Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Commercial field testing of StFX’s innovative gas sensor technology underway

September 1st, 2017
L-r, Jennifer Baillie and Tara Hanlon

The commercial testing of StFX’s innovative gas sensor technology is now well underway in the oil and gas fields of western Canada.

Faculty and students of StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk’s Flux Lab and Altus Geomatics (a Canadian Altus Group company) have combined forces to field test for commercial use their vehicle-based Emissions Attribution via Computational Techniques (“ExACT”) gas leak detection technology.

In January 2017, Altus Geomatics and StFX signed a collaboration agreement for the exclusive commercialization and usage rights of the technology. The next step in commercialization is to refine ExACT for use in a real world, marketable context. Until now, the technique has been used primarily for research.

Now, with the financial support of Altus and funding from Springboard Atlantic and the Idea to Innovation (“I2I”) program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), this commercial testing is underway. 

The ExACT sensor is mounted on a vehicle and collects near-ground geochemical readings that are uploaded to a cloud-based database and allows for real-time analysis. It is capable of covering a large region at a very fine scale, which provides operators with the detailed data and analytics they require to detect leaks before they become a regulatory issue.

The ability to identify emissions in an efficient and cost-effective manner allows producers to minimize the economic cost of lost commodities and maximize environmental protection, says StFX Manager of Industry Liaison Andrew Kendall.

He says this phase of the ExACT research will leverage the oil and gas industry expertise of Altus to fine-tune the vehicle mounted gas technology into equipment ready to use by their field operators to rapidly identify small gas leaks from oil and gas wells, pipelines and refineries quickly, and provide this information to the oil and gas companies so that those leaks can be eliminated or controlled.

“This is an excellent example of technology transfer,” he says. “The unique scientific expertise of Dr. Risk and his student researchers combined with the business focus and industry knowledge of Altus will ultimately result in the elimination or at least significant reduction in gas releases form the oil and gas industry.”

Dr. Risk agrees. “This partnership with Altus is demonstrating that what these StFX Flux Lab students are learning in the research lab has direct, positive applications for industry. The oil and gas industry is serious about reducing its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and they are now looking towards these students for solutions.” 

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