(St. John’s, NL, January 20, 2014), The Ocean Technolgy cluster received a financial boost last week as the Research & Development Corporation (RDC) announced investments of $2.4 million in 11 research and development (R&D) projects that capitalize on Newfoundland and Labrador’s proximity to a harsh, ocean environment. The total value of the research projects is more than $7.9 million, including investments from the private sector and federal funding agencies.
The projects range from new technology that protects oil and gas infrastructure on the seafloor to innovations that enhance night-time maritime surveillance from the air. RDC’s investments in business R&D focuses on enhancing technical capacity and solving problems associated with working in harsh, ocean environments.
In a formal release from the DEpartment of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer of RDC is quoted as follows: “Taken together, these projects strengthen Newfoundland and Labrador’s reputation as a tactical place for proof of concept work in ocean technology development. They also represent marketable products and services that are critical to business growth.”
The R&D projects are funded under the ArcticTECH, R&D Proof of Concept and Industrial R&D Fellowships programs and were funded as folows:
SubC Control Ltd.
Clarenville-based SubC Control Ltd. is developing technology to give Remotely Operated Vehicle and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle operators a new level of underwater imaging control. With its primary line of business in the design and manufacture of underwater imaging solutions, SubC Control Ltd. is developing and testing a set of data image recording technologies designed to operate in subsea environments in extremely cold climates such as the Arctic. If successful, this technology will be the first-ever visual recording technology with the capability of operating in deep water and atmospheric temperatures of up to -50 C, providing a commercial solution to the harsh environment challenges of Arctic underwater exploration. RDC’s investment is $429,750 with total project costs of $1,899,432.
Offshore oil and gas pipelines and subsea systems are designed to withstand leakage. However, implementation of improved systems for detecting and mitigating leaks is still a necessary precautionary measure. Harsh environment, ice cover and limited accessibility present unique research opportunities for leak detection in the Arctic. INTECSEA Canada is researching an effective Leak Detection System for pipelines and other subsea equipment. Fiber Optic Cable (FOC) systems have high potential to be used in the Arctic and other cold regions, including offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite current FOC use for other subsea applications, no comprehensive testing has been reported in the public domain to date regarding FOC subsea applications in the Arctic and other cold regions. This project intends to close this gap. With improved ability to detect and identify leaks, an operator can make better operational decisions. Rapid and reliable leak detection systems minimize potential oil release to the Arctic and minimize risk to people, the environment, and assets. RDC’s investment is $125,000 with total project costs of $397,708.
PAL Aerospace Ltd.
PAL Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) is an international aerospace and defence company that specializes in solutions for maritime surveillance operations. Through this R&D project, PAL will enhance the harsh environment capability of their Night-Flash Illumination System (NFIS) to support an Arctic surveillance program the company is developing, including monitoring, surveillance and ice tracking capabilities. The NFIS operates as a flash system that works in conjunction with a digital camera to take high quality night time photographs from an aircraft. The NFIS records time, date and GPS location on each photo taken. RDC’s investment is $499,492 with total project costs of $887,264.
On the Grand Banks, icebergs scouring the seafloor have the potential to impact subsea infrastructure such as wellheads and other production equipment. This type of impact can be extremely damaging to the equipment and potentially the environment. To mitigate the risk of infrastructure damage, operators use dredging vessels to excavate ‘glory holes’, allowing subsea production equipment to be installed below anticipated scour depths. The dredging of glory holes can be slowed or halted by the occurrence of boulders and layers of hardpan, which approximates the properties of concrete. In an effort to maximize efficiency of dredging programs, PanGeo Subsea is working on a field trial on the Grand Banks using their Acoustic Corer and Sub Bottom Imager technologies. This work should demonstrate that these technologies can provide 3D images of geohazards such as boulders and hardpan beneath the seafloor. This technology will help operators map geohazards beneath the seabed, assisting in the decision-making process in determining the best location for excavating glory holes. If successful, this subsea mapping technology would fill a gap in the Arctic market. RDC’s investment is $500,000 with total project costs of $1,925,000.
R&D Proof of Concept Program
Go Beyond Consulting Inc.
St. John’s based start-up Go Beyond Consulting Inc. is developing underwater machine vision technology that will enable Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to photograph the ocean floor and generate detailed wide-area mosaics. The software technology is also capable of analyzing the resulting imagery, automatically counting benthic organisms such as crab, starfish and sea cucumbers. With the potential to improve environmental effects monitoring programs, this project aims to develop supporting technology that will maximize the software’s effectiveness. It will help extend autonomous missions and reduce the amount of time required for image-gathering operations in harsh environments. The technology also has the potential to enable safe information gathering in previously inaccessible under-ice and deep-water environments. RDC’s investment is $245,250 with total project costs of $327,000.
Northern Radar Inc.
Northern Radar Inc. owns and develops technologies that are used in High Frequency Surface Wave Radars (HFSWR) for long range maritime surveillance and oceanographic monitoring of coastal areas. The company now plans to expand its capabilities to include remote sensing of ocean surface currents, surface winds and sea state by bringing its own ocean remote sensing HFSWR platform to market. One of the primary applications for this technology would be oil spill mitigation, remediation and prediction, where the radar could provide real time information supporting analysis of the movement of an oil spill. Another potential market application for OceanView is real-time operational wave height measurement on the routes of helicopter flights that transport personnel to and from offshore production platforms. Currently, there is very limited wave height data available for the full flight path of the helicopters and as a result, the ability to measure significant wave height over much greater distances is very desirable from a safety and reliability perspective. RDC’s investment is $152,550 with total project costs of $900,536.
Port Electric Solutions Inc.
With a focus in marine navigation systems, Port Electric Solutions is developing a “smart” LED light-based navigation control panel with Ethernet capability. This innovation to marine navigation systems has the potential to enable mariners to receive alerts and responses to queries about the systems’ operational state from a computer terminal located anywhere on the ship. This R&D project will involve the development of the control panel as well as real-world testing on a local commercial vessel. The completion of testing will permit Port to commence manufacture and sales of the units in the Canadian and US markets. RDC’s investment is $41,730 with total project costs of $468,116.
Radient360 Solutions Inc.
Radient360 Solutions Inc. is a St. John’s based company providing in-field inspection, maintenance and auditing solutions for the oil and gas and aerospace industries. In collaboration with a local operator, Radient360 plans to develop and deploy an asset management software solution which enhances industry process safety guidelines for both offshore and onshore operations. The outcome of this project will be the development of real-time inspection solution software that will be deployed on an operating asset offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. The resulting software tool will initially focus on preventative maintenance of electrical equipment and pressure safety valve inspections. RDC’s investment is $243,919 with total project costs of $651,489.
NSERC Industrial R&D Fellowships
RDC partners with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Industrial R&D Fellowships program to provide financial support to companies to hire recent doctoral graduates in support of their research and development activities. It also encourages recent PhD graduates in science and engineering to seek first time careers in the private sector.
Oceans Ltd. began operations over 30 years ago as an ocean research and technology company created to provide physical oceanographic services to the offshore industry. Since that time, the company has diversified substantially by offering a variety of other services, while still providing marine expertise. Through the NSERC Industrial R&D Fellowships program, RDC is supporting two projects with Oceans Ltd.
Oceans Ltd. is collaborating with researchers across Atlantic Canada to develop methodologies to process oceanographic data to assist with the design and development of turbines to harness energy from ocean currents. This IRDF project will provide Oceans Ltd. with increased opportunities for collaboration with industry and academia partners and will allow the company to recruit a highly qualified researcher, Dr. Joel Culina. Dr. Culina obtained a Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences and has considerable practical experience in ocean waves and related energy flow. Collaborators on this project include the Fundy Ocean Centre for Energy, the Acadia Tidal Energy Institute, Acadia University, the University of New Brunswick and the Nova Scotia Community College. RDC’s investment is $40,900 with total project costs of $120,900.
Oceans Ltd. offers a variety of research and development services and marine expertise for the offshore petroleum industry. One of these services is bio-monitoring, which uses marine organisms known as ‘bioindicators’ to understand and measure the effects of environmental contaminants from offshore oil on ecosystem health. To date, Oceans Ltd. has used fish as bioindicators. By hiring post-doctoral fellow Dr. Juan Carlos Perez Casanova, this project will allow the company to study the use of invertebrates such as shrimp, snow crab, scallop and sea star as bioindicators. By further developing its biomonitoring services, Oceans Ltd. will be in a position to expand its environmental monitoring products and services. RDC’s investment is $37,000 with total project costs of $117,000.
GRI Simulations Inc.
GRI Simulations Inc. (GRI) is a Newfoundland-based software development company focused on real-time simulation, modeling, and visualization for critical marine activities. For this project, GRI has hired Dr. Matthew Hamilton, a recent Ph.D. graduate in Computer Science from the University of Alberta and a graduate of Memorial’s Computer Science and Mathematics undergraduate programs. Dr. Hamilton’s expertise will allow GRI to develop subsea seismic visualization capability to be integrated into their existing Virtual Remotely Operated Vehicle Field Development Kit. This R&D will complete the software system, capable of visualizing a subsea oil field interactively, in real-time. The integration of data from various sources in this project will allow users to visualize and process seismic data in the subsea field context. RDC’s investment is $60,000 with total project costs of $209,494.
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Media contacts:Heather Maclean, Director of Communications, Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development; 709-729-4570, 697-4137
Chris Flanagan, Director, Marketing & Communications, Research & Development Corporation, 709-758-1021, 691-1009; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION: RDC is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador’s research and development performance. RDC works with research and development stakeholders including business, academia and government agencies and departments to make strategic investments in highly qualified people, innovative research and world-class infrastructure. For more information about RDC, go to www.rdc.org.