Odorization is an essential process in the production and distribution of gas to homes, businesses, and other facilities. Incorrect processes and teams who may misunderstand the fundamentals of odorization can cause very dangerous situations. As this is a preventative process, it is important to debunk a few common misconceptions and discuss key best practices to keep our communities safe.
Myth: Adding odorant into the network always odorizes the entire network.
It’s essential to check multiple areas within your pipeline to ensure odorant is being distributed. Although there are points in your pipeline which may have different flowing conditions, there must be a consistent smell throughout. What steps should your team take to ensure odorization has been done properly?
Although there isn’t a clear guideline for the locations in which you should measure the level, your team should establish a standard to follow based on the natural gas pipeline.
A couple of examples include:
For a pipeline going on a “U” and natural gas with high purity of moisture we recommend a sniff test after the “U” instead of below the “U.” That’s because there is a possibility that high moisture (water) will be trapped at the bottom which can absorb the odorant smell.
For a new pipeline, far more checks are required because there is a higher chance of odorant fade or masking occurring inside the pipeline. Once it reaches a stage of equilibrium, it will stabilize the pipeline. You can minimize the checks or choose critical locations near communities.
Ensure you’re following industry standards in determining an acceptable reading. Although air is considered dangerous when natural gas LEL is 5%, any spark can cause a fire or explosion. An acceptable reading must be readily detectable at one fifth of the lower explosive limit or 1% gas in the presence of air, which is the international standard.
Always check that your process complies with international standards (ISO/API). Both ISO and API provide general industry guidance which can help you understand regulations, build a plan, and better train your team. Depending on the type of technology you use, you may already be abiding by many of these standards. YZ Systems assures customers receive odor-free systems, easy maintenance, an audit trail and most importantly, constant injection to meet regulatory requirements.
Myth: Some odor is okay.
The odorization process should be odor-free. If you smell any odor, it is an indication of a leak and should be investigated. The leak could come from anywhere within the odorant injection facilities, so it’s important to explore a variety of potential causes. Common causes include:
The odorant transfer method. For example, odorant drums are more prone to leaks and can even cause serious dangers due to pressure build-up.
Complicated natural gas systems that have many points of connection and therefore more areas for leaks to occur.
Incorrect odorant injection point. Examples of this could be starting the process before the transmitter or setting up the supply line near the injection point, as low pressure could result in backflow.
Myth: Typical chemical injection systems are just as effective as an odorization system in the odorization process.
When selecting a system, look for a certified odorization system to provide you with the most reliable and consistent way to add odor to natural gas. Certified systems are uniquely designed to:
Monitor and compensate for pump performance and temperature to ensure constant injection by using a verometer.
Minimize the chance of leakage with minimum tubing connection. The more the tubing, the more complicated the systems to be, so this also makes it easier for the operator.
Operate odor free. If there is any smell of odorant, it could cause a false concern that there is a natural gas leak. Not all chemical injection pumps are suitable for use on odorant due to its unique characteristics.
To send alarms when levels are not correct (this feature is available in advanced systems like our NJEX).
Provide easy maintenance to allow for issues to resolved ASAP. Unplanned downtime is more dangerous in these applications. Standard systems can make things easy for customers across the world.
To learn more about the odorization process, take a look at these reliable resources for you and your team. If you’d like to discuss the right system for your facility and how to correct any of these misconceptions, contact us today.