Guidance & innovation

Guidance & innovation

Kamal A. Hadi, Regional Director Middle East & North Africa (MENA) at Global Fire Equipment (GFE), outlines the considerations associated with gas detection and the latest innovations in this evolving field. 

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a compressed fuel gas that consists of flammable hydrocarbon gases, most commonly propane, butane and propylene. LPG is increasing in popularity and is used as fuel across a wide range of applications, including homes, hotels, industries and vehicles. Piped natural gas (PNG) is another widely used fuel in homes. Whereas LPG is supplied in liquid form in cylinders and is used as a fuel in heating appliances, PNG is supplied through a pipeline and is used for cooking gas and heating water. 

In its natural state, LPG is an odourless and colourless gas and PNG is also virtually odourless and colourless which makes it impossible to detect these gases without specialist equipment. Both gases are heavier than air, so they do not disperse easily and if leaks are not detected, there is a risk of suffocation and explosion.  

Unlike fire and smoke detection solutions, which only come into play when a fire event is already underway, gas detection is a preventative measure whereby the aim is to identify the risk of a gas leak before there is a risk of explosion or intoxication. 

Developing a bespoke solution

In 2020, GFE was approached by our largest customer in Turkey when new legislation was introduced making it mandatory for every Turkish commercial and domestic property where LPG or PNG are connected to be fitted with a gas detector. When the Turkish government announced the legislation, those responsible had just months to install gas detectors. The new legislation affected a vast number of properties, including all cafés, hotels, assisted living facilities, student accommodation and residential properties where LPG or PNG are used for gas appliances, such as central heating boilers and cookers. 

Thanks to the expertise of GFE TEC, the R&D division of the GSS Group, GFE’s parent company, we were able to support our Turkish customer by developing a new detector which is capable of detecting both LPG and PNG leaks. 

The result is a detector which can operate as a standalone product and designed to be fully integrated into fire detection and alarm systems (FDASs) as an addressable 24v loop connection gas detector. When the gas detector is integrated into the FDAS, operations can be performed automatically by addressable system components e.g. activating evacuation fans or cutting off the electricity. 

When a gas leak is detected, the system will send a notification message to the FDAS stating that there has been a gas leak and the electric security valve will automatically cut off the gas supply.

Rise in demand  

Although we developed our gas detector in response to a specific request from our Turkish customer, we are now identifying other markets where the rise in demand for LPG and PNG is likely to drive new and stricter legislation in the near future. The Middle East is one such market, particularly given the increased use of LPG in households and businesses throughout the region as a result of it being a low-cost fuel and widely available. 

We know that Saudi Arabia is now the largest consumer and producer of LPG in the Middle East, accounting for more than 50% of the total demand in Middle East region1. And, working extensively in this region, we have certainly noticed a marked increase in demand for gas monitoring systems for use with gas cylinders which are common in the Middle East.

Having successfully launched our gas detector for LPG and PNG, our R&D team is now working on developing a new CO detector which we hope to roll out globally from later this year.