The wireless way to safer sub-station

Apr 03, 2013

New Professor of Radio Science and Wireless Systems Engineering at the University of Huddersfield heads a £670,000 project to find a more effective and efficient means of fault detection - meaning few blackouts and better safety standards

A £670,000 research project headed by a new University of Huddersfield professor promises major , higher and less likelihood of cuts by transforming the techniques for detecting potentially dangerous and destructive faults in electricity sub-stations.

Ian Glover has been appointed Professor of Radio Science and Wireless Systems Engineering and a key area of his research is the use of easily-installed wireless sensor networks in sub-stations. This technology is designed to locate and diagnose imminent system faults, so that repairs can be made.

Professor Glover explains that when the insulation of cables and other power equipment becomes old or damaged, it radiates microwave energy, known as partial discharge.

"This can be picked up by radio receivers and by monitoring the intensity of this , you can predict when an item of plant is going to fail."

Traditionally, partial discharge has usually been detected by a technician walking the substation with a and a pair of headphones.

"He listens to an audio signal that simply gives some basic information about whether partial discharge is present or not and with a bit of luck, the closer he is to the partial discharge the more intense it sounds," said Professor Glover.

"That might typically be only done once a year, but that is not enough. A piece of equipment can degrade very quickly."

In the worst cases, equipment can explode, leading to power cuts and massive repair costs plus safety risks – although modern sub-stations in the UK are not generally manned.

Professor Glover is the lead investigator on the £670,000 project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which will develop the principle of , which can be monitored centrally.

"You get a quicker diagnosis and it means that you can move from planned maintenance to condition-based maintenance," explained Professor Glover. "You don't have to maintain everything quite so often if its health is being measured all the time. You can wait until something is about to go wrong."

This would produce efficiency savings, cut down on the cost of equipment replacement and avoid the large fines levied on utility companies in the wake of power cuts.

The novel feature of Professor Glover's EPSRC-funded research is that he would use free space radiometers to sense microwave radiation intensity. These instruments are not attached to the power cables and can be installed without switching high voltage equipment off, so there is no interruption to power supplies.

"They can be reconfigured and installed very quickly and very conveniently and do not require demanding time synchronisation."

Explore further: FAA's Airworthiness Directive issued to avoid power loss

Related Stories

Radio Waves: Alternative Power Source

Jul 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at Duke University are harvesting ambient radio waves to power small microprocessor devices that consume very little energy. Devices such as sensors that monitor critical environmental ...

DOCOMO to field test solar-powered green base stations

Mar 22, 2013

NTT DOCOMO, INC., Japan's leading mobile operator, announced that from April, it will begin field testing three conventional mobile-network base stations that have been installed with solar panels, high-capacity rechargeable ...

Using wireless sensors to monitor bridge safety

Feb 23, 2009

University of Texas (UT) professor, Dean Neikirk, will be field-testing a new bridge monitoring system within the year. The project is a collaboration between industry, government, and academia that will provide ...

Thermogenerator from the printer

Nov 15, 2012

Wireless sensor networks monitor machinery and equipment in factories, cars and power stations. They increasingly "harvest" the energy they need to transmit measurement data from the environment, thus making ...

Recommended for you

FAA's Airworthiness Directive issued to avoid power loss

May 02, 2015

A fix for a software problem that could possibly result in power loss in Boeing 787s has been ordered. Federal Aviation Administration officials adopted a new airworthiness directive (AD), effective as of ...

Recycling aluminium, one can at a time

May 01, 2015

Producing pure aluminium from ore accounts for as much as 1 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Recycling is the best way to reduce that carbon footprint – but manufacturers and recycling ...

Bringing hypersonic flight closer to reality

May 01, 2015

Two University of Sydney aeronauticalengineering PhD researchers have been invited by the European Space Agency (ESA) to help realise the dream of travelling across the globe at 7 times the speed of sound.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.