Volatus UK drone affiliate wins methane gas detection contract

Canadian diversified drone hardware and services company Volatus says it has secured a year-long contract in the UK to perform aerial monitoring of water treatment facilities for leaks of methane gas – a major contributor to global warming.

Volatus said the 12-month deal calls for its iRed affiliate in the UK to operate drone flights at 14 water treatment plants in the nation’s northwest to check for presence of methane. Leaks of the gas from loose valves or venting results in the loss of valuable energy, increased costs, and damage to the environment.

According to Volatus, iRed will equip its drones with sensors to enable optical gas imaging capacities that will detect, locate, and measure fugitive methane emissions, and also provide quick and effective measures to halt the breaches.

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The methane monitoring contract further expands both the geographical scope and types of services Volatus provides utilities and energy sector companies. Last year it moved to reinforce its presence in that area with its acquisition of Alberta-based Synergy Aviation, which works with many oil and gas customers.

“This is a very strategic win,” said Glen Lynch, Volatus CEO, of the UK contract. “In Canada, gas leak detection for the oil and gas industry is already a major line of business for our Synergy Aviation subsidiary. The added capability of Optical Gas Imaging is expected to open new doors with our existing oil and gas customers as well as create new opportunities in the North American waste management sector. In parallel, iRed can leverage the strength of our Oil and Gas expertise to generate new opportunities in that sector in the UK.”

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, Volatus noted. Optical gas imaging allows drones with specialized sensors to identify methane present that would otherwise go unnoticed. 

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According to consultancy Deloitte, the UK will need to significantly cut down on its various forms of greenhouse emissions, and augment use of renewable energy sources like captured and reused methane if it is to meet its 2050 net zero carbon target.

“The production of methane is a natural part of the waste treatment process,” iRed president Ray Faulkner explained. “Methane gas is captured and used for bio-energy production and carbon capture. iRed is a specialist in fugitive gas detection, mitigation, and inspection. But capturing that data is only half the story – we turn data into actionable reports for stakeholders such as the Environment Agency to whom the operators are responsible. The potential for us is significant.”

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