Transportation Infrastructure Safety
Transportation infrastructure is critical to the economic well being of individuals, communities, and nations. However, this infrastructure is complex and subject to many safety risks. Some of the areas that are particularly suspect to gas and fire hazards are enclosed areas such as:
- Parking garages. Exhaust fumes emanating from fuel burning vehicles are highly toxic and can cause sickness and even death. By monitoring the concentration of these fumes and ventilating based on concentration, a safe environment can be ensured.
- Aircraft hangars. The various flammable liquids used in these hangars include aviation fuels, lubricants, solvents, hydraulic fluids, and more. In the event of a leak, these fluids can release unwanted hazardous gas to endanger personnel and hangar equipment.
- Underground mass transit systems. Combustible and toxic gases can build up in the long tunnels and seep into the ground.
- Automotive and rail tunnels. Carbon Monoxide (CO) can build up from combustion engines running in the tunnel, and there are risks of combustible gas leakage and fire from potential accidents in the tunnel involving vehicles that may be carrying gasoline or alternative fuels.
- Natural gas vehicles (NGV) are used in metropolitan fleets and operate on fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The bus barns, maintenance facilities, and garages for these vehicles are potential risk areas.
Monitoring the critical points of the transportation infrastructure for the presence of fire and gas is essential to ensure the safety of this strategic asset and the people who use it.
If hazardous gases are accidentally leaked, they will rapidly disperse throughout an enclosed area. Hazardous gases found in transportation infrastructures include:
- Combustible Gases such as Methane and Propane
- Carbon Monoxide
- Carbon Dioxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Oxygen Deficiency
Gas detectors provide users with a means of detecting the presence of the hazardous gas, issuing suitable or visual warnings, and taking the specific actions necessary via an alarm system.
Automation and Integration Strategies
Detecting the presence of flame or hazardous gases is a necessary first step, but it is equally important to deliver alarms and to take actions that are specific to the area where the gas has been detected.
For example, if a high concentration of a toxic gas is detected in a tunnel, the appropriate strategy would be to flash the lights or change the colors of the lights entering the tunnel. It might also be appropriate for the gas detection system to pass its alarms on to the tunnel management system such as a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that might activate large fans inside the tunnel. It might also be appropriate to issue a warning over the air on the local traffic channel that can be received by motorists. While the specific actions might vary by application, what is common is the need for the gas detection system to be versatile enough to connect to a variety of external systems that control or manage different aspects of the transportation infrastructure.