London – ABB is developing x-ray analysis to monitor the condition of O-ring seals as part of a non-invasive inspection service for operators of critical power equipment.
The ‘computed radiography’ (CR) technique enables service engineers to see inside high-voltage (HV) switchgear without having to disassemble it, according to Karl Young, ABB global product manager, HV service.
This capability can reduce outages from days to hours, often allowing switchgear to remain live and even in service while the inspection takes place, Young explained at a 4 Dec press event.
As a critical component in power generation and transmission facilities, HV switchgear undergoes regular inspections to avoid the risk of unexpected malfunctions and loss of supply.
This includes analysis of rubber sealing elements, which have a critical role in containing fluids and gasses used in switchgear equipment.
Until now, the only sure way to make these checks was to disassemble the switchgear including sealed breakers filled with SF6 – a potent greenhouse gas that must be collected and stored for refilling or recycled.
According to Young, ABB experts are now using the high resolution x-ray images to measure parts that are subject to wear, such as comparing uneven ablation on electrical contacts.
ABB, he added, aims to further develop the application of the technology to rubber sealing components to check for, for example, potential manufacturing or installation defects.