Remote identification of overhead conductor materials

Marsh, Scott (2015) Remote identification of overhead conductor materials. [USQ Project]


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The recent draft determination by Australian Energy Regulator has meant a probable large reduction of approximately 30% in the income able to be generated by Ergon Energy. This recent ruling has increased the focus on cost effective and timely solutions to problems and encouraged continual evaluation of emerging technology which may facilitate these solutions. This focus has become a primary consideration in the organisation.

The five main types of conductor present in the Ergon Energy bare overhead network in copper, galvanised steel, steel re-enforced aluminium, aluminium and aluminium alloy, which all age in a variety of ways when exposed to the elements. With over 1,800 circuit kilometres of unidentified conductor in the Ergon Energy network and a further unknown amount of incorrectly identified conductor, suitably managing the risk of conductor failure in a targeted, efficient, and timely manner is problematic.

Spectral analysis is rapidly maturing as a technology with recent uses including satellite imagery to identify mineral deposits, analysis of distant planets, and also includes uses such as identifying cancerous growths in the human body, identifying scrap metals, evaluating the contamination of land by various contaminants, and helping naval vessels avoid mines by identification of these metal objects in the ocean.

Initial measurements in the visible spectrum were taken with a low cost commercial USB plug and play spectrometer which identified significant differences in the spectral responses of copper, steel and aluminium. This spectrometer gave relatively constant results for aluminium, and galvanised steel under various lighting conditions, sample ages, and sample sizes. Consistent results were also obtained of various copper sample sizes and lighting conditions, however the variable surface patina’s due to weathering resulted in inconsistent results. The spectrometer could not discern between all aluminium conductor (AAC) and all aluminium alloy conductor (AAAC).

An attempt was made to build an image spectrometer from a Nikon D700 consumer camera which was partially successful. The device was successful in recording relatively accurately the dominant wavelengths of a compact fluorescent light source and did record two measurements of aluminium conductor with moderate accuracy. Difficulties were encountered with aligning the optical path, and artefacts being introduced in the optical path.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Power) project
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Bowtell, Leslie
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 04:32
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2016 04:32
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spectral Remote Conductor, Remote Identification, Conductor Materials
Fields of Research (2008): 09 Engineering > 0906 Electrical and Electronic Engineering > 090607 Power and Energy Systems Engineering (excl. Renewable Power)
Fields of Research (2020): 40 ENGINEERING > 4008 Electrical engineering > 400805 Electrical energy transmission, networks and systems

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