2009 Winner: Outstanding Achievement In Applied Technology And Innovation Sponsored By SAIT
Company Provides Surveillance Of Fugitive Emissions
A new technology developed in Alberta has been promoted by the province’s oil and gas sector because it will allow them to monitor, measure and capture emissions. That will help the environment and improve operational efficiency and profitability, while meeting society’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Breakthrough Technology.
Dennis Prince, the inventor of Airdar (Air Detection and Ranging) and founder of Airdar Inc., credits the opportunity to develop his breakthrough leak-detection technology to the support of the oil and gas sector and other organizations. Airdar detects and ranges emitting sources using compounds travelling in air.
“Over the four years I conducted field trials,” Mr. Prince says, “many oil and gas companies and organizations helped me develop Airdar technology by funding me and giving me guidance in commercializing it. I would never have gotten off the ground without this support, particularly from Keyera Energy, which was there from the beginning.”
The novel technology sets a new standard for leak detection, which has previously been labour-intensive, directional, and intermittent.
“Airdar can spot an emitting source in the atmosphere, just like Radar spots planes coming in,” Mr. Prince explains. He developed the technology while in between jobs working as an environmental engineer specializing in air quality issues.
“I thought there had to be a way to identify emissions sources,” he recounts. “That led me to create Airdar. I realized it was a cousin to Sonar, Radar, and Lidar and that it could sweep an area, identify the sources, and quantify them.”
The Airdar system is a sophisticated combination of permanently installed field sampling with an analyzer and timers. It creates site maps showing where leaks are occurring by using atmospheric conditions. The Airdar system is automatic and can monitor sites continuously to find unexpected emissions other systems cannot. That saves operators money as valuable resources are not lost.
“We are looking to help industry reduce methane emissions and authenticate the reductions,” Mr. Prince says. “Methane is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. Even just a modest reduction of methane emissions is important.”
Mr. Prince maintains Airdar can also play a key role in helping companies save money by identifying and monitoring fugitive emissions while providing benefits for potential greenhouse gas credits with the reductions.
“Airdar has huge commercial potential because it has unique technical strengths and patent protection,” Mr. Prince says. “The company has advanced cautiously over the last few years and is poised now to take dramatic steps forward. Taking it the next step will include looking for breakthroughs in the distances over which the system can operate and the size of emissions it can detect. With what we know now,” he adds, “we have already exceeded the limits of what was considered possible.”