special features of the F-Gas detector include:
- Superior IR sensor technology: provides fast, stable and dependable performance with low maintenance and long life. Unlike semi-conductor type sensors, the F-gas detector is not affected by other types of gas or changes in temperature or humidity
- LED indicators: tri-coloured LEDs indicate the operating status of the detector and, in combination with the function keys, facilitate simple adjustments such as zero and calibration
- Choice of signals: the analogue output signal can be set as 4-20mA, 0-20mA, 0-2V, 0-5V or 0-10Vdc for compatibility with virtually any control system
- IP54 rated enclosure: provides good protection from dust and water ingress in indoor environments
More information about the EU regulations can be found at:
Crowcon, a subsidiary of Halma plc, is a world leader in portable and fixed gas detection instruments. The company is based in the UK and has branch offices in the Netherlands, the USA, Singapore and China. It specialises in developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative, reliable and cost-effective flammable and toxic gas detection equipment and has constantly led the field with products designed for safety and environmental monitoring.