FLIR makes ‘strategic investment’ in Baton Rouge emissions monitoring tech firm


S&P 500 thermal imaging giant FLIR Systems Inc. has made what it calls a “strategic investment” in a tiny Baton Rouge firm that has developed advanced software used to quantify invisible gas emissions.

The investment will give FLIR exclusive access to certain elements of Providence Photonics’ intellectual property to expand its own offerings to its oil and gas industry customers. The companies will work to deploy Providence Photonics’ quantification algorithms in current and future FLIR Optical Gas Imaging, or OGI cameras and digital services. Providence Photonics’ software utilizes FLIR OGI cameras.

Financial details of the investment were not announced, but in a Form D securities offering notice to the SEC in November, Providence Photonics reported a $2 million equity investment from an outside investor.

Providence Photonics specializes in the development and utilization of advanced technology in the field of optical gas imaging while tackling some of the industry’s most challenging environmental and safety problems. Using patented technology, advanced computer vision techniques, and state-of-the-art infrared imagers, they create solutions for several applications, including leak quantification, leak survey validation, autonomous remote leak detection, and flare combustion efficiency monitoring.

Providence Photonics is a subsidiary of Providence Holding Inc. at 1201 Main Street, along with Providence Engineering and Environmental Group, a multidisciplinary engineering and environmental services firm. Named member/managers of Providence Photonics include Providence Holding Inc. President Richard Major, CEO Yousheng Zeng, CTO Jon Morris and Todd Black.

“Our investment in Providence Photonics represents another example of our evolution from solely being a leading sensor company to one that adds decision support to create intelligent sensing solutions,” Frank Pennisi, president of the Industrial Business Unit at FLIR, said in a prepared statement. “This investment enables to us to better serve our existing Oil and Gas industry customers who rely on our optical gas imaging technology to improve efficiency and safety, while ensuring compliance with methane mitigation regulations.”

Providence Photonics, recently partnered with Lockheed Martin and Surface Optics to manufacture Mantis, a video imaging spectral radiometry, or VISR, flare monitor. The product is used by BP plc group businesses to manage methane emissions at oil and gas production facilities. It’s the first readily deployable monitoring solution that directly measures methane emissions entering the environment.

Mantis’ underlying sensor technology has its origins in the defense sector. Lockheed Martin manufactures the infrared sensor at its Santa Barbara facility, leveraging technology developed for advanced tactical fighter jets. Meanwhile, San Diego-based Surface Optics manufactures the VISR multispectral camera for the system. Providence Photonics is transforming and redesigning the advanced technology for the environmental market.

“These imaging systems are among the most advanced in the world and were developed to perform complex missions in the defense sector,” says Morris told Baton Rouge Business Report in May. “We are leveraging this technology to tackle the most difficult missions in the world.”

BP facilities use flaring—the controlled burning of gas during oil and gas production—to eliminate hydrocarbons that cannot be recovered or recycled. During this process, some unburnt methane can escape into the environment, making it critical to measure and manage these emissions.

The industry team’s VISR flare monitor uses IR images to measure how efficiently the flare consumes emissions. The team was also working with the EPA to mandate the method for monitoring flares across the country.

Read the announcement. Read a 10/12 Industry Report story about the use of infrared cameras in industry to detect leaks.