You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2011.

by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers
Within a few weeks, Judge Kgomo of the South Gauteng High Court will rule on whether Eskom must hand over certain documents requested by Media 24 in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act that would reveal details of secret pricing deals with BHP Billiton that have long been held to be confidential. However the matter may not end here, but could be heading for the Constitutional Court… (more)


South Africa, along with it eight African partner countries (Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana), stands on the cusp of astronomical greatness… (more)

From the environmentally-sensitive landscape to the main office block on the ABB campus in Longmeadow, Modderfontein in Gauteng, it is apparent that ABB and its people walk the green talk – they are 101% environment-friendly… (more)

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn are rapidly becoming an everyday part of the business environment. These platforms are even viewed as essential business tools in many organisations… (more)

The shortage of technical and engineering skills is often blamed for the slow pace of industrial development which in turn can be directly linked to lack of job creation. The question is – how do we solve this impasse? Blaming government or industry or both is simply not productive… (more)

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which comes into effect on 1 April 2011, promises to turn South Africans into some of the most heavily protected consumers in the world. For large companies, however, the act brings along with it a set of daunting challenges as they strive to meet its demands for increased transparency in their relationships with their customers… (more)

Green – or environmentally sustainable – computing addresses the issues of energy consumption, the use of environmentally-benign components and environmentally-sustainable disposal of redundant equipment. In South Africa, with the recent 25% hike in electricity tariffs, energy efficiency is taking centre stages… (more)

For some years now there has been a trend towards medium voltage drive systems for large, heavy and high power applications… (more)

Teleconferencing provides the means to interact verbally and visually with anyone, anywhere. Close on the heels of video recorders came the cellphone, the DSTV decoder, the laptop and the smart phone. Somewhere in between all these development was video conferencing… (more)

Even in today’s multimedia age, analogue FM radio transmissions are delivered daily to many millions of listeners around the globe…(more)

As environmental responsibility and eco-consciousness grow across the globe, the world is looking to move towards more sustainable, greener practices, reducing carbon footprints and creating environments that have a lesser impact on the planet… (more)

When most people think of facilities management they think of monitoring building systems and environmental variables. Both are typically associated with institutional or commercial facilities… (more)

The high output demands placed on ore/coal mining operations, coupled with the advancements in rail infrastructure and technologies, necessitate that mines automate their loading stations with the latest control and automation technology… (more)

With the growing requirements for safety and uptime in today’s utility, industrial, military and intelligent traffic solutions (ITS) sites and solutions, remote monitoring and recording of events has become critical… (more)

• Cross-border call rates “holding back” East African trade
• Cameroon minister promises 40 more community telecom centres
• Work begins on Ethiopia’s first ICT park
• New twists in long-running NITEL privatisation saga
• Price war drives Kenya’s call rates to lowest in Africa
• Libya’s telecom industry faces uncertain future
• Five more countries linked to Seacom network
• Chinese building a secret eavesdropping facility for Mugabe
• Cellphone users benefit as Namibia imposes price cap
• Rwanda completes fibre optic cable rollout… (more)

This month we feature:

  • A phone that saves you money;
  • A free application for your cellphone allowing you to support the charity of your choice;
  • A USB key that “locks down” your computer when it is removed;
  • The latest in wireless speaker phones for conference calling;
  • A mouse designed specially for gaming, and
  • New new, white BlackBerry Torch … (more)

SKA takes steps crucial for realisation of world’s biggest radio telescope project

Destination Mercury

What’s hitting Earth?

STS133 woken up with a song

Suzaku shows clearest picture yet of Perseus galaxy cluster

In amateur radio, QRP operation means transmitting at reduced power levels while aiming at maximising the effective communication range… (more)

Electrical sensors have for decades been the standard mechanism for measuring physical and mechanical phenomena… (more)

The Technical University (TU) of Dresden uses a long term evolution (LTE) research mobile radio network to investigate the range of individual sectors and the optimum tilt angles of antennas and to characterise individual channels by evaluating the channel impulse response… (more)

The events in Japan at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the resulting nuclear crisis have focused attention again on the safety of power plant under conditions of natural disaster. The earthquake is  reckoned to have approached 9 on the Richter scale and the ensuing tsunami has been estimated at 15 m high. Tthe nuclear plant reacted in accordance with plan and went into shutdown mode, but the ensuing tsunami destroyed all chance of a graceful shutdown. The problem on most people’s minds is the potential leakage of radioactive material from the damaged plant, and the possibility of a core meltdown… (more)

Phindile Nzimande, former CEO of EDI Holdings (Pty) Ltd, has been appointed CEO of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) with effect from 1 May 2011. This follows a decision by the cabinet announced in December 2010 to disband EDI Holdings by 1 April 2011… (more)

South Africans will be mobilised to save electricity through the biggest energy saving movement ever seen in this country, 49M, launched by Eskom, the government and business partners. The deputy president of South Africa, the ministers of public enterprises and of energy, and business partners call on the 49-million South Africans to join the 49M movement to save power… (more)

The Treasury has announced it’s proposal to introduce a “carbon tax”, with the stated aim of reducing CO2 dioxide emmissions and facilitating the move to a “low carbon” future. The nature of the power generation industry in South Africa is such that neither financial incentives or penalties, such as taxes, can have any effect on the utility and how it generates power, and implementing the proposal will result in just another tax… (more)

At long last, the cabinet has approved and published the national Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, IRP 2010. Now this just has to be passed by parliament and published in the Government Gazette. Let’s hope there will not be further delays, and that a measure of certainty will prevail so that the electricity sector can get down to work. But what is IRP 2010? Why is it important? And what exactly does it say?… (more)

 I do not presume to know much about the maintenance of electrical substations for, as you know, I shuffled off this mortal coil well before this new skill came into being. Also, this newfangled thing called the internet is a bit beyond my ken, but my attention was drawn the other day to a picture purporting to proclaim the procedure in case of a power failure posted on the wall of a substation building, which I thought was worth a comment or two… (more)

The process of wood and biomass gasification to produce fuel for power generation has been in use for many years. One of the drawbacks is that the gas produced contains a significant amount of tar which normally has to be removed, reducing the calorific value, before the gas can be used. This article describes a system  which produces tar-free gas without reduction in calorific value… (more)

Addressing the Indaba Energy Conference in March 2011 in Johannesburg, Prof. AS Sambo, vice-chairperson for Africa of the World Energy Council and director-general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, noted that Africa’s energy potential remained largely underexploited… (more)

Thorium is found as a by-product together with the rare earths. It has the potential to trigger a nuclear renaissance as the mineral offers the opportunity to manage concerns surrounding waste management and proliferation in the provision of nuclear energy… (more)

With an increasing failure rate of substation electrical equipment, utilities and heavy industry must focus on preventive and predictive maintenance to ensure power system integrity and stability. Electrical insulation is a common cause of electrical equipment failures and power factor (PF) testing is a popular way of diagnosing and estimating the condition of insulation as it ages… (more)

The electric utility industry accounts for 25% of CO2 emissions worldwide, carrying the reputation as being the largest contributor amongst all industries. Therefore, utilities are under pressures to reduce energy consumption and emission outputs. Smart grid and smart meter technology is an effective way for electric utilities to reduce carbon emissions. Smart Grids allow utilities to manage their distribution grids more efficiently, to reduce power generation, create fewer emissions and reduce outages… (more)

In a world increasingly dependent on energy, the reliability of the power supply is one of the main concerns of the power utilities. However, the equipment used in the power network is aging, in many cases approaching its projected lifetime of around 40 years. Yet there is precious little readily available basic information regarding how insulating materials in transformers behave over longer periods of time. In a recent study Nynas researchers have looked at the properties of aging mineral insulating oils in service… (more)

This is a summary of the discussion which took place during the 2010 open session of the Cigré Study Group A2: power transformers. The scope of SC A2 covers all kinds of power transformers, including industrial, DC converter transformers and reactors and transformer components, and activities are related to design and manufacture, application of materials, utilisation, safety and environmental aspects, economic/commercial aspects and quality assurance and testing… (more)

A new compact ring main unit, which consists of two feeder functions and one vacuum circuit breaker, incorporates the latest technological development in terms of safety aspects, user friendliness and reliability.In terms of safety, two different fields have been targeted, and in depth studies have been carried out for each one of them considering different options and verifying each solution… (more)

As the marine chronometer demonstrated, simply keeping accurate time is a huge competitive advantage: it allows you to precisely coordinate complex systems. For  industrial  networks, accurate timekeeping offers similar advantages. This is especially true of power distribution networks, which need accurate timekeeping and network synchronisation in order to coordinate the activities of widely distributed equipment and regulate power transmissions… (more)

Differential protection on transformers supplying arc furnaces is susceptible to maloperation. After extensive analysis it was discovered that the arcing process is not the cause of the maloperation. An arc transformer is located between the supply transformer and the furnace.The main factor causing the maloperation is the inrush current of the arc transformer. The large DC offset in the inrush current results in saturation of the supply transformer and its current transformers (CTs)… (more)

There is a greater demand for medium voltage variable speed drives (3,3 kV to 6,6 kV) with many of these units being used in applications that were traditionally the domain of slip ring motors. One of the primary reasons for this is that slip ring motors have increased in price disproportionately over the last few years, while medium voltage (MV) variable speed drives (VSDs) have become more and more economical.As they gain importance, variable speed drives are gaining new formats, roles and capacities… (more)

Currently around 1,5-billion people worldwide live without access to electricity, and without a concerted effort, this number is not likely to drop. Grid extension is often costly and not feasible in isolated rural areas, or is unlikely to be accomplished within the medium term in many areas. In such situations, electricity mini-grids can power household use and local businesses… (more)

Providing portable renewable energy to remote villages and other areas that do not have access to the power grid is a huge challenge. Remote villages without access to the power grid must rely on diesel or petroleum generators for electricity, which means they have power only when they can get fuel… (more)

The National Energy Regulator of South African (Nersa) has approved the introduction of preferential rates for those who change behaviour and invest in solutions for reduced energy consumption. Those households that invest in solar water heating can not only take advantage of the subsidy of up to 40% which Eskom is offering on such equipment, but can also further reduce their exposure to higher energy costs through the preferential rate being offered… (more)

Growing acceptance of the need for energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs has led to hotels and resorts focusing their attention on ensuring their guests not only enjoy superior facilities and service, but also a “green” experience… (more)

Users of laser distance meters were asked for ideas on how to use a laser distance meter, and quite a few answers were received. Here are 101 of the best… (more)

We take a look at a lead-sheathed tape-armoured cable gland that requires no melting of lead; an adjustable cable gland with its own “gearbox” ensuring good clamping force; an aluminium alloy junction box fit for surface applications, and a junction box specially for the contractor, complete with encapsulated internal earth… (more)

The types of extreme conditions that networks are often subjected to include electromagnetic interference (EMI), high operating temperatures, ambient outdoor temperatures, power/voltage fluctuations, machine vibration, mechanical hazards and more… (more)

In large industrial plants that often contain several thousand motors to provide the necessary motion, any unplanned or sudden motor stops can lead to faults in the process sequence, which can be very cost-intensive. For this reason, reliable  management and protection of these motors is of vital importance for ensuring a controlled production sequence… (more)

Silicon anode materials have a much higher capacity for lithium than carbon and, as a result, are capable of almost ten times the gravimetre capacity per gram (mAh/g). They deliver extended cycle life without degradation of capacity… (more)

The Radiant Group is updating its existing outdoor, residential and commercial LED product lines and has also developed an LED range for the budget-conscious. Chris Calitz, director, product development at Radiant, says there is an awareness among customers of the need to implement energy efficient solutions to power daily operations… (more)

Insgrüne (into nature) coffee bars, to date opened at the German universities of Göttingen and Greifswald, are all-round ‘green’ in a number of different aspects: from their colour design and fair-trade coffee to the sustainability of their lighting. “Insgrune” is the name of Tchibo’s new coffee-bar concept for universities… (more)

 In a country where Eskom is warning of electricity shortages for 2011, the Major Tech energy saving security range is a necessity to keep the lights burning and at the same time save on electricity costs… (more)

Simple changes to a commercial property’s lighting scenario can go a long way towards improving energy efficiency. Taking into consideration the fact that lighting accounts for between 37% and 45% of electricity consumption in office buildings, interventions to this end make for sound financial and energy savings sense… (more)

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