Biomass for energy is the main source of renewable energy in the EU, accounting for almost 60% of production¹. In fact, in 2021², energy produced from solid biomass in Europe surged to over 100 million metric tons of oil equivalent. Over 220 biomass plants³ exist in the UK alone.

Solid biomass material must be stored in large quantities before it is converted to energy. Due to the dust, fine particles and potential gas build-up involved, this presents a very real combustion risk.

Here’s how our radiometric-enabled COEX thermal cameras are being used to mitigate this risk to prevent potential fires or explosions.

Cameras built for hazardous monitoring

Certified to ATEX and IECEx international standards, Synectics COEX cameras are built to withstand explosive environments, extreme temperatures, and to deliver image clarity even in poor-to-no-light conditions. A special air blast function prevents particles from settling on the camera for improved precision.

These features make them ideal for monitoring the storage of potentially hazardous and flammable materials, including biomass.

Detecting heat variations with radiometrics

Our COEX thermal camera stations are also radiometric-enabled. Used in conjunction with Synergy, this means they can both detect and quantify levels of heat radiation emitted by objects.

Operators can set an area of interest within the camera’s specific field of view, assign temperature thresholds to it, and then ‘see’ any heat variations that may be indicative of danger. For biomass stored in large container sheds, this means detecting rising temperatures that might be a precursor to gas build-up and eventual self-ignition, combustion, or explosion.

With Synergy, temperature thresholds set can be alarmed to ensure alerts are triggered whenever predefined limits are exceeded.

Identifying gas build-up before it poses a risk 

Synergy integrates camera and radiometric data with information from sensory edge-device systems such as fire, smoke, gas, and chemical detection. This is particularly useful for biomass storage as it allows valuable data from CO² sensors to be monitored.

CO² sensors are often mandated in biomass storage facilities, as materials such as pellets, wood chips or agricultural waste are prone to decomposition and microbial activity that results in CO² accumulation. As well as presenting a risk of combustion, this also depletes oxygen, which could pose a hazard to any workers servicing the facility.

Also, alarms can be set to alert operators when gas thresholds are exceeded. Automating appropriate responses via integration with other emergency and facility management systems ensures swift action is taken when needed – from activating ventilation systems to dispatching response teams.

Spotting trends for improved protection

Using COEX thermal cameras with Synergy, gas and temperature readings can also be monitored and analysed over time in order to identify patterns and trends that provide valuable insight into the ‘behaviour’ of stored biomass material.

These insights can be used to optimise storage conditions, safety protocols and to fine-tune automated responses. The data captured can be used to inform areas such as worker training and, should it ever be required, to aid incident investigation.

Finally, it is also important to highlight that all monitoring activity outlined can be carried out remotely, supporting worker safety and aiding the efficient protection of multi-location storage estates. 

Download our guide for more information on using thermal cameras to monitor explosive environments.


¹ European Commission: Biomass
² Statistica: Annual primary energy production from solid biomass in the European Union (EU-27) from 2000 to 2021
³ UK Electricity Production