Radio frequency wireless corrosion-leaking sensing device
This opportunity has now closed and is no longer accepting expressions of interest.
The Business Opportunity
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is seeking expressions of interest from firms wishing to enter into a commercial licensing arrangement to bring to market our technology “Radio Frequency Wireless Corrosion-Leaking Sensing Device”, which was developed by researchers at our CanmetMATERIALS Hamilton laboratory. The ideal licensee would be a distributor for this technology, and would have the capacity for the manufacturing, service, maintenance, support, marketing and sales. The ideal licensee will manufacture radio frequency sensing devices that could be used for monitoring the integrity of underground or underwater pipeline structures and storage containers.
Brief Technology Description
NRCan has filed an international patent application that discloses an apparatus comprising a radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor including: an antenna configured to receive an interrogation signal from a reader and to transmit a response signal to the reader; at least one integrated circuit (IC) connected to the antenna; and at least one sensing element. The apparatus further comprises a channel for directing the transmission of signals between the sensor and the reader, wherein the RFID sensor is attached or directly adjacent to the structure to be monitored at one end of the channel. The sensing element is responsive to the change induced by the environment, such as corrosion damage or leaking of a substance, to switch from a conductive state to a non-conductive state, or to switch from a non-conductive state to a conductive state. The reader, when brought to the vicinity of the sensor, is able to wirelessly detect the state change and record the information or send warning signals to the operator. The technology also discloses a method for monitoring the integrity or the change in environment of buried structures or storage containers, using the RFID sensor apparatus.
Appendix A: Technology Background and Details
Appendix B: Business Plan Required Format
Expression of Interest
Companies interested in commercializing the NRCan technology must submit a letter of interest to NRCan on or before July 16, 2021. Preference will be given to Canadian companies, but U.S. and other foreign companies will also be considered, provided that such foreign companies demonstrate a benefit to Canada.
NRCan will invite qualified companies to attend an interactive webinar where additional technical information will be presented. Participation in this information session will be subject to signing a non-disclosure agreement. Following the webinar, companies may submit questions and requests for clarifications. NRCan’s responses to questions and requests for clarifications will be issued to all qualified companies alike.
Companies interested in becoming NRCan’s licensee will then be required to submit a business plan for NRCan’s consideration. Business plans must address all of the elements outlined in Appendix B: Business Plan Required Format, and must be submitted to the contact below.
Maria de Fatima Machado
Intellectual Property Officer - Intellectual Property Division (IPD)
Natural Resources Canada/Government of Canada
Cell : 343-572-0389
Appendix A: Technology Background and Details
Corrosion monitoring is the probing and evaluation of changes of a material caused by corrosion damage, which may include a change of mass (loss or gain), a variation of physical, chemical, electrical, magnetic or mechanical properties, and/or a change of the dimensions or appearance (e.g., thinning, color change, cracking, peeling, etc.). Different corrosion or leaking detection technologies have been developed to detect and evaluate the corrosion of infrastructures or the leaking of pipelines.
Implementing corrosion sensors for storage containers or buried infrastructures (where “buried” refers to both underground and underwater infrastructures), for example underground or underwater pipelines, has long been a challenge since these infrastructures are usually located in remote regions with harsh environments, and access to the structures is usually very limited. In addition, the buried infrastructures may span thousands of kilometers, such that it is difficult and expensive, or unfeasible, to monitor even a small portion of the buried structure using the currently available sensors. In addition, once a buried structure leaks, timely detection of the leak with accurate warning to the operators is a big challenge for industries, such as the oil and gas industry.
Although wireless corrosion sensors (mostly based on radio frequency identification, RFID) have been developed to overcome these drawbacks, the application of such wireless sensors to buried structures is essentially impossible because those sensors are usually near-field and require the reader to be very close to the sensor (typically in the range of a few centimeters) to get effective reading. Such systems cannot be implemented with underground pipelines which are usually buried 1 to 2 meters below the surface. Furthermore, it is well known that radio frequency is extremely difficult to be transmitted through water.
Consequently, it is not possible to directly implement RFID based sensors in underwater pipelines. There remains a need for a corrosion monitoring sensor that is wireless (no need for direct connection to the sensor), cost effective, small size and weight, simple operation and data analysis, and low or without maintenance, for underground or underwater applications. There is also a need for a similar sensor that can conveniently detect leakage of any oil and gas infrastructures, such as pipelines or storage containers.
Radio Frequency Wireless Corrosion-Leaking Sensing Device Technology
In order to solve these issues, NRCan’s protected technology proposes a radio frequency wireless corrosion-leaking sensing device which comprises of: (i) a radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor comprising: an antenna configured to receive an interrogation signal from a reader and to transmit a response signal to the reader; at least one integrated circuit (IC) connected to the antenna; and at least one sensing element; and (ii) a channel for directing the transmission of signals between the antenna and the reader, wherein the RFID sensor is attached or directly adjacent to the structure to be monitored at a first end of the channel.
The sensing element is responsive to a change induced by its environment, e.g. corrosion or leaking, to switch from a conductive state to a non-conductive state, or to switch from a non-conductive state to a conductive state, which can be detected by the reader. At least one IC is contained within a protective housing, such that only the sensing element is exposed to the environment to detect the change. The RFID frequency can be in the ultrahigh range or the microwave range.
For the detection of leaks from a structure being monitored, the sensing element comprises a material that is originally conductive and once the leaked substance reacts with the sensing element, the material becomes nonconductive, thereby cutting off the short circuit between the IC chip and the antenna to enable normal communication between the sensor and the reader.
Appendix B - Business Plan Required Format
Companies are encouraged to submit concise and clear evidence under the following headings:
Section 1: Company Information
- General overview and company summary
- Organizational maturity
- Experience /success in the industry
- Technical capability
- Marketing capacity
- Corporate objectives
- Short-term objectives
- Long-term objectives
Section 2: Key Personnel and Networks
- Provide company organization chart identifying key members and foreseen roles
- Provide resumes of personnel key to this project including credentials and relevant experience
Section 3: Knowledge and Experience
- Previous experience on similar projects
- Experience operating oil and gas infrastructures, such as storage containers, pipelines or pipeline engineering, which monitors pipeline integrity
- Experience conducting business in radio frequency wireless corrosion-leaking sensing devices
- Knowledge of the regulatory structure on oil and gas infrastructures, such as storage containers or pipeline integrity
- Provide evidence of Quality Managed System
- Provide three customer references
- Please note that NRCan may seek additional references from potential end-users
Section 4: Financial Stability
Each company authorises NRCan to make credit enquiries about it and any of its affiliates and to receive and exchange credit information from credit reporting agencies or other persons with which the company or any of its affiliates has or may expect to have financial dealings. Each company must provide NRCan with the company’s (and, on request by NRCan, any of the company’s affiliates) audited financial statements for the last three financial years for which they are available and financial statements for any period after the last audited period.
Section 5 Market, Customer, and Competition Analysis
- Market opportunity, size and trends
- Key customer bases
- Key competitors
Section 6 Production and Marketing Plan
- Product description
- Distribution channel(s)
- Target markets (i.e. Canada, USA, worldwide) and sales strategy
Section 7 Company Financial Information
- Five-year cash flow forecast
- Capital cost estimates
- Operating budgets
- Manufacturing costs for NRCan’s technology
- Proposed sale price for product (s) incorporating NRCan’s technology
- Proposed profit margin targets for sales of product(s) incorporating NRCan’s technology
- Proposed royalty structure for product (s) incorporating NRCan’s technology
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