This article is reprinted with permission from ExxonMobil.
The wicked-smart algorithm that can see and subtract
When operating large and complex gas-processing facilities, it is critical that energy professionals maintain a safe and environmentally responsible workplace by detecting and mitigating hydrocarbon leaks. That’s why ExxonMobil developed IntelliRed, a sophisticated computer algorithm integrated with an infrared-based optical gas imager that provides a highly sensitive and accurate early warning of leaks.
So how does it work?
Traditionally, operators used handheld optical gas imagers to find leaks. But that method required them to be in the vicinity of the leak, which meant intermittent monitoring—it also had the potential of putting them at risk. The challenge, therefore, was to figure out how to automate the technology so it continuously monitored a facility for potential leaks, removing the operator from the vicinity and improving the efficiency of leak detection.
IntelliRed uses two infrared cameras that are slightly offset from each other: one tracks the background signature in a given field of view, and the other captures and processes both hydrocarbons and the background signature. The algorithm analyzes the images captured by the lenses and subtracts the background image, making it easier to zero in on a potential leak. This is a continuous process, so that when there is an actual hydrocarbon leak, it takes far less time to find and stop it.
That ensures safety of the operation and reduces the potential for leaks of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.