Subol and Spark turn off the gas

Subol and Spark turn off the gas

That niggling feeling of being almost certain that you turned off the gas when you left home. Really, 100% sure? Yes. Well, 95% sure. Maybe. Everywhere that gas bottles are used and the chance of a leak is often greater, that nagging feeling is especially strong. Start-up Subol in Qatar devised a way to end the uncertainty and, in the process, earn an award at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva. Spark contributed to the development and the design.

A smart gas tap

Saleh Safran is CEO and co-founder of Subol. Together with is team, he devised a smart gas tap: one that tells you via an app whether you have indeed turned off the gas and – if you haven’t – can do it for you. Safran: “We talked to a number of design offices in, among others, Canada and Europe. We had the right feeling with Spark: beautiful designs, the right attitude, and professional and experienced people.”

Explosion risk

Michel van Schie, the project leader for Spark, explains the initial steps: “First, we formulated the product and project definitions, also with regard to legislation and regulations. With gas there is always a risk of explosion so you’re soon dealing with inspection authorities and certification. To keep the development costs low, we made choices that kept the certification simple. For example, by designing the product as a nozzle attachment for the regulator, we kept the PED (pressure equipment directive) out of the picture.”

Easier said...

Unfortunately, regulators differ greatly in terms of shape, format, and the position of the shut-off valve. In addition, there is also the requirement that the valve can also be shut off quickly manually without the resistance from the motor. “That sounds simple, but something like this has an enormous impact on the mechanical design,” says Van Schie. “But that’s where our strength lies. Coming up with a practical solution even under the pressure of lots of restrictions and requirements.” These are bold words. That creates expectations.

"They never give up."

But expectations were fulfilled. The Samam shut-off unit, as it’s officially called, is highly adjustable making it suitable for all conventional regulators. Wi-fi connects the Samam to the user and to the gas leak detector, also designed by Spark. Both the detector and the user can order the Samam to shut off the vent using the motor. And yes, with an ingenious button, the user can also shut off the gas manually, quickly and without any resistance. Safran: “At Spark they really take on the challenge. They never give up and they always come up with a solution.”


The Samam won Subol a silver medal during the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions in Genève.