Speeding innovation for industry
Smart digital systems
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Cable manufacturer Nexans turned to CEA-List to develop an innovative monitoring system for medium-voltage electrical distribution networks. The system detects extremely brief transitory faults (from tens of nanoseconds to a few microseconds in duration) that conventional monitoring systems cannot pick up.
Even very minor, extremely brief current and voltage fluctuations are detected by sensors installed at different points on the network. What makes the method developed by List so original is that an external GPS clock is used to regulate the timing of the autonomous sensors. Triangulation based on the mathematical principle of time reversal effectively leverages the time differences between when a signal is received by different sensors to determine the location of a fault to within several centimeters for networks up to 10 km long.
The information is automatically transmitted and saved to a database managed by Nexans, which operates the data processing systems created by the CEA. The system is currently able to provide information on the location, intensity, and frequency of faults. The researchers will soon be able to determine the type of fault detected, as well. Nexans is now exploring how to best make use of this new tool. One idea is to develop a mobile maintenance service that would be made available to Nexans customers a few weeks at a time.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.