A Microscopic Study On The Pollution Control In Chemical Industry Using IoT

The chemical industry is the largest industrial user of oil and gas with the third-largest carbon footprint. Pollution generated from the sector is rampant. In this article, we will study how an IoT solution for pollution control and monitoring can be used sustainably and energy-efficiently and different chemical parameters that can be monitored through IoT devices. Let us go.

Pollution Control In Chemical Industry Using IoT
Published 5 Jan 2023Updated 5 Jan 2023
Autor Name

Kamal R

Table of Content

  • Statistics of pollution generated by the chemical industry
    • What is chemical pollution?: An introduction
      • How is chemical pollution caused? 
        • 1. Organic chemical pollutants
          • 2. Inorganic chemical pollutants
            • IoT solution for pollution control: How it works
            • Monitoring various parameters via IoT devices
              • 1. Water quality monitoring
                • 2. IoT-based air quality monitoring system
                  • 3. Energy monitoring
                    • 4. Toxic gas detection
                    • How does IoT help enterprises in the chemical industry go green? 
                      • Ways to use IoT for a sustainable, energy-efficient operation in the chemical industry
                        • Over to you

                          Even though there are so many benefits that modern industrialization has brought on our doorstep, we cannot help but note how factories and manufacturing units generate so much pollution, which ultimately contributes to global warming.

                          The existing methods often do not have proper protocols in place and the workforce can operate negligently without the same. Pollution, well, it certainly has an ominous reputation, and for a good reason.

                          It is a long-term problem that can impact our entire planet. But do you know that chemical pollution is a considerable component of the danger involved? You see chemicals are everywhere - in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the products we use.

                          Most chemicals are human-made and used in various industries - from agriculture and healthcare to automotive to supply chain management. But to use it properly, we need a stable ecosystem; sometimes, that is not possible - resulting in spill or leakage - or pollution!

                          Moreover, the chemical industry, comprising the companies that produce industrial chemicals, has a massive responsibility. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials such as natural gas, oil, metals, water, and minerals into more than 70,000 different products.

                          It is also the largest industrial user of oil and gas with the third-largest carbon footprint. Not so surprisingly, it produces pollution which has adverse long-term effects. However, identifying pollution is only half the battle. You need to have proper resources and solutions to have it controlled.

                          And that is where using IoT can make a huge difference. In this article, we will study how the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used for pollution control in chemical industries. But first, let us get the fundamentals out of the way:

                          Statistics of pollution generated by the chemical industry

                          While the entire world works on solutions, there is surprisingly little focus on the chemical industry that accounts for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Let us look at a few other numbers that establish the fact that chemical industries are harmful and they produce a lot of pollution:

                          • Despite the strict regulations by the statutory authorities worldwide, there has been no significant improvement in the global pollution index.
                          • Following the TRI National Analysis, 3.5+ billion pounds of hazardous chemicals are released into the environment every year. As a result, it has led to facility explosions, and people in nearby areas have reported suffering from severe illnesses such as cancer and respiratory ailments. The pollution has ultimately led to an ecosystem imbalance and degraded the quality of human lives.
                          • According to the latest report by The Lancet, global pollution is responsible for causing over nine million deaths annually. Out of which, 7% of environmental hazards occur due to chemical industry operations.

                          What is chemical pollution?: An introduction

                          Chemical pollution is the contamination of the environment by chemicals that do not occur naturally. Precisely, it is directly proportional to human activities involving using toxic chemicals for various purposes.

                          What is Chemical Pollution ?

                          The chemical pollutants are majorly industrial; a growing danger to the entire habitat and a more significant threat to humanity. Today, chemicals are ubiquitous, and we cannot escape from their grave consequences because they are not only processed for industrial usage but also in households, medicines, food, and many other everyday products.

                          This results in chemical intoxication of our surroundings such as air, water, and soil. It induces acute, subacute, and chronic illnesses, or even death. Undoubtedly, controlling chemical usage is a challenge with the ever-increasing consumer demands.

                          From cosmetics, drugs and nutrients to cleaning utilities and gardening products, chemical compounds are used in various products, and the effect of many of them on the environment is largely unknown.

                          In addition, it is vital to know the type of chemical pollution you are dealing with. Considering our ecosystem, this type of pollution extensively contributes to air, water, and soil pollution. For instance, chemical soil pollution only impacts the direct site but can invade the groundwater.

                          • The greenhouse gas emissions for electricity, transportation, agriculture, industrial, residential and commercial end-uses contaminate the air we breathe. 
                          • The plastic and chemical releases in the water, sea, and ocean lead to dead zones and impact marine biodiversity.
                          • Agricultural, industrial, mining, and waste disposal adversely affect soil quality as they kill the microorganisms that support soil fertility.

                          Chemical air pollution impacts the ozone layer and can cause global changes in temperature and climate. Given the spread of this type of pollution, it is evident that more people are affected by it on a worldwide scale.

                          And since some of the most harmful chemicals are “forever chemicals,” these can get into our bodies and environment and not break down, disrupting our nervous system, immunity, and hormones.

                          For example, chemical water pollution can result in illness, poor reproductive success, and human fatality. It can cause sickness and long-term health problems in humans, and bioaccumulate in animals.

                          How is chemical pollution caused? 

                          The gaseous and smoke pollutants, effluents, waste materials disposal, acid mine drainage, and toxic chemical residues and by-products cause chemical pollution.

                          It results from producing, processing, manufacturing, handling, storing, and dumping chemicals in natural environments. These activities occur in industrial places such as:

                          • Steel mills
                          • Heating plants
                          • Power stations
                          • Oil refineries
                          • Coal power plants
                          • Transportation firms
                          • Agriculture companies
                          • Sewage treatment plants
                          • Mining and smelting plants
                          • Textile manufacturing units

                          The chemical compounds produced by them are the primary chemical pollutants. Some are ultra harmful and do not break down - remaining persistent for thousands of years. It means they endure for a long time and disrupt hormones when they contaminate a human body or environment. As per chemical structure, these chemical compounds comprise of the following:

                          1. Organic chemical pollutants

                          They are toxic synthetic biodegradable chemical compounds called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Chemical pollution examples include pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, detergents, plastics, phenols, alcohols, chlorinated solvents, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), synthetic clingers, and crude oil and petroleum refined products.

                          2. Inorganic chemical pollutants

                          They usually originate from radiant energy, noise, heat, or light. And contain poisonous non-biodegradable chemical compounds. Examples include heavy metals, salts, sulfides, acids and bases, ammonia and nitrogen oxides, perchlorate, and chemical fertilizers.

                          IoT solution for pollution control: How it works

                          Chemical pollution is perilous and demands an urgent course of action to stabilize the imbalances in the ecosystem. The severe problem needs new-age technology to minimize its impact. It is essential to mitigate the risk factors and maintain ecological stability.

                          Concerning the current scenario, IoT-based environmental monitoring and clean technology systems are the optimum solutions to control environmental emissions.

                          The IoT technology is self-sufficient to supply extensive sensor data over a secure edge network. It offers an end-to-end robust remote connection that enables fast detection, advanced data insights, and automation of precautionary actions.

                          The rich technological capabilities of IoT coupled with clean technology can seamlessly foster environmental sustainability and support immediate remediation:

                          • Detect toxic substances, chemical spills, and contaminators
                          • Facilitate personnel monitoring of broadly dispersed industrial processes across remote sites
                          • Increase operational efficiency by providing real-time insights into waste generation and gaseous emissions

                          It is helpful for the government and industries as they can proactively make decisions and enforce preventive measures to stop natural resource degradation.

                          IoT-based environmental monitoring systems are the most advantageous innovation engineered to reduce ecological challenges and associated health threats. It incorporates data-driven smart strategies to address complex environmental trends.

                          The system generates real-time actionable insights and predictions based on data gathered from the current physical surroundings. These data sets, analyses, and evaluations can be obtained by deploying a full-fledged IoT ecosystem with sensors, connected devices, and embedded communications modules.

                          IoT-based environmental monitoring solution monitors the entire network and detects anomalies. It instantly triggers alerts and takes preventive actions to obstruct upcoming damage if automated.

                          IoT-based environmental monitoring can be implemented by embedding RFIDs and sensors in industrial tools such as pipelines, tanks, irrigation systems, and vacuum pans.

                          With the help of these RFIDs and sensors, the supervisors detect physical properties, such as temperature, humidity, water levels, leaks, harmful gasses, and so on.

                          The data measurements are available on the IoT-based environmental monitoring system readily accessible in real-time. It facilitates a dynamic analysis dashboard encompassing measurements, trends, spikes, anomalies, and other analytics.

                          Based on the concurrent insights, the supervisors predict outcomes to manage resources, reduce environmental impact, and prevent disasters.

                          Monitoring various parameters via IoT devices

                          The growing population and expansive industrialization are making it difficult to find a pollution-free area to breathe fresh air or consume unprocessed natural water. The critical problem is now a global demon that technology can best resolve.

                          Scientists are deploying IoT technologies to monitor minute details about the widespread chemical industry and its different functions.

                          IoT works with embedded systems consisting of sensors, monitors, and electronic media to connect hardware devices to perform quick operations. It helps deploy immediate preventive actions to prevent or eliminate the root causes of pollution from chemical industries.

                          Monitoring Chemical Industry Parameters via IoT Devices

                          For a simple understanding, consider IoT as a technical assistant with ears, eyes, and a mouth. As soon as it observes any undesired situation in the workplace, it can send automatic alert notifications or even shut down a system based on the logical operation that has been programmed. Additionally, it provides continuous monitoring and critical analytics.

                          The application of IoT for pollution control in the chemical industry is widespread in agriculture, power, water, oil, and gas operations. Its broad classifications are as follows:

                          1. Water quality monitoring

                          As clean water is one of the most crucial parts of day-to-day life, it is essential to monitor and keep the water safe from contamination. In chemical processes, wastewater, including harmful substances, may cause a threat to all living beings, and it can even pollute the soil.

                          IoT devices enable accurate measurements of contaminants, oxygen levels, additional factors, and pH levels in all kinds of water resources. Therefore, it is easier to determine the pollution level from the water supply pipes at scale, whether from a residential building to a water-supply plant. Common use cases are:

                          • Agricultural irrigation
                          • Municipal water treatment
                          • Industrial water treatment
                          • Stormwater and groundwater management 
                          • Water for drinking and other everyday uses

                          2. IoT-based air quality monitoring system

                          Factories and daily traffic generate an exponential amount of harmful gasses. These make the air polluted and toxic. Prevention of air pollution is vital as it is on the rise in industrial areas and busy cities.

                          IoT-based machines can monitor the level of greenhouse and hazardous gasses in real-time. They can be deployed in different places, including factories, busy roads, and buildings to detect contaminants and pollutants.

                          As a result, municipalities can plan industrial operations better and control the traffic more efficiently to keep the air purified. Popular uses of air monitoring systems are:

                          • Methane in agriculture and waste disposal
                          • Contaminant-free air in factories and industrial settings
                          • Monitoring of carbon monoxide in residential buildings and commercial complexes

                          3. Energy monitoring

                          Energy is a limited resource and its production involves a substantial overhead expense. IoT supports the optimal usage of energy and smart energy conservation.

                          These embedded devices can also aid in increasing the use of renewable sources for energy generation, like solar or wind energy for home and even businesses. Also, large production units and industries can use IoT solutions to save as much energy as possible. It helps in:

                          • Avoid unexpected service disruptions
                          • Preventing spikes to save from prolonged power grid failure

                          4. Toxic gas detection

                          The most crucial step to controlling pollution or implementing any purification operation is toxic gas detection. Generally, it is related to air quality control and management but needs to be taken care of more efficiently to control the mounting air pollution.

                          From industrial centers to parking garages and chemical laboratories to warehouses, toxic and flammable materials can cause rapid accidents and long-term health diseases.

                          IoT systems help detect these hazardous gasses before they reach critical levels. Sensors and real-time analytics help keep these spaces safe in the following ways:

                          • Gas leakage from refineries, mines, and factories
                          • Presence of hazardous gasses in enclosed petrochemical spaces
                          • Monitoring the presence of toxic gasses in mining operations

                          IoT-Enabled Green Technology: Benefits, Use Cases, Challenges

                          How does IoT help enterprises in the chemical industry go green? 

                          Green technology is becoming more relevant in every field now. However, its initial operations started in the early 19th century as scientists observed the ecological effect of the different manufacturing processes on natural systems.

                          The key idea is to prevent any kind of hazardous impact on the environment due to chemical experiments and production. Green technology assists in using sustainable energy to reduce environmental risk.

                          IoT helps support the approach at a wider level and makes climate protection a regular practice for a better world. The technology is not only an embedded system, it also uses AI, ML, and robotics to predict and propose the best solution to keep the environment greener.

                          The primary step for any IoT-based operation is to prepare a versatile dataset. It makes the system understand the condition and corner cases better. Also, it will help the enterprise managers to take necessary actions for any predicted complex situation and eliminate the threat.

                          IoT is best suitable for green technology. It is the answer to curbing the elevated pollution levels due to the chemical industry. It ensures technical speed and accuracy required along with predictive measures for pollution prevention.

                          Ways to use IoT for a sustainable, energy-efficient operation in the chemical industry

                          With today’s advancements in wireless connectivity and IoT sensor technologies, digital innovation and sustainability can go hand-in-hand.

                          Companies can now embrace digital transformation and business-critical insights to pivot more energy-efficient practices, use resources more responsibly and organize processes in ways that reduce wastage:

                          • IoT can monitor energy consumption on different scales and analyze a better way to use less energy to save money and extend the use-life of the limited energy resources.
                          • IoT sensors can identify air pollution via enterprise operations. The corrective measures and suggestions can help the managers reduce pollution emissions.
                          • Smart waste management is another integral approach. IoT assists in managing the large amount of waste produced by enterprises. It ensures the waste is picked up and processed strictly to reduce its impact on public health.
                          • Water wastage and pollution can be addressed efficiently with IoT applications. It detects leaks in water pipes, measures contamination, and aids in flood mitigation. It is necessary to prevent the waste of pure water.
                          • IoT is becoming a savior in the agricultural sector as it helps optimize farming. Smart agriculture improves yield and efficiency based on climate, soil, rain forecast, and food demand.

                          Over to you

                          Chemical pollution is becoming a larger problem each day. Contemporary methods are not efficient enough to control the problem’s global impact. It can be handled by IoT, the smartest technological approach of recent times.

                          As there are different chemical pollution sources and types with extensive effects on living beings and natural processes, we need to apply an adaptive control system.

                          IoT is an evolving technology with strong computational ability and critical thinking. It can monitor, adjust, and operate pollution control systems to make sure that chemical pollution is being reduced. Are you looking to create an IoT solution of your own? Contact IntuThings!

                          Let us build reliable IoT solutions for you