A new collaboration between Photosynergy and WPS Technologies will help light up divers and subsea infrastructure – without the need for manual control.
Back in the carefree days of 2014, InnovOil reported on Photosynergy, a company spun off from the University of St Andrews’ Photonics Innovation Centre whose innovation in umbilical lighting was making waves in the diving industry.
LIGHTPATH™ uses a low-power LED light source and side-emitting 5-mm diameter optical fibre to enable flexible, continuous illumination of diver and equipment umbilicals, hatches, gangways and/or emergency lighting at oil and gas or renewables installations. Because the cables carry no power, they can stretch hundreds of metres and be used at depths of up to 500m. The increased safety and security offered has seen them championed by the diving industry, with LIGHTPATH notably winning the Innovation for Safety Award at Subsea Expo 2014.
Building on a successful few years, a new collaboration is now finding additional deployment options for the technology. In combining LIGHTPATH with Seatooth – a subsea wireless communication system that can download and log information gathered on subsea installations developed by fellow Scottish subsea firm WFS Technologies – the technologies can bring added safety benefits to the ROV and diving industry.
Seatooth can be used in conjunction with all standard subsea instrumentation and control systems, and is used in a variety of applications such as flow assurance, pipeline monitoring and asset integrity. The company claims its technology allows data to be transferred at high rates and with low latency through seawater, the seabed, concrete blankets, metal pipes and the splash zone.
Seatooth LIGHTPATH™ is an on-demand wireless ribbon lighting system, suitable for diver and ROV operators working either near the surface or at depths of up to 3,000m. The light is engaged automatically when the diver or the ROV comes within 5m of a structure, and provides instant illumination of subsea architecture and delineating features such as control valves, docking bays, or the outline of the structure itself. It then switches off automatically when the diver or the ROV departs the scene. It also has the ability to act as a proximity warning system when approaching installations, other divers, ROVs or danger areas. Seatooth components allow wireless data transfer at up to 5m, with the option of 8MB integrated memory for data logging if required.The unit has been successfully tested in the lab, and will be trialled in subsea conditions in early 2017.
Remote controls PhotoSynergy director Don Walker explained that the companies had joined forces in a bid to find a solution to an industry request for a remote switching system which would remove the need for physical contact. “By integrating the two products, we have produced a much more convenient and efficient method for lighting a challenging environment with no physical contact required from a distance of five metres. The subsea environment is an intrinsically dangerous place where it is easy to become disoriented, so the Seatooth LIGHTPATH™ is a very significant development in safety.”
The addition of automatic engagement should also prolong the life of remote, battery-operated lighting systems. Walked added: “This is most significant in terms of battery utilisation where LIGHTPATH is only illuminated as required operating either in a flashing or continuous operation.” Its battery will provide 16 hours of continuous use, 80 hours in flash mode and two years on standby.
If trials go well, it is not difficult to imagine an appetite for the system wherever divers or ROVs are working alongside subsea infrastructure. As safety remains the industry’s biggest concern, Photosynergy and WFS continue to light the way.