AN INVENTION with its roots in the golf industry and first tested in a jam jar has caught the interest of major oil and gas companies.
Uptake, developed in the north-east by father and son John and Andrew Burns, is described as a groundbreaking fluid with the ability to suspend and carry solid and liquid particles such as oil, gravel and sand.
ITF, a technology facilitator for the global oil and gas industry, has recently concluded a proof-of-concept study together with member companies including BP and Weatherford, who see huge potential for Uptake for clearing restrictions in pipelines around the world.
John Burns, who started Golf Range Products in 2008, developed the fluid for use in the production of golf mats. Primarily for use at driving ranges in Asia, the mats incorporate soil and sand to give an authentic divot.
Shortly after developing the liquid, he noticed that at a certain concentration, it had the ability to lift the sand in the mats and hold it in suspension.
With a background in chemistry, the inventor soon started thinking about other possible applications for the liquid. He said: “The first experiments were carried out in jam jars containing sand where I mixed equal amounts of water with the Uptake solution and we found that it instantly lifted the sand and held it in suspension.
“Further experiments have found it can suspend and carry hydrocarbons, sand and even gravel and wax.”
Mr Burns was confident there would be a use for Uptake within the oil and gas industry, so set up new company Pipeline Cleaning Solutions – based at Keith – and approached ITF.
His proposal received £70,000 from ITF members including investment from ITF’s Pioneer Fund, which deals specifically with early-stage feasibility studies. The developers retains full intellectual property rights.