TIA seed funding application

Sector: Energy


Concise description of the project

Overall project purpose

a.) Overall/core purpose of the project

Om die gepaste hardeware aan te skaf en die nodige konfugirering daarvan uit te voer wat ‘n werkende BTT sisteem op die toetsrotor tot gevolg sal hê.

b.) Identified problem
Die redes agter die gewenstheid van ‘n BTT sisteem is alreeds genoem in die inleiding. Hier gaan dus slegs op die probleem gefokus word wat deur hierdie projek aangespreek word:

Binne die geïdentifiseerde raamwerk van BTT sisteem funksionaliteite identifiseer ons ‘n behoefte in die tweede stelling. Mens benodig ‘n data-opname stelsel wat:

  1. Elke sensor sein vinnig genoeg kan opneem en na digitaal toe omskakel.
  2. Hierdie digitale sein moet dan onmiddellik verwerk word om die aankomstyd van die lemme te bepaal en na die rekenaar deur te voer.

Huidiglik is ons kapasiteit om die bostaande te doen nie in plek nie. Ons het geen kapasiteit om item 2, die dadelike verwerking van die sein, te doen nie. Ons het ook glad nie die kapasiteit om vinnig genoeg te ‘sample’ vir ‘n werklike turbine nie.

Hierdie projek gaan dus oor die aanskaf van ‘n stelsel wat aan daardie twee vereistes voldoen. Ons het reeds ‘n kwotasie gekry vir so ‘n stelsel by National Instruments. Die kwotasie beloop in die orde van R350 000.

People who have this problem/need and are likely to pay to have it solved.

In South Africa:


d. Similar offerings

In Eskom, other condition monitoring tasks are performed by Rotek, also a State Owned Company (SOC) and considered a part of Eskom. Other than them, there are very few companies in South Africa that offer condition monitoring services to the power generation industry. One such company is WearCheck. WearCheck specializes in condition monitoring of industrial machines by oil analysis. They do perform some vibration analysis however.
There are currently no companies situated in South Africa (and the African continent for that matter) that provide BTT services. The top three companies providing BTT services are:
1 Hood Technologies (USA)
2 Rolls Royce (Britain)
3 Agilis (USA)
Most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) do research in BTT. However, it seems as if they do not yet install and provide commercial BTT systems for customers. They use it for research purposes in the development of new turbine technologies. We are in a process of getting into communications with some of the OEMs in the country to identify their BTT activity and possibly need.

e. Comparative advantage

As communicated before, there is currently no method whatsoever to obtain information as to the operating state of the turbine blades and the condition of the turbine blades during turbine operation. The biggest comparative advantage to the status quo in South Africa is therefore that this information will be available if our system is implemented.

With regards to other BTT suppliers, the comparative advantage we have our algorithms. A novel algorithm has been developed to determine the vibration frequency, amplitude and phase when the BTT information is available (after data acquisition and processing).

Our algorithm has been tested against the other suppliers of BTT’s algorithms and have been found to be more accurate. If one can accurately determine the vibration frequency, one can make better decisions based on this data one can have more confidence in these decisions.

Section 2

2.1 IP Position
We are currently submitting an invention disclosure for the the University of Pretoria’s patent division to start the process of patenting the method of determining the vibration frequency, amplitude and phase using the novel algorithm developed.

There is a string likelihood that more patentable methods will be developed when continuing with the development towards a commercial BTT system.

Section 3

a.) Project and budget:

Procurement of the hardware, 2 weeks after funding is available. Be in physical possession of the hardware.
Configuring of hardware, 3 Months, A working data acquisition and processing system, R0
Additional hardware procurement and configuration,Additional hardware, R150 000

In the above project plan, provision is made for additional hardware. These additional hardware could be signal conditioners, operational amplifiers etc. to alter the sensor signals to the appropriate. It might also be required to purchase a dedicated computer to receive the signals after processing of the data acquisition hardware.

After the project as stipulated above have been completed, the next step would be to find an industry partner that will allow us to install our system on a large industrial turbomachine for field testing. This step is however the next step and will not be a deliverable of this sub-project.

b.) Information on prior funding received for this project

No prior funding was received for this project

c.) Potential business partners approached for funding.
No business partners have been approached for funding.

Section 4: Project risks

4.1 Risk mitigation plan
a.) Technical and/or commercial risks pertaining to the project and state how these risks will be mitigated

The technical risks for this plan is that the hardware we are to procure will not be able to process the data at the speed that we require. This situation is very unlikely conclusive calculations have not been made. A way to mitigate this is to increase the processing power of the data acquisition and processing unit by adding another processing (FPGA card in this case), or to build in a large memory that can store the raw data for a certain time and finish processing the data, and then start acquiring new data and repeat the process.

Section 5: National benefits

5.1 Describe the potential national benefit

The national benefit of this project cannot be overstated. Eskom is currently under a lot of pressure to produce enough electricity for the country’s demand. Conservative maintenance routines caused by uncertainty regarding the turbine blade’s condition reduces the availability of these turbines for power generation, and can thus lead to a deficiency in the amount of electricity produced for the country, which in turn has a massive effect on the economy of the country.

In addition to the above remark, Eskom’s power generation fleet is quite old. The youngest coal power plant used by the country is about 20 years old (Medupi and Kusile are not fully online yet). Because of the old age of the coal fleet, the reliability of the whole plant needs to be managed increasingly well as the likelihood of failure increase with time. BTT is a method to obtain valuable information about turbine blade operating condition to insure that maintenance discussions are made optimally and turbines have as high a reliability rating as possible.