FLIR thermal imaging cameras are being used as part of a solution with an intelligent software in a smart waste monitoring application in the Czech Republic.

Waste management is a thriving industry in many developed countries throughout the world, primarily for the extraction of energy. However, the complete waste management cycle from the storage of waste, through sorting and recycling, up to the effective conversion to electricity carries a high risk of fire, with hazardous consequences for both personnel and the environment.

Czech technology development and trading company, Workswell has developed a complete thermal imaging solution called Waste Bunker Monitor using FLIR Systems’ thermal imaging cameras for the continuous inspection of solid waste.

Three quarters of the municipal waste in the Czech Republic are stored in landfills with approximately 400,000 tons of that waste thermally processed in municipal waste incinerators, amounting to a total heat supply of about 2.3 million Gigajoules and a gross electricity production of about 18,000 Megawatt Hours.

The ZEVO plant at Malešice has been operational since 1998 and takes care of the transformation of waste into thermal and electric energy. The acquired energy is used in heating for domestic water and residential buildings.

A genuine threat in waste plants, fires are commonly caused by spontaneous chemical combustion of waste; heat from vehicles that collect the municipal waste; and fire or devastating explosions due to the increased concentration of methane released from the waste during the decay process.

The ZEVO Malešice plant decided to invest in the Waste Bunker Monitor system from Workswell to reduce the risk of fires.

The waste at the ZEVO Malešice plant is imported into a storage tank for the homogenisation process and to ensure sufficient reserve of waste so that the plant can be operated continuously. Workswell chose two FLIR A615 thermal imaging cameras with a resolution of 640x480 pixels and an 80° lens. These cameras monitor the storage tank for hot spots that indicate the possibility of a fire.

The Waste Bunker Monitor system from Workswell combines the non-contact measurement technology from FLIR Systems with proprietary software, presenting plant operators with the critical areas that have an increased risk of fire.

According to Jan Kovář, Managing Director at Workswell, the whole system is scalable and can consist of several thermal imaging cameras with high spatial resolution, and thermal sensitivity greater than 0.05°C. The company has found the FLIR A315 or FLIR A615 cameras as the best fit for their system.

The monitored area is divided into zones in which the temperatures are evaluated several times per second. Consequently, the automatic system reports any area with an increased surface temperature to the crane operators.

At the head of the thermal imaging system is a control and visualisation software that displays the images and temperatures coming from the FLIR thermal cameras. The software also provides the operator visual and audio alerts whenever the temperature exceeds a certain value. An area map divided into sectors provided next to the thermal image makes it easier for operators to pinpoint the exact location of a hotspot.

Jan Kovář says they have not yet witnessed any fires at the ZEVO Malešice plant, and is confident that the system and the thermal imaging cameras from FLIR will do a good job of fire prevention. He adds that the affordability of FLIR’s thermal cameras contributes to the overall cost-effectiveness of the Waste Bunker Monitor system.