Sept. 26, 2023

Sensor technology used on Mars now deployed on Earth

Schulich-supported groundbreaking FLOW sensor expected to maximize profits, create jobs and reduce environmental emissions
Ariel Torre Samantha Lafleur

As the world transitions toward more responsible energy practices, innovations that align profitability with reduced environmental impact are highly sought after.

The FLOW sensor by is.energy is one such groundbreaking innovation, which will give oil and gas producers full production visibility of their wells and equipment at a low cost while minimizing their environmental footprint.

Adapted using the same technology used by NASA to find life (complex hydrocarbons) on Mars, the FLOW sensor is scaled down for terrestrial application in the oil and gas industry.

Validated by the Schulich School of Engineering, the FLOW sensor provides real-time measurements of oil, water and gas amounts in multi-phase flows for the oil and gas industry with an unprecedented combination of high-level accuracy and cost effectiveness. This will enable oil and gas producers to improve efficiency while reducing emissions during oil and gas extraction.

The oil and gas industry is “well-known for being conservative in its approach to research and development risk,” says Ariel Torre, CEO of is.energy, an affiliate company of Impossible Sensing.

Traditionally, monitoring of wellheads has been challenging due to lack of real-time data of flow rate, leading to suboptimal production rates and unnecessary waste; is.energy aims to change that.

“We’ve demonstrated the capabilities of the sensor in laboratory settings and in a field pilot,” says Torre.

And their validation efforts continue, with professor Dr. Apostolos Kantzas, PhD,  and associate professor Dr. Roman Shor, PhD, from Schulich’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering helping the is.energy team build a library for multiphase fluids at different pressures, temperatures and flow rates to understand the minimum sensing requirements under different flow conditions.

“We’re excited to work with is.energy, deploying their groundbreaking technology for applications around Alberta,” says Shor.

The hope is that this project will lead to a change in the way the industry operates, revitalizing the industry and creating new jobs in Alberta.


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