Local company developing new pipeline technology

A Victoria company is leading the way in pipeline technology, developing cutting-edge sensors to detect oil spills more quickly.

A Victoria company is leading the way in pipeline technology, developing cutting-edge sensors to detect oil spills more quickly.

Syscor Controls and Automation Inc., located in Bastion Square, is developing polymer absorption sensors to detect the presence of hydrocarbons (gasoline, crude oil and diesel). The device sends information to operators, indicating the exact location of the leak along a pipeline.

There are many existing technologies that can detect leaks by monitoring flow rates at pump stations along the pipeline, however, there has to be a substantial leak before it’s detected.

Syscor’s sensor detects leaks when they initially happen, even if it leaks as little as 10 barrels of oil.

“Even if it’s a very small leak, we should be able to detect it right away,” said Syscor president David Sime.

“The time to react to the leak can be vastly reduced and therefore that leak can’t grow into a big environmental problem.”

The sensor also measures temperature and includes an accelerometer to detect vibrations. For example, if a farmer in Saskatchewan gets too close to an existing pipeline, sensors can measure the vibration of the equipment and, if it’s dangerous, send the information to the company.

What makes the technology unique is it can be installed on current pipelines, added Sime.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of existing pipelines in North America that this is applicable to,” he said. “We use existing ploughing technologies for putting cables in the ground . . . it’s nice and simple.”

Over the next few years, the product will need to be tested and pilot projects are expected to launch in 2019.

The federal government has invested $1.6 million into the project.

“(This technology) is really leading edge,” said John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City.

“I wasn’t aware of anything else in the market and I think that the work that’s being done here can really position this company, British Columbians and Canadians to lead on this front and help us get products safely to market.”

Last week, the government also announced more than $206 million to support 36 cleantech projects in five provinces across Canada.