Newbie in CA

Ethanol Detectors ?

14 posts in this topic

We were asked by code officials if we plan to put in ethanol detectors (for ethanol vapor) to automatically turn on fans in our barrel room should a spill occur when noone is on site.

Anyone ever come across anything like this request before? It is tied to spill mitigation.

Also, I've never seen an "ethanol vapor detector" - anyone have one, know where I can find one?

Thanks all

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I have been a HVAC contractor for 20 years, never heard of one.

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Hi,

Although not required or requested by any agency in my area, I think the idea of an ethanol detector is sound. My idea is to use it as an alarm, similar to a smoke detector. It seems off-the-shelf devices are mostly "consumer use breathalyzers" and thus I didn't find anything available off the shelf. I have looked into building our own using a part you can buy from overseas, but so far the engineer hasn't delivered a schematic for the prototype.

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I've herd that carbon monoxide detectors are set off my ethanol vapor. I've yet to confirm this myself.

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Thanks all for your thoughts.

Rich, I checked out the link to RKI and spoke with a tech there who suggested two different units for this. The less expensive PS-2 unit seems about right at $460. The more expensive one runs at around $1000.

It will

- detect ethanol vapor

- trigger an alarm at a pre-determined level

- and/or is able to be rigged to a second unit like, e.g. a venting fan

This unit and system will work for me in a situation where the fire dept wants to know how we will deal with a spill when the distillery is unoccupied (at night say).

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On June 4, 2012 at 9:58 PM, Jedd Haas said:

Here's a link for a DIY version my engineer found.

Jedd can you send me this link.

 

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You can take a look at MQ-3 sensor which will detect down to 125 PPM. The LEL for alcohol is 3% or 30,000 PPM.
Typically you'll start the exhaust fan at 25% of LEL which is 75,000 PPM. You could probably build one with Arduino for under $50.
But for something this critical, do you really want to risk a homebrew design ?
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8880

 

4 hours ago, Sailor said:

Jedd can you send me this link.

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Back from the dead.

There is a catch 22 here, in that if you are being asked by authorities to provide said monitoring, they are likely going to classify the environment, which means explosion proof monitors.

DIY?  Why bother.  I've seen Honeywell E3Point combustible gas units go cheap on eBay. $250ish.  And that's a fully packaged wall mount solution, plug and play.

If you want to experiment, pick up an explosion proof monitor from eBay and tinker around.  You can usually find nice MSA Ultima or Draeger Polytron XP units for a hundred bucks or so.  If you have the electronics skill to build one from a raw sensor, hooking up one of these units should be no problem.  Do your research if you go this route, there are literally hundreds of unit variations and you need to understand industrial sensors and electronics to not waste your money.

Calibration of these things is a whole other can of worms, especially since you aren't calibrating with ethanol vapor, but with methane/propane - and making the appropriate conversions associated with vapor concentrations.

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For example, here is a damn beautiful unit, $350 - Drager Polytron Infra Red (better than catalytic) - with the HC variation (good for selective measurement around 3.4um - includes ethanol)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Drager-POLYTRON-IR-EX-DISPLAY-/122152601446?hash=item1c70dcc766:g:358AAOSwNuxXasA9

http://www.es-sens.com/file/files/Product/Drager/Polytron_IR/Polytron_IR_Ex.pdf

Your mileage may vary, don't complain to me if buy something like this.  Buying industrial surplus is risky, and assumes you know what you are doing.  If it works, and you can use it, you probably saved 2 grand and have a top-of-the-line solution.

 

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Yep, we used the RKI Beacon 200 2-channel with infrared sensors. I think total cost was around $2000. We installed it as a best practice and it ended up being one of the first things that Cincinnati Insurance asked us if we had. The only time it has gone off was when a welder was using Argon in the stillroom.

Justin Manglitz

ASW Distillery, Atlanta GA

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