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Luna snaps up Silixa following $50M investment

02 Jan 2024

US firm expands its fiber-optic sensing operations significantly with acquisition of UK company.

Silixa, the UK-headquartered fiber-optic sensing specialist, is now part of the US firm Luna, following an acquisition agreement worth up to $38 million.

Luna, which sells communications test equipment as well as fiber sensing technology, announced details of the deal on the same day as it revealed a new $50 million investment from New York’s White Hat Capital Partners.

Half of that investment has been put towards the Silixa acquisition, which includes a performance-related earn-out component worth up to $16.5 million, with $17 million of the White Hat money used to repay a $17 million loan.

Luna said that the Silixa business would bring with it around $30 million in annual revenues, thanks to its “highly complementary” portfolio of acoustic, strain, and temperature sensing technologies. The figure compares with Luna’s current annual turnover of around $120 million.

Scott Graeff, the Virginia-based firm’s CEO, commented: “The addition of Silixa not only elevates the portfolio of solutions we already offer in our key end markets, but also further strengthens our position as an enabler of energy transition by extending our reach into exciting new growth sectors, such as carbon capture and storage, as well as into monitoring processes that will help sustain ecosystems and safeguard fragile environments.

“Silixa brings important technology capabilities and strong talent that we expect to leverage across our EMEA footprint, which we expect will drive profitable growth across our European enterprise.”

Silixa corporate video:

Carbon capture deal
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Elstree, Silixa currently employs around 125 people and aims its sensing products at an addressable market worth an estimated $1 billion.

Key application sectors include the energy industry, as well as mining, hydrology, and defense - with the firm’s technology said to offer superior resolution and sensitivity compared with its rivals.

Examples include Silixa’s “Carina” product line for acoustic sensing. The company says that a “transformative” performance improvement has been achieved thanks to an advanced optoelectronics interrogator architecture, together with the introduction of new and proprietary “Constellation” optical fiber.

“This fiber is precision engineered to provide bright scatter centres along its length to capture and reflect more light back to the interrogator,” claims Silixa. “This is achieved without introducing significant loss to the forward propagating laser pulses.”

This improved performance is said to be most evident in applications with low acoustic signal levels, for example flow monitoring and borehole seismic and microseismic sensing, where acoustic information can be present at, or below, the inherent system noise floor of rival technologies.

Silixa’s recent activity includes a contract from the UK wing of oil and gas firm Perenco aimed at carbon capture and storage (CCS). Perenco UK is set to use a distributed acoustic sensing system to monitor carbon dioxide injections into the depleted Leman reservoir off the UK’s North Sea coast.

“This equipment will be run on an injection test pilot well and is purposed to provide an intervention-free solution to monitor several downhole determining parameters, during an industrial-scale carbon dioxide injection test on the Leman field, currently being prepared for the end of 2024,” Silixa said.

Part of the wider “Poseidon” project, the aim is to redevelop the Leman field as a large-scale CCS store, potentially offering a large and permanent store of recovered carbon dioxide gas from industrial emissions in Leman’s depleted gas reservoirs and saline aquifers.

“Reducing carbon emissions at a global scale is a major challenge and to reach a net-zero carbon economy will not be possible without carbon capture and storage,” said Glynn Williams, Silixa’s CEO.

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