Labsphere Software Keeps Up with New Sunscreen Standards

To support its UV-2000s transmittance analyzer, used for quality assurance and UVA Protection Factor (UVA-PF) analysis in the formulation, development and testing of sunscreen products, Labsphere has introduced a software upgrade. Together, the instrument and UV-2000S version 1.2 software form the only system currently capable of performing in-vitro, Boot Star, COLIPA, FDA, and user-defined SPF measurement methods.

UV-2000S Suncsreen Software

The user-friendly application software automatically converts measurement data to provide the Sun Protective Factor (SPF), UVA to UVB ratio, critical wavelength, Boot Star Rating, and UVA-PF (COLIPA Method). It includes an FDA Method that meets proposed rules for in-vitro UVA/UVB protection factor results. In addition, its COLIPA substrate test allows users to quickly determine if their PMMA substrates meet the COLIPA recommendations. To ensure accuracy, the software performs reference channel saturation checks of the sample if the substrate or plate is highly absorbing. Unlike previous software versions, the same blank scan can be used for multiple studies.

The platform allows users to view, archive, retrieve and export data for measurements on both bare substrates and product substrates. The wavelength range and wavelength interval selection feature exports spectral data of interest to .csv format. To support evolving regional methods (e.g., revised Boot Star, PA+ Method, UVAI/UV Ratio, etc.), the software is now available on a subscription basis. Users who subscribe to Labsphere’s software will be updated as new standards and regulations for in-vitro sunscreen testing are added to the software.

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Halma Water Management – Managing to Manage Water Better

Progress in Technology to Detect and Locate Leaks

In the fight against unnecessary and costly water leakage, technology is one of the most effective weapons at our disposal. Several recent and emerging developments are showing a great deal of promise in not only winning the war, but by actually changing the way in which it is fought.


The PermaNet from Halma Water Management (HWM) is a new system designed to provide a constant and inescapable net to catch leaks in a water network. After installing permanent Permalog+ dataloggers along with PermaNet transmitters at various points throughout the network, notifications about leak location and size can be immediately sent to a personal computing device for exceptional response times and efficiency.

Once the local area has been identified, the new MicroCALL+ digital correlator takes the guesswork out of pinpointing the leak. A complete array of presets and filters work with three outstation measurement and automatic velocity verification to provide highly accurate readings regardless of pipe type and flow speed. This easy efficiency reduces the incidence of ‘dry holes’ and speeds up the process of leak finding – and therefore fixing.

HWM is always looking out for potential avenues of advancement for their water management technology. By developing close links with water industry professionals and listening to feedback from their customers, the company is able to make the changes and improvements to its products that are actually wanted and needed by those who use them. These are just two examples from Palmer’s range; for more information on other products and services please visit their website at .

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New Palintest Testing Kit Uses Disposable Electrodes To Find Heavy Metal Threats

The new SA1100 testing kit from Palintest uses a unique system to greatly simplify the heavy metal testing process. Years of research have resulted in the development of a disposable electrode which can quickly and accurately detect the presence and concentration of potentially harmful heavy metals such as lead, copper and cadmium in a variety of sample types.

Electrodes for heavy metal threats

Left-over or leaked deposits of these substances are known to be toxic, and can be a serious ‘hidden’ hazard; over the years legislation has been progressively introduced to combat the threat. The new technology developed by Palintest means that thorough testing can be carried out on-site and in very little time – less than 60 seconds for most samples, and only three minutes even for drinking water. Lead can be tested for in paint, dust, air and soil; both lead and copper in drinking water; and cadmium and lead in ceramic leachates.

The testing process is very simple for the whole range of test parameters, with on-screen prompts and a menu-driven program displayed on the LCD. Once the sample has been prepared with a conditioning tablet, a calibrated, disposable sensor is inserted into the instrument and then immersed in the test sample. The majority of tests are then completed in less than 1 minute, varying with the type of application. As well as instant display of results, up to 500 are stored in the unit’s memory and can be downloaded to a PC via a waterproof USB connection. Normal operation is powered by 4 AA batteries for easy and efficient portability.


Solarisation Resistant Fibres from Fiberguide Industries

Fibres’ coating protects against solarisation during deep UV exposure

Leading optical fibre manufacturer Fiberguide Industries has introduced a full line of standard solarisation resistant fibres for deep UV applications. The fibres are ideal for spectroscopy, lithography and excimer laser delivery applications where fibres are exposed to deuterium lamp transmission (190nm to 230nm) or ArF-Excimer (193nm) laser.

Solarisation Resistant Fibres

Prolonged UV transmission below 260nm causes solarisation in optical fibres, reducing their UV transmittance significantly. Fiberguide’s solarisation resistant fibres use a modified core pre-form that protects fibre from the damaging effects of deep UV. These fibres have excellent performance and long-term stability at 30 to 40% transmission (for 215nm). Fibre core sizes can be produced from 50um to greater that 1000um。. Customer cabled or multi-fibre assemblies are also available.

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Radio-Tech Monitors Bearing Temperatures on British Express Trains

In the first such application of its kind, British wireless telemetry specialist Radio-Tech has developed an innovative method of monitoring the temperature of motor coach suspension tube bearings on trains. The ground-breaking system is safeguarding Class 442 Electric Multiple Units on the new Gatwick Express extension service operated by Southern Trains between Gatwick Airport and Brighton in the United Kingdom.

Bearing temperature monitor

Southern became concerned about a suspension tube bearing issue in June 2008, six months before the units were due to enter service to provide the extended Gatwick Express service from Brighton. Delegates from the Southern Fleet Engineering team attended the Institution of Engineering & Technology’s International Conference on Railway Condition Monitoring, during which they heard Radio-Tech’s Brian Back speak on the use of wireless technology for reliable remote condition monitoring. Encouraged by what they heard, and the success of previous Southern remote condition monitoring projects, the Southern Mid-Life Fleet Engineering team asked Radio-Tech to adapt the technology to solve their problem.

Major constraints on the project included shocks of up to 50 G; co-location adjacent to conductors carrying 2,000 A DC; grease nipples that challenged the mounting strapping; battery operation; the close proximity of the transmitting antenna at the pinion end to the massive gear assembly; a radio path through the train’s floor; and railway safety approvals. Radio-Tech decided to use the same data logger as found in its award-winning rail temperature monitor, although in this case the logger was mounted in the guard’s room rather than trackside.

The whole project was completed to schedule in just four months – from the initial evaluation and concept in August to delivery in December – including Railway Group Safety approvals.

The system deployment is now near completion across the whole Class 442 Gatwick Express fleet. Temperature readings are recorded every 15 minutes, stored in the data logger and then uplifted every two hours to a remote data server. The data is exported to an external database and alarm signals are automatically dispatched should an excessive temperature be detected.

About Radio-Tech
Established in 1993, Radio-Tech ( is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of wireless technology to the remote metering and monitoring markets. Applications include automatic electricity and water meter reading, rail temperature monitoring, bus telematics, intelligent street lighting, temoerature and humidity monitoring and Legionella control. The company was purchased by Halma p.l.c. in 2005.

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Keeler Launches new Desktop Tonometer for Indian Ophthalmic Market

British ophthalmic products specialist Keeler, a subsidiary of Halma p.l.c., has incorporated technology from its hugely successful Pulsair intelliPuff® non-contact tonometer to create the Pulsair Desktop tonometer, a conventional desktop tonometer device with a chinrest. The slim profile of the mainframe allows the clinician to maintain visual contact with the patient and the open design provides a comfortable environment that puts patients at ease.

Pulsair Desktop

The Desktop has an ultra-smooth X/Y mechanism that gives the user total confidence and control during the alignment process. Its clear user controls and a colour video alignment screen with LED illumination means it is very simple to use for both novices and professional ophthalmologists and optometrists.

Like Keeler’s entire Pulsair tonometer range, the Desktop version uses sophisticated optical and sensor technology for positional detection and puff triggering authorisation. Its intelligent optical and electronic technology evaluates every reading to ensure the tightest range. When sufficient reliable readings have been taken, a time-saving audible signal alerts the user. The intelliPuff® software analyses the readings and eliminates any anomalies from the final displayed result.

Combining contemporary style with sophisticated technology, the Desktop’s small design allows it to blend seamlessly into even the smallest clinical practice.

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Ocean Optics Jaz Spectrometer Tops Mount Everest

Sensing suite used in UV measurement experiments on Earth’s highest mountain

Ocean Optics (, the industry leader in miniature spectroscopy, recently provided a Jaz Modular Sensing Suite to the trek crew of ‘Return to Everest 2009’ – a crew including Keith Cowing, Miles O’Brien, NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, and others – to measure solar irradiance at extreme altitude.

Jaz on Mount Everest

Jaz was utilised to determine UV intensity levels in the Everest region where levels are typically extremely high. The handheld Jaz unit that accompanied the ‘Return to Everest 2009’ group included solar irradiance scripting language, an SD card for storage of spectra and Jaz’s lithium-ion battery.

The participants used Jaz to measure solar irradiance with a focus on UV levels at an extreme altitude. It is suggested that UV levels on Everest should be among the highest on Earth and Jaz was used to perform analysis of the nature of the sunlight during the experiment phase of the summit.

Jaz performs in a number of challenging applications – its compact, handheld design makes it ideal for fieldwork, even in challenging environments like the world’s highest mountain. Its portability was especially important for the Everest expedition as equipment had to be packed in by the climbers during the arduous ascent. The unit is also flexible enough to be configured with multiple spectrometer channels for process management, quality control and life sciences applications as well.

Jaz’s family of stackable, modular and autonomous components share common electronics and communications. Included in the Jaz stack is a CCD-array spectrometer that can be optimized for a variety of radiometric measurements and a microprocessor with onboard display. Unlike traditional light meters, Jaz allows users to capture, process and store full spectra without the need for a PC. Spectral data can be transferred to a laptop or desktop PC for additional post-acquisition processing, such as calculating colour temperature, spectral intensity and colour space values.

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Portable Rupture Disc Installation Aid Gets ATEX Approval

Industry first product now suitable for intrinsically safe environments

Elfab, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rupture discs, has been awarded ATEX approval for its rupture disc installation aid, Test-Tel™. Test-Tel™ is designed to confirm correct disc installation, as well as ensuring the proper fitting of the industry’s leading ATEX-approved detection system, Flo-Tel™+.

Test-Tel ATEX approval

Test-Tel™ is a low-cost portable tool that can eliminate the risk of poorly fitted rupture discs or wrongly wired detection. With a range of test options, including disc status check, detection check and battery check, Test-Tel™ is a first in the rupture disc industry.

The device was developed by Elfab to meet its customers’ ever-demanding needs and is a welcome product in an industry where safety is the foremost concern.  Having now gained ATEX zone 0 and intrinsically safe approvals, the product is safe to use in even the most explosive of operating conditions.

Simple to use, Test-Tel™ is proving advantageous at the rupture disc installation stage, ensuring a right-first-time approach which saves customers time and the cost of refitting. For maintenance managers, it ensures accurate burst control and continuous device function, allowing for foolproof non-invasive checking of alarms.

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FFE Launches Multi Head FireRay 5000 Beam Smoke Detector

Fire Fighting Enterprises Ltd., the world’s leading manufacturer of motorised, auto-aligning beam smoke detectors, is proud to announce the launch of its new Multi Head FireRay 5000 multi beam smoke detector. This innovative new product allows up to four beam detectors to be installed as one system, with only one control unit for all four heads. This can give potentially great savings to both time and cost for installation, wiring, and power supply.

Multi-Head FireRay 5000

The Multi Head features of the standard FireRay 5000, including automatic, motorised alignment and optimization – and now up to four beam heads can be spaced out or oriented to cover unorthodox-shaped areas. Each beam will also often be used to cover a distance less than the maximum 100m, requiring the use of multiple heads for efficient area coverage.

The development of the Multi Head builds on the success of the basic FireRay 5000, which is the first and only motorised beam detector to be certified by the LPCB (UK), UL (USA), CNTC (China), as well as ULC (Canada),  NF (France), VdS (Germany), BOSEC (Belgium), SBSC (Sweden) and, recently, KFI (South Korea).

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Gas Hazards in the Petrochemical Industry

Although flammable and toxic gas hazards are generally well understood by operators, technicians and safety personnel working within the petrochemical industry, continuous training and refreshment of knowledge is essential to avoid potential incidents linked to complacency or misguided actions.

New personnel may be assigned work activities in potentially hazardous areas with only very brief training in the basics of gas hazards and the operation of detection equipment. The following is a basic introduction to gases and associated hazards in the petrochemical industries.

Petrochemical plant

What is Gas?

Whilst different gases have different densities, they do not totally separate into layers according to their density. Heavy gases (e.g. hydrogen sulphide) tend to sink and light gases (e.g. methane) tend to rise, but their constant motion means that there is continuous mixing (i.e. they do not behave like liquids).

So, in a room where there is a natural gas (methane) leak, the gas will tend to rise because it is lighter than air but the constant motion means that there will be a considerable concentration at floor level. This will happen in perfectly still conditions but if there are any air currents, the mixing will be increased.

Air is a mixture of gases, but because its composition is reasonably constant it is usually considered as a single gas, which simplifies the measurement of toxic and flammable gases for safety and health applications.

Combustion of Gases

Most organic chemical compounds will burn. Burning is a simple chemical reaction in which oxygen from the atmosphere reacts rapidly with a substance, producing heat. The simplest organic compounds are hydrocarbons, which are the main constituents of crude oil and gas. Hydrocarbons are composed of carbon and hydrogen, the simplest hydrocarbon being methane, each molecule of which consists of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. It is the first compound in the family known as alkanes. The physical properties of alkanes change with increasing numbers of carbon atoms in the molecule: those with one to four being gases, those with five to ten being volatile liquids, those with 11 to 18 being heavier fuel oils and those with 19 to 40 being lubricating oils. Longer carbon chain hydrocarbons are tars and waxes.

When hydrocarbons burn they react with oxygen from the atmosphere to produce carbon dioxide and water (although if the combustion is incomplete because of insufficient oxygen, carbon monoxide will result as well).

More complex organic compounds contain elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, chlorine, bromine or fluorine and if these burn, the products of combustion will include other compounds as well. For example, substances containing sulphur such as oil or coal will result in sulphur dioxide whilst those containing chlorine such as methyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will result in hydrogen chloride.

In most industrial environments where there is the risk of explosion or fire because of the presence of flammable gases or vapours, a mixture of compounds is likely to be encountered. In the petrochemical industry the raw materials are a mixture of chemicals which are being altered by the processes. For example crude oil is separated into many materials using processes referred to as fractionation (or fractional distillation); fractions are further converted using processes such as ‘cracking’ or ‘catalytic reforming’. Flammable hazards are therefore likely to be represented by many substances on a typical petrochemical refining plant.

Explosive Risk

In order for gas to ignite there must be an ignition source, typically a spark (or flame or hot surface) and oxygen. For ignition to take place the concentration of gas or vapour in air must be at a level such that the ‘fuel’ and oxygen can react chemically. The power of the explosion depends on the ‘fuel’ and its concentration in the atmosphere. The relationship between fuel/air/ignition is illustrated in the ‘fire triangle’.

Fire Triangle

The ‘fire tetrahedron’ concept has been introduced more recently to illustrate the risk of fires being sustained due to chemical reaction. With most types of fire the original fire triangle model works well – removing one element of the triangle (fuel, oxygen or ignition source) will prevent a fire occurring. However, when the fire involves burning metals like lithium or magnesium, using water to extinguish the fire could result in it getting hotter or even exploding. This is because such metals can react with water in an exothermic reaction to produce flammable hydrogen gas.

Fire Tetrahedron

Not all concentrations of flammable gas or vapour in air will burn or explode. The Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) is the lowest concentration of ‘fuel’ in air which will burn and for most flammable gases it is less than 5% by volume. So there is a high risk of explosion even when relatively small concentrations of gas or vapour escape into the atmosphere.

Explosive Limits

LEL levels are currently defined in three standards: ISO10156, EN61779-20 and IEC60079. The ‘original’ ISO standard lists LELs obtained when the gas is in a static state. LELs listed in the EN and IEC standards were obtained with a stirred gas mixture; this resulted in lower LEL’s in some cases (i.e. some gases proved to be more volatile when in motion).

Alarm Levels

Flammable gas detection equipment is generally designed to provide a warning of flammable risks before the gas reaches its lower explosive limit. The first alarm level is generally set at 20% LEL, with a second-stage alarm at 40-60%LEL. In some applications such as gas turbine monitoring alarms may be set as low as 5%LEL.

Toxic Risk

Gases and vapours released from petrochemical processing activities can, under many circumstances, have harmful effects on workers exposed to them by inhalation, being absorbed through the skin, or swallowed. People exposed to harmful substances may develop illnesses such as cancer many years after the first exposure. Many toxic substances are dangerous to health in concentrations as little as 1ppm (parts per million). Given that 10,000 ppm is equivalent to 1% volume of any space, it can be seen that an extremely low concentration of some toxic gases can present a hazard to health.

It is worth noting that most flammable gas hazards occur when the concentration of gases or vapours exceed 10,000ppm (1%) volume in air or higher. In contrast, toxic gases typically need to be detected in sub-100ppm (0.01%) volume levels to protect personnel.

Gaseous toxic substances are especially dangerous because they are often invisible and/or odourless. Their physical behaviour is not always predictable: ambient temperature, pressure and ventilation patterns significantly influence the behaviour of a gas leak. Hydrogen sulphide for example is particularly hazardous; although it has a very distinctive ‘bad egg’ odour at concentrations above 0.1ppm, exposure to concentrations of 50ppm or higher will lead to paralysis of the olfactory glands rendering the sense of smell inactive. This in turn may result in the assumption that the danger has cleared. Prolonged exposure to concentrations above 50ppm will result in paralysis and death.

Definitions for maximum exposure concentrations of toxic gases vary according to country. Limits are generally time-weighted as exposure effects are cumulative: the limits stipulate the maximum exposure during a normal working day.

Alarm Levels

It is important to note that whereas portable gas detection instruments measure and alarm at the TWA (time-weighted alarm) levels, instantaneous alarms are also set at the same numerical values to provide early warning of an exposure to dangerous gas concentrations.  Workers are often under risk of gas exposure in situations where atmospheres cannot be controlled, such as in confined space entry applications where alarming at TWA values would be inappropriate.

Crowcon Gas Detection Systems

Both flammable and toxic gases pose serious hazards in petrochemical processing facilities. There can be a very diverse range of gases depending on the process application, including methane (CH4), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), nitrogen oxides (NOx), chlorine (Cl2) and oxygen (O2). Multi-gas mixtures are also a common danger, especially in confined spaces. Fixed gas detectors can be positioned in strategic zones, and operatives undertaking maintenance or cleaning work, for example in confined spaces or ‘hot work’ areas, should always be fitted with portable gas detectors.

Crowcon offers a very wide range of portable and fixed gas detectors for virtually any application in the petrochemical industries. The company also offers control systems for monitoring multiple arrays of fixed detectors, and gas sampling systems which use pumps or compressed air-driven vacuum generators to extract air/gas samples from the area to be monitored and present the samples to one or more gas sensors.

Most gas detectors, including Crowcon’s, should be calibrated every six months to ensure optimum operation. However, a new range of IR (infrared) detectors allow users to extend maintenance checks to once every 12 months – and this only requires a ‘gas test’, not full re-calibration, which is more time consuming. ‘Bump-test’ stations and intelligent instrument management hubs, such as Crowcon’s Checkbox, also enable simple day-to-day testing of portable gas detectors and easy management of maintenance cycles.

All Crowcon’s instruments are designed with for a minimum 10 year life-span. Sensor life depends on technology, with 2-3 years typical for electrochemical cells and oxygen sensors and 5 years+ for IR sensors.

Future Trends

It is likely that both portable and fixed hydrocarbon gas detectors will use IR sensors rather than the traditional catalytic bead (pellistor) sensors currently used in most detectors. IR sensors provide increased reliability, more dependable operation and increased life-times when compared to pellistors. The cost of IR sensors has fallen in the past few years, and a commercial case can easily be made for switching to IR technology.

Crowcon is leading the way in this new technology. Its new IR flammable gas detector, the IREX, was specifically designed to replace pellistor type flammable gas detectors and results in significantly faster response times and greatly reduced zero drift compared to pellistor detectors. Capable of detecting methane, butane, propane and many other hydrocarbons, the  IREX is specifically designed for applications such as offshore platforms, refineries, gas storage and distribution networks, sewage treatment plants and certain manufacturing processes (such as aerosol production).

About Crowcon

Crowcon, a subsidiary of Halma p.l.c., is a world leader in portable and fixed gas detection instruments. Formed in 1970, the company is based in Oxfordshire in the UK and has branch offices in the Netherlands, the USA, Singapore and China. It specialises in developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative, reliable and cost-effective flammable and toxic gas detection equipment and has constantly led the field with products designed for safety and environmental monitoring.

Crowcon’s products are sold throughout the world, serving oil, gas and petrochemical companies, public utilities, clean water and sewage treatment companies, fire brigades, construction companies and other organisations where accidental leakage of gas or vapour can become a toxic or explosive danger. The company is represented in India by Detection Instruments Pvt. Ltd. in Mumbai (

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