ESBI - SEAM Technology Gateway - WIT

Global energy consultancy company ESB International (ESBI) further enhanced its experience of conductor design and installation through a knowledge transfer programme involving the South Eastern Applied Materials (SEAM) research centre at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

Problems were encountered with a conductor product received from one supplier which manifested themselves during the crimping of the conductor ends. Mechanical testing alone of the conductor elements did not provide sufficient information around the issue and it was decided that a more detailed analysis of the conductor/conductor end assembly process using advanced modelling techniques was warranted.

 SEAM proposed a finite element analysis (FEA) study using computer modelling which allowed researchers to visualise the behaviour of the conductor structures. With direct funding from ESBI, the research project started in early 2012 and lasted nearly six months.

 “Finite element modelling gave us a very good understanding of the properties and behaviour of the conductor elements under certain mechanical stresses, which comprise both in-built stresses and stresses applied during the end fitting assembly,” said Dr Ramesh Raghavendra, SEAM Centre Director and Technology Gateway Manager at WIT.

“We provided ESBI with an understanding of the behaviour of the conductor elements and how design and assembly methodology can influence the internal stresses of the conductor.”

Methods of analysing and testing the conductors post installation were required during the project. These included micro-sectional analysis, optical microscopy, and tensile testing for model validation.

“This work aided ESBI in the continued upgrading and maintenance of the electricity distribution system in Ireland providing energy security for the country,” said Tim Condon, overhead line consultant engineer at ESBI.

This project also laid the foundation for a strong relationship between ESBI and SEAM which continues to grow with SEAM taking on conductor qualification and analysis projects for ESBI.

“One example of this is the validation testing of high tension power conductors sourced from outside the country. It was an expensive process sending representatives so far afield for the duration of the testing,” said Condon.

This project minimised the need for ESBI to outsource this type of work abroad and has facilitated carrying out all future work in Ireland at SEAM.

From SEAM’s perspective, the ESBI research generated a string of new projects, which has helped the centre to grow and diversify.

“This project opened the door and enabled the centre to provide services to many other industries,” said Raghavendra. “Very importantly, the knowledge gained for our centre was invaluable, particularly in stress analysis, computer simulation and computer modelling. The project also led to the acquisition of specialist equipment including an electron microscope.”

The college has also benefitted as third-year students from the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering programme are involved in SEAM’s expanding range of research activities.

“The ESBI project is one amongst early direct funded projects that have contributed to the significant increase in applied research staff now working at SEAM on a wide range of industrial projects,” said Raghavendra.

From just two staff members in 2009, the centre has grown to 11 researchers and will hire another two or three staff members in 2015.

SEAM is seed funded by Enterprise Ireland under the Technology Gateway programme.

Publish date: 2015 

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