Calibration gases are essential for ensuring accuracy and safety in the workplace. But how do they work?
Read this guide to understand:
- What calibration gases are and how they’re used
- Their importance in the industry
- How to maintain calibration gas safety
- The most commonly used gases
A calibration gas describes a compressed mixture of gases used as a reference to calibrate and maintain the accuracy of instruments, like gas analysers or detectors. To qualify as one, it must be traceable to a national or international standard.
Additionally, calibration gases come in various mixtures that contain multiple components, including combustible, toxic, or inert gases.
As previously mentioned, gas detection instruments need calibration gases to ensure they work correctly. The calibration process starts by exposing the sensor to a specific concentration of gas for a particular period of time. This test helps set the standard for correct gas readings in the future.
Some common uses of calibration gases in detection equipment are:
- Setting the device’s baseline reading
- Checking device accuracy
- Testing new sensors before they go into service
- Detecting and evaluating hazardous substances in the environment
Calibration gases are used in various industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, firefighting, environmental monitoring, and chemical processing, but that’s only a small selection of examples. They are also commonly seen in pharmaceutical facilities, refineries, and even governmental agencies, since gas detectors are in almost every safety application.
Regardless of your industry, you should follow manufacturer instructions and take the proper safety precautions when working with calibration gases. This includes wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), like a face shield, gloves, and coveralls.
Additionally, your team should ensure your calibration gas cylinders are correctly labeled to avoid accidental gas mixtures or improper storage. As they tend to be reactive and prone to unstable conditions, keep the gases away from any open flames or other ignition sources. In some cases, depending on the type of gas being used, even exposure to oxygen may cause an explosion or fire.
Oxygen Service Company works closely with industry associations to ensure the highest quality standards and best practices are met.
Not all calibration gases are equally produced. There are different types of mixtures with varying concentrations:
- Volumetric Gas Mixtures – A special type that is premixed and accurately measured according to a specific volume, usually in liters or cubic feet
- Gravimetric Gas Mixtures – This mixture is not premixed, requires a technician to weigh out and combine the appropriate amount of each component before use. The accuracy is based on mass rather than volume.
There are a variety of reactive and nonreactive calibration gases that are used in various industries, each with unique properties and applications that make them ideal for specific uses:
Highly reactive, nitrogen dioxide is often used for personal exposure gas monitoring, fixed area monitoring, emissions monitoring, and exhaust gas measurement. It is toxic, but can be safely handled when stored and handled correctly. When using nitrogen dioxide, it is vital to take precautions to protect the user from potential exposure.
Sulfur dioxide is an irritant gas that can cause respiratory irritation if inhaled in high concentrations. It is primarily used for calibrating gas analyzers and other industrial instruments. As with nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide can be hazardous if not handled correctly.
Commonly dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and even death if inhaled in high concentrations, so proper safety equipment should be worn when using it.
The fourth most common gas naturally occurring in Earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide is a versatile substance that’s an essential component in many processes. As a calibration gas, CO2 is often stored as a compressed liquefied gas.
Methane is colorless, odorless, and the main component in natural gas. Anytime poisons or inhibitors are present, methane use is highly recommended. Since it is common, calibrating detectors to read methane accurately is crucial to preventing a hazardous situation.
Pentane is also colorless and exceptionally accurate at detecting a wide range of flammable gases. Commonly used for calibration in the petrochemical industry, it is an essential component of gasoline and can measure the concentration of other gases in the air. Pentane can also measure the amount of oxygen in a given atmosphere.
Oxygen gas, or otherwise dioxygen, is another gas that’s commonly used for the calibration of gas detectors. It can be flammable and explosive when combined with other materials, so many gas detectors need to be calibrated to detect traces for safety reasons.
At Oxygen Service Company, we’ve been supplying specialty gas mixtures to various industries since 1959. Our calibration gases are produced and handled according to the highest industry standards, and our delivery vehicles are equipped with the latest safety features. Customer service is our top priority, so our highly trained and experienced professionals are committed to serving you with a smile.
We stick to our five core values to guarantee client satisfaction:
- Professional and Respectful Behavior
- Getting Things Done
- Positive Attitudes
- Customer-Focused Mindsets
- Doing the Right Thing
If you’re ready to get started with our specialty gas solutions or have questions about which types of calibration gases you need, contact us today.