Winners Announced For GE Global Challenge To Advance Technology For GHG Reduction In The Oilsands

CALGARY, Alta. -- Today, GE announced three winners in the final phase of its GHG Ecomagination Innovation Challenge, with the aim of commercializing technology to reduce environmental impact from production in Canada's oilsands. The final phase identified two winners from the U.S. and one from France, with technologies best responding to the challenge of improving the efficiency of steam generation in steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) based operations.

The winners are Sid Abma, Sidel Systems USA, Inc., U.S.A., Sylvain Lalot, UVHC, France, and Sumon K. Sinha, SINHATECH, U.S.A. The selected winners have the opportunity to create co-development plans with GE and other potential partners that will draw on a $475,000 directed development grant pool.

GE's GHG Ecomagination Innovation Challenge targets two of the biggest opportunities to reduce GHG in the oilsands: higher value use of low-grade heat and improved efficiency of steam generation. The second topic, which launched in February 2015, aims to improve the efficiency of once through steam generation (OTSG) technology, and thereby lower GHG emissions and reduce the environmental impact of oil extraction from the oilsands. OTSGs generate steam for use in SAGD production which is the most common method of recovery for heavy oil projects in this region that contains the third largest oil reserve in the world.

"We are believers in the role that technology can play to advance operational efficiencies and improve environmental performance in Canada's oilsands," noted Lorenzo Simonelli, president and CEO of GE Oil & Gas. "In collaboration with the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), GE and its industry partners were able tap in to the world's best and brightest minds to explore promising technology solutions to the challenges facing the industry."

The proposed technologies have been proven in other industries, and potentially can be used to enhance OTSG efficiency in the oilsands, lowering emissions and operating costs. It is expected that adaptation of these approaches to work with current OTSG systems, will allow for faster adoption and more immediate net GHG reductions for the industry.

GE's ecomagination challenges harness the power of "open innovation," a collaborative approach to finding new solutions for complex problems. NineSigma, an open innovation firm, facilitated the Challenge drawing talent and ideas from across industry and academia, single researchers and small to larger organizations from around the world.

NineSigma CEO Andy Zynga said, "We have been honing our Open Innovation methodology and building our solution provider network for over 15 years and are pleased to see the robust solutions that GE will help advance. This represents a win for everyone – GE, solution providers, NineSigma and of course the greater environmental good."


Sidel Systems specializes in flue gas heat recovery systems that have been implemented in several other industries and with some modification present a promising approach to recovering waste heat and water vapour from OTSG flue gas that could be reused within SAGD facilities.

Sinhatech is a technology development company specializing in taking advantage of advanced micro-scale flow dynamics. It has proposed a novel approach to modifying gas and/or fluid flows inside heat exchanger systems that will potentially increase heat transfer capabilities of these systems used both within OTSGs and other heat exchangers across a SAGD facility. Sinhatech has successfully applied micro-scale flow innovations to optimize system performance in the aviation and automotive industries and is looking forward to developing viable heat exchanger applications.

UVHC is a consortium of researchers with extensive experience applying analytics to support early detection of fouling in heat exchanger systems. It is expected that similar predictive analytic tools can be developed based on existing OTSG operational data to aid oilsands operators in detecting when their OTSGs are fouling, allowing them to migrate from "schedule-based" maintenance programs toward "condition-based" maintenance methods that provide significant opportunity to optimize overall OTSG efficiency over time.

GE imagines things others don't, builds things others can't and delivers outcomes that make the world work better. GE brings together the physical and digital worlds in ways no other company can. In its labs and factories and on the ground with customers, GE is inventing the next industrial era to move, power, build and cure the world.


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