Ed Adams was bit by the inventing bug when he was very young. As a child growing up in
Winnipeg during the 1930s, Adams was constantly tinkering. Young Adams built a motorboat, complete with a
marine engine, and a kayak. He tested his boats on the Red River, and at age 15 joined a friend on a canoe
trip that led all the way to the United States.
Adams studied engineering at the University of Manitoba, and received certification as an
aeronautical engineer. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, and was stationed in Alberta during
the war, where he began applying his mechanical ingenuity to instrument design.
Adams began his career in technological innovation by establishing Dominion Instruments in
1946. The post-war oil boom in Alberta created plenty of opportunities for innovation and invention, and
Dominion Industries, with Adams at the helm, took advantage of the demand for new ideas.
Adams helped design and develop seismic testing equipment, and began exploring ideas
which had an environmental application. During the 1960s, he started working on technologies to measure
sulphur dioxide emissions, and was a co-inventor of the testing equipment which monitors stack emissions from
sour gas and electrical generating plants.
Adams sold Dominion Instruments to Bow Valley Industries in the 1970s, and began to look
for new ideas. He devised a solution to the problem of detecting underground gas tank leaks by following the
scientific maxim that "nature abhors a vacuum."
Adams formed a company called Athabasca Research Corporation Ltd. to develop a vacuum
detection system and filed his U.S. patent in 1981. After a few fits and starts, including a buyout of initial
investors, Adams brought the vacuum detection technology to the market under the name Tanknology.
The stack monitoring technology and vacuum leak detection system devised by Adams are used
by many companies and governments in Canada and the United States.
Copyright © 2003
Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved