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Flare Stack Monitoring Minimizes Environmental Impact

EPA Flare Regulations Ensure Safe Flare Stack Operations

flare stack monitoringCAS DataLoggers recently provided the flare stack monitoring solution to a processor of industrial railcars who dispose of the reclaimed chemicals and hydrocarbon liquids using a flare stack. A flare stack is the last line of defense for ensuring that toxic hydrocarbons are neutralized before they are released into the air. Flare stacks use combustion, or flame to burn the unusable waste from an industrial process, or when gases are released due to over pressurization or start-up periods of processes. By burning at the proper temperature, the final released gases are safer for the environment with reduced volatile organic compounds and toxic pollutants.

The EPA is devoting significant enforcement resources to correcting regulatory noncompliance at flare stacks. The key to minimizing environmental impact and maximizing public safety is ensuring that flare stacks are operating within the prescribed operational and regulatory parameters. The regulatory requirements include monitoring of the combustion temperature which serves as proof that the pollutants are properly neutralized prior to venting to the atmosphere. The regulatory details are described in the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and the New Source Performance Standards.


The customer had installed a CalorVal BTU Analyzer, by Control Instrument Corporation. This device continuously measures the heating value of the flare and maintains the proper minimum combustion energy in BTUs. While the CalorVal is designed to maintain the flare energy, it does not record that BTU level to serve as a record for the customer during an EPA audit. Without proper documentation of the flare’s proper operation, the customer was subject to EPA fines that were expensive.

CAS Dataloggers provided a dataTaker DT82I to record the 4-20 mA output signal from the CalorVal to provide the documented record. The 4-20mA signal was scaled to BTUs and stored continuously with a time and date stamp every 5 minutes. Data can be retrieved by plugging a USB memory stick into the front panel USB port of the DT82I.

This gave the customer a simple method to bring the data from the files into the networked storage disks for a historical archive. Each data file is named by the data logger’s serial number combined with the time and date the files were created, allowing the customer to easily find data for a specific date.


flare stack monitoringOther flare stack monitoring installations may use temperature sensors, such as thermocouples connected directly to the dataTaker, to record actual combustion temperatures in the flare. Modbus or other serial connections to PLC driven combustion systems, could also easily provide the signals to the dataTaker. With a WiFi or wired LAN connection, the data download could be archived automatically using the dataTaker’s Ethernet-based data handling. This would allow the data collection and archiving process to be fully automated.

The dataTaker DT82I has high-level logic and calculations capabilities which allow it to trigger data logging only when the combustion is active and can also engage timers to record actual combustion time together with the temperature as well as other parameters such as wind speed, outside air temperature and humidity with the appropriate sensors. In short, the dataTaker family offers instruments that are rugged and capable of fulfilling almost any flare stack installation.

For more information on flare stack monitoring, how CAS can help you avoid EPA fines or citations, or to find the ideal solution to your application-specific needs, contact an Application Specialist at 800-956-4437 or request more information.