Less Effort and Faster Leak Surveys

With IR Technology Across the Entire Measuring Range

Operator w IRwin and Soft Surface Probe

IRwin® Methane Leak Detector uses infrared (IR) technology to detect leaks from natural gas pipelines. IR technology, or more specifically non-dispersive infrared (NDIR), is the most common technology on the market for %LEL and Vol% range measurements. It is affordable, stable and very selective to the target gases. The drawback of IR is the limited sensitivity range. NDIR sensors are typically designed to operate in either the low (ppm), medium (LEL) or high (Vol%) concentration range. Combining these to a full range is challenging. This means that IR is usually combined with other technologies to create a full range instrument. A common way of solving the low range limitation is to add a semiconductor sensor with high sensitivity. However, these sensors have drawbacks such as cross sensitivity to other gases (car exhaust, gasoline and even water vapor), longer recovery times even at moderate concentrations of a few volume percent, and loss of sensitivity due to poisoning effects or over-exposure.

Benefits of the patented NDIR solution from INFICON

INFICON has developed a unique patented NDIR solution integrated in the IRwin Methane Leak Detector. It offers the same stability, selectivity and cost efficiency as the traditional NDIR sensors, but with a measuring range from a few ppm up to 100 vol%. This brings a number of important benefits to the user.

The first advantage is the extraordinary fast response and recovery time during survey and pinpointing. The combination of the two is crucial for more efficient leak surveys. Slow recovery of an instrument slows down the operator and makes pinpointing very time consuming, hard to evaluate or worse, impossible. Furthermore, high concentrations during pinpointing or bar holing will make a semiconductor sensor-based instrument temporarily blind to ppm levels, with the duration extending to minutes or even hours depending on the exposure rates. In contrast, IRwin features a normal ppm response time corresponding to 3 to 4 steps at average walking speed, and a full recovery time of less than 30 seconds after a 100 vol% exposure. Once the signal is back to zero, users can start to measure in the ppm range again. Notably, IRwin maintains its sensitivity and is not affected by memory effects, thus ensuring reliable performance.

The second advantage offered by IRwin is the selectivity. Its IR sensor is designed to specifically filter out the target gases in NG, swamp gas and LPG, excluding all other substances. This means that the instrument can still be set to a ppm threshold, enabling the detection of the smallest leaks while effectively preventing false alarms triggered by external factors such as passing vehicles or humid patches. High sensitivity, combined with high selectivity, is the key to more efficient survey work.

Last but not least, one of the most important benefits is the low cost of ownership. The full range IR system integrated into IRwin is extremely stable over time. A simple self-test and tightness test of the probe system is usually sufficient to confirm its proper functioning. This means that costs and downtime due to repeated calibrations, function tests and sensor replacements can be kept to a minimum. The IR system within IRwin has an expected lifetime of several thousand hours and its quick function testing or calibration — achievable within a minute — can be conveniently performed by the operator directly in the field, thanks to the built-in calibration function.

IRwin display
IRwin display

All in one

IRwin methane leak detector stands out as the only instrument in the market that combines high sensitivity and selectivity using IR technology across the entire measuring range, NG/swamp gas/LPG determination through gas chromatography, and capability of personal safety monitoring.

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