Schneider Electric Company and the Israeli startup Prisma Photonics announced on a commercial partnership focused on marketing the smart monitoring solution of Prisma Photonics for the world of oil and gas infrastructure. Prisma Photonics develops optic fiber based monitoring solutions for long stretch utility infrastructures such as electric grid, oil & gas pipes, railways, borderlines and more. The company’s technology uses the existing optic fiber infrastructure as a sensor and by analyzing small changes in the optic signal, originated from the outside environment – it provides insights regarding external events at the fiber’s environment.
Schneider Electrics, based in France, is considered one of the largest industrial technology companies. In FY2020, the company posted revenues of €25.2 billion, and its market value in the France Exchange is €88.5 billion. The company is significantly active in the energy market and provides a variety of software and hardware solutions, such as power suppliers, cooling systems, sensors, and power grid management systems.
Schneider Electric, which announced the partnership in a formal press release, says that adding Prisma Photonics’ solution to its portfolio is part of its ongoing effort enable gas and oil companies to manage their operations in safer and environment-friendly manner, and prevent leaks and attempted sabotage and theft. Also, as Prisma Photonics’ solution is based on existing infrastructure, it is highly cost effective.
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.
[Picture source: Schneider Electric]