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In Pictures: Rugged equipment helps gas detection firm stand apart

Forerunner Research is one of four semi-finalists for the Globe's Small Business Challenge contest

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Gordon McArthur is president and co-founder of Forerunner Research, which sells devices that measure gas – in particular, carbon dioxide – in the atmosphere and trapped in soil. This information helps environmental researchers, policy makers and oil and gas companies measure CO2 and develop strategies for improving safety and environmental standards.

PAUL DARROW/The Globe and Mail

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What sets Forerunner’s gas-sniffing device apart from the competition, Mr. McArthur says, is the fact that its core technology – a “forced diffusion chamber” – has no moving parts, uses less energy and can run on a solar panel. “Before we developed our technology, the status quo was very heavy on power usage and had moving parts,” he says. “This made it not well suited to deployments in rugged and winter conditions.”

PAUL DARROW/The Globe and Mail

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The circuit board for the solar panel that runs the devices made by Forerunner Research. Their research facility is in Dartmouth, N.S.

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Forerunner employees (from left) Dylan Kelly, Chance Creelman and Nick Nickerson work in the company’s research facility in Nova Scotia.

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The aim of Forerunner, which has annual revenue of about $175,000, is to provide data reporting and analysis services, in addition to selling instruments, to the company’s customers in academia, government and the oil and gas industry. To achieve this bigger vision, Forerunner Research plans to boost revenue by hiring a full-time sales person to create a steady revenue stream that will finance research and development. It also wants to upgrade its laboratory and environmental chamber.

PAUL DARROW/The Globe and Mail

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