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Innovative technology a big water saver

Innovative technology a big water saver

[photo of PPIC technology ] PPIC technology in action underground

When Brian Mergelas, Artsci’90, PhD’95, started his own business in the basement of his home in 1997, he was the only employee. Today, Pressure Pipe Inspection Company (PPIC) employs more than 100 people, has been spotlighted in media articles, and has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the world leaders in its field. Small wonder.

The Mississauga, Ontario-based company uses an array of high-tech sensors and robotic cameras to inspect pressurized water and sewer pipes for leaks and other potential trouble spots.

As Toronto Star business reporter Tyler Hamilton noted in a recent article (December 30, 2009) on the company, “Pressure Pipe is helping cash-strapped municipalities change the way they look at aging water infrastructure, much of it pipes buried underground more than 50 years ago. In Toronto, the average age of water mains is 55 years, and nearly 20 per cent are 80 years or older. The situation is largely the same for sewer lines.”

PPIC’s innovative, eco-friendly technology—invented by Queen’s Physics professor David Atherton, who was Mergelas’s supervisor and mentor when he did his doctoral studies—is attractive to municipalities, which these days are hard-pressed to find the money needed to repair and renew aging infrastructure.

“There’s a crisis because we don’t have the money to do what we think we need to do, but the way out of it is to realize we don’t have to do everything we think we need to do,” Mergelas told Tyler Hamilton. “PPIC has inspected some 6,000 km of water pipe around the world and only five per cent has been found to be in bad condition. Why replace 100 per cent when only five per cent is stressed?”

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-2 cover]