Hexane Detection in Oil Seed Operation

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A new Hexane and VOC leak detection technique using Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) is gaining favor among oilseed producers worldwide. This technique uses passive infrared imaging to make normally invisible gas plumes visible to the camera operator.

The EyeCGas OGI camera has a minimum detectable leak rate for Hexane of approximately 0.3 grams/hour (1 gallon/year liquid Hexane).

Hexane, a highly flammable and costly gas, is used in most oilseed crush operations to achieve maximum oil extraction efficiency. Hexane loss often ranks as one of the major operating costs in a seed oil plant, costing up to over US$1m annually. Hexane losses can occur throughout the process, including in the extractor, in the stripper, and in the waste water boiler. The potential cost and danger of Hexane leaks means that identification, localization, and repair of Hexane fugitive emissions is paramount to both worker safety and process integrity.

Gas sniffers and “Snoop” fugitive emission detection methods are traditionally used for this application, but are not always successful at finding gas leaks in hard to reach locations. These technologies also can’t always geo-locate the leak source, or capture intermittent leaks from pressure relief valves, or during startup or shutdown transients.

Meanwhile, state and federal air quality regulators continue to demand use of the most state-of-the-art technology to control emissions of VOCs, including Hexane. For seed oil producers that adopt better environmental practices, a demonstrated focus on sustainability can create a competitive advantage in the consumer market. These practices also show regulators that companies are taking proactive steps to reduce emissions, through frequent inspection and optimization of the process for identifying Hexane leaks. When all these factors are taken into consideration, control of Hexane fugitive emissions makes sense from an economic, safety, and an environmental standpoint.

Selecting Optical Gas Imaging Cameras for Gas Leak Detection

Optical Gas Imaging cameras can reduce plant operating costs, providing rapid ROI. One international seed oil producer reported that the first EyeCGas camera they purchased led to US$100k of hard savings during the first year of use. They also state that OGI is easy to implement, portable, and requires minimal training. In fact, during the first two-hour EyeCGas demonstration, many new leaks were identified. As a result, this producer has decided that OGI is the best tool for effectively identifying sources of Hexane loss, and has now deployed EyeCGas cameras in oilseed processing plants throughout the world.

The EyeCGas camera has additional uses which can reduce costs and increase safety in a seed oil plant. It can be used to identify fuel gas supply leaks involving natural gas, propane, or butane. Validation of process integrity following repairs can also be easily accomplished using OGI. Acetone and Ethanol leaks can be imaged with the same equipment.


With fast ROI and high safety ratings, OGI cameras are the ideal technology for inspections. Leak detection surveys using OGI cameras are extremely cost effective, in addition, third party analyses have demonstrated that OGI can inspect components 5 to 15 times faster than sniffers. Recent federal air quality regulations designate OGI as the “Best System of Emission Reduction” with clear advantages over traditional methods.