How to avoid gas disasters and fatal consequences

Celine Jörns

Startup Stories

Gas leak in chemical park - several people injured. This kind of headline unfortunately still appears too often in the news and spreads unease among the population. Especially companies in the chemical industry produce, store and process large quantities of dangerous gases and need a reliable system for detecting gas leaks in order to be able to avoid fatal consequences. This is where the startup Grandperspective comes into play. With its scanfeld™ solution, it enables chemical companies to monitor entire chemical parks in order to detect and localize gas leaks of any kind at an early stage. René Braun, one of the three founders and CEO of Grandperspective, tells us in an interview which market gap the startup can fill with it and why chemical companies should set up a pilot project with Grandperspective. 

René Braun, one of the three founders and CEO of Grandperspective

The world's first solution for remote identification in the chemical industry

Preventing gas disasters reliably - an important contribution that Grandperspective can make. But what exactly is the solution the startup offers and how does it work? "scanfeld™ is an automatic early warning system for gas leaks that OCI Nitrogen B.V., for example, uses to monitor its melamine-urea complex," explains René. "The scanfeld™ sensors optically identify gas molecules in the air, analyse the chemical composition and quantity and thus display the location and concentration of the gas cloud in the control center. Based on FTIR spectroscopy, more than 400 substances can be detected, 24/7 regardless of time of day or weather," says the founder. The so-called FTIR spectroscopy is an optical laboratory technique that can be used to clearly identify different gases. Grandperspective has developed the world's first solution that uses this technology for remote identification in the chemical industry. 

Experienced experts found startup

René's years of professional experience as a remote sensing expert prove that he knows what he is talking about. Even before founding the startup, he and co-founder Peter Maas implemented the technology behind scanfeld™ in the work of civil protection and disaster control forces. These are now routinely equipped with it across Europe. "The entire process from research, device construction, implementation, customer support, scientific support to market launch on a routine basis was already carried out by us for first responders before Grandperspective was founded," adds René. 

A look behind the scenes of Grandperspektive

However, the founders always had the chemical industry in their sights, as large quantities of dangerous gases are handled there. Through existing contacts, cooperations and further experience they have already gained in the chemical industry, they were able to determine the following: "The chemical industry needs a tool that can provide automated, independent and very specific monitoring up to alerting. Bringing that together - the physical, technical basis and our experience in measurement technology, up to a fully automated solution - that was the founding idea of Grandperspective in 2018."

Pilot projects for chemical companies  

Three years later, the startup has developed this idea to such an extent that it is already implementing pilot projects for some large companies and even market leaders worldwide. The customers here come from the classic chemical industry. "In principle, all plants that could release larger quantities of dangerous gases or vapors due to the process are interested in our solutions," explains René. "An important focus is on chemical plants in the field of ammonia production and processing, and there also increasingly new applications for energy storage or as fuel - keyword green ammonia. But the classic petrochemical industry can also benefit from our solutions." According to René, a pilot installation is the best way for a customer to find out how the solution works and what personal benefit he will receive from it. 

To provide an insight into such a pilot project, Grandperspective presented the project with OCI Nitrogen B.V. at the AIChe Ammonia Safety Symposium. Have a look at the presentation here: https://vimeo.com/595792033.

The strong promotion and worldwide presentation of the OCI project shows how high the customer satisfaction is. "Very explicitly, OCI is interested in rolling out the solution worldwide, in the medium and long term, in all its plants. The promotion is so strong because they are very much behind the benefits of this technology. Both the Health-Safety-Environment (HSE) management and the people on the ground say, 'This substantially improves our safety'", René says.

The only technology for permanent monitoring of complete chemical plants

But why should I, as a chemical company, set up a pilot project with Grandperspective? "As of today, there is no technology besides ours that can monitor the entire airspace and the entire area of a chemical plant", René knows.  Many different technologies are currently being used, but they are aimed at analyzing the danger when the incident is already known and suspected. René explains what gap the startup can fill with scanfeld™: "Our concrete proposal concerns the monitoring of an extensive plant with many potential release points, flanges, valves, etc. The permanent monitoring by stationary sensors is the only way to avoid the risk. Permanent monitoring by stationary sensors or regular testing by portable sensor technology is considered cost-intensive and imprecise. Scanfeld™ has the potential to permanently monitor a large area for dangerous gas emissions. With this, we hope to convince the customer who is under pressure to continuously and verifiably improve their plant safety." Existing technologies can also be integrated into the system, providing an increased level of safety and saving additional costs.