Airwave Electronics

Unsurpassed Gas Detection Technology

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Using gas detection technology to screen for the Covid 19 virus

DIDSBURY, AB, April 15, 2020 /CNW/ – Canada-based Airwave Electronics/Environmental, a long-time innovator in chemical gas sensing technologies, is developing a device to detect the COVID-19 virus immediately and at safe social distancing. Technology that has long been used throughout the world to detect gas leaks and monitor pollution levels is now being developed to screen for public health.

The device leverages the same concept that enables dogs to reliably sniff out gases associated with cancer and other diseases. It uses infrared technology (FTIR) to scan for the unique emission spectrum of people carrying the COVID-19 virus. Results are immediate, without intrusive testing or personal contact.

The device is small enough and light enough to be transported by a single operator. Its versatility enables it to be mounted on a portable stand, such as a tripod, or permanently secured to static structures, enabling a multitude of applications for its use, including area surveillance. A small video camera in the system enables the user to point the instrument at a desired target area.

Airwave Electronics/Environmental has aimed to develop a viable solution that is cost-effective and practical for mass detection of the COVID-19 virus and public health monitoring. The device will significantly help health care workers and others observe safe social distancing guidelines now and well into the future. At this time, COVID-19 tests are in short supply, and the use of current testing methods requires the consumption of a dwindling supply of one-time-use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Patent Pending

Airwave Electronics/Environmental
Since 1984, Airwave Electronics/Environmental is a Canadian company based in Alberta specializing in the manufacture and sales of gas detection equipment.

Airwave Electronics Ltd., 403-335-9875,

New Distributor of ELT Sensor CO2 Sensor Modules

ELT Sensor CO2 Modules

ELT CO2 Sensor ModuleJuly 1st, 2014, Airwave Electronics Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has entered into a strategic agreement with ELT Sensor Corp. that makes Airwave the North American distributor of ELT’s line of CO2 sensors.

The ELT T-110 is the world’s smallest CO2 sensor module. Using NDIR (Non-Dispersive Infrared) the T-110 features accuracy of 0 to 10,000ppm: +/-50ppm +/-3% measured value.

Learn more about ELT Sensors

Looking For Trouble – Pipeline Leaks

Calgary Herald, 94-06-11


SNIFF: Colin Minty check devices
which sniff out natural gas pipeline leaks from aircraft

Efforts to detect pipeline leaks before they result in massive ruptures are creating a lot of interest in a Calgary company that has pioneered a technique to sniff out leaks from the air.


Airwave Electronics Ltd., a 10-year-old firm selling and designing gas detection devices, has developed a system that company president Colin Minty says is capable of discovering pin-hole-sized leaks from 45 metres above the ground.

“What we’ve basically done is taken a proven ground-based system and converted it to work from a plane,” Minty says. “It means companies which previously hired walkers to inspect hundreds of kilometres of pipeline on foot can now do the same thing in a matter of hours.”

Minty, who designed the system, says there was no particular breakthrough just a coming together of several technologies.

Minty’s technology, a flame ionization system, uses basic chemistry to detect pipeline leaks. Methane or any other gas released in a pipeline leak consists predominantly of hydrocarbons.

A probe attached to the front of the aircraft captures samples of air above the pipeline path. Then an onboard unit burns any hydrocarbons in the sample. The burning process releases carbon electrons, which are attracted to a positively charged rod.

“The system measures the number of carbon electrons that attach to the (rod) the higher the reading, the higher the concentration of gas.”

SEARCH: Aircraft can be used to check thousands of kilometres of pipeline for leaks instead of people on foot with dogs

After the aircraft covers a section of the pipeline path, a computer plots the readings on a graph. Leaks show up as “mountains” of methane on the graph.


Several years ago, Minty began tests to see if the system could be operated from the air, first using a helicopter. However, the air around the helicopter was disturbed so much by its rotors that he was unable to obtain accurate readings.

He then began working with Westpoint Aviation at Springbank Airport west of Calgary, mounting a narrow tube on the nose of a fixed-wing plane which could bring undisturbed air into the flame ionization unit. A laptop computer records the levels of methane in the air along with the exact position of the plane.

The plane’s location is determined through a global positioning system, a new technology using satellites to accurately provide an exact latitude and longitude at any given time.

“The global positioning system is what really makes this possible,” Minty says. “With it, we can narrow down the location of a leak to no more than 150 metres. From there it’s simple to find with hand-held units.”

Nova Corp. has tested the unit on it’s Alberta pipeline network and has been impressed with the results.

“To say we were skeptical is putting it mildly,” says Brian Gillis, interim leader of Nova pipeline support and maintenance planning.

“Considering the speed the plane is travelling at and the height above the pipelines it was hard to believe it could be accurate. But the tests we’ve done have been very promising.”

After successful trials, Nova contracted Airwave to cover 18,000 kilometres of pipeline to test the system.

“Right now we use walkers to provide the same intensive coverage,” Gillis says. ‘It’s very labor intensive, slow and a lot of the landowners aren’t all that pleased with us walking over their property.”

Gillis says the airborne system greatly reduces the cost, but more importantly, it’s faster.

Pipeline leak detection takes wing!

Nova Now, 94-06

Detecting gas leaks the size of pinholes in a pipeline system 18,829 kilometres (11,700 miles) long is the responsibility of AGTD’s pipeline support and maintenance planning team.

Colin Minty, president of Airwave Electronics, shows off the flame ionization leak detection unit. A special probe, mounted on the front of a fixed-wing plane, draws air directly to the ionizer unit which detects the presence of methane indicating a pipeline leak.

To help meet this challenge, new gas leak detection technologies are constantly being evaluated, to find more precise and cost-effective ways of protecting the integrity of the NOVA pipeline system.


“We’re always interested in looking at new ways of improving our surveillance methods,” says Brian Gillis, interim team leader, pipeline support and maintenance planning. “NOVA has tested infra-red and hydrostatic technologies, but recently has focused on taking a proven ground-based technology and making it fly.”

Gillis is referring to flame ionization leak detection, which has been refined for airborne testing.

Basic chemistry makes flame ionization leak detection work. A flame inside the detection unit is powered by hydrogen. The plane flies along the pipeline and the flame in the unit reacts to methane, indicating a leak.

The deepest color at the peak of the plume shows the highest concentration of gas (10 to 12 ppm), pinpointing the location of the leak from the air.


The challenge is to transfer this technology to a small aircraft with a limited payload. The readings from 61 metres (200 feet) above the pipeline must be taken from undisturbed air (no airplane exhaust) and retain enough accuracy to pinpoint the location of the leak within 100 metres (328 feet).

A local Calgary company, Airwave Electronics, has developed specialized equipment that allows undisturbed air to be drawn directly to the analyzer, using a special probe mounted on the front of a fixed-wing plane. The equipment has also been reconfigured to reduce the weight and size for aviation safety purposes.

Several members of the AGTD pipeline support and maintenance planning team are participating in tests of this technology, which involve releasing a small amount of gas from two valves on the western system near the Knight compressor station. The test showed the gas disbursement plume above the pipeline.

“With this technology, you can fly an entire pipeline system in hours rather than walking or driving the system, so the cost-savings could be substantial,” confirms Gillis.

Airborne Sniff Spots Pipeline Leaks

Calgary Sun, 94-06

AIRWAVE chief Colin Minty readies leak-sniffing equipment for a flight.

A Calgary company has come up with a product capable of sniffing a pinhole leak in natural gas pipeline from an airplane patrolling up to 61 metres overhead.

“By speeding up inspection, we’ll spot more pinhole leaks before they have time to grow into major pipeline ruptures,” predicted Colin Minty, president of Airwave Electronics Ltd.

His 10-year-firm, which designs gas detection devices, inspects the 18,000-km pipeline system operated by Nova Corp. across Alberta.

Traditionally, maintenance crews walked or drove along pipelines while inspecting for leaks, using meters and occasionally dogs.

“Inspections that took days or weeks can now be done in hours,” Minty said.

“This is the first and only system of its kind that I’m aware of,” he said.

“With this technology, the cost-savings could be substantial,” says Brian Gillis, a senior pipeline support and maintenance planner for Nova.

Airwave has converted a proven ground-based gas detection unit into an airborne system.

The lightweight electronic gear, featuring a probe mounted on the nose of an airplane, draws air from the zone around the pipeline into the detection unit.

“Our equipment’s response time is three seconds, compared to 180 seconds for our competitors,” he said.

Air sampling is reliable as long as winds remain under 25 km/hr, Minty said.

The data is fed into a computer, which can use satellite mapping to locate a leak within 100 metres.

“Three years ago, we were trying to use helicopters but they’re expensive and their range is too limited,” The Airwave chief said.

The environmental and safety importance of pipeline leak detection continues to increase, he said.

A recent pipeline explosion in Edison, N.J., levelled eight apartment buildings killing one person and injuring hundreds.

Two years ago, another rupture ripped 4.5 km of Nova pipeline out of the ground, though no one was injured in the spectacular blaze.

Earlier this year, Calgarians could see a glow in the sky when a pipeline belonging to Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. erupted in southwestern Saskatchewan.

And per molecule, natural gas (pure methane) is a far more potent greenhouse gas (contributing to possible global warming) than carbon dioxide.