You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

NASA solar physicist David Hathaway reports that the top of the sun’s “great conveyor belt”  has been running at record-high speeds for the past five years and he believes that it could explain the unusually deep solar minimum of the past few years… (more)


April 2010 saw the transfer of the control of the SumbandilaSat from Sunspace to the CSIR’s Satellite Application Centre at Hartebeeshoek. Sunspace will continue working on the commission for some time to commission the various experimental payloads which include the NMMU string experiment, the Department of Communication’s communication experiment and the VLF experiment from UKZN… (more)

Events like the World Cup soccer in Germany and the Olympic games in China have shown that competition is not just between the participating countries but also between cyber criminals. The only difference is that cyber criminals are competing amongst themselves to be the world’s greatest threat to internet users… (more)

The storage landscape is a changing one, and there are a number of storage options available to businesses today. With the advent of network-attached storage (NAS) (traditionally file level access) and storage area network (SAN) (more focused on block level disk access) units, the notion that storage equals a hard disk is a thing of the past… (more)

The success of mobile broadband is driving the demand for higher data rates and greater cell capacity. The industry is addressing this demand by evolving HSPA through 3GPP Releases 7, 8 and 9. Operators can study HSPA performance by simulating realitic deployments of 3GPP Release 7… (more)

In EngineerIT of August 2006 features editor Hans van de Groenendaal questioned why component suppliers did not provide enough support for new developments and the smaller manufacturers. The editorial came about when he was involved in the design and building of an experimental module for SumbandilaSat… (more)

The right combination of high-side and low-side bridge topology can ensure low power dissipation, high current carrying and gate-control benefits of IGBTs. Given the many varieties of advanced power devices available, choosing the right power device for an application can be a daunting task… (more)



By the end of this year, thousands of European businesses will have to meet the new EU Building Directive, as well as many other energy efficiency regulations. Energy performance certificates (EPCs) will become mandatory within the EU for new buildings and large building refurbishments… (more)

Power utility companies need to accurately measure the power produced and used by their power stations on a 24/7 basis. The energy metering and data acquisition system (Emdas) has been a standard for Eskom over the past 15 years, and was recently redeveloped using the latest technology available… (more)

Lasers dominate our modern world – whether it is the tiny diode laser that drives our CD and DVD players, laser pointers or lasers used in eye and other surgery, or large metal-cutting lasers – the applications are many and varied… (more)

Before the recent energy cost increases, the benefits of implementing a full-scale building management system (BMS) break-even point was typically three to seven years, depending on new or retrofitted design. Now the payback on these same buildings will drop to well under 18 months… (more)

CSense Systems has successfully implemented a process improvement project at BHP Billiton’s Worsley Alumina in Australia. This pilot project investigated the potential of an automated causal analysis system for process control, together with uni- and multivariate statistical process control… (more)

Carbon credits add a layer of complexity which is often underestimated, says Keith Jones of Avisen. “As more companies strive to ‘go green’ – either because they feel it is the right thing to do, or they are required to by law – there will be implications for their business processes which need serious consideration… (more)

Building management systems (BMSs) have over the years become more sophisticated in capability and functionality but are still under-utilised. BMS has moved on from the days of the carousel projector through to fully animated 3D graphics, encompassing the world of the internet, embedded web servers at controller level and other modern technologies, bringing new challenges to this field of expertise… (more)

When the economic downturn hit the world, industry responded as it had done on many previous occasions – by stopping advertising,  stopping marketing and cutting back on material orders, as well as laying off staff.  Features editor Hans van de Groenendaal finds out  how, by making some smart decisions, Microchip  Technologies weathered the recent economic storm… (more)

With the signing of General Regulation 46 by ICASA’s chairman, Paris Mashile, and the publication in the Government Gazette of  22 January 2010, immunity requirements for all electronic products will become mandatory on 22 January 2011, giving manufacturers one year to comply and ensure that all new products meet the promulgated standards… (more)

Since government is only one of the stakeholders in the sector, is it fair to ask what other stakeholders are doing in support of the sector? A journalist recently commented on South Africa’s presence at the recent CeBIT trade fair in Hannover, Germany, contrasting South Africa’s “small stand hosting seven local companies under the umbrella of the Department of Trade and Industry” and “the enormous stands provided by other countries… (more)

The internet has become firmly entrenched in the lives of many people across the globe, and individuals have begun to take this connectivity for granted. But the fact is that only a decade ago the landscape was very different: connectivity has evolved radically over the last ten years or so, and now offers benefits to smaller businesses that was initially only affordable by the big boys… (more)

As we reach the upper limits of what can be achieved with silicon-based circuitry, new nanotechnologies are being explored, including DNA structures. The imminent demise of Moore’s Law has been predicted before, yet silicon technology has always risen from its expected ashes to keep on increasing the number of transistors on chip wafers – generally in keeping with Moore’s original predictions…. (more)

Threats posed to organisations by cyber crimes have increased faster than potential victims – or cyber security professionals – can cope with them, placing targetted organisations at significant risk. And this is not simply a problem faced in other countries – cyber crime is alive and kicking here in South Africa…. (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers
On 16 April 2010, Fin24 sent out a report that may have startled some, and sent shudders through ideological die-hards within the Tripartite Alliance.
The article was apparently based on discussions with Eskom’s new finance director, Paul O’Flaherty, and human resources director, Bhabhalazi Bulunga. It stated that “Eskom is planning a major restructuring, which could involve a partial privatisation and a major shake-up of its labour force”, and that “the company may be split up, and certain of its assets privatised, in a similar fashion to that of arms utility Denel”.
The very same day, this was promptly and vehemently denied in a press release from Eskom’s media desk, in which O’Flaherty is quoted as saying that “Eskom is looking at standardising and streamlining its systems and processes across the business. We have had no discussions about reducing our workforce and have not made any changes to our labour policies”. The press release stated categorically that Eskom has no plans of restructuring as outlined in the Fin24 article.
Two apparently contradictory reports? Let’s take a closer look at the three pillars of Eskom’s business – generation, transmission and distribution – to try and understand what’s actually going on here… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

After gazetting a flawed and widely criticised 3-year interim electricity integrated resource plan (IRP 1) on 31 December 2009, well after Eskom had submitted its initial (45% pa for 3 years) and revised (35% pa for 3 years) multi-year price applications to NERSA in the second half of 2009, the DoE is now franticly working on the long overdue real thing – a 20-year national integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP 2) as required in terms of the National Energy Act of 2008, the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006, and the Electrical Regulations on New Generation Capacity of 2009… (more)

When things are going well it’s easy to think big. When Eskom was a world-class utility, we dreamt big. Sadly, all that is water under the bridge. We have stopped thinking since the plug was pulled in 2008. We no longer think big, except in terms of blackouts, price increases and debt… (more)

There are excellent advantages to be gained by an electrical contractor where he can suspend work on a contract when he is not being paid by the main contractor. Most of the time, the electrical subcontractor is at a loss. Non-payment often results in the electrical subcontractor declaring a dispute and wanting to take the matter to arbitration… (more)

Using innovative design and construction technology, CSIR researchers have developed a demonstration house with significantly improved performance and sustainability. If built according to specifications, and on large scale, such houses could be constructed much faster and at similar costs to those using conventional methods. The Department of Science and Technology supports this CSIR research project… (more)

Choosing lighting that would complement the image of the stadium proved to be a challenge. Working closely with the professional team, Beka translated their lighting requirements for the balustrade, compression ring and podium lighting, among many other lighting applications in and around the stadium… (more)

Sophisticated and highly susceptible microprocessor based electronics and data communication networks are integrated across every sector of today’s fast paced business world. Preserving these mission-critical systems from the damages of surges, spikes, and transients ensures that these systems are protected from equipment destruction, disruption in service, and from costly downtime… (more)

In most sectors of the economy, time is money. That is why repairs to key equipment must happen at high speed. Due to the size and nature of mine winders, it is generally only possible to work on them when the whole plant is shut down. The repair called for an emergency reinsulation and reinstallation of repaired coils on site within 36 hours, and the installation and commissioning of a spare armature… (more)

Sonar proximity switches have a characteristic called a “blind zone”. The size of this zone has implications for the size and the accuracy of the sensor. The space requirement of a sonar proximity switch in a machine or plant is mainly determined by its blind zone. The switch must be installed at a location that is set back by the length of the blind zone from the detection range to ensure reliable detection of the close-up range… (more)

In the context of project management, a resource is any entity that contributes to the accomplishment of project activities.This paper focuses on the resource that is of greatest concern to most organisations – personnel. In a project management system, personnel resources may be identified as individuals by name or as functional groups such as computer programmers… (more)

The materials investigated by the research programme included rubber compounds, MV cables and polymers, metallurgy and filler compounds. The focus has been on projects that improve production and quality in fit-for-purpose products for local conditions while at the same time encouraging local industry and employment… (more)

Perhaps what sets the tone for this whole book are the introductory chapters which describe the Venter family background. Dr. Bill might no doubt be proud to say that he came from poor white stock who fought the British in the Boer war. After that humiliating defeat, and most likely as a result of it, many of the shattered Afrikaans community struggled to find their feet in the new united SA, all through the years up to and through the Great Depression. The Venter family were no exception… (more)

Maintenance of generating and distribution installations is a primary concern and probably the largest item on the balance sheets, outside of build programmes. Along with maintenance goes the planning and research to optimise the generation side of the business. This involves analysing the composition of samples of coal from the mines that are the primary suppliers determining the combustion properties in a test facility, establishing performance profiles of each individual generation plant and working out a projection of operating efficiency… (more)

Like so many things in life, there is nothing new under the sun.  As we shall now see, ideas to cut dependence on oil, especially foreign oil, that sound very modern are actually quite old. Rechargeable electric vehicles were in use in London before 1900. The idea of a “flexipower” car that can switch from petrol to alcohol at the touch of a switch, as used today in Brazil, is actually quite old… (more)

In service high-voltage (HV) substation equipment is exposed to electrical, mechanical, and thermal stresses as well as environmental conditions. All of these stresses can act to accelerate the deterioration of the insulation and hence the electrical integrity of the HV equipment eventually leading to failure. Detection and measurement of partial discharge (PD) phenomena, which are a symptoms of insulation deterioration, can provide early warning of insulation failure… (more)

Oil filled transformer explosions can result in dangerous spillages, expensive damages and possible environmental pollution. To prevent explosions, a fast depressurization strategy based on a quick oil evacuation was developed and its efficiency was experimentally tested. The tests showed that an electrical fault generates a dynamic pressure peak which activates the protection within milliseconds, avoiding tank explosion… (more)

As we talk about the next great Energy Technology, we usually think of wind turbines, solar, energy storage, electric transportation, or other renewable energy technologies.  But we must also recognize the important role that information technology has in bringing all of these innovations to scale… (more)

The South African transformer oil or insulating oil market has been dominated by the usage of uninhibited Naphthenic oil for several decades. This however is rapidly changing and may have catastrophic consequences for uninformed users, regenerators and recyclers of transformer oil… (more)

The infrastructure that underpins contemporary society must operate with very high reliability. In contrast to the advanced technology deployed in data storage centres, internet server farms and communications central offices, most of them rely for near 100% “up-time”, or system-availability, on a very mature technology; the lead-acid battery… (more)

Sir- A fellow denizen of the netherworld, the gloomy Ghost of the Waves, paid me an unexpected visit the other night. It’s always a bit eerie, he said without ado, this calm before the storm. Upon asking what he meant, he added cryptically: “Well, think of a tsunami. The sea suddenly goes glassy-flat and then starts to pull back – slowly, easily, lazily and with a strange lack of realism… (more)

Energy demand had been increasing over the years. The necessity for sustainable energy planning requires accurate forecasting of future electricity consumption. However forecasting electricity consumption is still a challenge in areas where this forecasts are used. The use of forecasts becomes much more critical during the up swing and down swing movements of electricity demand... (more)

According to the North American Electric Reliability Council in 74% of cases the reason for heavy failures in power systems was the incorrect operation of relay protection in trying to avoid the failure. Thus the reliability of a power system depends on the reliability of relay protection in many respects… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

It’s official – we’ve got the loan. And from the limited information available at this time it appears that it is unconditional, this despite the lack of support from significant shareholders of the World Bank. It has been reported that the USA, UK, Italy, Norway and Netherlands abstained from voting on the loan application.

The award will come as a great relief to the government, the ANC, Eskom and those concerned about security of supply in South Africa through the construction of the 4800 MW Medupi coal-fired power station, scheduled to start coming on stream in 2012. The loan will ensure that there should be no delays to Medupi as a result of funding issues… (more)

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