One of Austria’s largest integrated international oil and gas companies, OMV, headquartered in Vienna, needed wanted assurance that it was in full compliance with government-set smoke emissions regulations. OMV has an annual refining capacity of 22.3 million tons and supplies more than 4,700 filling stations in 13 European countries.

Hydrocarbon waste gases are burned off in smoke stacks to prevent them from entering the atmosphere. Continuous monitoring of pilot flames and flared gases is critical to ensure that the harmful gases will be ignited. Monitoring is also essential so that refineries can prove compliance with pilot status recording requirements. OMV wanted to keep its stacks clean of smoke with the help of steam water.

Because of pressure from the government, OMV put a lot of steam into the system, so most of the time only steam came out of the flare stack, according to OMV, but the company needed to monitor the pilot flame and keep the temperatures at the precise range for its on-shore flaring.

To accomplish the task, OMV now uses the LumaSense Quasar 8100 from LumaSense Technologies Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. The unit is an integrated, automated smoke control system that provides continuous monitoring and detection of flames on flare stacks, and reports an analog signal depending on the particle fraction in the smoke produced, up to approximately 1,300 feet away from the flare source.

However, one of the greatest challenges when planning and commissioning a flare-monitoring system is to reach a precise alignment without a flare. According to LumaSense, its deep experience convinced OMV that the supplier could achieve correct optical alignment considering environmental conditions such as wind, rain, fog and sun, and properly adjust the signal strength given warning contacts and time lags, for example.

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