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FLIR thermal cameras combined with software to fight fires in waste plants

Thermal imaging
cameras from FLIR Systems are being used along with an intelligent software in
a smart waste monitoring solution in the Czech Republic to prevent fires in
waste plants.

A key industry in
most developed countries throughout the world, waste management plants are
being used to generate electricity while reducing waste in landfill. However,
the whole cycle for the storage of waste, through sorting and recycling, up to
the effective conversion to electricity, carries a high risk of fire, resulting
in hazardous consequences for both personnel and the environment.

Czech technology
development and trading company, Workswell has introduced a complete thermal
imaging solution called Waste Bunker Monitor, designed for the continuous
inspection of solid waste using FLIR Systems’ thermal imaging cameras.

The Czech Republic
sends 75% of its municipal waste to landfill, of which approximately 400,000
tons are thermally processed in municipal waste incinerators, amounting to a
total heat supply of about 2.3 million Gigajoules and a gross electricity
production of about 18,000 Megawatt Hours. In addition to energy gains, thermal
treatment of waste reduces total volume to about 10-15% of the original weight.

The ZEVO plant at
Malešice has been operational since 1998 and takes care of the transformation
of waste into thermal and electric energy, with the acquired energy used in the
heating of domestic water and residential buildings.

Fires are a genuine
threat in waste plants, mostly caused by spontaneous chemical combustion of
waste; heat from vehicles collecting the municipal waste; and fire or
devastating explosion due to the increased concentration of methane released
from the waste during the decay process.

The ZEVO Malešice
plant decided to invest in the Waste Bunker Monitor system from Workswell in
order to reduce the risk of fires.

The waste at the
ZEVO Malešice plant is imported into a storage tank used for the homogenisation
of materials and to ensure sufficient reserve of waste to enable the plant to be
operated continuously. Workswell chose two FLIR A615 cameras with a resolution
of 640×480 pixels and an 80° lens to monitor the storage tank for hot spots
that indicate the possibility of a fire.

The Waste Bunker
Monitor system from Workswell combines the non-contact measurement technology
from FLIR Systems with proprietary software, presenting plant operators with information
about the critical areas that have an increased risk of fire.

Jan Kovář, Managing
Director at Workswell explains that the scalable system can consist of several
thermal imaging cameras with high spatial resolution and thermal sensitivity
greater than 0.05°C. Workswell has found the FLIR A315 or FLIR A615 thermal cameras
to be the best fit for their system.

The monitored area
is divided into zones in which the temperatures are evaluated several times per
second. Consequently, the automatic system reports any area with an increased
surface temperature to the crane operators.

A control and
visualisation software at the head of the thermal imaging system displays the
images and temperatures coming from the FLIR thermal cameras. Visual and audio alerts
are also provided to the operator whenever the temperature exceeds a certain
value. An area map divided into sectors is provided next to the thermal image, making
it easier for operators to pinpoint the exact location of a hotspot.

Workswell has not witnessed any fires yet at the
ZEVO Malešice plant, and is very confident that the monitoring system and the
thermal imaging cameras from FLIR will continue to do a good job of fire
prevention. The affordable thermal cameras also contribute to the overall
cost-effectiveness of the Waste Bunker Monitor system.

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