Explore AQMesh

SEPA monitors impact of gas flaring on air quality

23-May-2024Fenceline | Gas flaring | Industrial | Oil & Gas | PetrochemicalUK

SEPA monitors impact of gas flaring on air quality

Air quality monitoring stations have been used by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to form a new air quality monitoring network around the Mossmorran Complex near Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, Fife.

The network of 8 AQMesh pods was deployed in addition to a fixed air quality monitoring station to help address the concerns of the local community about the impact of operational activity at ExxonMobil Chemical Limited Natural Liquids Plant and Fife Ethylene Plant in Fife, Scotland. Both plants use flaring processes to burn off excess gas, and SEPA set out a series of regulations aimed at reducing the amount – and impact – of flaring, as well as being able to provide local residents with accurate, real-time information about pollution levels in the wider community.

Commenting on using the AQMesh pods, SEPA have stated that “these analysers are easier to locate than the reference analysers due to their size and power requirements and can be installed in more accessible locations. They are useful in assessing short-term trends in pollutants; provide greater geographical coverage both up and down wind of the site; and monitor for a wider range of pollutants.”

So far, all the pods and fixed station continue to show that there have been no breaches of any air quality standards since monitoring began.

The quality of the data produced by the AQMesh pods at the Mossmorran facility has been optimised using a proprietary network calibration method known as ‘long distance scaling’, which identifies and separates hyperlocal events from individual pods in order to determine the common pollutant trends seen on each pod in the network. These data trends are then directly comparable on each pod, showing the background/baseline pollution levels across the network and can also be used to provide calibration – or scaling – factors that can be applied to each pod. The method is similar to that developed by Professor Rod Jones of the University of Cambridge, which was used for calibration and quality control of 100 AQMesh pods in the Breathe London pilot.

For more information about SEPA’s air quality monitoring network at Mossmorran, or about AQMesh, contact us today.

You really want to measure that H2S range??

29-Apr-2024Emissions monitoring | Fenceline | H2S | H2S monitoring | Industrial | Oil & Gas

You really want to measure that H2S range??

Requests to measure hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in ambient air at unthinkably high levels seem to be at odds with our efforts to detect and report single-figure parts per billion H2S emissions. So, why are we asked for such high ranges?

We think this may be explained by operators who are used to measuring high concentration in a gas stream – typically biogas or industrial – and then simply transferring the range across when looking at fenceline monitoring. It’s great to see the growing interest in monitoring fugitive emissions at site boundaries – including H2S – but we need to dial back the gas range expected when looking at ambient pollution.

H2S sensors for gas stream measurement are offered at parts per million ranges from 0-50ppm to 0-10,000ppm. Bear in mind that US Department of Labor guidelines say that H2S odour becomes offensive at only 3-5ppm, with prolonged exposure causing headaches, nausea and insomnia, and causes “nearly instant death” at 1,000-2,000pm. Dilution of any emission in swirling ambient air means that parts per million measurements are inappropriate, and even significant H2S leaks usually register peaks of just a few parts per billion by the time gas has reached the fence line.

That’s why the AQMesh sensor measures from 0-10,000ppb (0-10ppm), with a limit of detection of less than 1ppb. Measuring at such low levels means operators can pick up emissions much earlier and much further away from the source than would be the case with the higher range sensor typically used for measuring the gas stream. Picking up a low level at a suitable point on the industrial boundary should avoid dangerous levels of H2S building up near the source.

Monitoring in ambient air is gentler on sensors, too, so if you are used to sensor poisoning and condensate problems, that benefit does offset the ‘needle in a haystack’ challenge of picking up fugitive H2S emissions. With the potential to move an AQMesh pod from location to location, and add a wind speed and direction sensor to help with source apportionment, it is very satisfying to support our users doing just that.

Check H2S, SO2 and VOC emissions continuously around your sites

06-Mar-2024Fenceline | Industrial | Oil & Gas | Perimeter

Check H2S, SO2 and VOC emissions continuously around your sites

If you are responsible for air pollution around an oil, gas or industrial site, you have a range of options at different price points. AQMesh offers a cost-effective way to continuously monitor ambient air quality, as frequently as every minute, with readings accessed securely online and user-settable alerts. This system offers an ideal, confidential first step to understanding whether you – or your neighbours – have an emissions problem, particularly as the equipment is available on a rental basis, anywhere in the world.

AQMesh has been used in a wide range of applications – from the coldest to hottest conditions – for over ten years, and 15 different pollutant and environmental measurements can be provided by a single pod, using bespoke sensor configurations. The most popular measurements for petrochemical customers are hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds.

H2S, SO2 and TVOC – including EtO – can be measured down to single figure ppb, with a high level of accuracy, and CO2 readings provide a real-time, accurate measurement of local combustion. AQMesh pods can be quickly and easily deployed around petrochemical fence lines, landfill boundaries, wastewater site perimeters and around mining facilities to provide completely confidential real-time air pollution data.

One requirement we see regularly is for monitoring around vulnerable communities, such as housing areas or schools, to understand potential exposure. Pods are being used in a variety of oil & gas, manufacturing and processing applications to detect and identify sources of pollution and inform potential mitigation strategies. Although not a regulatory instrument – so readings are not generally reportable – various data management techniques can offer traceability back to an approved methodology, providing data quality assurance.

Six hidden costs to look out for when choosing a small sensor air quality monitoring system

14-Feb-2024Construction | Environmental | Fenceline | Industrial | Local authorities | Mining | Networks | Oil & Gas

Six hidden costs to look out for when choosing a small sensor air quality monitoring system

Anybody in the market for purchasing a small sensor air pollution monitoring system will need to consider budgets, but it’s not always obvious how the products being reviewed actually compare across their full operational life. A small sensor air quality monitoring system or network can be a significant purchase, so whether project-based or with ongoing monitoring in mind, it is likely that the equipment will be in use for several years. There are six main areas of cost highlighted here, all of which kick in after initial purchase.

Without direct experience of a product, it’s natural that the focus is on the initial price tag, but that may only reveal part of the total cost. The weeks or even months spent researching products is a fraction of the time – up to 10 years – of expected product use and experience. A typical timeline of product experience will start pre-sale and run through installation, project set-up and data access arrangements, data quality assurance, planned and unplanned maintenance, co-locations and re-locations, updates, upgrades, reconfiguration, and so on. How much will you have spent – directly or indirectly – by the end of the product’s life?

Over the product’s span of operation, hidden costs can include:

  1. ‘Boots on the ground’ – field staff for installation, co-location, maintenance, repairs, product replacements, and so on. Some of this will be essential, but it can add huge cost if uncontrolled, particularly if units are installed far away from the team’s base.
  2. Consumables – sensors need to be replaced periodically, but how often and at what cost? Some systems require that sensors are replaced after a short time, can only be replaced as part of a multi-sensor cartridge, are very expensive, or a combination of these.
  3. Data services – whilst the charge is to cover the real cost of data processing and storage (not access), annual data prices vary considerably and add up over the years.
  4. SIM – an annual charge for a global SIM to connect the unit to a server is often cost-effective and convenient, but charges vary. This may depend on where in the world the unit is installed, but it’s worth checking prices and whether you have the option to use a local SIM, if that would be cheaper.
  5. Support – what is included in support? Is it limited in any way? Ask for examples of committed support of networks in challenging situations, well after year one.
  6. Length of warranty – this is a clear commitment from the manufacturer of what you should expect from their product: putting their money where their mouth is.

We have worked out that for two of the most popular AQMesh models (or specification) other products may be as much as 29% cheaper than AQMesh at initial purchase, but that flips to 31% to 70% more expensive overall – including the initial purchase – after five years of use. This is based on quoted consumables, data and SIM costs, so there may be even more indirect costs that we have not included in our calculation. Whilst these additional costs can possibly be accommodated within budgets for a small number of pods, hidden costs can scale at a rather alarming rate for larger networks.

It’s also worth checking how much flexibility you may have in the future:

  • You may only be able to renew data services if you purchase replacement sensors
  • Support may be limited in some way
  • You may not be able to use a SIM of your choice

Your expectation of the product life may be different to the manufacturer’s, and that can apply in both directions. We have been asked to quote AQMesh pods, which we expect to function happily for 10 or more years, by customers who really want to buy a disposable product for a short project. If that is the case, rental is a great option. With all costs wrapped up into a single price, from three months to years at a time, costs are totally predictable and full support ensured, right through to free product replacement, should it be required.

AQMesh pods, with their robust and proven design, are expected to function in the field with minimal intervention for at least 10 years. The pods automatically come with a 5 year manufacturers’ pod warranty. We commit to – and deliver – lifetime remote support, included in the price. Remote firmware and gas processing algorithm upgrades come as part of any purchase, ensuring pods can always be updated to latest and improved versions for free.

The pods are designed to be user-serviceable, meaning only consumable components need to be replaced, rather than expensive cartridges which add cost through packaging and electronics. Consumables and yearly contracts can be purchased up front – with the initial pod order – ensuring visibility and security when it comes to future costs and maintenance, as well as appropriate discounts. Practical maintenance videos ensure that any time spent by your team is as efficient as possible, so you can plan ahead with resources and avoid unexpected demands. The team at AQMesh have been supporting pods in remote locations for over a decade, learning from our experiences along the way to ensure you get the right support exactly when you need it.

Simple industrial pollution monitoring with AQMesh

03-May-2023Construction | Fenceline | Industrial | Mining | Oil & Gas | Perimeter

Simple industrial pollution monitoring with AQMesh

AQMesh is being used for industrial air pollution monitoring around the world because it brings together a range of features and services that have been tailored to the needs of construction, mining, petrochemical and other industrial applications.

The key benefit is just how much can be done with one small, compact, neat and easily-installed unit. Each ‘pod’ is fully customisable, allowing full flexibility of the measurements offered, from a single gas sensor to a ‘fully loaded’ air quality station, measuring six gases, four particulate matter fractions, noise and wind speed and direction. Built to order and fully tested in two weeks, pods can be specified to suit each project at build – or afterwards; requirements can change and it is helpful to be able to reconfigure existing equipment.

As well as long service life expected (all AQMesh pods are sold with a five year manufacturer’s warranty and many have been in use for over ten years) the ability to reconfigure rather than repurchase makes AQMesh an environmentally friendly solution. Pods are tough, designed – and proven – to withstand extremes of temperature, high winds, torrential rain, snow, and are designed for the additional challenges from industrial sites with potentially complex emissions.

Wherever pods are installed, data from all channels are transmitted using any available phone network, repeating connections and storing data where the phone signal is very weak. This provides a complete solution, with readings securely accessed online or transferred to the client database. All data from all pods are completely owned by the user – not the manufacturer or service provider – and nobody else has access to the site’s pollution data.

From installation to output, the AQMesh system reduces time and risk on the ground. Pods are small and can be held in one hand up a ladder, with only a single universal power cable, which can be connected to a smart solar pack or a direct power supply. Battery operation is another option, and no loggers or wiring are required for data transmission.

Mindful of the costs of local field support, pods require only a two-year maintenance visit for sensor replacement. All other support can be carried out remotely, with proactive diagnostics for faults or data quality flagging. Sensors failing in the field are immediately detected remotely and a free replacement is sent to site if the sensor is in warranty. After over 10 years of experience monitoring in harsh climates and a range of applications, the AQMesh team is able to offer automated data QA, as well as unlimited customer service and support no matter where you are, how many pods you have or how long you’ve had them.

The team is keen to engage with existing and new customers to find solutions, honestly highlight relevant limitations, and be as much part of the client team as the client would like. From a single pod rental to proactive management of a large network, AQMesh and the team can direct this best-in-class technology to provide real value. Measurement of multiple pollutants, at multiple locations, can provide much more powerful insight about what is going on in the air than modelling alone, and has the potential to inform site management.

So where to start? AQMesh offers a first step to address curiosity about local air pollution on or around any site, with full confidentiality. Fixed price packages include equipment use, connection and data access and interpretation of readings.

For more information about how the AQMesh team can help get you started on your monitoring journey, chat to us today.

What’s in the air leaving your sites?

03-Mar-2023Construction | Fenceline | Industrial | Mining | Oil & Gas | Perimeter

What’s in the air leaving your sites?

Why would you want to know and what could you do about it anyway? Many processes in the petrochemical, refining, gas and oil industries cause known or unknown emissions of gases and particles into the air. Whether the reason is legislation, a company Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) policy, to protect sensitive neighbours, such as schools and communities, or to just understand what is in the air at a site boundary, real-time, continuous monitoring makes sense.

Small sensors with standalone power and communications offer a convenient and cost-effective solution. Measurement nodes or ‘pods’ can be easily installed on fences, posts or walls around the site and its perimeter, streaming accurate data securely to the cloud and the client’s database, and triggering alerts.

Exceedance alerts can be set at a level and frequency to suit the application, potentially triggering a bag sample to be taken, for more detailed air composition analysis. This type of monitoring also allows operators to assess a wide range of pollutant levels across space and time. A time-series plot of multiple measurements, including NOx, SOx, CO2, CO, TVOC, CH4, H2S and particulate matter can be reviewed against known site operations and events. “We find that as soon as operators start to see the readings coming in, are able to track peaks of pollutants and relate them to operations and events, they are hooked, and can see exactly how they can use this information”, comments AQMesh CEO, Amanda Billingsley.

Continuous readings at 15-minute intervals – or even 1-minute – can provide a more complete emissions picture than intermittent bag samples or even open-path monitoring, particularly when combined with wind speed and direction information. A single AQMesh pod can measure over 10 pollutants at the same time, plus wind speed and direction, temperature, atmospheric pressure and RH%. These confidential readings are all made available on the same secure platform, accessible either by login, or by API.

There is a major trend towards industrial operators including oil and gas, petrochemicals, construction, mining and transport – rail and ports, as well as roads – wanting to look closely at air pollution on and around their sites.

Analysis of air pollution measurements, used with wind speed and direction information, and potentially modelling, can help identify pollution sources (which direction and how far away) as well as which pollution is generated locally (directly manageable) and which is more regional (requires more collaboration). This means an operator can distinguish between pollution generated by their operations or that of a neighbouring plant.

Multi-parameter monitoring systems, such as AQMesh, use the mobile phone network and can be solar powered, meaning they need no infrastructure investment. It is literally a 10-minute job to attach the pod to a post and start to see readings online. Each pod can take many measurements, including NO2, SO2, H2S, CO2, CO, TVOC, CH4, PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10, total particle count, PM Total, O3, NO, temperature, pressure and RH% and can be used as a network, with smart, remote calibration.

Small, micro or low-cost sensors can offer a cost-effective solution for industrial boundary monitoring, with a range of benefits: real-time understanding of air pollution changes around a site perimeter means fast action can be taken. Geographically pinpointed, regular air composition readings can feed into feasibility or environmental impact studies. AQMesh has been used by industrial operators across continents, with direct, worldwide support from the manufacturer.

Complementing ongoing stationary monitoring, the hand-held Gazoscan used a sensitive and accurate laser sensor to scan for methane, across a distance of up to 100m. The portable laser Inspectra samples from a local point and can detect, measure and store methane readings from around a site. Integrated software allows secure, traceable readings to be logged directly against a geographic and/or named infrastructure point, with photos and notes.

For more information about air pollution and emissions monitoring, please contact the team today.

Why and how to monitor perimeter air pollution

09-Feb-2023Construction | Fenceline | Industrial | Mining | Oil & Gas | Perimeter

Why and how to monitor perimeter air pollution

A wide range of industrial operators, including mining, construction, ports, landfill and the oil and gas industry, are looking more closely at the air quality on and around their operational sites. This is increasingly driven by legislation, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ambitions, to establish a baseline, or to understand and manage potential pollution sources.

Such operators, also including chemical, processing, agriculture and utilities, are under increasing pressure to carry out environmental monitoring around their perimeter, particularly if they are close to population bases. Boundary monitoring is also important in a situation with several potential pollution sources, as multiple measurement nodes and local wind speed and direction data can identify the distance and direction of different pollution sources, by individual pollutant. Equally important is the ability to distinguish between local pollution sources, where emissions can potentially be managed directly, and regional or background pollution, which will require a different approach.

Health and safety of workers on site is important, as well as the exposure of local communities. Samples of air may be taken for laboratory analysis on an ad hoc or scheduled basis, but this high level of accuracy cannot completely make up for the delays involved. Real-time fenceline pollutant levels can be logged – as frequently as every minute – and used to trigger alerts, as well as maintaining and sharing an ongoing database, showing daily patterns and historical information.

Multi-parameter monitoring points, such as AQMesh, can be mounted individually, with autonomous power (usually solar) and communications (mobile phone network) or installed as a network, with each point measuring a wide range of pollutants. AQMesh pods offer measurements including NO2, SO2, H2S, CO2, CO, TVOC, CH4, PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10, total particle count, PM Total, O3, NO, temperature, pressure and RH%. Electrochemical, NDIR and laser sensors are used to measure gases and a bespoke optical particle counter measures particulate matter or dust – vital for many processes, particularly mining and construction, as well as natural events, such as bush fires.

Boundary monitoring around ports and airports can show which of the various operations on and around the site is causing pollution, eg: ships, loading/unloading activity, or transportation on or outside the site. Waste water treatment plants and landfill sites may need to manage odour. Whilst odour is complex, emissions will often contain a range of chemicals, at least one of which can be traced by monitoring around the fence line.

Small sensor, micro or low cost sensors can offer a cost-effective solution for industrial perimeter monitoring, bringing a range of benefits: real-time awareness of air quality changes around a site boundary allows immediate action to be taken. Hyperlocal air quality information can inform feasibility or environmental impact studies. AQMesh has been used by operators across continents and industrial sectors, offering easy installation, low maintenance, and secure, cloud-based access to vital air pollution insights.

For more information on how AQMesh can support your perimeter monitoring requirements please contact the team today.

Choosing AQMesh for fenceline monitoring

09-Jan-2023Construction | Fenceline | Industrial | Mining | Oil & Gas | Perimeter

Choosing AQMesh for fenceline monitoring

AQMesh has been long established as the most proven small sensor system for the air quality monitoring market. With an ever-increasing suite of measurement options and proven performance in the harshest environments, AQMesh is ideal for industrial applications.

The H2S, SO2, TVOC and PM sensors allow AQMesh to be used in a wide range of applications including construction, mining and oil & gas. AQMesh networks have been implemented across mining facilities in Southern Africa, Saudi Arabia and Australia, as well as oil & gas facilities in Europe, Central Asia and the Gulf region. Other applications include perimeter monitoring on energy from waste sites, residual emissions from flares and even volatile volcanic emissions in Iceland and Nicaragua.

A single AQMesh pod can measure up to 6 out of a possible 8 pollutant gases in various combinations, as well as PM, humidity, atmospheric pressure and noise in one small, compact easy-to-install unit. A wind speed and direction sensor is also available, and there is a range of wireless power options, including the bespoke AQMesh smart solar pack. The solar pack offers autonomous continuous power all year round for an AQMesh pod and features smart connectivity with a mobile app for checking power output, viewing historical data and running diagnostics

Customers across industrial applications comment on how easy AQMesh is to use, from its quick and easy installation to its low maintenance requirements. Users also benefit from maximum uptime across their networks, thanks to AQMesh’s robust hardware, wireless communications and the secure AQMeshData.net server. Remote diagnostics allow pods to easily reconnect themselves and continue to capture data if power is ever interrupted. Faults or failures can be detected, diagnosed and resolved swiftly and remotely, without the need to visit the equipment. Additionally, email exceedance alerts can be set on any data channel, allowing for instant critical information that may be vital for managing related processes or protecting site equipment and staff.

AQMesh is on the road to MCERTS, and looking to achieve both MCERTS & CEN certification in 2023, based on its already proven performance for PM2.5 and PM10. The proprietary optical particle counter consistently delivers high accuracy across all PM fractions, and use of a heated inlet offers even more accurate readings as it dries the sample prior to measurements to reduce the effects of moisture. New developments in hardware and completely traceable data processing algorithms will also offer even further improvements in accuracy later this year.

For more information on how AQMesh can offer a solution to your site’s monitoring requirements contact us today.