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British Prime Minister presents Queen’s Award to power firms

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hailed the winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2008 as “standard bearers for business”.

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Power companies have featured among those that have shared the honour of the UK’s most prestigious business award, including: Cape PLC’s International Division, which provides industrial services to the power industry; Cummins Ltd, for its diesel engine plant in Darlington; Greenbank Terotech Ltd, which makes products that optimize the performance of combustion on fossil fuel power plants; ScotAsh Ltd, which makes sustainable construction products made from power station ash output; and Garrad Hassan, an independent renewable energy consultancy for its excellence in international trade.

In this, the scheme’s 43rd year, Her Majesty The Queen announced 139 business Awards à‚— the second highest total for ten years. Awards for outstanding achievements in international trade went to 85 recipients, 42 for innovation and 12 for sustainable development.

The business benefits of winning a Queen’s Award include publicity, enhanced recognition and employee pride.

In a recent survey of 2007 business winners, 80 per cent of respondents believed their Queen’s Award had added commercial value to their firms.

Some 55 per cent of respondents said it was the most valuable award their businesses had ever won.

Prime Minister Brown said: “These firms embody the spirit of enterprise and innovation that is so vital to the future of Britain’s economy. Whether large or small, every one of this year’s winning organisations has achieved outstanding success in its field. I congratulate them all on their diverse and remarkable achievements.

“The Award Winners demonstrate the innovation, enterprise and dynamism that Britain will need to continue to succeed in the global market.”

Insulation testers offer improved safety

Megger says its latest versions of the MIT and S1, 5kV and 10kV insulation testers offer enhanced testing safety, even in demanding applications.

Latest versions of Megger’s MIT and S1 5 kV and 10 kV insulation testers offer enhanced safety
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All models now meet the requirements for use in CAT IV 600V applications, in line with IEC 61010-1. This means that the new instruments are suitable for performing measurements at the source of supply in low-voltage installations and offer immunity to high-voltage transients of up to 8 kV à‚— double the rating of their predecessors.

Megger says it is the only supplier for instruments of this class to fully specify the performance of the guard terminal. The company adds that the high current capability of the testers gives users fast, accurate results even in the presence of high levels of surface leakage in the equipment under test, which is important as it enhances the ability of the instrument to provide reliable information to assist in the diagnosis of faults.

Megger has also upgraded the PC-based software supplied with the instruments to the Power DB Lite package.

This allows test results to be loaded directly into test forms and certificates that are uniform in layout and appearance with the test documentation produced by many of the other power instruments in the company’s range. The MIT510/2 5kV and MIT520/2 5kV insulation testers and the MIT1020/2 10kV diagnostic insulation tester are high-voltage insulation devices that offer CATIV 600V capability, as are their high-current S1-range counterparts, which deliver a test current of up to 5 mA, compared with 3 mA for products in the MIT range.

The CATIV 600V rating also applies to the S1-554/2 5kV and S1-1054/2 10kV high noise immunity testers, which suit use in substation switchyards and other areas where extremely high levels of electrical noise may be present.

To complement the new versions of its insulation testers, Megger says it is now supplying them as standard with insulated test leads rated at 5kV or 10kV depending on the type of instrument. Compact uninsulated crocodile-clip style leads continue to be available as an option.

Russian fast breeder reactor to upgrade gate valves

Tyco Flow Control has received a $13m for the manufacture, delivery and installation of type GA251 Sempell gate valves at the Beloyarsk fast breeder reactor (FBR) near Ekaterinberg in Russia.

Type GA251 Sempell gate valves that will be used at the Beloyarsk FBR near Ekaterinberg in Russia
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Financed and guided by the European Commission within the EuropeAid programme, the scope of the project covers the replacement of 231 valves, which are safety-related system components in the water-steam circuit of the BN600 reactor, the largest unit of its type in the world.

The European Union and the Russian nuclear operator Rosenergoatom have commissioned the contract as part of the Tacis Project for Strengthening Environmental Information and Observation Capacity in the Newly Independent States.

Beloyarsk Unit 3, with a BN-600 reactor rated at 600 MW, went on line in 1980. The water-steam components undergoing replacement with Sempell technology are standard types widely used in conventional power plants and compliant with the thermal power plant design codes and standards that were in force at the time.

Of the approximately 3000 main water-steam valves of the BN600 unit in Beloyarsk, the 231 units in question are safety-related system components that were no longer in compliance with the current safety codes and standards of the plant.

Sempell units will improve on these in terms of strength characteristics of the valves, manufacture quality of the valve bodies, qualification of the body material for application in the water-steam circuit, gate tightness and proper functioning and reliability of the valves under the specified operating conditions.

Beloyarsk plant turned to Tyco Flow Control for the valve replacement, including delivery of the valves and equipment, and related services. The Sempell gate valves will be delivered in three lots from 2008à‚—2010.

These valves will include actuators equipped with position indicators and a monitoring system for gate seal and environment leak tightness. Additionally, Tyco Flow Control will ensure that all equipment is qualified in accordance with Russian regulations and issue corresponding certification. The execution of the project will be made in accordance with the QA-Program developed by Sempell and agreed upon with the contracting authority.

Commenting on the order, Sempell AG’s CEO Dr A. Trasser said, “Our expertise enables the Beloyarsk NPP to upgrade its plant with the highest quality valves available and achieve compliance with all of the necessary safety codes and standards.”

Beloyarsk NPP consists of three power units. Units 1 and 2 were decommissioned in 1981 and 1989.

Thin film solar cell efficiency rises

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have announced that they have moved closer to creating a thin-film solar cell that can compete with the efficiency of the more common silicon-based solar cell.

The copper indium gallium diselenide(CIGS) thin-film solar cell recently reached 19.9 per cent efficiency in testing in the laboratory, setting a new world record. This is still far from the highest efficiency of 42.8 per cent, achieved in July 2007 by a consortium of researchers led by the University of Delaware, but, of course, there are big differences in the manufacturing costs of these two technologies as well as their potential fields of application.

Amorphous silicon and cadmium telluride (CdTe) technologies are dominant when compared with the market size of CIGS solar cells, although the latter is showing vibrant activity. Key CIGS manufacturers are becoming increasingly competitive. In the next few years they will be enjoying a much larger share of the thin film market. Announcements such as that from NREL (achieving the highest efficiency out of all thin film technologies) increases the support of CIGS and gives confidence to manufacturers.

Improvements in CIGS modules do not only come in increased efficiencies of the modules. SoloPower and Ascent Solar are announcing that their modules will be flexible rather than on glass.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has tackled the optimization of solar cell technologies in a different way. Its pulse thermal processing technique is a revolutionary method of enabling technology for functionalizing nano-materials due to its ability to control diffusion at the nanometer scale. Power densities of the order of 20,000 mW/cm2 can be achieved over broad areas (up to 1000 cm2) and can be pulsed in 1 ms. According to Dr Ron Ott of the ORNL, the inherent characteristics of this technology can potentially revolutionize PV material systems.

Optimizing material systems and processing techniques for these materials could lead to solar cell performance that can eventually lead to grid parity in terms of cost and efficiency.

Polymer adhesive allows in-situ repair of transformer pipework

Belzona Polymerics of the UK has released a material that can repair transformer pipework in situ to minimize loss of production. The company says its 1831 Super UW-Metal two-component polymer composite will bond strongly to oily metal substrates such as those in transformers by displacing the oil from the surface to enable repair to take place. This avoids the costly draindown of a transformer and the resulting loss of power supply.

Outdoor transformer substations that have been subject to erosion corrosion for over 20 years commonly have oil leakage that leads to breakdown of fins, flanges, valves, seals and pipe work.

Pipework repaired using 1831 Super UW-Metal can be encapsulated in a standard Belzona material so that the entire process takes as little as two hours, allowing a prompt return to service of the transformer.

The adhesive paste requires minimal surface preparation and eliminates the need for specialist tools. The company says the composite will give a long-term repair if there is good surface preparation but is also a perfect emergency repair if ideal surface preparation is impossible.

Application is by spatula and board, followed by brushing to work the material onto the surface and disperse oil. Repairers can then build up the composite to the required thickness.

The paste remains workable for 30-45 minutes, and curing time depends on temperature. Under average conditions, full hardening of the paste takes 16 hours. It can be applied in temperatures down to 0à‚ºC.

IT system to support nuclear plants over their lifetimes

UniStar Nuclear Energy (UNE) is partnering Accenture to develop an advanced information technology platform to support the lifelong data needs of a potential new fleet of nuclear power plants.

UNE has proposed building at least four 1600 MW US Evolutionary Power Reactors (US EPR), an advanced design known for its robust safety features. Accenture, a consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, will jointly design, build and operate the new IT platform, named Galaxy, with UNE.

The companies believe that Galaxy will transform the way future nuclear power plants create, modify, share and store information during all phases of their 60-year plus lifecycle, from licensing to decommissioning. In addition, Galaxy will enable nuclear plant partners, suppliers and customers to more efficiently meet and accelerate project work schedules and budgets while improving performance through cycle time reductions.

According to George Vanderheyden, UNE president and chief executive officer, Galaxy will “speed the flow of information that nuclear plant owners need during plant, licensing, design, construction, operation and maintenance”. He added that for new nuclear to be successful, worldwide equipment venders and US EPR owners must be able to share information 24/7.

Daniel P. Krueger, managing director of Accenture’s Power Generation practice, said: “Galaxy will mitigate risks related to new plant cost, schedule and operation.”

Galaxy, which will be delivered in phases over the next several years, will enable nuclear plants to better track and store important data, such as a complete inventory of all plant equipment, warranties on plant systems and a history of all plant modifications.

The initial phase of Galaxy will be delivered in the coming months and will be focused on the design of the US EPR.

UNE is working to be in a position to make a decision in late 2008 regarding its first potential US EPR, which is proposed for Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs site in southern Maryland, US.

UNE is also considering potential projects in New York, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Texas.

Two EPRs are under construction in Europe, and the reactor design was sanctioned by two different regulatory commissions. China is also planning to build two EPRs.

UNE is a strategic joint venture between US electricity supplier Constellation Energy and EDF Group, Europe’s largest power producer. UNE and EDF say they are powering the nuclear renaissance in North America.

Calculator works out energy consumption

UK electrical distributor Electric Center’s product portfolio continues to expand with the introduction of the Acel Carbon Calculator.

Acel’s Carbon Calculator allows companies to gauge energy consumption and carbon emissions
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Featured in the company’s latest trade catalogue, the portable tool is a simple and effective way of calculating the energy consumption, financial costs and carbon emissions of a room, the company says.

The calculator also indicates to the user the possible savings that can be achieved by installing Acel energy saving and energy management products. Any product that can be genuinely deemed “energy efficient” is labelled with a green leaf symbol in Electric Center’s 2008 catalogue for ease of identification.

Electric Center managing director Stewart Hodges said: “We recognise our responsibility to actively promote and invest in innovative energy efficient products. The Carbon Calculator will provide valuable information when making capital investment decisions.”

Solar plants to receive 5000 tonnes of heat transfer fluid

Dow Chemical Company is supplying the heat transfer fluid for three large solar power plants in Spain, two of which are the world’s largest.

Solar collectors of the kind employed at three power plants in Spain. Dow Chemical Company is supplying the heat transfer fluid that will carry energy from the collectors at the plants to steam turbines.
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Dow will deliver over 2000 tonnes of its specialized fluid Dowtherm A to the Andasol I Solar Energy plant in Guadix, southern Spain, near Granada, nearly 1000 tonnes to the Iberdrola Renovables plant in Ciudad Real and another 2000 tonnes to Andasol II, also near Guadix. Each plant will supply 50 MWe to produce enough electricity in total for about 90 000 homes.

Dowtherm A collects heat and transports it to a power generating station, where it converts water to steam to drive a turbine. It is a mixture of special fluids that have the high temperature stability needed to collect, transport and store heat. Dow says the material is ideal for systems that use liquid or vapour-phase heating.

The company says it spent a great deal of time designing an effective manufacturing and supply chain capability to deliver these large amounts of fluid. “Each order is massive in its own right,” said Steven Stanley, global business director for Dow Performance Fluids.

The company adds that the manufacturing challenges it faced to fulfill the order centred on creating a supply design to enable the production of large batches of Dowtherm A, which requires huge amounts of raw materials for its manufacture. It decided to use local suppliers of raw materials to shorten the manufacturing process.

Dow will deliver the fluid by the road over only two to four weeks and at a delivery temperature of 40à‚ºC. To meet these challenges, the company says it invented a new supply chain procedure in which it: established supply capability in Spain for finished fluids; optimized fluid heating within the supply chain to meet customer delivery requirements; and developed the capability to deliver heated fluid on a continuous basis during the delivery period.

“This system of supply, manufacture, and delivery will enable us to continue to replicate these same results for years to come,” Stanley said.

“We can provide superior chemistry with great service at the lowest possible cost for our customers.”

Both of the Andasol plants will save about 450 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would have been released to the atmosphere had traditional fuels been burned.

Spain is taking advantage of the sunny climate and favourable tax incentives by pioneering large, commercially viable solar power plants.

Schneider Electric boosts overhead network reliability

Schneider Electric says its overhead line control cubicles enhancement the performance and reliability of overhead power transmission networks without large investments in new infrastructure thanks to a loop automation feature.

Schneider Electric says its overhead line control cubicles improve performance of overhead power networks without large investments in new infrastructure
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Designed as convenient building blocks for implementing loop automation schemes, the units are available as pole top control cubicles or advanced controllers for use with N-series reclosers that incorporate voltage sensors, current transformers, processing power and connectivity features.

The innovative control cubicles can configure the reclosers for three operating modes. Feeder reclosers open on the loss of upstream supply and close when the supply is restored, while midpoint reclosers automatically change protection groups and enter single-shot mode when the upstream supply is lost. The original protection group is re-asserted when the supply is restored. Tie reclosers close on the loss of supply to either side and open when reverse power flow is detected or when the power flow drops by 50 per cent.

By using control cubicles and reclosers in appropriate combinations, loop automation systems that automatically reconfigure the network around a fault can be readily implemented without the need to use complex and costly SCADA equipment. The benefits of automatic reconfiguration include restoration of supply to unfaulted network sections without the need for operator intervention and complete isolation of the faulted segment.

The control cubicles can also be configured to use their communication facilities to transmit information on status and events to a central location, allowing faults to be located before repair crews are despatched.

N-Series reclosers can operate dependably in the harshest of electrical and environmental conditions. They have the ability to operate in standalone mode with no external supply and can close onto faults without risk of damage or malfunction. They sense voltage on both the supply and load side, as well as sensing and calculating the direction of power flow.

Thermal camera gets GPS facility

FLIR Systems claims that its P660 thermal imaging camera has an industry first facility: integral GPS for geolocation.

FLIR’s thermal imaging camera includes GPS location
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This feature is particularly relevant if a geographically spread asset base needs to be monitored. The GPS data is stored automatically with the radiometric images adding mapping information to inspection reports so that field repair and service teams know the exact location of the problem.

The camera produces high image quality, temperature measurement accuracy and great thermal image detail. It has a sensitive 640 x 480 uncooled detector with an industry-leading sensitivity of better than 45 mK.

Its highly detailed images can be enhanced further using its contrast optimizer, a special algorithm that enables the user to view with high clarity both the scanned object and its surroundings, which is particularly useful in low-contrast surroundings. This feature enables detail normally lost in the background to be seen more clearly.

Wireless remote control is another added-value extra. It allows the camera to be set up in a sensitive or difficult-to-access location. It monitors or captures an event while the user retires to a point of safety and still retains full control over the camera operation. A new picture-in-picture function allows the user to overlay, pan and scale an infrared image on a visual image.

As all measurement data is retained, the combined image can be fully analysed. Thermal fusion is also included and enables image overlay to be undertaken in real time at the push of a button. This also allows the creation of overlay just as isotherms have been used, providing thermal fusion data in a temperature ban or as above or below temperature.

The camera includes a 3.2 megapixel visual camera, and a large 14.2 cm colour LCD. It is housed in a rugged but lightweight magnesium casing. The standard model measures temperatures from -40à‚°C to 500à‚°C with an optional range up to 2000à‚°C.

Garlock Sealing begins factory production in India

EnPro Industries’ company Garlock Sealing Technologies has begun manufacturing in India.

The company is making its Helicoflex spring-energized metal seals in a new production facility for the local market. Its new factory in Pune will serve local industries including power generation, particularly for application in nuclear plants.

“Growing demand for our sealing products calls for a physical presence in India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” said Harald Poppke, managing director of Garlock’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. “India’s demand for electrical energy is expected to more than double by 2030.”

Osprey vertical axis turbine set to turn the tide in renewables

A UK-developed vertical axis turbine that can generate power from the tidal movement of the sea and from tidal rivers and inland waterways has successfully completed a phase of its evaluation trials, according to its development engineers.

FreeFlow 69’s conceptual modular lagoon system with (inset) the purpose-designed test rig that has enabled successful evaluation trials of the company’s Osprey vertical axis tidal turbine.
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Following extremely positive initial testing of a reduced-scale model in 2007, a full size prototype has recently been trialled with significant success.

The Osprey tidal turbine is the brainchild of Cornwall-based FreeFlow 69, research and development consultants in renewable energy, headed by Pat Cooke.

A purpose-designed, state-of-the-art, 9.15 metre aluminium catamaran rig was designed and built by associate UK company Able Engineering for use in these trials.

The highly sophisticated test rig is equipped with a hydraulic scissor lift to lower and retract the turbine housing into the water flow and is powered by two outboard engines.

The rig drives the turbines through still water to simulate a current or flow of water at different speeds and incorporates calibrated instrumentation to determine the power output of the turbine, together with two systems for measuring the torque loading on the contra-rotating blades.

Cooke said the viability of the Osprey turbine concept has now been further proven: “It has performed exceptionally well in the latest trials, with power output on target with our expectations.”

Estimates are that wave and tidal power could provide a fifth of the UK’s electricity needs.

“And,” added Cooke, “whilst we are confident that the Osprey turbine could significantly aid the UK in achieving its renewable energy targets, we definitely see huge potential for the Osprey worldwide”.

Precise details of the contra-rotating, vertical axis, free flow Osprey turbine still remain confidential and its operating mechanism is subject to a patent application. It can provide power independently or as part of a larger system and outputs from 1 kW up to 5 MW in a multiple system are anticipated.

The turbine has also been designed as a key component of a conceptual modular lagoon type hybrid generating system that harvests power from tidal rise and fall, tidal flow boosted by a venturi and wind turbines.

This system could be an alternative solution to the proposed barrage across the river Severn in the UK or could be included as part of it.

The Osprey turbine’s gearbox and generator are above the water level, allowing it to operate effectively in variable depths to maximize power efficiency throughout the tidal cycle or in differing river heights. It is also environmentally friendly, will not interfere with marine or river life and can be mounted on the sea bed or suspended on pontoons.

Its bi-directional operation allows it to turn the same way in a flooding or ebbing tide, and the modular design enables a bank of Osprey turbines to be built up and added to to generate more power.

FreeFlow 69 is now actively seeking a suitable sponsor to assist with funding for the next vitally important phase of development.

“We envisage that the first Osprey turbines could be in commercial operation, producing electricity, within the next two years and would also welcome the potential opportunity to partner with an appropriate, forward thinking energy supplier looking for a totally practical and advanced renewable energy solution to add to their portfolio,” concluded Cooke.

Bluesky thinking has National Grid’s underground cabling all mapped out

Aerial photography is helping UK transmission system operator National Grid explore the potential for underground cabling works in the Peak District National Park.

Computer visualization of the Woodhead Rail Tunnel in the UK’s Peak District National Park
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As part of a wider landscape and visual impact assessment project, SLR Consulting bought the Bluesky imagery to enhance a large-scale virtual reality model of the area around a former rail tunnel.

Models of this type have previously been used by National Grid to help explore routing options and site planning for new power lines and substations, and the technology has now been chosen to help communicate proposals for underground cabling works in the Woodhead Rail Tunnel on the north-eastern edge of the park.

“Our model demonstrates the fine detail of the cabling works,” said Peter McGuckin, principal at SLR Consulting. “However, with the addition of the Bluesky imagery, the interactive model really comes into its own as a powerful means of showing the landscape context and the minimal effect the proposed works will have on the environment.”

SLR Consulting bought the imagery from aerial imaging company Bluesky in the UK to enhance its virtual reality model of the area around the tunnel. SLR referenced the map with accurate digital image files, covering about 45 square miles, to existing project information using their geographical information system (GIS) ArcView. The processed files were then passed through software applications AutoCAD and Photoshop to preserve the original image quality before being draped over an Ordnance Survey terrain model in software 3D Studio Max. Finally the processed aerial photography was visualized interactively within SLR’s Virtual Reality software.

“The resulting real time fly-through is of amazing quality and conveys an excellent impression of the landscape that characterizes the Peak District around Woodhead.

The trueness of the colours within the Bluesky imagery also helps us decide the right balance of paint colour and material finishes for new structures, ensuring they blend with the natural landscape from every viewpoint,” concluded McGuckin.

Capstone Turbine wins follow-on order for microturbines

Capstone Turbine Corporation of the US has won a $2.6m follow-on order for its C200 MicroTurbine systems for multiple biogas sites in Austria, Germany and Spain.

Previous microturbines ordered from Verdesis have been deployed in a variety of applications, including biogas, at sites throughout Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany.

“Europe continues to be a strong market for Capstone, and we continue to receive repeat business for our products from our distributors in Europe,” said Jim Crouse, Capstone’s Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing.

FirstEnergy aims to cut T&D losses

FirstEnergy of the US is joining an initiative to reduce energy losses in electricity systems such as transmission and distribution equipment.

The Green Circuits programme that has been set up by US R&D organization the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will initially develop technology applications to increase the efficiency of utility distribution systems.

Arshad Mansoor, EPRI’s vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization, said: “The industry and end-use customers will benefit from technical information to better understand how we can increase the efficiency of transmitting electricity.”

Research suggests that if the efficiency of the electric distribution system alone can be improved by 10 percent, the additional electricity available would be equal to the entire installed US wind capacity of 2006.

Yokogawa crazy over enhanced version of ProSafe-RS Safety Instrumented System

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has released an enhanced version of the ProSafe-RS Safety Instrumented System, ProSafe-RS R2.01.00.

Yokogawa’s has released an enhanced version of its ProSafe-RS Safety Instrumented System
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Emphasis is growing on operational safety in the energy industry, driven by the need to provide a safe workplace, protect the environment and be a responsible corporate citizen, so to achieve both operational efficiency and safety, the distributed control systems (DCSs) that are necessary for stable plant operations and the safety instrumented systems that are relied on to perform emergency shutdowns need to be finely integrated.

To meet these needs, Yokogawa has released the ProSafe-RS Safety Instrumented System and has continued to strengthen its functions to work in conjunction with the Centum series.

This new version is smoothly integrated with Yokogawa’s latest production control system, Centum VP, and offers improved security and support for Windows Vista. These enhancements strike a balance between improved operational efficiency and safety.

The operation and monitoring screen of Centum VP features an ergonomic universal design and an advanced, intuitive operational environment for improved visibility of information and enhanced operability.

Through the integration of ProSafe-RS with Centum VP, operation and monitoring can be performed in an advanced operational environment. Yokogawa says ProSafe-RS R2.01.00 enhances the security of PC components and keeps plants secure by restricting communications, controlling access to folders and the registry, and preventing unauthorized access from outside.

The company claims that ProSafe-RS R2.01.00 is the first major safety instrumentation system to support Windows Vista. It runs on the latest OS with the latest software. Major target markets and applications are industries that use systems for emergency plant shutdown, fire prevention/fighting and burner management.

The ProSafe-RS Safety Instrumented System helps prevent accidents by detecting unusual conditions in plant operations and taking emergency actions such as shutting down the plant. Unlike conventional safety instrumented systems and DCSs, which are regarded as having different roles or functions and operate separately, the operation of ProSafe-RS and Centum series can be fully integrated.

Furthermore, an independent certification body has certified that ProSafe-RS conforms to the IEC61508 international safety standard and can be used in SIL3 applications. As a result, ProSafe-RS is held in high regard by users and has been installed in more than 300 projects worldwide since its release.

Low maintenance probe senses turbine blade-tip timing

Monitran of the UK has launched a low-maintenance eddy current probe and driver for sensing turbomachinery blade tip timing that it says is a cost effective alternative to optical systems.

Monitran’s advanced eddy current probe and driver T3
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It says its T3 employs an eddy current probe and triple-output driver that can provide highly reliable information on the health of, for example, gas turbine blades.

Monitran says the T3, designed for harsh environments, is effectively immune from contamination, unlike optical systems, which the company says it performs as well as but which require periodic cleaning.

The T3 driver unit has an anodized aluminium enclosure, weighs 0.2kg and measures 62.5 x 29.5 x 78.8 mm. It produces a 5V trigger and generates three outputs: processed pulse arrival time of the blade tip, scaled blade-tip clearance and a raw eddy-current analogue signal.

The standard eddy current probe is 12 mm in diameter with a mounting flange diameter of 25 mm. Its overall height is 16.5mm, of which the mounting flange occupies 8mm.

The probe comes fitted with a 10 metre cable as standard, which can be either armoured or non-armoured. Other probe dimensions and cable lengths are available.

The operating temperature range is -20 to 85à‚°C for the driver and a continuous -20 to 250à‚°C or intermittent -20 to 300à‚°C for the probe.

T3’s other applications include the detection of cracks and breaks in gear teeth and twist and eccentricity in shafts.

AMSC wins $18 m order for parts for 3 MW wind turbines

American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) has won an order for wind turbine electrical systems and core electrical components from Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Corporation Limited.

Under the $18m-plus deal, AMSC will deliver the systems and components to China’s second largest wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind over 15 months.

Sinovel Wind will employ the parts in 3 MW turbines. The company already uses core electrical components produced by AMSC in its 1.5 MW units.

The components include AMSC’s PowerModule converters that control power flows, regulate voltage, monitor system performance and controlling the pitch of wind turbine blades to maximize efficiency.

Robotic technology improves grinding of castings

Improved automated grinding and finishing of castings is possible with ABB’s new RobotWare Machinery Force Control (FC) software package.

The company says that with its IRB140 robot, the Force Control software provides manufacturers with flexible technology that can quickly and accurately adapt to varying surfaces and consistency of materials.

At the heart of the technology are two advanced software features.

The first, FC Pressure, enables the robot to grind, polish and buff castings while maintaining a constant pressure between the tool and the work surface.

The second software feature, FC Speed Change, enables a robot to deburr or deflash part line surfaces of castings at a controlled speed, slowing down when encountering excessive burr and avoiding potential damage to the equipment and products.Another highlight will be ABB’s TrueView vision-guided robotics system. Using a robot-mounted single camera and variable lighting package, TrueView enables 3D vision guidance with a full six degrees of freedom.

The robot is programmed to position the camera and adjust the lighting to an optimal image capture location. The software processes the image and sends the appropriate path adjustment to the robot via Ethernet. This unique approach to vision guidance allows for automatic calibration and part training, reducing solution development and integration lead times.

ABB has also released its IRB1600ID (integrated dressing) dedicated arc-welding robot, which has a design that encloses all cables within the upper arm of the robot, helping to eliminate the problems of sharp parts damaging the cable, which can cause expensive disruptions to continuous operations.

The dresspack protects all the necessary parts including power, welding wire, shielding gas and pressurized air.

ABB says that users can optimize the performance of their robotic equipment by taking advantage of the company’s Remote Service Agreements.

These come in three options: Response, Maintenance and Warranty. They provide customers with a maintenance plan for their robots aimed at extending the mean time between failure, shortening the subsequent mean time to repair and, in turn, lowering the overall cost of ownership.The Switzerland-based firms says that this service tool is made possible by a small service box and system infrastructure which is installed in the robot’s control system and which allows ABB to monitor and collect data on the wear and tear and productivity of robotic cells, enabling problems to be identified and prevented before they result in a potential stoppage.

Siemens opens compressor test centre in Duisberg

Siemens Energy has opened one of the world’s biggest test centres for large compressor trains for use in industries including gas.

At a cost of around E100m ($155), the mega test centre in Duisburg, Germany, is currently Siemens’ biggest single investment in Europe.

Frank Stieler, CEO of the Siemens Oil & Gas Division said the 180-metre long, 40-metre wide and 35-metre high test centre in Duisberg strengthens Siemens’ position as one of the leading suppliers on the growing oil and gas market.

The rapidly increasing demand for fossil fuels such as gas is driving the trend towards bigger and bigger compressor trains, which comprise a compressor with mechanical or electrical drive. In the future, natural gas will be extracted at more and more remote locations and under more and more difficult conditions.

In addition to the large-scale construction of new pipelines, liquefaction of natural gas for delivery by tanker to the consumer countries is becoming more and more important. As a result, there is a growing demand for bigger and bigger compressor trains for liquefying. The same applies to processes for converting natural gas into clean liquid fuels. The new test centre is for the assembly and testing of large compressor trains weighing up to 700 tonnes each. It caters precisely to this trend.

Siemens says that with its state-of-the-art technology and huge dimensions, it is at the cutting edge in any international comparison, for example because it enables up to six compressor trains to be tested at the same time. A direct link between the test centre and the heavy-loads crane in the nearby shipping port affords further logistical advantages and creates ideal conditions for transporting the machines to and from the test site, Siemens said.

The Duisburg-Hochfeld site has been the world headquarters of Siemens’ Oil and Gas business since January 2008. “This puts Duisburg on a par with other oil and gas metropolises like Houston, Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi,” said Stieler. Siemens Energy employs around 2500 people in its Duisburg plant, including 700 engineers.

MID-compliant energy meter has detachable display

Carlo Galarza has launched what it says is the world’s first compact three-phase energy meter to have a patented multi-application detachable display and dual mounting technology.

The MID compliant EM21 energy meters from Carlo Gavazzi are the world’s first to include a detachable display and dual mounting options.
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The EM21-72D can be used either as a basic energy meter or multifunction meter and brings simplicity and compactness to building management systems and cost-allocation applications.

The device is quick and easy to install and occupies 72 x 72mm on panel doors or four DIN units on the rail. The self-powered meter features Eastport simplified programming and automatic adoption of the display to the selected application.

The detachable display requires no batteries or electrical connections. It plugs into the base unit via one of the two possible slots. The LCD gives a visual warning if incorrect phase sequence is detected.

Seven sets of three variables can be selected for display, providing for active and reactive energy measurement or a complete set of variables. Options include: system variables such as W, vary, PF, Hz and phase-sequence; single-phase variables including A, VLL, VLN, PF; TRMS measurements of distorted sine waves; and energy measurements (total kWh and knar).

As standard, an OPTOMOSFET pulse output provides fast and easy data transmission to PCs and Plus for energy monitoring, whilst all electrical parameters of the installation can be sent via the optional RS-485 port for integration with building management systems and other standard acquisition-monitoring systems.

Instantaneous variables are displayed as 3 x 3 digits, with energy meter readings to 6+1 digit resolution. Accuracy is à‚±0.5 per cent RDG (V, A), and the meter is rated Class B according to EN50470-3 (class 1 of EN62053-21), Class 2 (knar) according to EN62053-23. The meter is fully compliant with the Measuring Instruments Directive annexe MI-003.

Operating temperature range is from -25à‚ºC to 55à‚ºC, and the front panel offers IP50 protection against dust and water ingress.

Sheffield castings maker forges ahead to India with record order

Sheffield Forgemasters International (SFIL) of the UK has secured its largest ever order for hydropower castings.

A Francis turbine crown at Sheffield Forgemasters
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In an order to supply components for India’s Karcham Wangtoo hydroelectric project’s Francis water turbines, the company will produce an initial run of six crowns and bands for the rotating turbine runners over 18 months, all cast in 13/4 grade stainless steel and valued at more than à‚£2m ($4m), with the potential for two further sets by 2011.

Francis turbines are one of the most effective turbines in use for hydro-powered electricity generation as they force water through a decreasing radius to maximize the energy released, working at more than 90 per cent efficiency.

Volker Schaffer, company sales director, said the company has supplied many hydro shafts and components over the years, including projects for the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze river, but that renewable power generation is likely to figure quite prominently in future contracts.

Karcham Wangtoo is in the state of Himachal Pradesh and is the largest privately funded hydropower plant in India. It will output 1000 MW of electricity generated through the Francis turbines.

The castings will resist corrosion and be manufactured to operate under extreme pressures at the heart of the power generation process.

The crown and band components are critical components in the rotating runners, forming the ends of each runner, with vanes sandwiched between them to create a hydro ‘propeller’ that drives the power generator.

A spokesman said: “What we are witnessing is a global shortfall in power generation, which many governments, including those of India, China and the UK, are working to address through different forms of energy provision. Hydroelectricity is destined to play a significant part in future strategies.”

Uranium centrifuge design finalized

Enriched uranium fuel supplier USEC has finalized the initial design for its AC100 centrifuge machine.

Its lead cascade testing programme demonstrates reliable and consistent operations.

A manufacturing facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that USEC bought continues to be refurbished with equipment to support high-volume centrifuge manufacturing.

Since the beginning of 2008, the American Centrifuge machines involved in the lead cascade integrated testing programme have reportedly operated for more than 30 000 machine hours, providing data on equipment reliability and identifying opportunities to further optimize the machine and cascade design.

USEC says that the ongoing lead cascade testing has demonstrated an output of low enriched uranium at a product assay used in commercial reactor fuel, which is consistent with results observed in 2007.

The lead cascade test programme has also provided data that has resulted in modifications and improvements to centrifuge components. USEC’s American Centrifuge team in Oak Ridge has used the data generated by the integrated testing programme.

Some 75 per cent of drawings have been released to suppliers to allow them to begin manufacturing parts for the 40-50 AC100 machines that will be installed in the next operating cascade in Piketon, Ohio, which is expected to be operational in the spring of 2009.

Additional component validation testing will be completed and the remaining drawings released to the suppliers by 30 June. The AC100 machine is designed to produce 350 SWU per year.

In addition, improved AC100 components and design features will be incrementally introduced into the current cascade throughout 2008.

USEC’s review of the comprehensive project budget and schedule is ongoing, and the Company expects the process to be completed later this quarter. In February, USEC said the project budget for building the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) is expected to be about $3.5bn, which includes spending to date but does not include costs for financing or financial assurance.

“Our American Centrifuge team continues to make solid progress on several fronts and our confidence in the technology grows,” said John K. Welch, USEC president and chief executive officer.

USEC recently concluded the purchase of a facility that was built by Boeing in the 1980s specifically for centrifuge manufacturing. When Boeing decided last year to end its Oak Ridge operations, USEC contracted with Babcock & Wilcox for centrifuge machine manufacturing, balancing and testing work in the facility, which has been renamed the American Centrifuge Technology and Manufacturing Centre.

Copolymer will encapsulate PV cell thin films

Arkema of France has released a high-content ethane vinyl acetate copolymer (HC EVA) for solar panels: Evatane 33-45PV.

This HC EVA is for the encapsulation of the crystalline silicon or thin films that make up photovoltaic (PV) cells. Its optical performance includes good light transmission, which allows a superior yield from the solar panel. Its specially developed formulation offers excellent crosslinking ability and processability.

The company will launch another new Evatane grade for PV applications by the end of 2008. Evatane copolymer resins have vinyl acetate content of 18-42 per cent and properties closer to those of elastomers than polythene. The resins are easy to process and compatible with a large number of polymers.

Ferrous wear debris tester gives results in seconds

Condition monitoring of machinery lubricants is an established method of predicting and avoiding impending machinery breakdown.

Kittiwake says its ANALEXfdMplus ferrous debris monitor is rugged and compact
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Kittiwake says its ANALEX range of ferrous debris monitors provide the most accurate means of detecting and measuring ferrous wear debris in lubricating oils, hydraulic oils and greases irrespective of particle size.

The company says the monitors are rugged, compact and stable and deliver retrievable data quickly and simply to ensure fast, accurate and consistent management of oil condition samples. The company says the technology improves production efficiency, reduces equipment downtime and increases operational profitability.

The ANALEXfdMplus is the latest fdM ferrous debris monitor from Kittiwake. The company says it comes with increased software functionality, a more intuitive interface and a novel sample adaptor system that allows the user to test from a multitude of sample vessels, including 4 ml pots, 5 ml tubes, 5 ml and 10 ml syringes and 50 ml bottles.

Kittiwake says ANALEXfdMplus is an extremely accurate, repeatable, self-contained, rugged unit designed for use in laboratories, on-site or in remote field locations where laboratory analysis is often impractical or impossible.

It provides engineers with a means of on-the-spot measurement of ferrous wear debris in the lubricant and or grease samples and gives trendable information assisting the engineer or laboratory technicians with planning preventative maintenance programmes and helps ensure informed decision-making when assessing machinery and equipment condition.

Kittiwake says the fdMplus will measure ferrous wear debris in all types of oil à‚— from gearbox lubricants to hydraulics. One of the other key benefits is that it will also measure ferrous wear debris found in grease. The grease sample is placed into a 5 ml pot and this is placed into a special insert allowing a measurement to be taken.

ANALEXfdMplus uses inductive coil magnetometry to detect and measure the mass of ferrous wear debris within the sample, irrespective of the size of the wear particles present.

The result is displayed in parts per million and can then be trended with accepted linearity over a wide range of ferrous debris content and particle sizes.

Kittiwake says the technology is a sensitive magnetometer and will, therefore, only measure metals that are magnetic.

ANALEXfdMplus can operate on 12 V, which means that it provides access to laboratory-grade instrumentation to users in the field. The remoteness of many plants around the world that do not have ready access to either their own or a commercial laboratory makes this a vital tool. Examples include island power plants and floating power barges in Indonesia.

With a display resolution of 1 ppm and a range (depending on sample size) of up to 30 000 ppm, the unit is an onsite tool which can provide readings as fast as the media can be loaded. For labs that would like to automate the test process, a robot is available.

Data from each sample is stored in the internal memory, which can be displayed on the fdMplus either in graphical or tabular format with transfer of data to a host PC.

Panel provides indoor primarydistribution solution

ABB says it is now able to offer a complete one-stop-shop switchgear and transformer package for indoor primary distribution installations.

The ZS1 Fixed Pattern Circuit Breaker panel from ABB
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Its ZS1 Fixed Pattern Circuit Breaker panel, fitted with the Vmax/F circuit breaker, is the latest addition to its UniGear ZS1 range of metal-clad air insulated switchgear (AIS).

ABB says an important advantage of UniGear ZS1 is that it coordinates completely with ABB’s existing UniGrear ZS1 portfolio. So, for example, it is possible to specify on the same busbar a UniGear panel with withdrawable incomer; fixed circuit breaker outgoing; additional motor starter switchgear.

ABB says ZS1 has been designed for maximum safety and reliability, with mechanical interlocks between the circuit breaker, three-position line disconnector and cable testing device. All components can be accessed directly from the front, so there is no need for rear access for maintenance and service operations. The circuit breaker can be replaced in less than 90 minutes.

ZS1 panels suit applications where space is restricted. Even at a rating of 2000 A, each panel is just 500 mm wide and 1320 mm deep. The panels offer rear cable access from both bottom and top à‚— which is ideally suited for data centres. The units can be rear wall mounted if required.