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The Tekscent pipeline leak detection system is a blend of 20th century chemical knowledge and animal training that dates back to the earliest days of human civilization.

A dog’s sensitive nose can detect odors with an accuracy that far surpasses sophisticated oilfield laboratory equipment. Environmental scientist Ron Quaife used that knowledge to develop Tekscent, a special chemical odorant that can be pumped into pipelines, and detected by specially trained dogs when it seeps out of pipeline cracks and ruptures.

The exact formula, as spelled out in the Imperial Oil patent application, "contains dimethylsulphide in the range of about 0.1 to about 15 volume percent. Preferably, the composition contains dimethylsulphide in the range of about 0.1 to about 7.0 volume percent, and most preferably in the range of about 0.1 to about 0.3 volume percent." The odorant was also mixed with other chemicals, in varying formulas, to help ensure it reached the target area of the pipeline.

Dimethylsulphide (also spelled as dimethyl sulphide), has a distinct rotting vegetable odor at higher concentrations, and can be detected by dogs at much lower concentrations. The chemical migrates upward through the soil around buried pipelines, and is also relatively insoluble in water.

Specific field trials confirmed that trained dogs detected leaks in pipelines, including some at depths more than 3.5 metres below the surface, and used "specific behavior patterns where they have found the highest concentration of the odorant." The dogs also detected leaks as small as three mm (0.125 inches) in field trials.

The Tekscent system has been licensed for worldwide use by Makor K-9 International, which trains dogs at special facilities in Canada, United States, England, Czech Republic and the Philippines. The dogs have been used to detect pipeline leaks in a number of countries around the world. 

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