From small acorns grow huge power

Nextreme has developed a miniature, thin film thermoelectric generator (TEG) that converts heat directly into electricity.

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Ideal for waste heat conversion applications, the solid state TEG delivers power generation densities (>3W/cm2) in excess of those achieved using bulk materials and is optimized to provide power in a form factor that can be as much as 20 times thinner than bulk material alternatives.

This opens up waste heat energy conversion applications for the Nextreme technology, as well as remote power applications. Manufactured using semiconductor fabrication techniques, the TEG is scalable, cost-effective, and can be utilized in a broad range of markets and applications including automotive, military and aerospace, thermal batteries, medical implants and wireless sensor networks.

“In environments where a lot of heat is available we have demonstrated power levels of up to 300 mW with devices that are not much bigger than a piece of confetti,” said Dr. Seri Lee, Nextreme chief technology officer. “And in low grade thermal environments, we have demonstrated micro-watts of power – enough thermal energy conversion to power remote sensors and other distributed devices.”

Nextreme’s TEG has demonstrated output power levels of >100 mW at a temperature difference (∆T) of 70°K and >300mW at ∆T of 120°K. With modules measuring just 3.5 mm x 3.5 mm, the TEG has corresponding output power densities of ~ 1- 3W/cm2.

Nextreme’s TEG devices generate electricity via the Seebeck Effect, where electricity is produced from a temperature differential applied across the device. The temperature difference (∆T) between the hot (Th) and the cold (Tc) sources leads to a difference in the Fermi energy (∆EF) across the thermoelectric material yielding a potential difference, which drives a current.

Carbon neutral IT system is hot to trot

T-Systems of Germany has officially commissioned a unique, highly efficient and CO2-neutral system for generating electrical power at its Munich computer centre on 26 July.

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From now on, the energy and cooling needs of a server suit will be met by the combination of a HotModule fuel cell system from Tognum subsidiary CFC Solutions GmbH and an absorption refrigeration unit.

The order for installing the HotModule, with a rated electrical capacity of 250 kW, was placed by Munich-based PASM Power and Air Condition Solution Management. It is responsible for energy procurement for its parent company

Deutsche Telekom AG, and it generates all energy-based solutions for the parent company. As the computer centre needs nearly as much energy for cooling as for electricity on an annual basis, the cogeneration principle utilised by the installed system provides an ideal solution. It allows electrical power and thermal energy to be generated simultaneously in a single process, and it consumes only around half as much primary energy as separate generation of cooling and electricity.

Christof von Branconi, Member of the Managing Board of Tognum AG, Business Area Manager for Onsite Energy Systems: ‘We are pleased that our HotModule can now demonstrate its capabilities in a high-performance computer centre. It enables not only efficient and environmentally friendly operation, but also reliable operation, because it can provide the necessary electrical power and cooling to the servers independently of the public power grid, and it supplies an extremely constant voltage free of external network influences.’

On the occasion of the dedication of the fuel system, Bavarian State Secretary for Economic Affairs Hans Spitzner emphasized the uniqueness of using biomethane in a stationary fuel cell installation and characterised the project as a ‘further milestone’ in energy technology.

Biomethane allows environmentally friendly system operation. The fuel is produced from energy crops (feed maize) grown in the Munich region, and after being purified it is fed into the gas network. It is procured in a manner similar to green electricity, which ensures that the amount of biomethane consumed in the computer centre is balanced by an equal production amount.

Here the combined biomethane and fuel system is CO2-neutral in operation. This is because the maize plants absorb exactly as much CO2 while they are growing as the amount that is released to the atmosphere when the gas is used.

Swagelok’s ball valves are shaping up

Swagelok SK series multipurpose ball valves mark the continuing expansion of the company’s line of ball valves. The valves offer positive, quarter-turn shutoff for general process and control applications in fluid systems.

Key features of the new valves are 316 stainless steel construction, spring-loaded seats, floating ball, low-torque operation, and compact design.

The spring-loaded seats and floating ball provide leak-tight integrity in both low- and high-pressure systems while reducing wear and extending cycle life. Low-torque allows for easy manual operation and the use of smaller pneumatic and electric actuators. Compact envelope and standard panel mounting make the valves ideal for installation in panels.

In addition to manual actuation, SK series valves are available with standard Swagelok or ISO 5211-compliant rack and pinion pneumatic actuators.

Taking the tension out of bolts

Boltight’s bolt tensioning tools for the power peneration industry now incorporates the latest composite material hydraulic seal technology, providing a longer tool operational life, with minimal maintenance and easy piston retraction.

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All Boltight seals are self-energizing and click into place with no need for adjustment. The design and development of the seals successfully focused on minimizing the effort required to retract the pistons after use.

The seals are manufactured to suit any piston size, so Boltight can custom build tensioners to meet the application requirements exactly.

Boltight can also produce tooling to match the hydraulic pressure area of any existing bolt tensioners allowing these tools to be used alongside existing tooling from other suppliers.

By applying their experience of bolted joints, product innovation and their market knowledge, the UK company offers a standard range and custom designed bolt tensioning tools for applications on steam and gas turbine casings, gas turbine rotor through bolting, wind turbines, hydro turbines, pipework, pumps, valves etc.

Lapp tops insulator list for AEP’s network system upgrade

American Electric Power (AEP), owner of the largest transmission system in the USA, has chosen Rodorflex composite insulators from Lapp Insulators, LLC to ensure the reliability of their network. AEP recently placed a multi-year contract for composite insulators to be used for upgrades and maintenance of their USA systems, which cover 11 states.

Matthew Bailey, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, said: “This contract represents a significant portion of AEP’s anticipated insulator purchases over the next several years. AEP has some of the most stringent quality requirements in the industry, so this order is a validation of the quality of Rodorflex products.”

Ability to deliver product on time was another reason for AEP’s selection of Rodorflex insulators. The components will be sourced globally and assembled and tested in the U.S.

“With our network of suppliers, manufacturing facilities and assembly operations around the world, we can deliver products cost effectively, wherever and whenever the customer needs them,” said Bailey.

Rodorflex composite insulators are made of high-grade synthetic materials that exhibit outstanding mechanical and electrical characteristics. They feature a modular design that allows Lapp to source the components from the most cost-effective suppliers and then assemble and test the finished products close to the point of delivery.

Rodorflex insulators offer superior service life with outstanding resistance to environmental factors such as UV light, ozone, acid, contamination and moisture. They have an interior tensile strength higher than that of steel, yet they weigh 75 per cent less.

Elster sells a million meters

Elster, the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of integrated metering and utilization solutions, has shipped its millionth EnergyAxis System smart meter.

The EnergyAxis System is an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that uses powerful state-of-the-art, two-way communications to manage installed devices and retrieve related metering information. It is the most widely deployed AMI system in North America featuring a true two-way RF network, a technology of choice among utility companies.

The milestone meter was shipped to Salt River Project (SRP), the third largest public power utility in the United States and the largest supplier of electricity and water to the greater Phoenix, Arizona area.

“The EnergyAxis System has worked well for us and we continue to deploy REX meters in areas of high customer turnover, areas of concern for employee safety, and for access issues,” said John Soethe, manager of revenue cycle services for SRP.

Narda safety equipment set to be put to the test in Düsseldorf

Narda Safety Test Solutions is presenting a range of test equipment at the A+A trade fair in Düsseldorf from 18 to 21 September 2007 that meets the requirements of EU Directive 2004/40/EC and the corresponding European Standard 50499.

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European employers are obligated to inform their employees about the dangers and risks of electromagnetic fields in the frequency range from 0 Hz to 300 GHz. Practical instructions for demonstrating compliance with the EU limit values will be described in a European Standard, which is already available as preliminary standard prEN 50499.

The standard will be finalized by the autumn of 2007 so that it can come into effect on time at the beginning of 2008. EN 50499 obligates employers to make a risk assessment for each workplace and to check regularly that the limit values are not being exceeded.

Since the expected measurement methods are based on an ECC Recommendation (Electronic Communications Committee Recommendation (02)04: Measuring non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation), Narda Safety Test Solutions is already in a position to offer a complete range of test equipment for demonstrating and monitoring the limit values.

Personal monitors from the “RadMan” or “Nardalert” ranges, carried simply on the person, warn of unacceptable field strengths due to high frequency radiation. This is essential when working on or in the vicinity of transmitting equipment.

Broadband test equipment such as the new Narda Broadband Field Meter NBM-550 cover the entire high frequency field situation. So-called shaped probes automatically evaluate the field exposure levels in accordance with human safety standard limit values.

Selective test equipment like the SRM-3000 indicates the proportion of the field due to individual sources – either in terms of field strength or directly as a percentage of the permitted limit value. Important for the industrial environment, the low frequency range field strength is indicated by magnetic field measuring equipment such as the ELT-400. Correct results are delivered even if there are several different superimposed fields present.

The Tesla Meter ETM-1 measures right down to 0 Hz as required by the EU Directive. Employers need to be certain without having to invest huge sums and without high subsequent costs.

That is why all Narda test equipment is calibrated against standards traceable to national standards. Operation is designed to ensure measurements are quick and always give results that are reliable, verifiable and clearly documented.

Linear actuator component manufacturers make hay

The market for pre-assembled rodless actuators continues to grow at a faster rate than linear motion components in both emerging markets and the Americas, with suppliers that traditionally manufactured components gaining market share according to the latest study by IMS Research.

The low prices at which component manufacturers, especially those based in Asia, are able to bring their pre-assembled products to market continues to intensify price pressures within these two regions.

Many component suppliers are marketing actuators designed with a single U-shaped guide, which can be up to 40 per cent cheaper than the traditional double guided products offered by some dedicated, pre-assembled suppliers.

Fault locators pack power

Designed specifically to aid rapid, accurate location of cable faults in power systems, thereby cutting downtime and, in distribution installations, costly ‘consumer minutes lost’, cable fault locators in Megger’s new PFL40 range offer a full range of tests from a single compact and easily transportable unit.

Despite their small size, PFL testers perform DC testing at up to 40kV and impulse testing with energies up to 2000 J, a level of performance that is unmatched by any other portable test set currently available.

The latest additions to Megger’s established range of cable fault locators, which embody many of the patents granted to the company in this field, the new PFL40 units offer all of the test facilities needed for cable testing, cable fault diagnosis, pre-location of cable faults, fault conditioning and pin-point location of faults. Users therefore have immediate access to all of the resources needed to deal swiftly with even the most intransigent of cable faults.

PFL40 cable fault locators feature a high-voltage DC test set, complemented by a time domain reflectometer (TDR). The DC test set can be used to prove the integrity of cable networks or to confirm faults at voltages up to 40kV and currents up to 25mA. An operator selectable overcurrent trip is incorporated to protect the system under test in the event of a cable breakdown.

Fault pre-location can be achieved using the TDR in standard pulse echo mode, or by the arc reflection, impulse current or voltage decay methods. Acoustic pinpoint fault location, using the PFL40’s high voltage, high-energy surge generator, is also supported.

For intermittent or unstable faults, PFL40 testers offer a choice of fault conditioning features. In proof/burn mode, after cable breakdown has occurred, the testers apply a high current that stabilises the fault, making it much easier to locate.

Perpetuum microgenerators are picking up good vibrations

Perpetuum, the world leader in vibration energy-harvesting, announces its PMG17 vibration energy-harvesting microgenerator can readily be used to power the Texas Instruments CC2420 single chip RF transceiver and MSP430 16 bit ultra-low-power microcontroller.

As a result, sensor node manufacturers can now design battery-free sensor systems using the IEEE 802.15.4 standard even for the most data intensive applications such as condition monitoring. This opens up many new opportunities for proprietary protocols.

Texas Instruments’ CC2420 transceiver is designed for low-power, low-voltage RF applications using the 802.15.4 protocol. A vibration energy-harvesting sensor node designed around the CC2420 by Perpetuum engineers is capable of sampling 2kbyte of vibration data and transmitting it over 100m (line-of-sight) every 60 seconds when only 0.025g of vibration is present.

At this incredibly low level of vibration the PMG17 energy harvester produces up to 1mW, while at 1g the output is around 50mW, enabling the node to measure and transmit continuously. The node can be configured to measure and transmit much smaller data sets, such as temperature, more frequently or larger data sets less frequently, depending on the application.

“We are delighted Perpetuum has designed a practical alternative to batteries that can be used to power our transmitters,” said Frank Forster, a business development manager at Texas Instruments.

Radiodetection pipe and cable locators are cool for cats

Radiodetection, the world leader in the design, manufacture and supply of underground pipe and cable locators announces the launch of the new RD2000 SuperC.A.T range of high performance cable avoidance tools.

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To address all applications and budgets, the SuperC.A.T range is available in a number of receiver and transmitter combinations. The SuperC.A.T+ has been developed for high performance location of multiple utilities.

To support the telecoms market, the high frequency SuperC.A.TTL detects 131kHz or 65kHz as high frequency active locates are known to be more effective when buried assets are well insulated (e.g. twisted-pair telecom cables or insulated pipe joints). Using the SuperC.A.TS with a sonde enables location of pipes such as cast iron, clay, concrete and plastic and finally for metallic pipes with a Cathodic Protection System, the SuperC.A.TCPS is the receiver of choice.

The SuperC.A.T incorporates a number of features for added accuracy, safety and ease of use. These include depth and current measurement, a “user memory”, which saves the last used configuration and StrikeAlert, that alerts the user to unexpectedly shallow cables and utility lines in Power and Active transmitter modes.

Using patented Radiodetection signal-processing techniques the SuperC.A.T range has the ability to reject unwanted signals in the most demanding environments. Even with interference from overhead electrical cables and congested sites, this enhanced signal processing ensures that the information displayed is accurate and repeatable.

This new generation of pipe and cable location systems out performs all existing systems and also represents a cost-effective way of locating buried services such as gas, power, telecom/CATV, water and sewer.

Mercury rising for Ampy’s SMS smart metering customers

A new SMS meter from Ampy Metering could see pre-pay gas and electricity customers among some of the first in the UK to embrace smart meter technology.

The meter, named Mercury, has been launched as part of Ampy Metering’s strategy to introduce Smart technology across the UK and as a pre-curser to government trials of Smart meters, planned for later this year.

Using SMS technology, the Smart meter enables two-way communication between the energy supplier and meter and has been designed to bring substantial cost and time saving benefits to energy retailers.

The Mercury meter will also be able to ‘talk to’ a conveniently placed in-home display, which will tell the consumer in real time, how much energy they are using.

Key benefits of the meter for energy retailers include a gateway to enhanced technology, serving as an introduction to more intelligent metering and paves the way for fostering behavioural changes in relation to energy consumption.

There is also a reduced need for maintenance visits and call-outs to homes, as all meter readings (and shut-off) can be done via SMS communication.

All tariff changes can be programmed remotely, saving the need for home-visits and improving billing accuracy. Furthermore, in the case of pre-payment meters, the remote reading capability will enhance security and minimise tampering by reducing interaction between the homeowner and meter.

The meter has been developed over an 18-month period and it is now available to all energy retailers and network operators across the UK and will be available to credit meter customers by September 2007.

Murphy scores EDF cable deal

J Murphy & Sons has started work on a new £5.5 m ($10.1m) 132kV tunnel cabling system installation contract awarded by EDF Energy Networks in the UK.

The contract extends its involvement in the Lower Lea Valley Cable Tunnel project to include the installation of replacement Powerlines 132kV XLPE cables into the purpose-built ventilated tunnels, also designed and constructed by Murphy.

With the main cables and equipment procured by EDF Energy Networks plc, Murphy will provide the installation replacement 132kV electrical connection and cabling accessories, linking sub-stations at West Ham, Bow and Hackney required for the Lower Lea Valley Power Lines Undergrounding Project.

The scheme involves the installation of two main circuits and approximately 50km of main 132kV cable and 35km of auxiliary cables.

Light fittings cut CO2 emissions

Somar International has launched a replacement light fitting which leading companies such as Rolls-Royce, Heinz and Imerys have installed to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

Typically emissions (and therefore energy bills) are reduced by 60-80 per cent. Unlike many “green” products or solutions Somar are not only able to assist their clients to significantly reduce their carbon emissions, but they will also assist their clients in saving significant sums of money every year.

These savings are delivered through the highly efficient design of the patented lighting fitting itself and also a built-in sensor, which senses both ambient daylight and the presence, or lack of presence of workers in the vicinity. The fittings are then automatically dimmed/brightened or switched off/on individually in order to maximise savings.