UC technology helping the national power network
29 October 2013
Electricity is the life-blood of New Zealand's economy and new UC technology is helping the people managing the power network ensure the lights will always turn on.
Electricity is the life-blood of New Zealand's economy and new University of Canterbury technology is helping the people managing the power network ensure the lights will always turn on when people want them to.
UC electric power engineering postgraduate student Yanosh Irani is designing transportable test kit equipment, under the supervision of Dr Andrew Lapthorn, that generates at least 66,000 volts but draws very little power from the supply.
"This development will present a better option for power companies to test their largest and most important cables," Irani says.
"Our entire electricity system relies on insulation to ensure that an electric current only flows through something useful like a heater or a light. Insulation failures can cause everything from a simple flickering of our lights to fires, black outs and expensive repairs.
"The 2010 and 2011 earthquakes damaged more than 300 km of 11,000 volt underground power cables and 50 percent of the most important 66,000 volt cables leaving many people without power.
"We check the quality of insulation by testing the equipment within a power system at a very high voltage to ensure it will perform reliably once it is in service.
"This sort of testing is easy to do in a factory with large fixed test equipment that has access to a lot of power. In the field, however, the same voltages have to be generated with portable equipment that can only use what is available from a domestic socket.
"Our transportable test kit is a fraction of the size and weight of similar equipment and has been used frequently to test large generators in remote power stations like Manapouri.
"We also proved that our test kit could be used to check the health of insulation in 11,000 volt underground power cables damaged in the earthquakes. It also performed very well compared to the current equipment used by the industry.
"With help from Orion and Connetics, we proved that our test kit could be used to check the health of insulation in 11,000 volt underground power cables damaged in the earthquakes. It also performed very well compared to the current equipment used by the industry.
"I have had an amazing time at UC learning all about electrical and electronic engineering. We have built a solar powered remote control car, a control system for an electric go cart and even a robot with a flame thrower mounted on it.
"I stayed on to do my PhD here because UC is the only university in New Zealand where high voltage research like this is possible. Our high voltage laboratory is an amazing facility that I have been lucky enough to work in, alongside some of New Zealand's foremost electric power engineering experts."
"Christchurch is also one of the best places to be if you are into the outdoors. Being a postgrad here has also given me an opportunity to follow my passion for teaching and working with young people. I have been a resident tutor at College House hall of residence for the last two years, which has been incredibly rewarding," Irani says.
For further information please contact:
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University of Canterbury
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