Sensor Technology Allows Better Visibility in Tracking Fluids

“We actually measure fluid itself so we don’t have to infer where fluid went based on where ground is breaking,” said Eiskamp. “We don’t care about breaks.”

Technology from Defense Research

Development of the core technology on which GroundMetrics solution is based dates back to 2001, in what became a series of projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation. The new type of sensor that emerged from the research was developed by Quasar Federal Systems, a hard-core electromagnetic research and development shop for the U.S. government.

The sensors had been used in a number of applications, from high-altitude planes to navy buoys; underground navigation systems to surface systems; to head brainwave monitoring systems for unmanned aircraft. However, it was determined that the technology could make the greatest commercial impact on the oil and gas industry.

Work was underway on developing a sensor app for oil and gas when Saudi Aramco wanted to see a demonstration of the technology. Since Quasar Federal Systems couldn’t move fast enough, funds were raised and GroundMetrics was formed in 2010 to conduct the first trial with GroundMetrics’ customer Saudi Aramco. GroundMetrics then enhanced core sensor technology developed through government research with a wireless data measuring system and new high-powered transmitter technologies, as well as new ways to analyze data with advanced mathematics and algorithms.

The company’s solution consists of a platform technology powered by three inventions. GroundMetrics’ proprietary system includes eQube, a rapidly deployable, capacitive electric-field sensor which is 100 times more sensitive than competitive sensors.

The other inventions are a new method to use existing oil and natural gas wells to illuminate deep underground technologies which can reduce costs by more than $1 million per square mile compared with competitive systems, said Eiskamp. This method includes the use of a portable wireless 24-bit data recorder, a non-invasive top casing source, and a hybrid source control unit that also measures the source output with the highest achievable accuracy possible using current electronics. GroundMetric’s system also includes mathematically complex algorithms paired with a unique survey configuration to cancel false positives, which plague existing systems.

GroundMetrics technology is optimized for low frequency operation over the .1 Hz to 100 Hz band, with operation from .01 Hz to 500 Hz. The sensor system also is environmentally friendly, with no negative effect on crops, wildlife, livestock, and local infrastructure.


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