Undiscovered gas leaks, known as fugitive emissions, in chemical plants and refinery operations can impact regional air quality and present a loss of product for industry. Surveying a facility for potential gas leaks can be a daunting task. Industrial leak detection and repair programs can be expensive to administer. An efficient, accurate and cost effective method for detecting and quantifying gas leaks would both save industries money by identifying production losses and improve regional air quality. Specialized thermal video systems have proven effective in rapidly locating gas leaks. These systems, however, do not have the spectral resolution for compound identification. Passive FTIR spectrometers can be used for gas compound identification, but using these systems for facility surveys is problematic due to their small field of view. A hybrid approach has been developed that utilizes the thermal video system to locate gas plumes using real time visualization of the leaks, coupled with the high spectral resolution FTIR spectrometer for compound identification and quantification. The prototype hybrid video/spectrometer system uses a sterling cooled thermal camera, operating in the MWIR (3-5 µm) with an additional notch filter set at around 3.4 µm, which allows for the visualization of gas compounds that absorb in this narrow spectral range, such as alkane hydrocarbons. This camera is positioned alongside of a portable, high speed passive FTIR spectrometer, which has a spectral range of 2 – 25 µm and operates at 4 cm-1 resolution. This system uses a 10 cm telescope foreoptic with an onboard blackbody for calibration. The two units are optically aligned using a turning mirror on the spectrometer’s telescope with the video camera’s output.

Publication Date



"A hybrid thermal video and FTIR spectrometer system for rapidly locating and characterizing gas leaks," Proceedings of SPIE, Remote Sensing of Aerosol and Chemical Gases, Model Simulation/Assimilation, and Applications to Air Quality, vol. 6299. The International Society of Optical Engineers. Held in San Diego, California: August 2006. This paper is made available as an electronic reprint with permission of SPIE. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited. ISSN:0277-786X Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus