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When it comes to leak detection and repair (LDAR) surveys, most companies are still stuck using antiquated strategies that just aren’t cutting it. In fact, despite recent technological advancements, most businesses seem rather reluctant to take the plunge and embrace newer methods that would help them detect fugitive emissions in their operations.

Method 21 (commonly called sniffing) is the most common LDAR method. First developed by the EPA, it uses a hydrocarbon ionization detector connected to an aspirated wand to probe for emissions. However, this approach doesn’t come without its own drawbacks – especially in comparison to newer optical imaging techniques that are available today.

As such, here are five reasons why Optical Imaging is superior to Method 21 in detecting carbon emissions.


  1. Scale of Detection

One of the biggest drawbacks to Method 21 is just how slow it is when it comes to finding leaks. Method 21 has often been compared to finding a needle in a haystack – with you being tasked with inspecting every straw in the process! Having to manually examine hundreds of different components to find one leak (or maybe not at all) is tedious, repetitive, and costly.

Optical Imaging allows the rapid screening of components. It would be like using a magnet to find the needle, rather than every straw of hay. It’s much more efficient when it comes to finding significant leaks, not to mention much more cost effective, which brings us to our second point.


  1. Efficiency of Cost

Method 21 is a much larger burden on an organization’s bottom line, mainly because it’s not as efficient when it comes to finding leaks as optical imaging is. When you consider that the staffing needs to manually check every component, Method 21 adds a level of redundancy that just isn’t necessary anymore.

Staffing is a challenge as well, with higher turnaround, monotonous tasks, and inconsistency in performance, these pitfalls are challenges that all businesses using M21 need to deal with.


  1. More Accurate

The typical M21 LDAR process goes something like this; first, screening through numerous components to get screening values (SV) in ppmv, then apply correlations to estimate emissions rates (ER). However, in both cases, one could end up with errors in the predicted leak rate of anywhere between -80% to over 300% in some instances. Optical Imaging on the other hand, provides a qualitative read of the size of leak, but even more importantly accurately identifies the component from which the leak has developed. In the instance of “ghost leaks,” or where there are a number of components in a congested area, this saves a lot of labor and money by identifying the correct component the first go around.  There’s simply far too much room for error when it comes to the M21 approach.


  1. Safer

With optical imaging, companies can scan components that were previously unsafe or inaccessible by employees. Not only does this reduce scaffolding and man lift requirements, it means that one can obtain a complete assessment of any leakage situations without compromising the safety of workers.


  1. Easier To Obtain Results

One great perk of optical imaging is that the length of evaluations will tend to be much quicker since you don’t need an operator to check every single component manually. With leaks detected and repaired sooner, annual emission rates will go down while having spent less time achieving a similar result through other LDAR methods. Although some say that Optical Imaging may miss smaller leaks, this is offset by the much quicker identification (and repair) of larger leaks.

The development of Optical Imaging technologies is only going to get better as it becomes a mainstream LDAR practice.

To Learn More Contact Target Emissions.