A new technique to help avoid sudden power shutdowns

A new technique to help avoid sudden power shutdowns

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras have devised a novel technology that could help avert power outages by making it easier to monitor pollution levels in power transmission networks.

The electrical insulation's performance has a significant impact on the reliability of electric power systems. However, in addition to electrical, thermal, and mechanical stressors, the external insulation on transmission lines and substation equipment is vulnerable to environmental pollution.

Electrical flashovers caused by pollutants can result in blackouts and system failure. The only foolproof approach to solve the situation is to clean the dirty insulator while it is still in use.

However, because of the high working voltages and large spatial span of the electrical transmission system, it is preferable to know the level of pollution deposition and the type of pollutant before attempting to clean it.

Prof. R. Sarathi of IIT Madras' Department of Electrical Engineering and Prof. N.J. Vasa of IIT Madras' Department of Engineering Design have led a team of researchers at IIT-Madras to create a new approach for remotely measuring the contents and thickness of deposits.

Simply focus a laser beam on the insulators and determine the ingredients of pollution deposition with the new technology. The beam can now be emitted at a distance of up to 40 metres. The researchers are aiming to improve it even more so that it can reach a distance of up to 100 metres. This would allow for the evaluation of the contamination layer on transmission line insulators from either the ground or from a drone.

It will no longer be necessary to disrupt power transmission or for anyone to climb the tower, according to the experts. “The method is straightforward and dependable. It is capable of producing precise results in a short period of time. They claimed that the full length of the transmission line could be adequately monitored for its condition on pollutant deposit levels in a short amount of time.

The team intends to approach National Thermal Power Corporation, Power Grid, and other utilities to showcase the technology and its application in a real-world power system. The findings of the study were published in the journal IOP-Measurement Science and Technology. The investigation was supported financially by the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), Bengaluru, as part of the Ministry of Power's National Perspective Plan.