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UC Riverside student develops, tests wireless sensors for induction motors


From the June 19, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 19, 2013

University of California-Riverside student Ehsan Tarkesh Esfahani has developed and tested an inexpensive multi-sensor wireless monitoring system for induction motors. Esfahani’s project was supported by a $4,000 scholarship from APPA’s research program, DEED (Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments). Riverside Public Utilities sponsored the project.

The sensor system includes a current sensor, accelerometer and a microphone to detect impending failure on a motor.  During tests, the sensors accurately detected faults 99.9 percent of the time without interrupting motor functions.

In his final report on the project, Esfahani noted that only 10 percent of components replaced on motors during interval-based maintenance actually needed replacement.  Research has shown that an investment in monitoring of between $10,000 and $20,000 results in maintenance savings of $500,000 a year, he said. "The U.S. Department of Energy has identified wireless sensor networks as one of the featured technologies to improve the overall energy efficiency of U.S. industry," he said.

"The primary problems in induction motors are: (1) air-gap eccentricity; (2) rotor bar damage; (3) bearing damage and (4) stator winding imbalance," Esfahani said. "These problems are often neither sudden nor independent.  Therefore, by using the progressive nature of these problems, a continuous monitoring system can track the faults as they develop and help identify the root cause of faults and prevent the consequent failure."

An article in the Spring 2013 issue of the DEED Digest provides more details on the project.  DEED Digest is available to all personnel of DEED member utilities.

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