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Hazardex 2019 Conference Presentations - Gas detection as a risk mitigation technique

Author : Jon D. Miller, Technical Compliance Manager, Det-Tronics

21 November 2018

Some types of gas detectors keep an eye on production processes. Others, relying on a number of different technologies, can help save lives. While both functions are important in a chemical processing plant, there can be confusion between equipment for process gas monitoring and gas detection systems for life safety.

Life safety systems mitigate risks stemming from leaks of toxic and/or combustible gases, help prevent explosions and harm to workers caused by leaking gas, and in turn, reduce costly downtime. The paper begins with an overview of the hazardous location standards that impact gas detection needs and product certification requirements.

Another consideration for understanding gas detection requirements is the target Safety Integrity Level (SIL) necessary for a facility. The paper briefly explains SIL as “a statistical representation of the integrity of the Safety Instrumented System (SIS) when a process demand occurs. SIL helps quantify functional safety, which is the part of overall safety that depends on a system or equipment operating correctly in response to its inputs.” The paper also reviews the risk parameters that help facilities select a target SIL and includes a risk parameters chart to help visualize the factors that go into this determination.

Then the authors discuss in some depth the different gas detection types and technologies currently used in life safety gas detection systems: point, open path/line of sight and acoustic gas detectors. To facilitate detector selection, the paper details the capabilities, advantages and disadvantages of each detector type.

As a sidebar topic, the paper lists widely used current gas detection guidance in three categories: combustible gas performance standards; recommended practice standards; and methods of protection guidance standards. Because gas detection standards are continuing to evolve—with the goals of providing more specific guidance and greater harmonization between standards and across geographies—the authors also provide information about standards topics being actively addressed today.


Jon D. Miller has over 25 years’ experience in functional safety and hazardous locations, focusing on fire and gas detection and systems with Det-Tronics since 1996, and is currently the company’s Technical Compliance Manager. He is Chairman for the U.S. and International Gas Detection Standards Development Committees and is a member of IEEE, ISA, UL, and IEC committees responsible for hazardous locations and functional safety electrical equipment. Miller holds an MBA, a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and currently serves as:

•  Convener of IEC TC31 MT60079-29 (Combustible Gas Performance)

•  Convener of IEC TC31 JWG45 (Toxic Gas Performance)

•  IECEx USNC voting member (Hazardous Locations)

•  Chairman of UL STP9200 TG60079 (Combustible Gas Performance)

•  Chairman of UL STP9200 TG62990 (Toxic Gas Performance)

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