Although the gas detector tube measuring technique is well established, we continue to see that there is a misunderstanding regarding the benefits and how they can be used instead of or alongside electronic gas detectors. This article will briefly explain why detector tubes continue to be a sought after measurement technique.
Gas detection tubes or gas detector tubes as they’re known, are thin glass tubes that are filled with a chemical reagent that absorbs and reacts with the target gas or vapour which creates a colorimetric stain (a colour change). This enables the concentration to be read immediately, without the need for laboratory analysis.
What are the biggest advantages of using gas detector tubes?
- Cross sensitivity – Gas detector tubes are a very different measuring principle than (electrochemical) sensors, therefore the cross sensitivities are also different. This means that they are the perfect method to verify the concentration shown by an electronic detector.
- Reference device – Gas detector tubes are most effective as a reference device for carrying out spot sampling e.g. for determining the level of hazardous gases present on-site at that moment in time.
- Identify individual VOCs – When measuring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) with a PID, it will detect almost all VOC gases. Gas detector tubes are available for the detection of most VOCs and can be used to identify the individual VOC gases the PID is detecting.
- Less need for multiple devices – Gastec tubes form a catalogue capable of measuring around 500 gases. Easily and quickly switch between gas tube types when measuring multiple gases. For most gas detecting applications, measuring with detector tubes provides a much better cost-effective solution than the purchase of an electronic system.
- Oxygen not required – Oxygen (O2) is not needed for gas measurement. So for 99% of detector tubes, measurement can be done in tanks, wells, manholes, etc. Where there is a deficiency of O2 you can think about measuring Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), Ammonia (NH3), and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for safety detection or process analysing.
- High measuring ranges – Detector tubes offer low and high measuring ranges which fill the gap for when gas sensors cannot reach due to over-range or insensitivity. H2S can be measured even up to 80% Vol. and CO2 up to 60% Vol.
- High humidity testing – Most detector tubes can be used in an environment with very high humidity and temperature without any problem.
- No calibration required – A gas detector tube system doesn’t require any calibration compared to electronic gas detectors where most gas detection manufacturers would recommend for sensors to be calibrated at least once every 6 months.
- Using the Gastec sampling pump, gas detector tubes can be used in an ATEX environment. The exterior of the sampling pump is composed of a non-corrosive plastic and synthetic rubber compound, effectively eliminating any risk of sparks should the pump system be accidentally be dropped into an explosive environment. Gastec tubes do not contain hazardous substances.
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