Hydro Products in the Spotlight

A wide variety of products and services are available in the hydroelectric industry. As a service to our readers, Hydro Review pulled together a few of these products and services to spend some time in the spotlight.

By Bethany Duarte

Readers of Hydro Review have told us they want to see more information on the products and services available in this market, to help them do their jobs better. In response, we would like to shine the spotlight on several products and services available in this industry, including some that became available in the past year or so.

While this list is by no means exhaustive (check our online Buyers’ Guide at www.hydroworld.com for more), we think the products and services listed here – broken down into five categories – offer a great glimpse of the breadth of the industry.

Civil

Civil structures must be maintained to ensure the continued safe, reliable operation of hydro facilities. The products and services featured below can help you better achieve this important objective.

Engineering and consulting services

Jacobs Associates, a global engineering firm since 1954, offers a service to evaluate the remaining life of underground facilities. Personnel assess the condition of facilities, develop rehabilitation concepts, provide cost estimates and schedule analysis for repairs. Through this work, the company says it can extend the longevity of a tunnel, whether as an alternative to new construction, to accommodate a change in usage, or to address tunnel deterioration and/or failure.

The firm consults for owners, contractors and other engineering firms on the inspection and rehabilitation of hydropower and dam system tunnels, as well as designing tunnel seismic upgrades.

One hydro project the company has performed this work on is 1,000-MW Kemano in Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada, where a second tunnel was needed to serve as a backup to the original tunnel. Jacobs Associates personnel reviewed geological conditions, assessed ongoing rock scour, reviewed information from an unwatered inspection of the tunnel and performed a quantitative risk assessment of the probable return period for a major collapse in the original tunnel.

For more on Jacobs Associates, visit booth #745 at HydroVision International in Denver in July.

Micro remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

ROV manufacturer Deep Trekker released its DTG2 micro ROV in 2012 in 16 different countries. Since then, the ROV has been used to inspect pipes and infrastructure and assist with underwater research and salvage dives.

The unit is powered by rechargeable batteries, contains a color camera, and is controlled via a tethered control pad. According to Deep Trekker, the unit’s small size, battery life and versatility make it a ideal for a variety of applications. The DTG2 micro ROV can be suspended over a high bridge or the side of a boat.

Based in Ontario, Canada, Deep Trekker provides submersible ROVs to 16 different countries and a variety of markets, including research, fisheries, nuclear power, engineering, construction, recreation and portable water systems.

Mechanical

In an industry where well-manufactured equipment lasts for generations, mechanical innovation only prolongs the life and sustainability of hydropower projects throughout the U.S. Below are two mechanical products that may be useful to you.

Software for bearing selection

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, manufacturer and developer of Orkot® composite bearings, has created software to provide customized advice to its customers when specifying composite bearings. The company says that while composite bearings can match bronze in load capacity, they behave differently in elasticity and in the way the load is transferred. Plant operators and refurbishment contractors develop rules for running clearances based on service experience but tend to select running clearances that are larger than necessary.

The accuracy of the software means the company’s composite materials in hydropower applications can be precision-fit to any size, including large-diameter bearings for Kaplan runners and butterfly and ball valves, Trelleborg says.

This software package is tailored to the bearing dimensions, type of movement and operating loads for any specific application. When replacing bronze bushings “like-for-like” and keeping the outer diameter the same, it provides precise information on the clearance required, the company says. For newly designed turbines, optimum bearing dimensions can be calculated, offering cost savings and superior performance.

Sleeve bearings

Zollern offers a variety of sleeve bearings designed for hydro applications. The three products that are often installed in hydropower plants are the company’s vertical bearings, bearings for high thrust loads, and thrust and guide tilting pads.

Zollern vertical bearings are designed with high mechanical resistance and the ability to withstand variable temperature, dissipate heat, and maintain strength under mechanical pressure, all while keeping vibration levels low, the company says.

One product in particular, the ZT bearing, is commonly used at hydropower facilities because of its ability to tolerate thrust loads as high as 2.500 kN. They are generally installed in Kaplan S turbines downstream of the generators, Zollern says. According to the company, the housings are made of cast iron GGG 40 and the thrust faces have trapezoidal tilting pads to increase hydrodynamics.

Zollern also provides separate components of bearings in addition to the complete units. This is useful especially for plants with bearings that are mounted on their sides. The company offers thrust tilting pads and guide tilting pads made of steel/babbitt or steel/bronze, delivered in installation kits and loose as spare parts.

To learn more about Zollern, visit booth #963 at HydroVision International 2013.

Environmental

Maintaining environmental standards and protecting the environment around your hydropower projects is a definite priority, and these products can help you do that while keeping your machinery in top condition.

Natural cinders

The use of coal-based cinders to help seal stoplogs at hydropower plants can pose a threat to the surrounding environment and fisheries. J.M. Power Aggregated Limited has developed a natural alternative that would seal stoplogs for maintenance without damaging the environment

The Natural Cinders alternative is a combination of different particles and sizes of volcanic lava rock, which, according to the company, has the right mix of weights and textures to effectively seal leaks on head gates, stoplogs, tailrace gates, and spillways including tainter gates.

Trial applications at several hydro facilities have shown that as few as two 5-gallon buckets of Natural Cinders sealed the leaks shut, while maintaining the environmental standards of the project.

Natural Cinders are available for purchase throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit J.M. Power Aggregates LTD. at HydroVision International at booth #1107.

Mussel control

In response to the challenges posed by the growth of invasive mussel species at hydropower plants, Marrone Bio Innovations developed a selective and environmentally safe molluscicide, called Zequanox, to kill invasive zebra and quagga mussels.

Zequanox was approved for industrial use by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency in 2012. According to Marrone, the product is comparable to chlorine in efficacy. It is composed of dead cells from a soil microbe that is fatally toxic to zebra and quagga mussels when ingested at all stages of life. As it is an organic substance, the mussels ingest the product along with their other food sources. Zequanox is noncorrosive and nonvolatile and is non-toxic for humans and non-target species.

The product is distributed in a dry powder form that can be injected into the service water system during normal working hours; treatment is complete within a few hours. According to Marrone, the product has achieved greater than 90% mortality of zebra and quagga mussels at a number of test sites, and some sites even reported a greater than 95% mortality.

To learn more about Marrone Bio Innovations and Zequanox, visit booth #757 at HydroVision International 2013.

Technology

These two new technologies can enable communication and testing at hazardous field sites and provide increased accuracy and measurement tools to hydropower plant operators.

Rugged tablet computer

Doble Engineering Co. and Xplore Technologies have partnered to develop a tablet computer that can withstand the rugged and often harsh conditions of field test sites while having the capability to run software to operate Doble Engineering’s high-voltage test equipment.

The Doble Universal Controller (DUC) is designed to be durable and tough in harsh conditions, such as extreme temperatures and climates, is certified for industrial use and provides the same level of accuracy as other high-voltage testers. According to Doble, the tablet is designed to operate third-party software or Doble’s software suite, as well as operating as a Windows tablet. It can withstand submersion underwater for up to 30 minutes, is crash-resistant, can be dropped 4 feet to concrete and 7 feet to plywood without damage, and will operate in temperatures ranging from -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F.

Doble provides diagnostic instruments, services and a large library of test results for use in the energy generation industry and is a part of ESCO Technologies Inc. Xplore Technologies specializes in tablet and computer design for commercial use, specifically for industries requiring rugged or durable models.

Doble will demonstrate its products from the HydroVision International exhibit floor at booth #1130.

Gap measuring system

Kaman’s GMS-750 RS Gap Measuring System uses eddy current technology to sense position and displacement using a wire wound coil positioned in a threaded barrel. This induces a current on the surface of the target. To use this technology to accurately measure rotor-stator gaps, Kaman uses leaf-type springs that are pressed together when the measurement unit is placed between the stator and rotor. The distance between the two springs is the same as the distance between the stator and rotor, the company says.

The unit, released in October 2012, features a an LED readout of the measurement in inches or millimeters, adjustable insertion stops, all-metal construction, push-button calibration, and easily replaceable target springs.

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Kaman specializes in manufacturing non-contact position sensors.

Electrical

A generating unit is only as useful as its wiring and operation is sound. Innovation in the field of electrical engineering can provide advanced control systems and another level of accuracy to plant owners and operators.

Custom-built, high-current switchgear

Phoenix Electric Corporation custom designs and builds switchgear for both utility and industrial markets. According to the company, all switchgear models are designed to meet the client’s individual needs, creating a tailored solution to fit specific uses as requested and to fully utilize technological advances.

The design process begins with a consultation, when Phoenix engineers inspect the plant as well as the physical and electrical needs of the plant operators. The units are then designed based on those specific parameters. Engineers remain involved in the process from conception through final commissioning.

Based in Boston, Mass., Phoenix Electric Corporation designs, manufactures, and installs electrical equipment, including custom switchgear retrofits, specialty switchgear, custom engineered controls, and cylindrically wound air-core reactors. All units are designed and built in line with ANSI/IEEE/NEMA/NEC standards, and are factory tested prior to installation.

Generator protection application guide

Illinois-based controls manufacturer Basler Electric offers a revised version of its Generator Protection Application Guide. The guide is available at no cost as a download from the company’s website at www.basler.com.

According to the company, the guide was developed to “simplify the process of selecting relays and relays systems to protect generators.” The guide refers to minimal protection of the generator as a reference point, with additional measures to increase the level of protection as needed.

Basler states that the descriptions in the Generator Protection Application Guide will provide users with a more solid understanding of their role in the generator protection system “related to protecting against a variety of external or internal faults, or abnormal conditions.”

To learn more about Basler, visit booth #709 at HydroVision International.

Bethany Duarte is associate editor of Hydro Review.

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