“Sensors are the eyes, ears and nose of modern technology” says Joseph Fuda, President and CEO of Micromem Technologies (CSE:MRM) (OTCQX: MMTIF). And the information they collect enables systems of all types to react to, and oftentimes predict, developments in ways that enhance safety and productivity in a virtually endless list of industries, from automobiles and oil and gas, to nanotechnology and aviation.
Anyone who owns a car should be thankful of the sensors in their vehicle that make them safer and save money. In many late models, a sensor in the engine, for example, measures oil viscosity and will send an electronic signal that triggers a light on a dashboard display when it is time for an oil change.
Fuda says that apart from the sensors themselves, the “key delivery” for Micromem’s customers is “reduction of risk.” And in our increasingly fast-paced, interconnected world risk mitigation is certainly welcome.
Some of the sensors made by Micromem connect components of our everyday infrastructure to data monitoring systems via the Internet. Infrastructure is a good example of the importance and complexity of applications on which Micromem works and explains why all of its sensors are tailored to the customer. “The company does not make off-the-shelf products,” says Fuda.
Other industries that Micromem’s wholly owned subsidiary Micromem Applied Sensor Technologies (MAST) has created or is working on products for include healthcare/biomedical, natural resource exploration, information technology, manufacturing, and the government sector.
The current fiscal year is an important one for Micromem as the company is ready to move from the research and development phase to production. It expects to be profitable soon, thanks in part to clients such as Saudi Aramco, Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and General Motors (NYSE:GM)
When considering some of the specific applications for the company’s products, it is important to understand that Micromem does not repair systems or physical structures but rather makes them smarter, thus heading off problems before they get to the point at which repairs are required.
“Smarter infrastructure is the future,” explains Fuda. “People are used to being able to use their handheld devices. Old businesses like oil and gas or utilities need to be brought up to date, and as their infrastructure ages it needs to be revamped. Making it ‘smart’ means that end users can interact with their infrastructure through Micromem technology ahead of a problem.”
Chevron surely had this dynamic in mind when it signed a $9.2 million contract with Micromem to develop a sensor that monitors the integrity of cement casing in oil wells. Warnings that come well in advance of a potential breach could prevent disasters in offshore and onshore wells. In October 2014, Micromem delivered its first prototype, a particle tracer, to Saudi Aramco. The technology could be applied to over 1 million oil and gas wells, says Fuda.
In another interesting application, Micromem built a wireless device, similar to an oil pan plug, for General Motors and Flextronics.
Fuda explains that existing sensors for oil use basic software that tallies mileage over time rather than actual wear. Micromem’s system is more intelligent, measuring the condition of oil in real time and alerting the driver to specific issues. A corresponding patent, one of six awarded to Micromem, allows the company to extend the technology beyond oil to contaminants in virtually any fluid.
In the electrical utilities sector, instead of merely reacting to a problem at one of thousands of transformers across a grid, Micromem sensors work in unison to offer a pre-emptive rather than reactive tool. Engineers can anticipate problems by looking at trends and performance profiles to determine where malfunctions have a significant chance of occurring.
If a transformer is going to fail, a Micromem sensor can detect this ahead of time, potentially preventing problems such as the transformer explosion that caused power to go out for three days in a large section of downtown Boston.
One hugely promising product is a microfluidic cell front-end device no bigger than a deck of playing cards. Incorporating this in Micromem’s patented sensor platform enables detection of wear materials in lubricating fluids – similar to the unit developed for General Motors.
The product will be adapted for Micromem clients for use in wind turbines, marine vessels and construction equipment, to name just a few applications.
Fuda says the market for Micromem’s technology has no limits and points out that development costs are fully absorbed by its customers, who pay up front.
“Investing in Micromem now is investing in its growth,” says Fuda. “The company has a product base, a customer base, and a distribution network through its customers. There will be a time when everything around you, whether it is a transformer, your car, a pipeline or cement will have Micromem involved.”
Story by ProactiveInvestors
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