Editorial Feature

Detecting Emissions with Robots

Image Credits: shutterstock/Ivan Smuk

Environmental monitoring is a key part of many industries. In today’s modern world, engineers and researchers are employing the use of robots to aid them in this task. This is due to the increased safety implications as well as the economic advantages associated with automatic sensors.

There are many different types of emissions and therefore numerous robotic solutions available on the market.

One of the robots is known as the ‘Gasbot’ and was first proposed by Victor Hernandez Bennett’s team from the AASS research Centre associated with Orebro University in Sweden. Bennett’s team highlighted the need to automatize methane emission detection for use in the biogas production industry and to monitor landfill sites.

The Gasbot uses a tunable laser absorption spectroscopy sensor to generate concentration maps for both indoor and outdoor areas. In their 2013 paper, the research team tested the robot in two unique scenarios; an underground corridor and a decommissioned landfill site. Both of these tests were found to produce concentration maps that were consistent with reality and could be very useful for this industry in a variety of scenarios.

Another way in which robotics is aiding industries to detect emissions is using a mobile infrared camera system. These systems are applied in the refinery facilities of large oil and gas companies such as Shell. Shell uses the infrared cameras to detect gas leaks at an early stage to prevent incidents before they occur.

The robotic system allows the onsite engineers to trace to the source of the gas leak, therefore reducing the time and increasing the safety of the site and downstream of the facility. In addition to this, the company claims that the system allows the maintenance team to monitor the effectiveness of the repair. This preventative maintenance strategy means that each inspector can assess more than 100 objects an hour.

Emission detecting robots have been part of the mining industries for many years now. Chinese company, Tangshan Kaicheng Electronic, produces 1,800 of these robots annually. As mining equipment advanced and processes developed, humans are mining deeper and deeper into the earth and therefore are vulnerable to more hazards.

Methane, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide are all gases which are toxic and must be avoided at all costs. Robots, such as the Mobile Inspection Platform developed by Leszek Kasprzyczak at the Institute of Innovative Technologies, are mobile robots which can travel into deep mines and detect and map dangerous emissions.

This allows for a safer working environment for miners. In their paper, Kasprzyczak’s research team described the results of their tests in the Central Mine Rescue Stations and proved that the small mobile robot could detect and log harmful emissions according to appropriate standards.

Emission detection is a vital part of many engineering industries. As new technologies emerge, working environments become safer and emission detection becomes more accurate. More and more companies are turning to robots in order to maximize the benefits of emission monitoring and detection.

Sources and Further Reading

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