New System Detects Fires in Dusty Industrial Locations

September 26, 2019

3 Min Read
New System Detects Fires in Dusty Industrial Locations
A new laser-based system uses inexpensive optical hardware to detect fires in challenging environments such as industrial facilities or large construction sites. The researchers tested a prototype in the waste plant picture on the left. Image courtesy of

A group of European researchers have created a new laser-based technology used to cheaply and efficiently detect fires in harsh or dusty environments like industrial facilities and construction sites, The Optical Society announced in a release Wednesday.

Researchers recently published a paper in the Optical Society’s journal Applied Optics describing the fire detection system. Using low-cost optical components, the technology can identify fluctuations in temperature and the presence of flames by measuring speckle pattern changes. 

“Our new system makes it possible to detect fire in dusty areas prone to fires, where current systems show limited performance or can’t operate,” research team member Mikael Lassen, a senior scientist at Danish Fundamental Metrology A/S, said in a statement. “It could be used in a variety of industries such as waste management facilities, power supply plants, food processing factories, and textile factories.”

The new system attempts to solve several shortcomings of existing fire detection and prevention technology. Traditional smoke detectors can give false alerts because of dust and pollutants in the air within facilities. Optical detection technology is often hindered by dust and steam and can be influenced by vibrations. 

“When a fire is occurring, the heat flow makes the laser beam jitter in a way that is detectable when the laser light is reflected to a detector at the laser source. The researchers used statistics and machine learning to analyze the noise pattern of the dynamic speckle pattern created by that laser light,” the Optical Society said in the release. “The presence of broadband white noise indicated a fire while noise sources confined to a narrow range of wavelengths could be ruled out as a mechanical influence such as vibration.”

Researchers tested the system in the Energnist I/S waste plant in Kolding, Denmark, finding that the technology was able to detect fires in the harsh and dusty environment with an accuracy of 91%.

The Optical Society said the team plans to upgrade the system’s optical detector and the laser to initially expand its sensing range from 500 to 600 meters. According to the organization, the range of the system could be over 1 km. 

The project involved researchers from Danish Fundamental Metrology A/S, Elotec A/S in Norway, LAP-Sikkerhed ApS, and the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology. Technology developed by the group is part of an effort by Eurostars to create a system that can quickly detect fires by reading small changes in temperature.

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More Industrial Fire Prevention articles:

Comprehensive Combustible Dust Explosion Protection

Dusts and Fumes: The Most Dangerous Culprits in Industry

Explosion Protection for Metal Dusts/Shot Peening Plants

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