With recent, and expected future EPA mandates looming, utilities and industrial power providers are looking at ways to reduce their SF6 gas emissions. In this Blog, Jeff Spoljarick offers advice on four easy ways to reduce emissions starting today.
1. Identify Sources
The two most common sources of leaks are through seals and improper gas handling by employees:
· Do you have a gas checking program in place for gas insulated switchgear?
· Do you have written procedures for transferring gas into or out of SF6 gas switchgear?
· Do you have an employee training program in place for proper gas handling?
· Are employees properly trained for the safe handling of SF6 gas cylinders?
· Do you have a gas cart training and maintenance program in place?
· If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may be emitting SF6 gas into the atmosphere and are an excellent candidate for an SF6 training program.
2. Recycling & Inventory
In the past, bad gas was sometimes released into the environment before we were aware of its negative effects. Empty bottles were also stored in “graveyards” eating up space and creating a safety hazard. Today, SF6 gas can be recycled in gas carts or at offsite facilities. Utilities are also cleaning out SF6 cylinder graveyards to reduce inventory levels, reclaim heels (residual amount in an empty tank), and to lower the safety risk of leaking/damaged cylinders.
3. Monitoring Gas Quality
Most SF6 gas self-heals after an arc. However, if contaminants such as moisture, air, or other gases are present in the SF6 it will lead to a failure. It is imperative to check every piece of equipment at a substation.
4. Proper Calibration of Testing Equipment
Gas quality has the possibility of being compromised every time someone performs maintenance on the switchgear. Gas quality must be tested with an analyzer to ensure proper switchgear performance. As a general rule, hygrometers, oxygen analyzers, and ultrasonic detectors should be re-calibrated every 100 hours.
Reducing SF6 emissions is a continual, learning process. It involves personnel from the field to top management, equipment, and training. ABB HV Service looks forward to continuing the SF6 gas management conversation with you over the next few months. Contact Jeff Spoljarick, 724-696-1381 or Jeff.Spoljarick@us.abb.com, for more information in the interim.