Butane is a hydrocarbon gas commonly produced while refining crude petroleum, or it can be found in natural gas deposits. Butane can be found in many households as it is filled in portable gas cylinders and used as a household fuel that can power anything from gas grills to heaters. But butane is found in many industrial environments, too. And for this reason, butane gas sensors are crucial in ascertaining the concentration of this harmful gas.

The Effects of Butane Exposure

Since it is usually a gas, butane can be inhaled when found in the atmosphere. In addition, it is naturally odorless and colorless, making it especially dangerous. It is also highly flammable and can ignite easily through static electricity, open flames, or other ignition sources. As a combustible gas, butane concentrations anywhere between 1.6% and 8.4% can provide an explosive mixture with air. Its presence is incredibly dangerous for individuals working nearby.

The presence of butane gas can lead to many severe health effects to those who are directly exposed. These effects can include aggression, dizziness, depression, and even asphyxiation. But the dangers of butane aren’t just those presented through inhalation of the gas. It can also cause skin or eye problems when exposed to the body in liquid form. It may cause frostbite or freezer burn. 

For industrial applications, an explosion can be a tremendous hazard. If heated or exposed to heat or another combustion source, it can damage property, cause fires, and result in death or injury and destruction of property. And since butane is relatively common in many industrial applications, the potential for an explosion is high when a butane leak is encountered, especially if the leak occurs in an area with poor ventilation. And explosions can be devastating o a company, particularly if workers are injured or die as a result of the explosion. These workplace accidents often lead to costly court judgments, workers’ compensation payments, regulatory fines, and even compensation for losses. The bottom line is that there is no room for error when it comes to detecting butane leaks. You must be able to quickly identify a leak in order to properly mitigate the threat, which is the only way to keep your employees and your company safe. 

Implementing Butane Gas Sensors to Support Workplace Safety

Since butane exposure and the risks of a combustible gas leak are so great, it is essential to monitor for this gas in any setting where concentrations may be high enough to result in personal injury or risk of ignition. Butane gas sensors can accurately measure concentrations of this gas and report the concentration to the user in either a part per million measurements or in an explosive capability with an LEL percentage monitoring. 

This data allows the worker to take any safety precautions necessary. For example, a worker could wear an air-purifying mask with a purifying cartridge at low concentrations. However, higher concentrations would require a self-contained breathing apparatus or supplied-air respirator to ensure safety in the vicinity where the butane gas is present. 

The benefits of implementing butane gas sensors include:

  • Early and accurate detection of butane gas can injure personnel and cause property damage. This early detection allows workers to relocate to a safer area and develop a mitigation plan that is more likely to minimize risk for the company and avoid putting workers in unsafe conditions. It can also prevent a minor leak from becoming a major explosion. 
  • Ongoing monitoring for performance. Whether your company may use butane gas in operations, detecting a leak can optimize performance while minimizing risk. It can also ensure neighboring property and workers remain safer and function normally.
  • Promoting worker safety. On-the-job accidents are expensive for companies. And when you have the potential for a major disaster – like one caused by a butane explosion – the effects can be devastating. Your company may be on the hook for millions in mitigation efforts, cleanup, replacement of property, and regulatory fines in cases of negligence (which could be the case if you fail to implement proper gas detection technologies). On top of these costs, you may also have worker’s compensation claims or even lawsuits from the injured parties or their families. The bottom line is that preventing these types of catastrophes is essential. One major accident may be enough to ruin lives and put your company out of business.
  • Enabling better first responses. Not only will your workers be able to identify a better mitigation plan, but they will also likely be able to execute it faster when alarmed by the presence of butane. Additionally, accurate butane gas sensors can provide information about the gas concentration. This data may be necessary if any workers inhale the gas. You can provide first responders with the required data to deliver better treatment faster, minimizing the risk of long-term effects. 

Selecting an Optimal Butane Gas Sensor

Detecting harmful and combustible gases is essential when working in many different industries. Implementing the proper types of fixed and portable gas sensors and detectors is one of the most significant ways to enhance workplace safety and protect operations. While there are many best practices while handling butane, they are no substitute for the ability to detect the presence of this harmful gas reliably.

When considering which butane gas sensor is the best for your environment and applications, you will want to consider several factors, such as:

  • Performance: The optimal performance can be achieved by selecting a gas sensor that detects butane and delivers an easy-to-understand reading of the levels. Sensors can be optimized for performance in certain environmental conditions or to work in low- and no-oxygen environments. 
  • Reliability: A butane gas sensor can provide many benefits, but only if the data the user receives is reliable. Working with a gas detection vendor with a proven track record for reliability is crucial.
  • Cost: While cost is always a factor in any business decision, it’s essential to understand the lifetime costs of any sensor or detector. While some may have less of an upfront investment, they may have poor performance and reliability. Additionally, they may require more frequent recalibration, making the lifetime costs of these sensors much higher than if you initially purchased a quality one. 

NevadaNano’s MPS sensor detects butane and other harmful gases accurately and reliably. And it can work well in a wide range of environmental conditions. To learn more about using the MPS to detect butane and enhance your workplace, contact NevadaNano today!