1660240050989 Sick4

The case for in situ CEMS analysis

June 10, 2022
Keith Larson is joined by SICK's Phil Zyskowski and John Calame

Keith Larson talks about the range of CEMS technologies now available and how to choose among them with SICK's Phil Zyskowski, market application engineer, and John Calame, market product manager for Analyzers and Continuous Gas Analyzer Systems.


Keith Larson: Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems or CEMS have come a long way since Congress first articulated performance standards for new stationary sources back in the 70s. Our producers, as well as keepers of other industrial-scale combustion processes in the U.S., must continually measure and report the output of nitrogen and sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, and other potentially harmful byproducts. And today they have at their disposal, a range of solutions for doing so.

Hello. This is Keith Larson, editor of Control magazine, and controlglobal.com. Welcome to this solution spotlight episode of our Control Amplified podcast, sponsored today by SICK. With me today, to talk about the range of CEMS technologies now available and how to choose among them, are Phil Zyskowski, market application engineer, and John Calame, market product manager for Analyzers and Continuous Gas Analyzer Systems, both with SICK. Welcome, Phil and John, and real pleasure to have you join me here today.

John Calame: Thanks for inviting us.

Phil Zyskowski: Thank you.

Keith: You bet.

Phil: It's an exciting topic, so.

Keith: Very relevant in this day, that's for sure. Maybe start off with you, Phil. SICK has obviously been in the CEMS and gas analysis business for decades, and now offers, really, a full breadth of solutions. Perhaps, you can start us off with a bit of historical perspective on the first analyzer systems used for CEMS reporting and how those options have evolved over time.

Phil: Sure. It's a history we're proud of, so I'll try to keep it short and simple. But, you know, it has to do with our funny name, SICK. And so, it's actually a family name, and the founder, Dr. Erwin Sick, was an inventor and, in particular, with optics and light. And he was fascinated and drawn to finding solutions. And it's always been safety or environmentally focused, right? And so, the story goes, where he started his first shop, a very simple shop, was a low rent property near the airport in the town that he started the business in, right? And he was fascinated by the beacon that indicated the position of the airport and the runways. And he saw how that light from that beacon broke up on foggy days versus clear nights and rainy days. And so, that's really where he got the idea for our first CEMS monitor, and that was for measuring dust.

There was concerns with the industrial revolution going on at that time and all the pollution. And so, he used an optical system, a very simple but brilliant system to measure dust, and that evolved into measuring gases as well. And so, he got to a position where really, if it wasn't something he couldn't invent, he was smart enough to acquire.

And so, when you talk about that history, Keith, evolving over time, you know, simple infrared-based systems, which we'll talk about later, you know, cold, dry for measuring CO2, anything that's infrared active. And then the evolution of techniques like ultraviolet, to look at things like ammonia and SO2, and it's gone step by step in different directions. But, for sure, we'll talk about the full portfolio, you know, through the process of these questions and interviews. But it's been tough to keep up with the times, and so, part of that is how the regulations. You know, the question you asked me was CEMS reporting, right? And so, the regulations have evolved over the time as well, and probably, you know, we'll get into it a little bit later, but things like measuring ammonia. Ammonia has been injected by a lot of our power plants, for example. And, you know, it was cheap, it was easy to inject, but now the concern is ammonia slip. How much of it are we over-injecting? And how much of it is ending up in our flash at the end of the day? So, those are evolutions that we had to keep in step with.

Keith: Yeah. And, as I recall, SICK was a real pioneer around safety systems as well with some machine protective monitoring also using light as well, back in the day, yeah.

Phil: Yeah, yeah. It's referred to as a safety curtain.

Keith: Yes.

Phil: So, it's really to keep workers' hands and body parts out of stamping machines. And, you know, with Homeland Security, those products have taken off for us as well. Different subjects for a different time, but there's more than just the safety aspect for it. It's identifying where people are at the right place or the wrong place, and it's interesting.

Keith: Yeah. We'll leave the pattern recognition assisted by AI algorithms for another day. That's all. That's all.

Phil: Yeah, we don't have enough time for that.

Keith: Yeah. But maybe, John, you could talk a little bit. I know there's some different requirements. I mean, obviously, the big users, traditionally around the world is the power industry. They were really the first required to monitor their emissions. But are there different requirements for some solutions, if you're talking about power gen versus, say, chemicals or refining, or other process industries that may need some sort of a monitoring solution?

John: Yeah. Great question there, Keith. Yeah, the power-up generators were the first ones to be hit with the, you know, Clean Air Act. And typically, when you think of power plants, I think of, you know, coal-fired power, there's also gas-fired power, but all of them typically require general-purpose analyzers. When you move into petrochemical and refining industry spaces, different regulations, different hazardous areas, electrical requirements, and usually, a minimum of FM class 1, div 2, or in some instances, class1, div 1. So, from our standpoint, from a supplier standpoint, we have to comply with the electrical area classification. And so, it's a little more trickier, but we have the solutions for class 1, div 2 to either a purged enclosure or a non-incentive type arrangement to be safe in those areas.

Keith: That's good. I understand there's also significant differences around the types of some solutions, whether they're extractive or increasingly moving more towards kind of probe-based systems, that are in situ or in place. Maybe, you could talk a little bit, Phil, about, maybe in the context of the installed base globally, are there different types of some systems that are prevalent in different regions around the world, and which kinds? Just kind of give us a sense because I know obviously, SICK had its roots in Germany and in the European market originally. But have they really, through the different regulations, kind of evolved differently around the world?

Phil: Yeah, they have. And it's interesting because, you know, regulation-wise, there's a lot of countries, and, again, let's talk regulations and not analyze the solutions...

Keith: Sure.

Phil: ...or systems. But a lot of countries will make reference to U.S. EPA standards, and Germany does not. But the Saudis, Mexico, Canada, to name a few, China also, typically, references the standards the U.S. EPA set up. And so, you would think that that makes everything cookie-cutter, and it's actually not. In most of Europe, the attraction early on to an in situ measurement, and it's a strange word we don't use at the kitchen table every day. So it's, you know, probably Latin based for 'inside of,' right? So, in situ means we don't extract the sample and pull it somewhere and chill it, and filter it, and then put it through an analyzer like maybe you would do in a laboratory. In situ means we stick as much of the analytical measuring cell inside the stack or ductwork that's being measured. And so, that is typical outside of the U.S. as a CEM system.

And in the U.S. market, they chose to adopt a more complicated, typically, and as John mentioned, most of this burden fell on the coal-fired power generation industry right off the bat. But so they use a more complicated dilution extractive system that pulls the sample down from the middle of the stack into a shelter down at the base of the stack, and goes through a series of filters and chillers, and, you know, take some time. So, there's always a risk there of changing your sample between point A and point B. Maybe, some of the constituents get entrained in the water vapor and they get dropped out. So, always our approach has been to go in situ unless we can't make in situ work.

Keith: Right.

Phil: And, of course, the next trick there is to meet the regulations that were adapted for the extractive systems. And so, we've done several modifications so we can adapt to the U.S. market.

Keith: Yeah. One of the things that maybe would be good to clarify on, obviously, the regulations of requirements for being exposed to a calibration gas directly. How do you go about doing that in situ probe base? You're not filling that stack up with a calibration gas that could get pretty pricey on a regular basis.

Phil: Yeah.

Keith: How does that work?

Phil: Well, it's good for the gas calibration folks, right?

Keith: Exactly.

Phil: So, yes, there's two approaches. It kind of goes back to your earlier question about power generation versus some of the other industries, right?

Keith: Right.

Phil: And so, power generation has got the strictest calibration requirements, and typically, it's called part 75 and that requires a daily gas calibration that is written in the rule. And so, we adapted our regular in situ probe to having an encapsulated filter, and it's a centered metallic filter that allows us to send the calibration gas into the probe space, the little measuring section of the probe, and pressurize it with your calibration gas. And it exposes the cal. gas to the receiver, and it also forces the stack gas out, so you get a nice clean calibration standard.

But, in the other industries, we've incorporated, and it's in all of our in situ analyzers, a series of internal optical filters. And so, part 60, for example, so it's an EPA regulation as well, but it does allow the use of the manufacturer's suggested optical calibration filters as your daily calibration. So, you do not have to use calibration gas on a daily basis. You've got to check the analyzer on a quarterly basis still with calibration standards.. So, there's savings there, for sure, and a lot less maintenance, if you could get by with just using the optical filters.

Keith: Makes a lot of sense, it really does. What other factors need to be considered when the end-user needs to select a system? What do they have to consider? Because obviously, even on the extractive, there's the cold dry systems that drop the water out by dropping the temperature of the sample, but then there's also hot and wet systems. And then there's the probe-based systems, the in situ options. What are the considerations that people really need to look at when deciding between those technologies or those general approaches?

Phil: Yeah. I mean, I'll ask John to chime in a little bit. But I think, our approach always at SICK, from an applications evaluation point of view, is always to try in situ first. And so, there will be show stoppers, we call them, that will rule in situ out. You know, one of them may be access, where the customer wants to take a sample, there is not just enough room. So, an extractive probe might be the size of a shoebox, whereas our in situ analyzer it's, you know, five times that.

Keith: Right.

Phil: So, you might not have room in that particular area to install or withdraw. At some point, you're going to want to withdraw, right? Our next approach is always hot wet after that. Hot wet, it's a special unique construction that we've invented that allows us to take the sample in without having to put it through a chiller. And so, that eliminates a couple of extra pieces that are usually maintenance intensive, right? Water coalescers, or chillers that have pumps and filters, and things like that.

And then, finally, if neither of those two approaches will work, then we have the cold dry, which, you know, tried and true, there's familiarity with that. And so, that's the way to go. And sometimes, Keith, it's the measurement gases that drive that as well. Typically, for CEMS though, we have an in situ solutions for all that, but if the customer wants to measure something more exotic, we may have to go with a cold dry analyzer that has more options for gas analysis.

Keith: Gotcha. So, that's beyond the UV or IR type of system?

Phil: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, it depends on how much room is there, too. You know, we had talked about some changes happening and John mentioned gas-fired plants coming on board. I've even got some of my customers converting part of their coal-fired plants to run on natural gas as a fuel. And so, depending on what they have there already, in the way of real estate, in situ also offer a nice surprise. They don't need a lot of extra hardware. They don't need a lot of extra, you know, elevators and things. It could be installed somewhere that's handy to get at, rather than up on a stack somewhere.

Keith: Yeah, I know, that makes sense. Makes sense. You've mentioned this is a pretty dynamic trends in this industry. Given the increasing pressure on industry that account for and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it seems reporting on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be in our future from a regulatory standpoint, or just from companies that want to have more complete reporting to their stockholders, those kind of things. Are there any of these solutions that are more particularly suited or more flexible to adding new analyses to the mix? Say you've already got something installed, what's involved if you wanted to add another component that you didn't have part of the original mix?

John: Yeah. Keith, I'll take that one. Yeah. For in situ, for us, it would be a separate analyzer, so we'll have to make a separate penetration for a single probe or a cross duct, for measuring CO2. If it was extractive, say a cold dry, it would just be a matter of adding an additional optical bench in the IR, or may be able to modify and change the calibration on the existing IR that's already in place. So, just off the top of my head, Phil, you may say different, but I would think, the extractive might lend itself to be modified if it's after the fact, I mean, if we know about it going in, of course, we can plan for it and design it. But if it wants to be added in the future, I think it's a little easier to add it with the extractive. Phil, do you agree or disagree?

Phil: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the thing to consider also, John and Keith, is the numbers, right? So, typically, with like an in situ UV, we make the bench compact on purpose. And so, we're typically limited to three measurement components there, right? And with the new generation, we've made the optical bench a module. So, if you change your mind and say those aren't the three we want, there's a good chance that we can supply you with another optical bench module. That would take some setup and it could be done in the field.

Whereas like a hot wet, you know, you can pick from a list of nine gases, right? It's just like John said, if you kind of know ahead of time, yeah, we've got the ammonia slip thing coming up, or we've got, you know, someone on the process side is interested in this, it's going to be our CEMS, but we would like to take that additional measurement. We could put it in and keep it turned off, or we could be there running in the background, or there's a bunch of different options. And then, for sure, the cold dry is a matter of a module, pretty close to plug and play to add more gases. You just add another rack.

Keith: Yeah. I suppose if you're thinking ahead, you could have an extra process penetration already made, and do the same with adding another probe the other way around, I suppose.

Phil: Yeah. And that's part of what happens in the process when we start talking with customers is we try to enlighten them to what others have done or what considerations other people have made. And, in some cases, open their eyes to, well, I didn't know that was possible, or that would be handy, you know, especially on the front end, rather than having to turn things off and reengineer them.

Keith: No, that makes a lot of sense. All the other things being equal, I mean, as a chemical engineer, I've always had the sense that in the in situ measurement, because it's immediate and you're doing it at that actual time, and you're not pulling a sample out, or where things can go wrong and it can get corrupted somewhere along the way, that in situ is a better measurement in a lot of ways. And when it comes to things like cost, design and installation effort, also, it's a more elegant solution in terms of the number of moving parts involved. Would you agree with that? And what, sorts of, savings are we talking about when it comes to initial capital costs and over the full system life cycle? Have any users done a proper economic life cycle comparison? I sense they probably have. But what have they found on the in situ versus extractive solutions?

John: Yeah, Keith, we were at an upgrade conference and one of the integrators did an analysis on in situ versus extractive. And over the 10-year life of the system, he came up with, it was a million dollars cheaper to do the in situ versus extractive. And that's taking into account the initial cost, installation, capital costs, operating expenses, consumables over the entire 10-year lifespan of the system. So, the cost savings, if they can go in situ are extremely attractive over the life of the analyzer system.

Keith: Yeah. And there's nothing really holding back U.S. power generators, or other organizations from using in situ, in terms of the regulatory requirements. There's nothing that dictates which way they have to go, it's just kind of more the way they've gone. Is that fair to say?

Phil: Yeah. I mean, there's a comfort level, right? And so, I get it, you know, the cost of some of these systems, no one wants their name associated to a mistake, right?

Keith: That's true.

Phil: Oh, my gosh, why did you pick that? Why didn't you just do the thing that we always did? Why did you try that? So, yeah, there's a little bit of, you know, anxiety over that. And I think that's up to us as a supplier to prove, you know, go above and beyond to build some comfort, and prove that these work as advertised, right?

Keith: That's great. All right. Well, I think we're about up to the end of our time. Thanks so much, Phil and John. Really appreciate you sharing your perspective with us today. Again, my guests today have been Phil Zyskowski and John Calame, both of SICK Process Automation Technology group. For those of you listening, thanks for tuning in. And thanks also to SICK for sponsoring this episode.

My name again is Keith Larson, and you've been listening to a Control Amplified podcast. And if you've enjoyed this episode, you can subscribe at the iTunes store and at Google podcasts. Plus you can find the full archive of past episodes at controlglobal.com. Thanks again, John and Phil. And signing off until next time.

Phil: It was fun. Okay, thank you.

John: Thank you. Bye.

For more, tune into Control Amplified: The Process Automation Podcast.

About the Author

Control Amplified: | Control Amplified: The Process Automation Podcast

The Control Amplified Podcast offers in-depth interviews and discussions with industry experts about important topics in the process control and automation field, and goes beyond Control's print and online coverage to explore underlying issues affecting users, system integrators, suppliers and others in these industries.

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