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In industrial plants, fugitive emission defines discharges of gasses, vapors or liquids from pressure-containing facilities, whose components such as valves, pumps or piping flanges leak unintentionally. This phenomenon mainly affects the petrochemical industries, refineries, and the automotive sectorIt is increasingly evident that the consequences affect health, safety and environmental impact.

Air pollutants that could leak through these components are divided into two forms: gasses, including carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, and nongaseous compounds, such as dust and smoke. Moreover, oil and gas hydrocarbons are dispersed, resulting in production losses and increasing the risks of fire and explosions.

Industrial valves as the major source of fugitive emission

Industrial valves are tremendous sources of emissions: according to the research conducted by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, they are responsible for 50-60% of the fugitive emissions coming from chemical plants and refineries. In these plants, where approximately 10,000 to 15,000 valves may exist, about 80% of the emissions are caused by valve leakages, while the remaining 20% comes from other joints. Therefore, the most effective way to reduce fugitive emissions is to bring innovative methods of valve design and testing.

Test and certification of industrial valves

The first step of a fugitive emissions test is gas detection. In order to evaluate the environmental impact, it is necessary to measure the amount of emissions, despite the fact that many VOCs are invisible, odorless, and lighter than air. Testing includes several procedures and methods that can be applied based on the types of valve and on temperature and pressure conditions.

To meet the industry demands, valve manufacturers are required to type test their designs to international standards such as API 641, ISO 15848-1, TA Luft. Yet, many end users are unaware of the differences between Regulations and Standards: for this reason, consultancy companies are key partners when it comes to compliance. TC2 and its Technical Consultancy unit work to verify the compliance of valves, according to TA Luft and Fugitive Emission standards.

Monitoring of fugitive emission and environmental protection

Fugitive emissions that come from malfunctioning and damaged valves require rapid maintenance and repair. An alternative and more effective way to detect fugitive emissions at an earlier stage before they become critical, is the use of sensors with an automatic, electrical data logger to save time and improve accuracy.

The industries, especially those dealing with valve engineering and design, now have a professional and personal responsibility to ensure the lowest environmental impact. Today, air and water quality, life and ecology are important factors that need to be considered to improve the performance of products and processes.

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