Industry Fosters Environmental Progress

A variety of efforts aim to significantly improve plant performance.

By Seán Ottewell, editor at large

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No surprise, therefore, that suppliers are improving products’ capabilities. For example, Raytek, Santa Cruz, Calif., has launched the XR IR thermometer, which is designed to optimize continuous temperature monitoring in a broad range of manufacturing processes (Figure 4).

Raytek XR IR
Figure 4 -- New thermometer
This XR IR unit is designed to optimize
continuous temperature monitoring in a
broad range of manufacturing processes.
Source: Raytek.

It, claims the company, combines a host of best-in-class features, including multiple extended temperature ranges, precision temperature resolution, RS-485 outputs and a versatile electronics platform. Together, these features create a single IR sensor that Raytek says outperforms other thermometers in challenging temperature-measurement environments.

“The Raytek XR infrared thermometer delivers both performance and value for users with demanding temperature-measurement requirements. This thermometer reduces energy costs by allowing tighter process control and more efficient process heating,” enthuses Frank Schneider, worldwide product manager.

Containing a Problem
Then there is the issue of regulation and guidance, both new and impending. In the U.K., composite intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are a hot topic at the moment. “IBCs are now being widely used by the industry and its customers, not just for transport, but also for longer-term storage and other purposes, such as waste disposal. Research following a number of incidents has shown that composite IBCs can release their contents when exposed to flames and this can easily accelerate the spread of a relatively minor fire when the contents are combustible,” notes Douglas Leech, technical manager of the Chemical Business Association (CBA), Crewe, U.K.

So, CBA has worked with the Solvent Industries Association (SIA), London, (whose members include ExxonMobil Chemicals, Sasol Chemicals Europe, Shell Chemicals and Total U.K.), in consultation with the U.K.’s regulatory body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Sheffield, U.K. to publish new guidance covering the storage of liquids in such vessels. It sets out good practice for the industry and provides a reference point for the HSE in assessing operating standards.

“The new guidance should not be regarded as an authoritative statement of the law, but by following its advice companies will normally be doing enough to comply with health and safety law in relation to the issues on which the guidance provides advice,” says Leech.

Composite IBCs are also on the radar in the U.S., notably with the April publication by the U.S. Fire Administration, Emmitsburg, Md., of a “coffee break training” sheet for firefighters (

That document gives a brief description of the difference between listed and non-listed composite IBCs, and then goes on to warn its readers: “The main area of concern is that non-listed composite IBCs will fail quickly during fire exposure, adding a large amount of additional fuel to a fire. This large fuel release may overwhelm a building’s fire protection features.”

Figure 5 -- Safer container
The new SX-EX-UL container satisfies the
fire-prevention requirements of U.S. standard
Source: Schütz.

Already rising to this challenge, Schütz, Selters, Germany, chose the recent Interpack 2008 event to launch its Ecobulk SX-EX-UL IBC. Conforming to the U.S. standard NFPA-30, this IBC is based on the tried and tested SE-EX container that features a steel case with an electrostatic function and an inner bottle that additionally protects filling products from light, ultraviolet rays and mechanical influences (Figure 5). Meeting NFPA-30 ensures that, in the event of fire, the container will — with the assistance of a sprinkler system — prevent damage to the inner bottle for at least 20 minutes.

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