The Heathrow Airport, managed by the British Airport Authority (BAA), is situated in the south-east of England, 15 miles from the heart of London. This airport, opened in 1946, has 2 main runways and one cross wind runway.
Each year more than 65 million passengers go through one of the four terminals. Over 80 airline companies, serving more than 180 destinations worldwide come to Heathrow Airport.
Saving energy to meet the Kyoto Protocol
As a result of the Kyoto protocol, the British Government has engaged itself to reduce CO2 emissions, by 2010. CO2 emissions are largely caused by the generation of electricity and gas and have increased by 20% compared to 1990. This means that all companies in the UK need to rationalise and reduce the use of energy.
The Heathrow airport consumes a lot of energy to stay operational at all times. Buildings, shops and terminals need to be heated or air conditioned and lit. Air traffic control and much more needs to be powered. Over 40% of Heathrow airoport’s power is used by third parties such as airline companies.
Using infrared to save energy
To obtain the required results, BAA has appointed an Energy Manager at the Heathrow airport. According to Andy Watson, Energy Manager of Heathrow airport, instruments that will help diminish the airport’s energy consumption are the infrared cameras available from FLIR Systems .
The Heathrow airport has purchased four infrared cameras, one ThermaCAM P-series infrared camera and three ThermaCAM E-series infrared cameras. The infrared cameras are easy to use and they are capable of clearly identifying a problem with a colourful image.
The infrared cameras will be used to inspect all buildings at the Heathrow airport. The badly insulated areas have to be identified first, since preventing heat losses to the outside will help saving energy.
The places where cold air is coming into the buildings have to be identified. According to Andy Watson it is impossible to put additional insulation where necessary due to the structure of some buildings but the authorities are determined to give advice for the construction of new buildings to avoid insulation problems.
Predictive maintenance helps to save energy
The infrared cameras will also be used by the maintenance engineers, who are concerned that all facilities are running at all times. The maintenance engineers are looking for hot-spots so that they can repair the system before it breaks down and really becomes a problem.
By eliminating the hot-spots, it is possible to ensure that all the installations are working continuously and also save optimum amount of energy.
The infrared training programme is to be started shortly, wherein, 10 people will be sent to the FLIR Systems Infrared Training Center (ITC). In addition to getting some basic knowledge about infrared and learning how to work with the infrared camera, they will also learn how to achieve correct interpretation of the infrared images so that they can avoid costly mistakes
Saving over 400,000€ with the help of infrared cameras
Andy Watson narrated how the infrared cameras proved useful even before the training programme has been started. In Heathrow airport, there are some underground pipelines transporting steam to heat up buildings.
There was a leak in one of the pipes. This pipe was located very close to Terminal 1, under a very busy road. Steam was coming out of 2 inspection pits in the road so the maintenance engineers knew that the leak was situated between those 2 pits.
The 2 pits were lying more than 60m away from each other, in a very busy road, and the exact location could not be identified. Using an infrared camera, the exact location was detected within seconds.
The road was broken open exactly where the pipe was leaking and not over the whole 60m. It was estimated that breaking open and repairing the whole surface to locate and find the leak would have costed more than €450,000.
Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye; it’s the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that people perceive as heat.
Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes emit infrared. The higher the object’s temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot.
Infrared cameras produce images of invisible infrared or heat radiation and provide precise non-contact temperature measurement capabilities. Nearly everything gets hot before it fails, making IR cameras extremely cost-effective and valuable diagnostic tools in many diverse applications.
As businesses strive to improve manufacturing efficiencies, manage energy consumption, improve product quality, and enhance worker safety, new applications continually emerge.
Working of infrared camera
An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce TV/video images and perform temperature calculations.
Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be precisely quantified or measured, allowing people to monitor thermal performance and also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems.
Recent innovations, the detector technology, the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality and software development, deliver more cost effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before.