Fife technology firm in subsea lighting breakthrough

© SuppliedA diver using PhotoSynergy's light path
A diver using PhotoSynergy's light path

A St Andrews-based light technology firm has developed a new product to revolutionise diver safety and efficiency in remote subsea locations.

PhotoSynergy Ltd (PSL) has produced the on-demand wireless ribbon lighting system in collaboration with WFS Technologies of Livingston.

Seatooth LIGHTPATH combines WFS’s Seatooth wireless communication system that downloads and logs information gathered on subsea installations, with PSL’s LIGHTPATH flexible fibre that projects a continuous line of light that carries no electrical power.

The new product works for both diver and operators of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) working either near surface or at depths of up to 3,000m.

The light is engaged automatically when the diver or the ROV comes within 5m of a structure, and provides instant illumination of subsea architecture and delineating features against the natural darkness of the underwater environment.

It switches off automatically when the diver or the ROV departs the scene, and has the ability to act as a proximity warning system when approaching installations, other divers, ROVs or danger areas.

The unit has been successfully tested in the lab, and will be trialled in subsea conditions in early 2017.

PSL director Don Walker said the companies had joined forces in a bid to find a solution to an industry request for a remote switching system to remove the need for physical contact.

A solution would save subsea operational companies time and money, increase productivity and avert potential damage to ROV and structures.

He continued: “Combining Seatooth technology with the LIGHTPATH product increases the capability of LIGHTPATH.

“This is most significant in terms of battery utilisation where LIGHTPATH is only illuminated as required operating either in a flashing or continuous operation.

“By integrating the two products, we have produced a much more convenient and efficient method for lighting a challenging environment with no physical contact required from a distance of five metres.

“The subsea environment is an intrinsically dangerous place where it is easy to become disoriented, so the Seatooth LIGHTPATH™ is a very significant development in safety.”

WFS Technologies chairman Brendan Hyland said: “This is a further example of the ‘Subsea Internet of Things’, where intelligent devices automatically communicate with one another wirelessly, improving efficiency and safety.”

PSL’s origins were in scientific research undertaken at St Andrews University’s Photonics Innovation Centre, and aims to turn LIGHTPATH into a global commercial product allowing it to become part of the broad and growing domestic upstream oil and gas supply chain.