Implementing PTR-TOF Systems for Fenceline Monitoring

Refineries and chemical plants in the oil and gas industry pose the risk of pollutant emissions into the environment. IONICON's solutions mitigate these public health concerns and help to comply with regulations.

Implementing PTR-TOF Systems for Fenceline Monitoring

Image Credit: IONICON Analytik

Fenceline Monitoring

Fenceline monitoring involves strategically placing air quality sensors around the perimeter of facilities, such as refineries and chemical plants, to continuously assess air quality and detect any chemical emissions that could seriously impact local air quality.

Fenceline monitoring guarantees that industrial facilities adhere to environmental laws and regulations by providing tangible data to confirm that emissions lie within legal limits.

The supply of real-time data regarding the presence and concentration of hazardous pollutants also plays a vital role in protecting the health of local communities, facilitating timely health risk assessments, and the deployment of emergency responses if dangerous chemical levels are detected.

Monitoring also empowers facility operators to identify and rectify leaks or inefficiencies in their processes that could result in excessive emissions.

Implementing PTR-TOF Systems for Fenceline Monitoring

Image Credit: IONICON Analytik

Fenceline monitoring systems usually employ photoionization detectors, infrared spectroscopy, and gas chromatography to detect and quantify low-concentration pollutants.

However, the demands for such monitoring, particularly within the petrochemical industry, have intensified due to tighter environmental regulations worldwide and stricter enforcement of existing laws.

Global regulatory bodies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have imposed more detailed guidelines and requirements for emissions monitoring. For example, the Royal Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently broadened the scope of its Environmental Regulations (RCER), reflecting heightened community concerns near petrochemical facilities and a greater focus on sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Such developments have raised companies' legal and financial stakes, with non-compliance potentially leading to significant fines, legal challenges, and reputational damage.

Therefore, fenceline monitoring is a regulatory requirement and a vital strategy for mitigating risks, guaranteeing compliance and proactively addressing environmental issues.

The majority of industrial sites employ a variety of toxic chemicals that require rigorous monitoring to mitigate risks. Therefore, a perfect fenceline monitoring system can detect all possible emissions simultaneously, quickly, and at low enough concentrations to prevent adverse effects.

Ideally, the system can be adapted to detect recognized harmful compounds and those deemed hazardous in the future. Such adaptability help ensuring continued compliance with changing regulatory and environmental health standards, delivering widespread protection against known and emerging chemical threats.


Proton Transfer Reaction-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOF) is an advanced analytical technique capable of quantitatively, simultaneously, and in real-time detecting trace quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The soft and efficient PTR ionization process minimizes fragmentation. PTR-TOF delivers excellent separation and the capability to detect unforeseen compounds in combination with a TOF mass spectrometer that captures comprehensive, high-resolution spectra. These characteristics perfectly align with the requirements of an ideal fenceline monitoring system.

Originally, PTR-TOF systems were developed to enable cutting-edge scientific research in various trace gas analysis fields, requiring experts to operate and interpret the generated data.

In recent years, IONICON has transformed these scientific instruments into robust, easy-to-use, automated monitoring solutions. This process was driven primarily by the semiconductor industry's need to monitor airborne molecular contaminants (AMC) more thoroughly by detecting a growing number of compounds in real time at lower concentrations than previously possible—a challenge similar to that currently faced in fenceline monitoring.

PTR-TOF real-time VOC analyzer (bottom), Sample Handling System (upper right) in the air conditioned shelter.

PTR-TOF real-time VOC analyzer (bottom), Sample Handling System (upper right) in the air conditioned shelter. Image Credit: IONICON Analytik

Successful Implementation in KSA

IONICON has successfully implemented a fenceline monitoring solution for a large petrochemical industrial complex in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The basis for the solution was tools with a proven track record in industrial environments, namely industrial PTR-TOF systems and the Automated Measurement and Evaluation (AME) software.

A critical element of this approach was the design of the Sample Handling System (SHS) to address specific operational challenges. This system can change the analyzer sample gas between ten different sample streams, is fully automated, and each stream is continuously pumped at several liters per minute to guarantee a consistent supply of fresh gas.

The installation involved 17 kilometers of sample lines suitable for trace gas analysis, a major element due to the potential for mounting project costs associated with lines of such length.

IONICON extensively evaluated various suppliers, materials, and pretreatment processes to realize a combination that provides accurate samples while remaining cost-effective.

Air-conditioned shelters for the four PTR-TOF analyzers have been placed along the fence line.

Illustration of a fenceline monitoring network with 4 analyzer stations, each with 6 sample points.

Illustration of a fenceline monitoring network with 4 analyzer stations, each with 6 sample points. Image Credit: IONICON Analytik

A Powerful Industry Partner

IONICON’s recent advancements in PTR-TOF technology have significantly enhanced industrial application adaptability. Fenceline monitoring is one application where PTR-TOF has emerged as an ideal solution.

IONICON’s fenceline monitoring solution has dramatically improved the safety of workers, the community, and the environment. The technology aids industrial companies in mitigating the risks associated with emissions and ensuring regulatory compliance while also offering the flexibility to monitor additional compounds as regulatory and environmental requirements evolve.

IONICON is dedicated to continually refining its systems, broadening its applications, and helping industries uphold the highest standards of environmental integrity.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by IONICON Analytik.

For more information on this source, please visit IONICON Analytik.


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