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Successful ABB laser trials at Aberthaw power plant

Aberthaw power plant

Trials of an LM80 laser range sensor from ABB have proved so successful that Aberthaw power station in the UK is poised to install a further three units.

The sensor helps operators to track the position of rail-mounted coal cars, or paddle feeders, which ferry coal from the station’s receiving hopper to the main conveyor into the combustion process itself. The ABB units are replacing existing range sensors that kept failing because they could not withstand the tough, dusty environment around the hopper, and were more difficult to set up, requiring the use of a laptop, proprietary software and an RS232 link.

“The trial unit hasn’t failed once in the six months since it was installed,” said Andy Jones, EC&I Engineer with RWE Npower, which operates Aberthaw. “That’s already a big improvement on the existing sensors.”

“It’s hard to say how much the old units were costing us because a failure didn’t actually stop coals being loaded, but the operators were accustomed to being able to use them, and had developed ways of operating the plant that required knowledge of the position of the paddle feeder.

“Every time they broke down it was another defect for the maintenance department to resolve. In a way the situation is similar to having rear parking sensors on the car – we all managed without them for years, but now we’re used to having positioning sensors and they make everything run more efficiently.”

The paddle feeders around the 60m-long receiving hopper were originally driven manually, requiring operators to work in a dusty, inhospitable area. The system was initially automated with the help of CCTV cameras, but these did not enable controllers to pinpoint the location of the cars with any accuracy. In 2009 the company added laser range sensors offer a non-contact alternative for far greater accuracy, enabling the cars to navigate safely and more efficiently.

The LM80 from ABB is a high-performance laser transmitter that accurately measures level, distance and position over long ranges in extreme environments. It features advanced timing and sophisticated signal processing for pinpoint accuracy at up to 100m for level applications and up to 150m for positioning applications. Contained within a rugged, aluminium enclosure, the sensors are non-contact and maintenance-free.

Perkins celebrates engine milestone


Diesel and gas engine manufacturer Perkins has celebrated a company milestone with the production of its 20 millionth engine.

The 1206 two-stage turbo Tier 4 diesel engine rolled off the production line at the company’s manufacturing facility in Peterborough, UK.

Of the 20 million engines built, at least 4.5 million are still in service, Perkins said.

The company makes off-highway diesel and gas engines in the 4-2000 kW market. It says as many as 800,000 engines can be manufactured per year in its facilities in Peterborough and Stafford, UK; Griffin, Georgia, US; Curitiba, Brazil; and Wuxi, China.

At a small ceremony to mark the occasion, Perkins president Ramin Younessi said, “Twenty million engines is a significant achievement of which we’re all very proud.

“Today, Perkins is one of the world’s leading suppliers of off-highway diesel and gas engines in the industry. Our engines are manufactured across four continents and power more than 800 different applications in the construction, power generation, agricultural, material handling, industrial and marine markets.”

He continued: “Our global manufacturing facilities have all contributed to this 20 million milestone for the Perkins brand, to which I extend my sincere thanks to the team, while our global customer base have of course, made their contribution too, by continuing to value their ongoing relationships with us as their power provider, as much as we value our partnerships with them.”

Victaulic targets power plants with nitrogen and water fire suppression system


Mechanical pipe joining and fire protection systems manufacturer Victaulic has introduced a nitrogen-and-water fire suppression system designed for industrial applications.

The system contains no toxic chemicals, the company said. Its nitrogen and water solution is sprayed in a swirling pattern at 64 km/hour, cooling the hazard area and removing the oxygen that sustains the fire.

It can be integrated with alarm and detection systems as well as facility security technology, and because it uses no toxic ingredients it can activate immediately upon detection of a fire without having to wait for evacuation, Victaulic said. “The Victaulic Vortex system provides an innovative, safe and effective fire protection solution for data centres, combustion turbines, large industrial process assembly lines and machinery spaces,” said Bram Van Hoeyland, Victaulic Vortex business developer Europe.

“The unique hybrid technology releases water droplets of around 10 microns in size, eliminating any appreciable wetting of equipment or surrounding space. These ultra-fine water particles feature a heat-absorbing surface area 90 times greater than those generated by standard sprinklers,” he added.

Shell launches ‘sulphur-free’ transformer oil


Shell has launched a premium inhibited transformer oil based on gas-to-liquids technology, the company says.

Introduced first to the UK market, the new Diala S4 ZX-I is “essentially sulphur-free”, Shell said, significantly reducing the risk of sulphur copper corrosion in the transformer.

The new oil also features high specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity as well as the ability to withstand severe voltage fluctuations from, e.g., switching processes or lightning strikes, according to Shell.

“The key benefit of this premium product is its consistent chemical composition and performance”, said Jàƒ¶rg Friedel, Global Product Application Manager for transformer oils at Shell. “Its formula contains a uniform molecular structure and low impurity levels, a base oil and an antioxidant. No other additives are required. It is free from PCB, and contains essentially no sulphur.”

The company produces gas-to-liquids products at its Qatar Pearl plant, which it says can produce 140,000 barrels per day.

Areva to be exclusive supplier of nuclear air trap technology


Areva has signed an agreement with US engineering firm Nuccorp Inc that will make Areva the exclusive global supplier of Nuccorp’s Nuclear Grade Air Trap (NGAT) technology for the nuclear industry, the firm has announced.

The NGAT technology passively monitors and regulates accumulated air and gas in nuclear plant safety systems, eliminating the need for periodic venting and ultrasonic testing inspections, Areva said.

While essential nuclear safety systems such as the emergency core cooling system may be compromised due to the accumulation of air and gas, the NGAT automatically removes them before they can enter key reactor piping, the company added.

According to Areva, the design requires no electricity and can be easily installed at existing nuclear plants.

“Becoming the exclusive worldwide disturber of this innovative technology reinforces our leadership in nuclear plant safety-related systems,” said Philippe Samama, Areva’s Installed Base Business Division executive vice president. “As part of Areva’s Safety Alliance programme, this solution provides utilities with an increasing level of safety in their nuclear reactor operations.”

Remote Solutions unveils circuit breaker racking for nuclear industry

Remote Solutions

Remote Solutions has launched a version of its Safe-T-Rack SR-U battery-powered remote racking system aimed at the nuclear power market.

The company says the new system is compatible with ITE K600-K2000 circuit breakers, as well as lightweight and portable. It is designed to help ensure compliance with evolving arc flash mitigation regulations.

The “No Mod” design does not require installation modifications to the cubicle or breaker, Remote Solutions said, eliminating the need for utilities to generate costly design change documentation and post-modification equipment testing.

According to Remote Solutions, the SR-U system employs a Mil-Spec design and robust self-diagnostic capabilities as well as offering rechargeable 28V battery power for international use, a universal handheld controller and drive unit, quick-change tool coupling, smart drive bracket design, and an expandable data-bus design.

“Our SR-U system provides a cost-effective solution for demanding circuit breaker racking applications in the nuclear power industry,” said Remote Solutions president Bob Stevenson.

“The system increases operator distance from the breaker, allows racking in and out of a cubicle, minimizes damage from mechanical racking failures, and integrates remote operation of breaker open/close functions,” he added. “Users no longer have to worry about de-coupling or jamming the breaker into its cubicle, requiring that the bus be de-energized to safely remove and repair the equipment.”

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