Case Study: Intelligent Flamefinder™ Detection and Alert System

The Problem:

The focus of alternative fuels has often been on the possibility of hydrogen as a primary energy carrier. Hydrogen is abundant and, properly used, burns cleanly with water as its only byproduct. However, hydrogen also expands extremely rapidly in enclosed spaces, has an explosive concentration range larger than almost any other material, and burns with an invisible flame, meaning that a fire can start and no one notices until it is truly out of control. This is of course of great concern to NASA and other installations that use large amounts of hydrogen. Current technology solutions are not capable of detecting a leak or fire at range and pinpointing the location, and in an installation of any size this means that literally thousands of individual sensors must be installed and wires run to support them, at huge expense.

IEM’s Wise Solution

Under a Phase I and Phase II contract with NASA, IEM developed a unique, patent-pending multimodal system for detecting hydrogen leaks and flames called IFDAS (Intelligent Flamefinder™ Detection and Alert System). Building upon prior smart sensor work and our development of the original Flamefinder™ handheld flame camera (based itself on a NASA patent), IEM created a system which used near-infrared smart video analysis and unique acoustic sensing to detect, identify, and localize hydrogen leaks and flames.

IFDAS can detect, isolate, and locate a hydrogen flame in seconds under all lighting and weather conditions, ignoring distracters such as solar reflections, larger hydrogen flare stacks, welding, and others. The acoustic sensing component can recognize leaks from background noise and provides a check for the video component, as well as enabling the detection of leaks and/or flames which may be hidden behind complex piping or equipment. The combination of modes allows a high degree of confidence and minimum false alarms in the detection and identification of hazardous conditions.