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Hazardous Gas Monitors: A Practical Guide to Selection, Operation and Applications

Book Reviews:

From "Chemical Engineering Progress"

From "InTech Magazine"

Pre-publication Reviews

From "Chemical Engineering Progress"
An American Institute of Chemical Engineers Publication
December 2000

Hazardous Gas Monitors-A Practical Guide to Selection, Operation and Applications, Jack Chou, McGraw-Hill, New York, 258 pp., $79.95, 1999

Review by Stanley S. Grossel
S.S. Grossel is president of Process Safety & Design, Inc. Clifton, NJ

     The monitoring of chemical plants, both within and outside of the fence line, for emissions of hazardous gases is a very important aspect of process safety and environmental protection. Various types of gas monitors and monitoring systems are available to do this. The purpose of this book is to make the complex subject of gas detection as simple as possible to aid those involved in process safety and air quality. The author is founder and chief executive of International Sensor Technology, Inc., and has over 30 years of experience in the toxic and combustible gas monitoring instrumentation. His expertise is evident from the contents of the book. The book has 12 chapters and three appendixes.
     Chapter 1 presents an overview of gas monitoring terminology and definitions of key terms, along with the basic principles of toxic and combustible gas monitoring. Also, enough information is given to understand both the range of a sensor and the type of enclosure needed for an application.
     Chapters 2 through 6 offer specifics on the various sensors most commonly used for gas monitoring. The chapters cover electrochemical, catalytic combustible-gas, solid-state, infrared, and photoionization sensors. Each chapter includes information on the sensor's principle of operation, characteristics, and most common applications. The chapters contain enough data to enable a user to evaluate the pros and cons of each sensor to aid in determining the best one for a given application.
     In Chapter 7, the author reviews ten additional analyzers technologies, their operating principles, and main applications. These technologies include flame-ionization detectors, luminescence-based analyzers, and Fourier-transform infrared analyzers. The chapter ends with a useful graphical overview of the various monitor and analyzer technologies in relation to specific application requirements.
     Chapter 8 is a sensor selection guide and summarizes the preceding information about the various sensors and discusses the factors to consider when selecting then and the different requirements for toxic vs. combustible gas monitoring.
     Instrumentation and sensor installation are covered in Chapter 9. Among the topics discussed are the basic major components commonly used in gas monitoring instruments, and stationary and portable instruments. For each of the above-mentioned subjects, information is presented on installation, configuration, and maintenance highlights, including electrical terminology commonly used and electrical circuits, to help the reader better understand the operating manuals that accompany most such instruments.
     Chapter 10 discusses sampling systems and designs. Topics include factors to consider (temperature and humidity, air speed, and gas concentration), major components for sampling systems (pump, filter, flow meter, water vapor removal, pressure effect, and micropressure or vacuum switch), and extractive-type sampling system (basic sampling system, sampling systems with Nafion dryer tubes, and periodic systems). Surprisingly, there is no mention of the use of scrubbers for removing acidic gases. Gas sensor calibration is reviewed in Chapter 11, including how to set the zero reading and achieve the span calibration. Detailed information is given on premixed calibration gas, permeation devices, cross calibration, gas mixing, some calibration tools, and pressure formulas. Much information in Chapters 10 and 11 is based on the author's own practical experience, including some original calibration techniques.
     Chapter 12 contains descriptions of health, safety, and environmental properties of 15 common hazardous gases.
     Appendix I provides a color-coded list of photoionization detector (PID) factors for 253 gases to aid the user in obtaining the proper readings, using the three most widely used lamps (9.8, 10.8, and 11.7 eV).
     Appendix II lists critical exposure limits and explosive limits for 384 hazardous gases, along with useful physical and chemical data for each.
     Appendix III is a listing of the chemical name along with commonly known alternative names and synonyms for 384 gases to aid in correct identifications.
     I found this book to be very well written. It has many color illustrations to enhance the text, and contains useful and practical information on an important process safety and environmental protection subject. There were two minor inadequacies, in my opinion, which were that the index could have contained more subjects, and that there were no article references or other books listed. For example, there was no reference in the index to "sampling tube," or any specific practical criterion for diameter and length, which have an effect on the response/recovery time (which is another term not listed in the index).
     Despite these minor shortcomings, the book will be of great help to chemical process design engineers, safety and environmental protection engineers, instrument engineers, plant engineers, industrial hygienists, and even instrument vendors in the chemical process industries.
     Nonspecialists, in particular, will benefit from the many technical definitions, and health and fire safety terms, as well as explanations of the toxicity and combustion characteristics of gases and how to monitor them.

From InTech Magazine, January 2000

High-efficiency reading . . .
Hazardous Gas Monitors: A Practical Guide to Selection, Operation and Applications,
by Jack Chou; McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y. 1999; (973) 543-1217; hardcover; 256 pp.; $79.95. ISBN-0-07-135876-5
     Monitoring hazardous gases: How many types of systems are there? How many gases are there? How do monitoring systems work? How much gas is "hazardous"? Where do I look for this information?
     Much is said about the so-called "information age." With the immense quantity of information available, reference materials that allow users to gain the most information in the least amount of time are most valuable. Online information sources can be very helpful but also very inefficient. Well-written reference books continue to hold well-deserved space on every professional's bookshelf.
     This reference work demonstrates sound planning with a precise table of contents, a decent index, and valuable reference appendixes. The comprehensive color graphics are stunningly clear, and there are many high-resolution photos.
     The author writes from more than 30 years' experience in the toxic and combustible gas monitoring instrument field. He has worked on projects for NASA's Space Shuttle program, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and even the former Soviet Union. Currently, he is chief executive officer of Irvine, Calif.- based International Sensor Technology, which he founded.
     In an introductory chapter that gives an overview of the gas monitoring systems and sensors available, the text actually defines key technical terms and acronyms (rather than bury them at the back of the book). Six chapters dig into the specifics of how the technologies function.
     Taking information to the practical level, a whole chapter is dedicated to sensor selection, followed by chapters on instrumentation and sensor installation, sampling systems and designs, sensor calibration, and hazardous gas descriptions. Appendixes provide highly useful reference tables for photoionization device correction factors, hazardous gas data, and chemical names and synonyms.
     Throughout, the ubiquitous technical jargon common to technical references is pleasantly absent, replaced with simple, direct exposition and self-explanatory color illustrations. Summaries at the end of each chapter provide an excellent means for an accelerated overview of the topics discussed.
     Whether you're an engineer, designer, technician, environmental health director, safety officer, or student, this resource is worthy of space on your shelf.
--Matthew Lamoreaux

What the critics are saying about the book

In pre-publication critical reviews conducted by the publisher, three highly qualified hygiene & safety professionals in the United States responded candidly to a questionnaire. Following are the questions and the reviewers' collective and verbatim opinions:

1. Is there a need for this book? What problems will it help readers to solve?

Reviewer A: This book fills a definite need to provide a comprehensive treatment of the subject for gas detection technology. To my knowledge, there are no adequate references that address the basic functioning and selection of gas monitors.

Reviewer B: Yes, I believe there is a need for this book. It is an excellent primer on gas detection.

Reviewer C: Yes, it will help users of Gas Monitors to better understand the monitors being used and purchased - and which ones are needed for their application.

2. Do you know of any similar books? If possible, please include details such as author, title, publisher, publication date, number of pages and price. How would the proposed book be different from and/or better than existing titles?

Reviewer A: There are other references that cover analytical chemistry techniques. These books are more theoretical in nature and focus on principles of gas detection in detail without providing practical guidance for applying this information to monitor selection.

Reviewer B: I am not aware of any other books like this one.

Reviewer C: Only the one listed in the paper by Maslawsky and Maslawsky.

3. Do you think the addition of color adds to the presentation of the material contained in this book?

Reviewer A: In comparing the two sample chapters, I see a definite improvement in the quality of presentation with color material. I think that the use of color will increase reader understanding and make for a more appealing book.

Reviewer B: [no comment]

Reviewer C: Yes! Color provides a cleaner picture, and better differentiation of parts of an instrument - much easier to understand the concept being presented.

4. What do you like about this proposal?

Reviewer A: The proposal is complete and concise. It appears that the author is extremely well qualified and is prepared to complete this book in a short time frame.

Reviewer B: I like the physical layout of the book, including margin notes and color pictures. I like the fact that the author is very experienced in his field. I like the technical level and practical aspects of the book.

Reviewer C: Provides good, in-depth, technical description of the topics covered.

5. Do you agree with the order in which the topics are presented?

Reviewer A: I think that the author has created a logical order that starts with basics and then advances to more complicated and specialized topics.

Reviewer B: As to the order of topics, all is ok.

Reviewer C: Yes.

6. Do you agree with the proposed choice and weighing to topics?

Reviewer A: From my knowledge of this industry, the author has provided a comprehensive treatment of this subject matter and includes all of the elements that are important.

Reviewer B: As to the choice of weighing of topics, everything looks good.
Reviewer C: Yes.

7. Do you think the book would cover the concepts, perspectives, and skills that you need in your profession? If not, what does it lack?

Reviewer A: Yes, the book is a well-needed reference. I would be very interested in having this reference available for both my industrial hygiene and safety related activities.

Reviewer B: The book covers the concepts, perspectives and skills in the limited area it covers.

Reviewer C: Yes, very helpful for proper instrument selection and use.

8. What will distinguish this book from others available on the market? Which of its features would make you select it instead of something else?

Reviewer A: The practical aspects of the book are important to me for distinguishing this book from those that are either too simple or those that are theoretical in nature. The other appealing attribute is the book's focus on a relevant safety topic.

Reviewer B: Distinguishing features of this project include: color pictures, margin notes, good graphics, excellent background of the author for this work, good balance of theory and practical information.

Reviewer C: Depth of coverage for topics covered. Selection, installation guidelines.

9. Do you know the editor? Do you consider him one of the authorities in the field? If not does his experience qualify them to edited this book?

Reviewer A: I do not know the editor/author; however, I know of his company and their reputation. They are an outstanding leader in the industry and are well qualified to create the reference as proposed.

Reviewer B: I do not know the author, but the author seems very qualified to write this book. This is a big plus for this project.

Reviewer C: Do not know the author.

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View/download PDF versions of:

Gas Sensor Selection Guide (File size: 196K)

Hazardous Gas Data - comprehensive reference on physical and chemical properties for industrial hygiene and occupational health & safety applications (File size: 396K)

PID Correction Factors - a comprehensive reference on PID correction factors for 222 gases (File size: 100K)

Installation & Instructions Manuals for:
MP Controller (File size: 1.1MB)
b) 4-20 IQ (File size: 536K)
SM95 (File size: 567K)

How to Calibrate Sensors
(File size: 427K)

Introduction - from "Hazardous Gas Monitors" book (24 pages)- includes descriptions, "Terms, Definitions & Abbreviations," fully illustrated with charts and graphs, and types of protection (File size: 544K)

About Alarms (File size:148K)

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