Escudo de la República de Colombia


System to detect flaws in power generating motor rotors created

The Colombian Superintendence of Industry and Commerce has recently granted a patent to this new technology conceived by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Medellín Faculty of Mining’ Applied Technologies Research Group (GITA, for its Spanish acronym).

Bogotá D. C., 11 de noviembre de 2015Agencia de Noticias UN-

Power generation in Colombia is impacted by failures which may be detected.

This is part of the system to detect problems in electric machines.

Guillermo León Mesa, retired UNal-Medellín Professor and leader of the project.

Many flaws in electric-generating rotors produce power supply issues in cities.

Early failure detection prevents great investments in funds destined for equipment repair.

This new project which also included the Medellín Public Utilities Company (EPM, for its Spanish acronym) and support from the UNal Deputy Rector's Office of Research is applied to detect anomalies in 100 megawatt power generator rotors installed in hydroelectric, thermoelectric or low-power wind power generators.

The idea emerged in theory a little more than five years ago when the energy sector questioned which where the issues which caused problems in generators but were not easily identified because they occurred during normal machine operation. Therefore they searched for a solution to identify small damages linked to flaws in normal operation conditions.

Furthermore this had another hindrance: In order to prevent these damages and perform diagnostics rotors had to be turned off or taken from normal operation locations with another aggravating circumstance, they weigh between 100 and 150 tons. This required a non-invasive strategy to detect flaws without shutting down the machines.

The method created by UNal complied with these requirements and is called Diagnostic System for Great Hydraulic Generating Rotors which is comprised of a unit that detects deficiencies and reports them through a software program.

“With this detection system we can perceive small flaws that are masked by daily generator operations. In some manner it is like detecting technically indiscernible issues with conventional systems which can evolve turning into grave or costly issues,” said retired UNal-Medellín Professor Guillermo León Mesa.

Mesa headed the patent requesting project along with Electric Engineer and UNal Physics master’s candidate Esteban Jiménez, who began the process when he was an undergraduate.

It’s like detecting a rattle under a big noise

“Let’s think on how the noise of an aircraft in flight can mask small squeaks which could be normal in certain cases, but then again, it could be the start of larger issues which could lead to a major accident. For this we invented a method that detects these squeals without –continuing with the aircraft example– making the aircraft to be grounded,” said Mesa.

Early detection of failures prevents great economic investments in future repairs when they become damaged due to undetected damages. It also prevents loss of profits for unprogrammed machine downtimes.

The system has other potential uses, for instance in medical practice to discover heart deficiencies. Using this method they could void known movements and noises and analyze noise linked to incipient issues.

However for now the idea behind the project is for it to be included in the infrastructure of large EPM hydroelectric, thermoelectric and wind power generators.

The patent was requested in 2012, granted in 2013 and confirmed in 2014. Patrimonial property belongs to EPM and UNal while intellectual property belongs to Jiménez and Mesa. This is another example of joint collaboration between the university, private enterprises and the government.

(Por: Fin/JSH/DMH/CA
N.° 656

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