Comparing CPMS, PEMS, & COMS dust detection solutions

The "Alphabet Soup" of Industrial Dust Detection

Continuous Opacity Monitoring Systems (COMS) for dust detection form an integral part of many facilities’ environmental control systems. While we don't sell COMS dust detection systems, we field a lot of questions from engineering and maintenance teams about how they compare to other solutions. This article will answer a few of the common questions.

In many facilities, COMS systems were required by early permits to monitor particulate matter emitted from the facility. They were the "go to" CPMS (Continuous Parameter Monitoring System) for several years until USEPA first amended the MACT standards to incorporate triboelectric instruments.

Most COMS dust detection systems are placed after the emissions control system(s) such as a fabric filter dust collector to monitor its operation and efficiency at all times. They were an early technology, however, and in recent years, the limitations and inherent drawbacks of COMS for dust emissions detection have led some to investigate new technologies. One such technology mentioned is PEMS or Predictive Emissions Monitoring System. 

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Checklist: 5 Preparations for an Air Quality Inspection

As air quality inspections by federal and local agencies, such as those by the U.S. EPA, are typically done without prior notice, preparing for one can be a challenge. These agencies may just show up at your facility’s door, with intent to inspect your emissions control on an individual facility, company or industry basis; there’s often no telling when, or even why, an inspection may take place.

It’s because of this that the best way to prepare for an air quality inspection is by optimizing monitoring processes universally, throughout your facility, and training your maintenance team in the best monitoring, baghouse upkeep and reporting techniques.

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Connecting the Dots Between Painted Cars and Evolving U.S. EPA MACT Standards

Invention born of a mishap

Often we discuss the advantages of triboelectric dust monitoring technology over other particulate emissions monitoring methods for plants covered under MACT standards. For the most part, the majority of these advantages come from the much greater detection range and sensitivity of triboelectric technology. Triboelectric detectors can register changes in dust concentration down to 0.000002 g/dscf or 0.005 mg/m3. The next most sensitive detection device (opacity meters and other optical based monitors) can only reach down to 5 -10% opacity, which in most applications equates to about 10 - 20 times less sensitive. Even so, many industries continue to use opacity based systems despite this and other shortcomings of opacity monitoring solutions compared to triboelectric technology. 

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Triboelectric and the Evolution of Environmental Compliance from Hassle to Benefit

From Opacity Hassles to Operational Value

With such a disjointed set of strategies and devices used for environmental compliance today many wonder how things ended up like this. Let's explore the history of environmental compliance monitoring technologies and see how we ended up where we are today. 

And then, given today's capabilities, explore how some companies turn the traditional regulatory headache into an opportunity for legitimate operational value creation.

Early Days - Visual Observations 

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Can I use visual Methods 9 and 22 for opacity monitoring under my air permit?

New solutions for air permit monitoring

For generations opacity monitoring was essentially the only monitoring option for dust collector operators across all industries. Many plants continue to operate that way, allowing older air permits to just renew without any changes if possible. Because of this, opacity monitoring still forms a key part of their compliance monitoring, even though there may be better methods of monitoring available.  But when it comes to opacity monitoring what kind of options are available? 

Stack Monitoring for Air Permits

The basic idea of a stack observation of opacity is to try to quantify how much particulate is emitted from the stack by determining how much light it blocks from passing through the plume. This measurement of the plumes light blocking power is called opacity. The more dust in the air the more light is scattered/blocked. Prior to 1974 all emissions monitoring was based on the Ringelmann system first developed in the late 19 century to monitoring coal emissions. This system outlined a set of procedures on how an observer could take a visual reading of opacity by viewing the emission source (e.g. stack) from a distance during daytime.  In 1974, the EPA revised the test into the current EPA opacity observation standard methods in an attempt to make the test more reliable and less prone to observer bias. These methods or instructions for conducting the test are known as EPA Methods 9 and 22. 

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Reporting Software & Triboelectric Dust Monitoring Data Collection

One thing engineers in countless industries often discover when integrating dust monitoring systems in their facilities is the need for an advanced software system for managing and organizing emissions data. Many monitoring suppliers actually produce their own data management software tools, compatible with their detection systems and others, that serve just this purpose.

When evaluating dust monitoring data software options, your best bet is a system that both meets your compliance reporting needs and your company’s individual needs; similar to selecting monitoring hardware, this shouldn’t be a bottom-line, “check-the-box” compliance decision.

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The Savings Opportunities Hidden in Emissions Compliance Reporting

One of the major factors that many engineers or company decision-makers often forget about compliance is how air quality control technology can also bring financial benefits to facilities, most often in the form of reduced labor, material savings and risk prevention.

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Use Your Next Air Permit Renewal to Improve Three Baghouse Frustrations

A Hassle, but an opportunity

Many air permits are outdated. Sure, they're still approved and "compliant" but they were written around technology that was available at the time. Typically that is much less accurate than what's available today, and often relies on systems which require frequent calibration, have significant labor requirements, fail to provide early warning of impending issues and involves data management and reporting burdens. But often when an air permit renewal date approaches, it's just one more hassle - and many permits are simply resubmitted with the same language time after time.

But for many plants, their compliance assurance monitoring plans (CAM Plans) are seriously out of date. 

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What's the Difference Between Continuous Emissions Monitoring and Periodic Measurement?

Navigating the complexities of the current and future regulatory environment can pose quite a challenge to many facilities that fall under EPA air emissions standards for particulate matter (i.e. dust). One of the most complex parts of compliance involves monitoring of your pollution control devices. While installing a dust collection system is complicated enough, often times facilities get hung up on the monitoring and reporting side of things rather than on the technical aspects of their collector. 

One issue that comes up frequently for both new and existing plants is whether to conduct periodic monitoring or to implement a continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) system. As we will see the issue depends not only on the particular air permit for each plant but also on several practical factors. 

What Is Periodic Monitoring?

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How to simplify emissions compliance reporting

Everyone's favorite job....NOT

Emissions regulations can seem daunting even just to begin reading. Many standards taking up over 100+ pages in addition to basic outlines established by Title V requirements. And it will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that some of the most onerous aspects of modern emissions regulation involve emissions compliance reporting. Non-compliance with these recording and reporting requirements frequently lead to fines in excess of those related to actual emissions excursions. 

But it's a lot of work, and dreadfully monotonous. So most folks look for ways to reduce the difficulty and complexity of compliance reporting, both to improve efficiency and avoid fines over incorrect reporting. Let’s looks at one way your plant can simplify its emissions compliance reporting. 

Use Triboelectric Monitoring as the Basis for Your CAM Plan

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