CH4, or methane, is the primary component of natural gas. Natural gas is considered the safest and cleanest fossil fuel available. Given this, it is incredibly popular for industrial and commercial applications. But methane is an odorless, colorless gas that is highly flammable or combustible at 100% Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) concentrations. Its properties make it very difficult to detect. For many who work with natural gas, CH4 gas detectors are essential in maintaining a safe working environment. 

Current CH4 detection methods, including catalytic bead sensors and NDIR sensors, have been used for decades. There has been little change in the technology until recently. Unfortunately, these types of sensors have limitations when it comes to detecting methane and other gases. 

Catalytic sensors do not work in zero- or low-oxygen environments. They can also become poisoned when exposed to high concentrations of flammable and combustible gases. Once poisoned, the sensor appears to be operational, which can put workers in extremely hazardous situations. Non-dispersive infrared detectors typically use excessive amounts of power, need frequent calibration, and are costly. Neither option is an ideal CH4 gas detector. 

Optimizing CH4 Gas Detectors 

NevadaNano’s Molecular Property Spectrometer™ (MPS™) uses a micro-electromechanical (MEMS) transducer. Advanced electronics in the sensor measure changes in the thermal properties of the surrounding air and gases. Environmental data is found on the output reading to identify the presence and concentration of CH4.

The MPS sensor can outperform catalytic sensors and non-dispersive infrared sensors as a CH4 gas detector. It has the advantage in multiple areas.

  • Calibration: The MPS sensor requires no calibration. Other natural gas sensors (NDIR and catalytic bead) need calibration frequently or at least require bump tests.
  • Immune to Poisoning: Catalytic sensors will become poisoned when exposed to high concentrations of combustible gas, such as lead, phosphate, and sulfur. The MPS sensor, on the other hand, is immune to poisoning. These sensors do not drift or decay, ensuring accurate results every time they are used. MPS sensors also have fail-safe and self-diagnostic capabilities. This feature ensures that the user is alerted to faulty or malfunctioning equipment before they attempt to use the sensor in a potentially hazardous area.
  • Reliable in All Environmental Conditions: Catalytic and NDIR sensors can become unreliable when there are extreme or rapid changes in environmental conditions. These temperature, pressure, and humidity changes can result in inaccurate readings. The MPS sensor can reliably detect the presence of natural gas across a variety of environmental conditions. The sensor will deliver an accurate reading in temperatures ranging from -40C to 75C and between 0% to 100% relative humidity.
  • Cost: While catalytic sensors are relatively cheap, NDIR sensors are proprietary technology, making them quite expensive. However, both types of sensors have a much higher total cost of ownership than many users anticipate. Because they require frequent calibration and/or replacement, the total cost over the lifetime of the detector is high. MPS sensors require no calibration and are competitively priced, which can lead to long-term cost savings. And with a life expectancy of 10 years, MPS gas detectors rarely need replacement.
  • Easy-to-Use: With legacy gas detectors, the need for frequent calibration and their limitations make it hard to know if you are truly getting an accurate reading. Gas detectors with the MPS sensor are easy-to-use. They also have an easy-to-understand interface that provides the data that workers need to know when CH4 is present in dangerous concentrations.

The Future of CH4 Gas Detectors

NevadaNano’s MPS Flammable Gas Sensor brings new advances to hazardous and combustible gas safety due to its features. The MPS Flammable Gas Sensor combines the best features of both catalytic bead sensors and NDIR sensors. This hybrid performance profile provides the best possible solution for detecting CH4 that is currently commercially available.

These sensors can be used across a variety of atmospheric conditions – including when mixed gases are present or when oxygen levels are low. 

NevadaNano’s MPS Flammable Gas Sensor provides a reliable and durable sensor with temperature and pressure compensation features. This sensor will work in a wider variety of conditions than other sensors are able to currently. They are helping to keep more CH4 out of the atmosphere, ensuring workplaces in the oil and natural gas industry stay safe.

The sensors also safeguard companies from lost profits that can stem from escaped gases. MPS CH4 gas detectors can potentially prevent accidents or injuries related to CH4 leaks. These types of accidents are costly in terms of worker’s compensation claims, legal fees, and settlements. 

The natural gas industry has grown tremendously over the past few decades. If this growth continues, CH4 leaks will pose a greater challenge. Methane is incredibly dangerous in high concentrations or when it can ignite.

Companies simply cannot afford to be lax when it comes to selecting a CH4 gas detector. You must have the best available technology to safeguard your business and employees. The MPS sensor with the MEMS transducer is the best possible option. It is an incredibly powerful tool that can protect your workplace.