You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2013.

It’s sad to read that my 13 February SANEA Cape Town presentation on South Africa’s wind resource was so badly misunderstood by Alan Mitchell who consequently slammed wind as a viable electricity option in his letter entitled “Wind Electricity? No Good” published in the March 2013 edition… (more)

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  • Get your adrenalin going with a quad-copter
  • This camera sends your pics straight to Facebook
  • A compact, convertible mobile computer
  • How about a pair of video-recording sunglasses?… (more)

All of us start our businesses filled with dreams of what we are going to achieve in the future and how we will be able to do things and go places with all the money that we are going to make! But what happens to these dreams? Do we even remember what they were? What were your dreams? If you do not remember them, take time to write down a new set of dreams… (more)

Paper insulated cables have been in use longer than any other type of cable insulation and are still a favourite with engineers. When selected properly and installed correctly, paper insulated cables can be relied upon to provide satisfactory and trouble-free performance… (more)

Plant engineers and production system designers view electrical wiring as cumbersome and costly. The advent of “contactless energy transfer” could eliminate these problems… (more)

These meters are often viewed as an unnecessary expense but basic, single point metering can cost as little as 1% of the total project while providing significant ongoing benefits to engineers modifying or upgrading their gear… (more)

Smart metering (SM) systems can support various aspects of electricity distribution management, but it is important to understand the additional functionality of SM systems and to establish whether they meet the requirements for Africa… (more)

Electrical equipment manufacturers generally require annual maintenance for power circuit breakers to ensure proper operation and to maintain equipment warranties. This maintenance consists of cleaning and lubrication of the primary and secondary disconnects, racking mechanisms and cell interlocks… (more)

Advances in materials science, designing and manufacturing process made MV switchgear much more reliable. In spite of this, insulation failures continue to happen, often resulting in catastrophic equipment damage. Periodical maintenance tests can still leave switchgear in virtually unknown condition… (more)

Understanding and comparing LED performance appears straightforward: get the datasheets, compare numbers for light output, efficacy and lumen maintenance, and make a decision.Unfortunately, any purchase and design decision based simply on the top-line numbers – the specifications on the early pages – without analysis of how the LEDs will perform under real operating conditions can lead to unsatisfactory results and significant business risks… (more)

Many lighting companies have an incorrect view of how the human eye handles light. This can lead to inefficient lighting, misconceptions and conflicting rules about the appropriate colour of light and light levels… (more)

This month’s winning letter, from Chris Stewart, Alcatel-Lucent South Africa
Some claims, when promoting LED products, are misleading or at least rather ambiguous. However, bad advertising does not make the technology or its products “bad” since some facts are undeniable: LEDs offer the highest lumen per watt of any “white” light source… (more)

Copper is clearly the best electrical conductor at an affordable price. With an electrical conductivity of 5,97 x107 S/m, it is an indispensable material for achieving a compact installation with high energy efficiency. And it is a fact that energy efficiency can be improved even further by increasing the cross section of the copper conductor, thus providing a positive impact on the environmental footprint and the life cycle cost of the installation. One additional kilogram of copper conductor will typically save between 100 and 7500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions… (more)

A 20% import duty was imposed on LED lamps and fittings as of 1 January 2013 with a further application by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) for another duty increase currently pending. How this would impact the SA LED manufacturing and distribution industry, the local energy efficiency drive and the influx of inferior product from abroad was discussed at a recent meeting of members of the Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa (IESSA)… (more)

According to UK government targets, 15% of the UK’s energy supply will be from renewable sources by 2020. In order to meet these ambitious targets, utilities are increasingly focusing on distribution automation (DA) to improve grid reliability, efficiency and capacity. As energy demands increase and power-hungry new technologies such as electrical vehicles proliferate, utilities will need to seek new ways to meet peak-load requirements… (more)

This study examines experimentally the cooling application of a solar absorption system with interior energy storage that uses two different auxiliary systems. The experiments were performed at Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey on 3 and 4 August 2010 that had the approximately same average outdoor temperature, 31°C… (more)

The boom of solar water heating industry has arrived, or has it? – The South African White Paper on Renewable Energy of 2003 targets 10 000 GWh of renewable energies by 2013. It specifically mentions that solar water heating (SWH) should contribute 23% to this target… (more)

A successful project that has put Thytronic’s knowledge to work in the field of power system protection and control is described here. The project involves an automatic transfer system for incoming feeders for MKS, an electric utility based in Moscow, Russia. The user’s critical control processes are characterised by high energy consumption and high operating reliability requirements… (more)

This feasibility study is an initial investigation into whether large HVDC grids are economically interesting and technically possible to build. The reason for the interest in HVDC grids is that in many parts of the world there is a growing need for more transmission capacity due to increasing production of renewable energy at remote locations and an increasing trade of electricity… (more)

In the age of exploration, the British Empire was able to achieve great maritime feats thanks to a modest new invention: the marine chronometer, a clock that could keep accurate time while at sea. By setting the chronometer to the local time in the port city of Greenwich, then comparing that time to the position of the sun in the sky, British captains could calculate their longitude to extraordinary levels of accuracy… (more)

Oil sampling is a process and not just a result. There are many steps that can introduce errors. By using online monitoring most of the errors can be eliminated. Automation of the diagnosis of the oil condition can also provide improved results… (more)

With advancing age of power transformers, a regular check of the operative condition becomes more and more important. Dissolved gas analysis (DGA) is a proven and meaningful method that allows a fault to be located as soon as possible if increased proportions of H2 and hydrocarbon gases are found in the oil. In order to determine the reason for high gas rates, further tests have to be performed… (more)

It was most interesting and enlightening to listen to Chris Yelland on 702’s money show yesterday evening, regarding wind turbines. Whilst I appreciate the need of alternative sources of primary energy, in my personal opinion the usefulness of wind turbines has been somewhat overstated, as they are indeed reliant on the instantaneous velocity of the available wind… (more)

I concur with Alan Mitchell who wrote “Wind Electricity? No Good” in your March 2013 issue of Energize. He addresses the aesthetic impact of hundreds if not thousands of roughly >250 000 giant wind turbines blighting our landscape. Added to which, is the impact of power lines linking these monstrosities together and onto the power grid… (more)

What an interesting article! (Energize Jan/Feb 2013 page 18.) However, I soon found the $1-million question. It is very questionable whether the zero-linear thresholds hypothesis has any validity at all. What it says is that, however low the dose, it will have a negative effect. So, for instance, Riekert and Koch note that nickel as a pollutant is associated with about 20k to 30k cancer cases per person- year microgram/m3… (more)

“Is Chernobyl dead? Essays on energy – renewable and nuclear” by CM Meyer is a fascinating new book, breathtaking in its scope and gripping in its coverage. The 302-page book has 51 easy-to-read chapters (essays), each one essentially self-contained and extensively referenced, woven together to form the whole. There are also over 100 figures and pictures, many of them rare and retrieved from international archives, with significant historical interest… (more)

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster wind power has increased in importance in energy transition. The problem, of course, was never a lack of wind but the dependence of most societies on the old energy economy, and some have only too happily continued to operate their old nuclear plants… (more)

Sir, I recall that sunny day in early March 1923 when it was announced in the government gazette that an Electricity Supply Commission (Escom) had been established under the chairmanship of Dr. Hendrik van der Bijl. £500 was borrowed from the treasury (which was rapidly repaid), and Escom set up an office in Johannesburg and set to work ensuring a cheap and abundant supply of electricity wherever it was needed in South Africa. That was ninety years ago. Since then, it has been a wild roller-coaster ride, times when both the “cheap” and “abundant” were either in oversupply or desperately short. Escom was an upstart, a minor also-ran in the industry, and there was plenty of competition… (more)

It is estimated that South African mineral smelters and chemical processes have the potential to generate more than 2000 MW of electricity from waste gases. In addition to reducing grid energy consumption, projects of this type qualify for clean development mechanism (CDM) funding and are becoming more and more popular as electricity prices rise… (more)

In order to understand the application by Eskom to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for a review of the special electricity pricing agreements between Eskom and BHP Billiton for Hillside Potlines 1, 2 and 3, and the powers, authority and duties of the Regulator in such matters, it is necessary to look at the relevant South African legislation covering the regulation of electricity and its pricing… (more)

South Africa is faced with a dichotomy that is difficult to resolve. We have high levels of unemployment and poverty, and growing unrest among young people. It is clear that the national government’s intention is to use the infrastructure development programme to achieve a development vision by transforming the socio-economic landscape of the country… (more)

NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission has discovered a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth, revealing the existence of unexpected structures and processes within these hazardous regions of space… (more)

South Africa is joining Astron, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and IBM in a four-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems aimed at developing advanced technologies for handling the massive amount of data that will be produced by the SKA which constitutes the ultimate Big Data challenge… (more)

The SKA SA project supports science and engineering students and researchers around the country for work related to MeerKAT and SKA challenges. A group is working at the University of Cape Town.  Bradley Frank, Prof. Erwin de Blok and Moses Mogotsi… (more)

  • Solar-powered internet school penetrates rural areas
  • Egypt to reconsider ban on private satellite channels
  • Tanzania halts next phase in digital migration
  • Ethiopian government uses tax funds to spy on political rivals
  • Kenya to get secure online transaction system
  • Rwanda gets US$8-million loan for telecoms in private sector
  • Namibia to get own PoPs for WACS connection
  • Nigerian experiences stampede from CDMA to GSM
  • Zimbabwe internet firm to roll out 4G LTE technology… (more)

Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite (SA AMSAT) does not have the R2-million needed to buy a satellite kit, so the team had to go back to the drawing board and design as many of its own components as possible… (more)

Infineon’s latest 1200 V IGBT4 chip generation, comes in three versions optimised for low, medium and high power applications. The driving force for these distinctions have been varying switching softness requirements related to the applications power or rated current level, respectively… (more)

One of the most critical design parameters in an LED illumination system is the system’s ability to draw heat away from the LED package. High operating temperatures at the LED junction affect the performance of the LED adversely, resulting in colour shifts and decreased light output and lifetime for the LED package… (more)

The use of thermal imagers in the electrical industry is a common application for detection of bad connections, poor switching, looming transformer breakdown and many other electrical problems… (more)

Managing complex, dynamic bulk handling value chain operations to achieve exceptional results is often challenging, especially in businesses that have greater ownership of the various value chain components.In many instances the various business units that need to be synchronised and perform efficiently are disconnected from each other… (more)

Integrating disparate systems within facilities helps facility owners and managers achieve synergies that would otherwise not be possible with the traditional silo approach to managing HVAC, lighting, access control, security, fire & life safety and communications systems… (more)

People are sensitive beings: not only their comfort, but also their performance level and motivation depend on the climatic conditions in their environment. For this reason, more attention is paid to achieving a pleasant room climate when planning and technically equipping buildings today. To this end, building automation from Beckhoff optimally controls the climate in the Etech Centre located in Linz, Austria… (more)

The Process Expo Africa 2013 will be held from 21 – 23 May 2013 at the Nasrec Expo Centre, Johannesburg. Exhibitors include AC/DC Dynamics, Adroit Technologies, Allpronix, Beckhoff Automation, Burkert Contromatic, Comtest Technologies, and many more… (more)

Reducing carbon emissions has become a growing concern for policy makers, car manufacturers and building designers alike. Consequently, batteries have taken centre stage in the search for alternative energy and the development of low-cost hybrid electric vehicles… (more)

In today’s world of rapidly developing technology, businesses require increasingly advanced solutions to protect their data and virtual assets. Data centres should achieve uncompromising levels of performance.The impact of catastrophes such as power outages and security breaches at these centres can have a significant effect on business operations – compromising crucial business information, with severe consequences… (more)

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, famously observed back in 1965 that “The number of transistors incorporated in a chip approximately doubles every 24 months.” The time-frame has since been shortened to 18 months, and transistor count has faded as the metric for computational power. Today, the law is taken to mean that a device of size X will have twice the computing power in 18 months as a comparable device today… (more)

This article details the opportunity to present a satellite communication variant which provides renewed confidence in satellite communications to bridge the digital divide, and to speedily satisfy South Africa’s Broadband 2020 goal… (more)

The letters page covers advice from an industry veteran on the acquisition of skills (the winning letter); and on cellphone roaming costs… (more)

Michael Garnham has a BEng in electrical engineering and a BSc in information technology and is the manager of the South African Profibus and Profinet Training and Competence Centre. Feedback is welcome: michaelg@idx.co.za. Q: I don’t have Profibus, but how can I make use of its fortes? A: It’s not uncommon for users of other fieldbuses to want to implement devices specific to Profibus… (more)

When Steve Drehobi, V-P of Microchip jetted into Johannesburg I asked him about embedded microcontroller and semiconductor devices, and the impact that the world economy is having on the industry. I asked him about the company’s planning strategy and how it has helped them to keep coming out on top… (more)

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