By Melissa Heald
Nov. 5, 2014
Glenn Cox of Cornwall was working for an insurance company in 2007 when he attended a seminar on hazardous spill site remediation. It would prove to be an aha moment.
Remediation involves trying to reverse or stop environmental damage.
In the early 1990s, as an officer RCMP living on Vancouver Island, Cox was called to an accident where a tanker truck had overturned in a remote area of the island. The tanker was leaking diesel fuel.
The RCMP and the fire department didn’t have anything to stop the leak. All they could do was try to stop the fuel from reaching a nearby river by using a backhoe to build a berm – a dirt barrier.
They waited for three hours for someone from the environment department to arrive from Victoria. When he did, the man went to the back of his truck, mixed up powder with water and made a big piece of putty.
With diesel spraying everywhere, he took the putty over to the hole, along with a piece of plywood and a shovel. He shoved the putty into the hole, jammed the plywood behind the putty and shoved the shovel in the dirt behind the plywood.
“There, we stopped the leak,’ he said.
At the seminar in 2007 Cox realized the technology to stop leaks hadn’t changed since that incident on Vancouver Island.
He immediately began to sketch down an idea. It would become the RuptureSeal.
That is a line of quick and easy leak-stopping devices designed to be deployed in seconds to temporary stop leaks for up to 10 hours. A stainless steel pin is put into a rupture, a zip-tie like cord pushes forward a silicon ball inside a black cap, sealing the leak.
“We believe in life safety and environmental protection are far too important for us not to do everything we can to protect them,” said Cox.
He opened his company, Zengo Innovation Inc., in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2011 when he began to work on the RuptureSeal.
It wasn’t Cox’s original idea. First he tried using a two-part foam injection system. The fire chief in Charlottetown told him 95 per cent of accidental ruptures are around two inches or smaller. His foam injection system would only plug a rupture two inches or larger.
Cox left the fire department thinking he was sunk. On the drive back to his office, he had an idea. He ran into a nearby Dollar Store and grabbed some zip ties and a squashy ball.
Once back at the office, he cut the ball in half, put a tie through the ball, then a pin through the tie, and used a spray can top. He took the crude prototype and stuck it in a coffee can full of water and it worked.
The RuptureSeal was born.
Cox’s innovation has garnered him national attention. He was in Ottawa on Oct. 22 to accept a Manning Innovation Award for inventing and commercializing.
“It validated my hard work,” said Cox, adding it was nice to be recognized by people in the industry.
Many people have contributed to the success of the product, said Cox.
“I may have been the inventor, but the RuptureSeal is the result of a team effect.”
Last summer, a transit bus hit a curb in Charlottetown. Diesel fuel was leaking down Queen Street.
When the Charlottetown fire department arrived, it had the leaked plugged within two minutes – using the RuptureSeal, said Cox.