What are Calibration Gases and How can they Save Lives?

To comprehend the value of a calibration gas, the hazards of flammable, oxygen-depleted and toxic atmospheres must first be considered.

There are, unfortunately, several ways in which an enclosed environment can become lethal. One of these is through the build-up of a toxic gas.

For example, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), created by the decomposition of organic matter, is a danger in the oil and gas industry, and the spread of this dangerous gas can quickly make an atmosphere life-threatening.

A further example is aboard a cargo ship. Organic goods, such as timber, have the potential to emit high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) through organic reduction, producing an atmosphere that is depleted of oxygen.

Two crewmen on a cargo ship passed away in a recent incident after oxygen levels as low as one percent were present in the hold containing the logs.

This was indetectable to the first crew member who instantly passed out when entering the hold and fell from the entrance ladder and to the second crew member who hurried in to save him.

In this tragic example, following exact procedures and the use of gas detectors could have saved both lives, as they enable colleagues to safely work in environments that are potentially threatening.

A gas detector will notify the user when they encounter a toxic gas or signal when oxygen saturation falls under 19 percent, the point at which unpleasant effects will be noticeable.

There is no doubt that gas detectors are life-saving devices, as long as they are functioning correctly, which is where calibration gases are useful.

There are two kinds of functional tests that can be performed on a gas detector; these are called a calibration and a bump test.

A calibration gas is required for both inspections, which is simply a very precisely measured mixture of gas. This could be a small amount of a toxic gas, for example, 100 ppm of carbon monoxide, a quantity at which the user would need to be notified to avoid injury.

A further example would be 18 percent of oxygen in a nitrogen balance gas, or the amount at which the user would need a gas detector to notify them of an imminent danger.

A balance gas is included in all calibration gases, this will usually be an inert gas that makes up the balance of the end product higher than the appropriate level of the active gas. Balance gases are normally artificial air or nitrogen and should be inert, so the gas detector is not triggered.

The calibration gas is introduced to the gas detector in a bump test. The user can ensure that the gas detector is functioning properly as the alarm on the device will then sound. A bump test is an efficient and simple test and should be carried out prior to each use of the gas detector.

A calibration is a test that can be carried out less often, perhaps once a month or less, according to guidelines.

In this test, the goal is to ensure that the gas detector is correctly measuring the levels of gas, as well as ensuring that it is functioning as intended. It is then possible to change the settings on the detector for readings in the future.

The calibration gas is of equal importance to the gas detector itself, as without it, the user cannot be certain that the detector is working properly or correctly when measuring gas levels.

Fortunately, it is simple to find calibration gas cylinders, as Air Products offers the ability to purchase online with courier shipping, allowing customers to be up and running in no time.

Visit: airproducts.expert/uk/oneuse to discover the range of off-the-shelf calibration gases in lightweight, portable aluminum canisters.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Air Products PLC.

For more information on this source, please visit Air Products PLC.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Air Products PLC. (2023, March 17). What are Calibration Gases and How can they Save Lives?. AZoM. Retrieved on May 29, 2023 from https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=21298.

  • MLA

    Air Products PLC. "What are Calibration Gases and How can they Save Lives?". AZoM. 29 May 2023. <https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=21298>.

  • Chicago

    Air Products PLC. "What are Calibration Gases and How can they Save Lives?". AZoM. https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=21298. (accessed May 29, 2023).

  • Harvard

    Air Products PLC. 2023. What are Calibration Gases and How can they Save Lives?. AZoM, viewed 29 May 2023, https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=21298.

Ask A Question

Do you have a question you'd like to ask regarding this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type