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Calgary’s Next Economy: Sensyn innovating in pipeline leak detection

Five years of research went into the leak detection system that Sensyn founder Mohsen Janmaleki hopes to have installed on 800,000 kilometres of pipeline.

The key was to develop a material that was responsive to any type of liquid hydrocarbon as it passed through the pipeline.

“It works like an on-and-off switch,” Janlemaki said.

“If a leak happens, it becomes non-conductive. Under normal conditions, it’s a non-conductive polymer.”

If there’s a leak, the sensor then notifies the system for a prompt response. They call it the Oilrove detection system, and it provides early warning of hydrocarbon spills, allowing for faster response times and less environmental impact.

Janmaleki said he first designed the sensor and then realized that they could put the sensors together in a cable.

“Now we have a cable that has the capability to monitor the leaks from the pipeline, and can be inside the pipeline,” he said.

“It can collect the information and pass it to the application server connected to the control room.”

Janmaleki’s background in biomedical engineering, with a specialization in electronic engineering, and his experience in automobile parts manufacturing paved the way for him to figure out how to “make things work.”

“I got that experience in doing the research in biomedical engineering, in materials, and I combined all of them to make the sensors for this,” he said.

A shift in personality

Coming from that technical background, Janmaleki said it was a bit of a change to the entrepreneurial mindset. Working in the Alberta Catalyzer Velocity program helped immerse him into it.

“For me, it was a like a shifting my personality,” he said.

“I was not familiar with the culture of those companies, that familiar with those culture that businesspeople have. So, Alberta Catalyzer, it was a great experience for me to get inside those and understand it.”

Janmaleki said they’re working on test validating their system over several thousand metres of pipeline and then it’s a matter of getting it into more locations. The application is possible in any hydrocarbon pipeline in a variety of environments, including underground and in aquatic settings.

While Janmaleki would love to have the Sensyn system in all 800,000 potential kilometres of pipeline, he’d like to target areas where there could be much higher environmental consequences for leaks.