How to Troubleshoot An Inert Gas System Issues on Ships

An inert gas system is a safety measure employed on ships to reduce the risk of explosion. The system works by displacing the air in the ship’s hold with an inert gas, typically nitrogen or carbon dioxide. This reduces the concentration of oxygen in the hold, making it less likely that any ignition source will lead to an explosion.

If you are having problems with your inert gas system, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take.

Basic Troubleshooting for Inert Gas System

First, check to make sure that all of the components of the system are working properly. This includes the generators, pumps, and other equipment. 

If everything appears to be in working order, then the next step is to check the pressure gauge to see if the system is operating at the correct pressure. If the pressure is too low or too high, adjust the regulator accordingly.

Finally, check the filter to make sure it is clean and not blocked. If the filter is dirty or blocked, replace it with a new one.

If you are still having problems with your inert gas system, it is important to contact a qualified technician who can help you troubleshoot the problem and get the system up and running again. 

Inert gas systems are an important part of ship operations and should be maintained in good working order. With proper care and maintenance, these systems can provide years of reliable service.

Inert Gas System Safety Considerations

When using an inert gas system, a number of safety considerations must be taken into account.

During Repair of IG System Plant

The inert gas plant must be well maintained due to its critical role on the ship, but unless extreme caution is exercised, this maintenance or repair work could endanger human life. Personnel working on the IG plant must be extremely cautious, and the plant must be completely gas-free; otherwise, any traces of inert gas can cause loss of consciousness and death.

If the repairs or maintenance involve internal plant components such as the scrubber, all of the requirements and precautions for enclosed space entry requirements must be strictly followed.

During the Tank Opening Handling

While the tank is inert, personnel may need to open specific tank openings such as plugs or lids. Extreme handling care and precautions should be taken for these procedures, or the relatively higher pressure inside the tank relative to the atmosphere may create physical damage during the process.

Miscellaneous Hazards

There may be other situations that can cause problems in the IG system, and while it is impossible to list them all, staff and crews in the ship are advised to be alert and aware round the clock to avoid any potential issues that could lead to a dangerous situation.

For example, there may be an excess of charged particulate matter during the tank washing process, which can be hazardous if the atmosphere within the tank reaches flammable limits for any reason.effl

The formation of pyrophoric deposits is another potential risk. This happens if the crude oil has a low hydrogen sulphide content, or is of a specific type. Pyrophoric refers to a substance that, in the presence of sufficient oxygen levels in the air, can self-ignite. It creates the risk of self-ignition, which could jeopardise the IG system.

After reviewing the various types of risks and hazards associated with the IG system, it is critical to take the necessary precautions to minimise the possibility of any type of accident occurring. These accidents may occur as a result of negligence and carelessness, or as a result of a failure to maintain the  system and its components.

Maintenance of the Inert Gas System

Routine checks and overhauls of various parts of the system on both the plant and distribution sides are required for the Inert Gas plant to function properly, and some of these are listed below.

  • The IG scrubber is a critical component that should be inspected on a regular basis for signs of corrosion, fouling, and other damage. Nozzles, floats, cooling pipes, demisters, sensors, and other parts should be inspected through the manholes provided for this purpose.
  • Similar signs of damage or soot deposit should be checked on the inert gas blowers. Aside from this visual inspection, the blower should be observed while running to detect any signs of imbalance or abnormal vibration caused by loose parts.
  • The deck seal is critical to the overall system and should be inspected on a regular basis for blockage, corrosion, and so on.
  • The various alarms should be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they are operating at the correct level of parameters. Similarly, valves that are supposed to open and close automatically or that can be operated from a remote location should be tested to ensure that they function properly.
  • Some sections and parts of the IG system, like the scrubber effluent line, can be inspected only during dry dock, so these parts should be inspected at every dry dock.
  • Other components, such as gauges used to measure hydrocarbon vapour levels and  oxygen analyzers, are not directly part of the IG system on board the ship but serve important functions. These instruments require upkeep and calibration for accuracy to prevent false readings, which can be extremely dangerous in many cases.

Inspection/Maintenance Schedule

The time interval can be determined based on manufacturer instructions, previous experience of shipboard engineers,  frequency of use, and the duration of the inspection can vary greatly depending on the section or component under consideration and the type of activity to be performed.

Inspections can be performed on a regular basis, but overhauling must be scheduled to avoid time waste. A flue gas isolating valve, for example, can be checked for operation once per week, while deck water seal can be opened for overhaul at least twice a year.

If there’s  an IG system on the ship, it is important to keep it maintained. This system is responsible for keeping the air inside of the ship safe to breathe. If there are any problems with the system, it could lead to serious health consequences for the crew and passengers on board. By troubleshooting the system regularly, you can ensure that it is working properly and that everyone on board is safe.