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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number NIA2_NGET0049
Title Sprayed Metal for Effecting Leaking Transformer Repairs (SMELTeR)
Status Started
Energy Categories Other Power and Storage Technologies(Electricity transmission and distribution) 100%;
Research Types Applied Research and Development 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Metallurgy and Materials) 20%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 80%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Project Contact
No email address given
National Grid Electricity Transmission
Award Type Network Innovation Allowance
Funding Source Ofgem
Start Date 01 October 2023
End Date 31 October 2024
Duration ENA months
Total Grant Value £1,150,000
Industrial Sectors Power
Region London
Programme Network Innovation Allowance
Investigators Principal Investigator Project Contact , National Grid Electricity Transmission (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , National Grid Electricity Transmission (0.000%)
Web Site https://smarter.energynetworks.org/projects/NIA2_NGET0049
Objectives "The pilot transformer and radiator will be chosen by NGET, in collaboration with Rawwater and Createc, towards the start of the project. Up to four sites will be visited for identification of suitable pilot transformer and radiator. Requirements capture will take place in terms of site considerations, success criteria and wider questions which need to be addressed, such as condition of equipment substrate, work at height and accessibility for a MEWP. Small-scale lab-based tests will be set up and conducted within a bespoke indoor rig which simulates the conditions within a transformer, to establish optimal spray and deposition parameters, based on site requirements and success criteria. This rig will include a sliding mount to simulate robot arm movement such that spray arm movement can be simulated, informing optimal movement speeds, hose span and deposition characteristics. The rig will have capability to heat the specimen to represent site operational temperatures (up to 65°C), and fault conditions (above alloy melting point) and will simulate oil pressures within a transformer. Post- testing, the oil will be filtered and examined, and the test rig/specimen will be dismantled to inspect for alloy ingress. Testing will include heating of the specimen post- spray to observe whether the alloy melts and enters the defect. Should alloy ingress be observed under any conditions, the project will be paused for investigation and discussion before proceeding further. The M3 equipment will be reviewed and upgraded to ensure suitability of alloy capacity and alloy deposition for these types of use cases, which require alloy 12. Alloy 12 is a higher melting point alloy than used in SF6 National Grid deployments, necessary for the temperature profile of transformers. Alloy 12 was used in the EPRI feasibility project, and is suitable for use at operational temperatures of less than 65°C. For the purposes of representative testing, Rawwater will prepare a bespoke outdoor test area with hardstanding and weather protection. A decommissioned radiator bank and transformer with flanged lid will be delivered by NGET to Rawwater and installed in this bunded area. The equipment will be prepared for representative tests of both manual and integrated solutions. This may include, where feasible, addition of a monitoring system to gather results on effectiveness of the seal and other aspects identified as key in the small-scale testing. RAMS will be produced. As informed by lab testing and representative testing, the development and testing of the combined solution for the flanged lid will then take place. For the flanged lid, the testing will focus on refining the following steps initially: 1. 3D scan of a leaking section, covering both straights and corners. 2. Path planning selection, using a basic User Interface. 3. Alloy deposition using the M3Spray and autonomous robotic movement, while containing alloy to design deposition locations only. Both M3Spray and the robot will be controlled at a short distance from the leak site. Mechanical interfaces between M3Spray and the robot will be collaboratively designed and commissioned. A secure robotics platform for the equipment to be used on site will be designed and manufactured. The robotic User Interface will be designed and tested, with planning undertaken for how this will be physically utilised onsite. This preparatory work, including two days training of Rawwater by Createc and three separate weeks of collaborative Rawwater/ Createc testing, followed by up to three months of testing by Rawwater, with remote support from Createc, to finessing of the combined robot/M3 application on decommissioned equipment and ensure a controlled and consistent alloy deposition, even in difficult to access locations. Createc will provide a correctly specified robotic and MEWP equipment for the testing and deployment duration. This will consider access constraints and safe robotic arm reach from the extended MEWP position. The robotic arm will be securely always attached to the MEWP. Bespoke hose nozzles and attachments will be developed, manufactured, and tested to optimise spray access for hard-to-reach locations such as between the fins of a radiator bank and to optimise spray deposition pattern. These must be tested to ensure no reduction in M3Spray performance. Once developed, the access nozzles will be used for testing on the decommissioned transformer. Containment solutions to keep alloy deposition within the prescribed areas, as identified in requirements capture. Containment will be designed and tested on the decommissioned transformer. For both containment and access nozzles, optioneering will identify candidate designs and chosen solutions will be implemented, as informed by the findings of the representative testing. It is likely that this will involve some heating and related controls. In addition to alloy deposition, this development will consider full lifecycle of onsite operations such as line purging between M3Spray operations. It is possible that a range of options will be required to meet the requirements of a range of access and containment needs. The full test findings will be reviewed and in collaboration with Createc, the final solution for the pilot agreed. A test report will be produced upon completion of lab testing and will be updated and re-issued on completion of the representative testing. Site RAMS will be produced and signed off by NGET. Any personnel attending site requiring persons training will undergo the training. " The project will deliver the pilot leak seals but also test and develop the solution for aspects which would inform future wider applications. The major challenges to be overcome to meet the objectives and inform wider application are access and containment, while maintaining M3 sealing capability. The project would take the technology from TRL 4/5 to TRL 7 and provide underpinning for a potential project extension which would further automate the process, resulting in TRL 8. The test candidates will be chosen for their suitability. They will be close to the end of their active service and will be accessible to Rawwater and Createc equipment and personnel. Ideally these test candidates will be at the same site or close enough sites to allow travel between them during the same weeks deployment. The radiator seal will be placed using manual M3 spray, with bespoke attachments for improved access. Containment will prevent the alloy spray from being deposited in undesirable locations. The integrated spray application to a transformer lid will be undertaken on site such that the spray is done, by sections, semi-autonomously. Based on current thinking, the process is likely to be: 1. A MEWP, mounting the robot, is driven to the location of M3Spray deployment. 2. The robot arm completes a 3D scan of a short section. 3. A user generates the spray path the robot must follow, using a basic User Interface. 4. Users start the spray process, M3Spray is manually started, robot arm moves autonomously. 5. Repeat 1-4 all around the transformer if feasible. Testing will be done to confirm and refine the technique. Containment will be developed to prevent the alloy spray from being deposited in undesirable locations. The resulting spray applications will be monitored by NGET for twelve months. After three months, if performance is satisfactory, there will be an option to proceed with an extension to the project with a greater degree of M3Spray automation to prepare for wider pilots and eventual roll out across the network. This would take the form of a robotically controlled elevated work platform and a robot with enhanced automation capabilities, to cover a wider range of access environments, however, this is outside the scope of this detailed proposal. "The objectives of this project are to: Deliver a pilot to seal or heavily mitigate one oil leak on an in-service radiator bank using manual application of M3Spray with appropriate access and containment.Deliver a pilot to seal or heavily mitigate one oil leak on an in-service transformer flange lid using M3Spray with appropriate access via robotics and alloy containment, whilst also proving the concept of integration of M3Spray with a robot allowing semi-automation of the spray application process.To test:the effect on the alloy seal of heating the assetthe required surface preparationsealing over a failed repair "
Abstract "Rawwater provides leak and defect sealing solutions using low melting point alloys called M3. Rawwaters proprietary technology includes M3Spray in which molten alloy is sprayed directly against a flowing liquid leak to stem it. Building on the leak sealing feasibility work carried out previously, the project will focus on the testing of Rawwaters M3Spray for sealing realistic transformer leak scenarios, including on decommissioned transformer parts. Deployability of the solution including access nozzle development for manual application and semi-autonomous robotic integration for controlled deployment will be tested. Alloy containment to ensure that metal particulates are contained and controlled will also be tested. This work will culminate in a pilot deployment on a transformer (TRL7) on the NGET estate. Following an initial period of 3 months, there is the option to extend the project to include further robotic integration and further scenarios to a wider range of leaks."
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 12/10/23