The GRTgaz Open Innovation Factory
How can we improve the way we monitor, protect and control the gas transmission network? Four innovative companies have responded to four major future challenges launched by GRTgaz as part of the Open Innovation Factory 2020. Hooray! Three of them are French! Presentation.
The GRTgaz open innovation approach launched in 2016 aims to find operational and innovative responses to problems encountered by the company’s businesses. Calls for projects were launched by the company in April 2020, to which 65 candidates responded: managing the influences of alternating currents, promoting the emergence of the green gas sector by seeking to purify high pressure gas, detecting the corrosion on our pipes thanks to intelligent coatings, increase the realism of safety simulation exercises, remotely detect gas leaks and predict pipe movements during connections.
For Benjamin BLAZY, Head of Open Innovation Raiselab, partner since 2020: “The GRTgaz Open Innovation Factory is a great adventure which places ecosystem innovation at the heart of the company. To find solutions, with the Open Innovation team and the business, we crossed a certain number of borders, French on the one hand (we went to the US, Canada, Belgium …), and the startup ecosystem on the other hand. , because we have also worked with SMEs and mid-caps. We can’t wait to see where the next step takes us! “
OliKrom and its smart coatings winner of Call for projects # 1: How to enable the detection of overhead pipeline corrosion using “smart” coatings?
Currently, pipeline faults such as corrosion are detected via a meticulous inspection process performed by GRTgaz operatives in the field. The majority of pipelines are buried, although the network has some overhead pipelines. These are coated with anti-corrosive paint. GRTgaz wants to introduce “smart” particles that can detect this type of natural degradation.
OliKrom is a startup founded in 2014 by Jean-François Létard, Research Director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It specialises in smart paints for industrial companies, creating pigments that can change colour according to the temperature, light, pressure, the presence of chemical products, or changes in luminescence.
Why did you choose this company?
Ahmed Fakhry (research engineer, Pipeline department, RICE): OliKrom convinced our jury of experts both with its clarity and with the relevance of its proposals. These are experts in the field of smart pigments, and we are looking for a solution that can change colour when corrosion appears. This solution, and not least due to its innovative aspect, seemed the most well suited to the task while addressing the concept in detail. OliKrom also has significant experience in this area.
What will this solution bring to GRTgaz?
Ahmed Fakhry: It allows operators to note the beginnings of corrosion on overhead facilities due to changes in the colour or the state of luminescence. Also, certain facilities are very difficult to access. The solution will therefore pave the way for innovation in inspections. This will lower the costs associated with repairs and pipeline rehabilitation.
How did the company arrive at this solution?
OliKrom: This type of coating still doesn’t exist! We are going to use our unique expertise to identify a technical solution that will detect the earliest signs of corrosion. Our research work will be carried out in stages: identifying one or more technologies, customising these to the sensitivity thresholds set by GRTgaz, then integrating the technology into a paint. Once the feasibility has been confirmed, there will be an industrialisation process to scale up, as well as pilot site testing and quality certification.