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Operation Optimization and Improved Reliability Solution for Electrical Substations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Subfailtec (Operation Optimization and Improved Reliability Solution for Electrical Substations)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-04-30

PDP Technologies Ltd. is an Israeli company that provides innovative solutions to make electrical systems more reliable and less expensive to maintain. PDP has developed a patent pending innovative integrated solution, Subfailtec, which predicts failures in High/Medium Voltage (HV/MV) electrical equipment by continuously monitoring the equipment during operation in a non-invasive fashion, and detecting electromagnetic waves emitted by partial discharges.
Subfailtec can monitor PD events in any HV and MV electrical equipment and remotely process the data received, and as a Smart Grid component has an enormous potential market, making every electrical equipment a potential piece to monitor (only in Europe there are 4.000.000+ transformers). This is why Subfailtec will first address the cast resin dry transformers market:
• Transformers are key elements in electrical grids, indispensable for stepping-up or stepping-down voltages, as needed for transmission or distribution purposes to minimize thermal losses. Being located all across power grids, their failure lead to catastrophic results that include huge repair costs, regulatory fines, loss for energy-not-supplied, and can affect many thousands of customers.
• Dry transformers are expensive assets (around 25.000€ each) and their owners (typically in the industrial and commercial sector) have all interest in avoiding failure by monitoring their equipment
• Among all type of transformers, dry transformers are particularly prone to failure. They are very sensitive to environmental agents, such as dust and humidity, since they are not protected by a sealed enclosure, and need maintenance.
• Ddry transformers have a crucial advantage in that they are safer firefighting wise, since they lack oil that in case of fire worsen catastrophic damages in places where transformers are installed. We thus anticipate, that the dry transformers market is in the verge of an important growth during the next years, with more and more regulations entering into force during the next years encouraging the use of dry rather than oil cooled transformers.
Further refining this initial market for Subfailtec, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have been identified as the more profitable initial markets for Subfailtec. Once the sales are consolidated, Subfailtec production will be expanded to address the global cast resin dry transformers market.
During Phase I, PDP has continued to refine Subfailtec components’ design, subdivided in 3 main areas: Antenna, Hardware, Algorithm & Software: (1) Antenna - The Vivaldi antenna design and the field tests have been completed satisfactorily; (2) Software: Signal Processing: algorithms has been further developed for MV applications on the basis of the work completed on High Voltage, including denoising and classification; Operational SW/UI: a basic version has been fully developed; (3) Hardware - HW used during Phase I testing was based on the embedded electronics of a high end digital oscilloscope; Wired communication between the electronic front end and the computer has been fully developed.
Subfailtec sensitivity has been improved by refining the first stage algorithm: Subfailtec is now able to detect Partial Discharge (PD) signals with a magnitude as low as 10 pCoulomb or less, enabling detection and change tracking in the equipment insulation degradation right from the defect creation.
In order to confirm the validity of Subfailtec as a monitoring system for MV equipment, a series of experiments were performed at a Dry Transformer’s manufacturer facilities. The results were fully satisfactory, and led to the identification of the MV Dry Transformers market as the better initial market for Subfailtec.
The experiment was conducted on a cast resin dry 22/04 KV transformer. Manufacturer’s standard PD measurement system (according to IEC 60270) was the reference to which Subfailtec was compared to.
The experiment was planned and executed in two phases. (1) Test the immunity of Subfailtec to electromagnetic (EM) noises, by measuring the level of Subfailtec’s false detections in a challenging industrial environment; (2) Evaluation of Subfailtec’s sensitivity and level of misdetection.
The results showed that Subfailtec’s detection performances are comparable and in some parameters even similar to the performance of the conventional system used by the Transformers’ manufacturer. The significance of the results is that it proves Subfailtec’s system performance enables non-invasive detection of PD signals in a field environment. The system is intended for enabling the modern Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) methodology, and early prediction of PD-related failures in HV and MV assets – all for better reliability and less cost for the equipment owners and operators.
Currently Subfailtec has been tested in laboratory and in the field, with excellent results. During the next 24 months of development PDP will continue developing Subfailtec to further increase its precision through Algorithm & Software development, complete system integration, field testing and set up of industrial production. At the end of these activities, PDP plan to launch Subfailtec into the market.
PDP will initially target 0,33 % of the potential Dry Transformers market in the above mentioned 6 initial commercialization countries, and 3,5% in the fifth year. With an initial market price of 3.600 €, payback time for Subfailtec customers is estimated at less than two years; return on Investment for the EC investment in Subfailtec Project is estimated at a 2 years and a half. Revenues are estimated at 1,5M € in the first year, reaching 16M€ in the fifth year into the market.
Subfailtec has made its proof in laboratory and field tests. During the next development phase, further development and testing in real industrial conditions will be carried out in order to further demonstrate the readiness of Subfailtec before its launch into the market. Breaking down by component:
Antenna: The Vivaldi antenna bandwidth of ultra-wide band (UWB) has proven itself as the optimal choice for a wide variety of applications; however, in some MV market segments the antenna will have to be incorporated into the equipment enclosure, which will dictate a more compact. For these specific cases, PDP will design and test alternative antenna configurations.
Algorithm and Operational Software: On the basis of the already developed basic version, a versatile and adaptive (self-learning) algorithms will be developed to handle the diversity of MV equipment that Subfailtec will monitor, including decision support algorithms. Improvements will also be made in the operational SW (UX) and to obtain a user friendly man machine interface.
Hardware: MV version needs to be further developed with a design-to-cost in mind. In particular, replacing the PC platform with an embedded platform that will help reduce costs without affecting the system’s performance.
Communication: Both wired and wireless communication will be developed, based on cellular infrastructure or Wi-Fi, to enable maximal flexibility for the customer.
Currently, Subfailtec is in Technology Readiness (TRL) 6. The next major milestones in Subfailtec development will be:
1) In 18 months, a prototype will have been tested in an operational environment reaching TRL 7 for Subfailtec
2) At the end of month 22, five Subfailtec pilots installed in five different industrial facilities will have confirmed Subfailtec’s performances on the field, reaching TRL 8.
3) After 24 months, PDP will have sent applications in order to obtain TUV, CE, ISO and CSA certifications, and the production file will be completed.
Subfailtec will be ready to be produced in series and launched into the market.
Ardan's dry transformer used for the experiment, and the coupling capacitors used for PD detection.
Subfailtec’s antenna in front of the transformer.