A Closer Look into BioInspira
What is BioInspira?
BioInspira is a startup company that pioneers platform sensor technology, created from bio-inspired materials. While BioInspira’s technology has widespread applications, BioInspira was founded with the mission of creating a sensor grid that successfully detects leaks in gas lines and prevents gas explosions like the San Bruno fire in 2010. Their overarching goal is to transform the sensor technology industry and improve quality of life as a whole.
Ray Chiu and Benson Fan, the cofounders of BioInspira, were both pursuing Masters’ degrees in Bioengineering and working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory when they were first exposed to the risks and consequences of undetected leaks in gas lines. To combat this, they masterminded the solution that is BioInspira. The cofounders presented their concept in the Big Ideas Competition and received first place in the IT category—the most competitive category. With the funding they received, they were able to further develop their technology and eventually become a part of Foundry@Citris and founder.org. BioInspira also won the BECI Energy and Climate Challenge, which led to an ongoing partnership between the organizations.
The current leak confirmation process consists of a five year long inspection cycle that, first, relies on a surveyor to report a potential leak. BioInspira solved for both the lengthy process and reliance on reports by developing a new leak confirmation process with 24/7 remote monitoring. If the grid detects a leak, the data is automatically sent to the central cloud server and leaks are then analyzed based on risk analysis. Depending on the potential dangers of the leak, an operator at utilities is notified. This entire process takes approximately 15 minutes from end-to-end.
BioInspira refuses to stop here. The company is continually working to improve the technology more and more by making it more sensitive, smaller in size, and cheaper in cost. Furthermore, BioInspira has expanded its technology’s capabilities by applying it to innovative chemical sensing. They have developed a sensor array that is able to detect methane, ethane, and two mercapatans. Existing technology in the natural gas detection industry is very expensive and requires complex synthetic methods. BioInspira, on the other hand, has created technology that is cost effective and has an easy fabrication process. With this product, BioInspira is working towards its larger goal of improving quality of life by making the detection of natural gas more accessible to users.
The dangers associated with leaky gas lines, greenhouse gas emissions, and costly solutions are daunting, but the technology that BioInspira is pioneering has limitless potential and shines a beam of hope in the face of these problems.
The company has devised specific plans for its growth over the coming years. BioInspira is currently in the process of launching its alpha prototype and evaluation kit. Over the course of this year the company hopes to add wireless connectivity to its technology, iterate on the product based on feedback, test its evaluation kit with PG&E, add a handheld form factor, fine-tune the product specs, and much more. This agendum reflects the company’s drive to perfect its products in terms of cost-effectiveness and efficiency, while always being guided by its end goal of ensuring safety and good quality of life for people everywhere.