Israel Electric Company monitors power lines using Prisma Photonics

A new agreement had signed between the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) and Prisma Photonics Company. The Tel-Aviv-based startup develops optic fiber based monitoring solutions for long stretch utility infrastructures such as electric grid, oil & gas pipes, railways, borderlines and more. Prisma Photonics’ technology uses existing optic fiber infrastructure as a sensor, and provides insights regarding outside events by analyzing small changes in the optic signal.

As part of the pilot, IEC uses Prisma Photonics’ PrismaPower™ technology, which allows for the identification of maintenance and safety events along the power lines, such as attempts of equipment sabotaging, people climbing on power towers, local disruptions to the power supply, short circuits and even weather conditions that endanger the power lines such as strong winds or lightning strikes. 

At this point, Prisma’s solution monitors 100 KM of transmission lines, without the need for IEC to install any other hardware throughout its infrastructure. The collaboration has started as part of Israel’s Innovation Authority’s program to promote cooperation between technology companies and governmental bodies. This is the first commercial agreement reported by Prisma Photonics.

Prisma Photonics was founded in 2017 by CEO Dr. Eran Inbar and Chief Scientist Dr. Eitan Rowen. For 18 years, Inbar was CEO of V-Gen Company, the developer and manufacturer of laser systems, while Rowen was its leading researcher. Strategic investor in Prisma Photonics is the venture capital fund i3-Ventures, which focus its investments in early-stages startup companies at various technological fields.  

“Listen” to the fiber

Prisma’s technology is based on a physical phenomenon in which part of the futons within the light pulse are being scattered, and a small fraction of the traveling pulse’s energy is scattered back, holding information about the fiber’s environment. This way, the fiber is used as an active sensor and detector. Analyzing the scattered energy allows for detection of environmental events, similar to the way radar works. The main challenge is that the back-scattered signal is very low – typically, as low as 1 billionth of the transmitted pulse, makes it hard to differentiate between different signals and build a clear picture of the outside environment. This is the reason why most solutions currently in the market are having problems to reduce false positive and negative alarms.  

Prisma Photonics’ solution uses patented laser-based optical interrogator for ultra-sensitive and intelligent-learning detection, producing “acoustic signature” of each event, later used for a smart event identification and classification.

According to the company, its solution is 100 times more sensitive than the other solutions currently in the market. It can identify changes in pressure, temperature and vibrations outside the fiber at resolution of one millionth of a millimeter, and build a precise detailed picture of the events based of these changes, providing dramatic reduction of false alarms.

Another advantage is the ability to monitor up to 100 KM using a single Optical Interrogator unit. Based on this technology, Prisma Photonics developed a variety of solutions for the infrastructure world, such as locating leacks and theft attempts from oil & gas pipes, damages and sabotage attempts to submarine cables, hazards and people crossing railways, peripheral defense and detecting trespassers along border lines.