The Challenge: Low ignition source drone for inspection of hazardous areas

Reduce health and safety risk to personnel through the use of drones certified to fly into hazardous areas to investigate abnormal situations using onboard sensors

Challenge Partner

Challenge Context & Description

Investigation of equipment failure, hydrocarbon leaks, fire detection, personnel emergency calls and emergency shutdown (ESD) button operation in and around critical process equipment requires personnel to enter hazardous areas to verify the abnormal condition or locate distressed personnel. Fixed position gas detectors and infrared cameras mitigate the health and safety risk, but these systems cannot entirely remove risk given personnel may still be required to enter the field.

The Opportunity

Chevron Australia is seeking solutions to this issue using Electrical Equipment for Hazardous Areas (EEHA) certified drones that can fly into hazardous areas (which may or may not be indicating presence of hydrocarbons) and use onboard sensors to investigate abnormal situations.

Using drones will reduce health and safety risk by ensuring less personnel are in the proximity of operating plant. Drones will also be able to reach areas within the plant not accessible to operators (for example, areas at height without ladders and platforms) far more rapidly than a human operator. This rapid response ability will reduce the number of mitigative shutdowns and lost production opportunities (LPOs) that result from false alarms as well as slow response to abnormal situations. Rapid response drones will also be able to decrease the time it takes to locate and assess distressed personnel in the field.

The drone should be capable of operating in a flammable atmosphere comprising gaseous hydrocarbons and with likelihood of creating an ignition source engineered to be as low as reasonably practicable. The Applicant is encouraged to benchmark design against EX certified solutions successfully developed for other jurisdictions.

Specific Requirements

  • The Applicant should present a) a drone engineered to deliver minimum likelihood of ignition risk and/or b) a Drone which is capable of, or is, IEC-EX Certified.
  • If applicable the applicant should clearly identify their solution’s Hazardous Area Zone rating.
  • The drone should deployed by a qualified remote Pilot/Operator.
  • The applicant shall provide detailed Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) to a subsystem level. The FMECA shall incorporate all failure modes and mechanisms pertinent to creation of ignition source.
  • The battery shall be housed within a compartment that can only be opened/accessed by special tools. In a thermal runaway scenario, the battery compartment integrity shall be maintained, and external surface temperature shall not exceed 200°C.
  • Wireless communication system power levels (electromagnetic radiation source) shall not exceed limits prescribed in AS60079.
  • Material specifications and design shall eliminate static electricity ignition hazard. Non-sparking materials should be selected for key components.
  • The solution shall be rated for continuous operation at ambient temperatures of 45°C and in direct (tropical intensity) sunlight.
  • Drone should feature:
      • On board remotely operated camera (with Zoom capability and to deliver high-resolution still-images).
      • Sensors capable of detecting fire, heat, gaseous hydrocarbon concentration in real time.
      • On-board GPS-Tracker to enable both precise positioning and rapid retrieval of the Drone.

If you have any questions about the challenge, check out the Q&A section at the bottom of the page and you can post new queries through our Q&A form.

This challenge closed Friday 23 July 2021, 5 pm AWST.

Q&As: Low ignition source drone for inspection of hazardous areas

Feedback from applicants suggested the original opportunity statement was overly prescriptive. Chevron has revised the scope with the intention of affording local industry more flexibility in how they deliver a solution which meets the original purpose.
A UAV that is inexpensive, capable of detecting fire and hydrocarbons leaks with IEC-Ex Certificate of Conformity (CoC) demonstrating compliance with AS60079 and specific to Chevron Operations Hydrocarbons Source-of-Release Tables.
Pilots shall be experienced, qualified, and competent with current registered training organisation (RTO) records that are compliant with AS60079 and AS4761.
If you meet the other criteria, we suggest you submit an EOI. Open innovation challenges are as much about potential solutions as they are about existing commercial technologies. There is nothing to lose and potentially much to be gained by letting the Challenge Owners know about what you are working on.
Chevron understands there are currently no commercially available drones which are certified for Zone 0 hazardous areas. The Applicant is encouraged to benchmark design against EX certified solutions successfully developed for other jurisdictions (for example the European ATEX Certified Drone developed by Xamen Technologies).
Sure. Collaborative solutions are welcome and there is a dedicated box in the EOI form that caters for this.
$50,000 is not expected to fund the development of a commercial solution. The pilot phase could be limited to a proof of concept study with further funding provided to develop a prototype.
Yes. Applications from other sectors are encouraged.
No, the pilot phase could include demonstration of a prototype or proof of concept.