Efficient Plant April 2019 - 29

ultrasound solutions

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Relying solely on infrared thermography for electrical inspections can be risky. While an IR
camera can identify faults that produce heat signatures, airborne ultrasound instruments can
detect those that don't generate heat.

Add Ultrasound to
Electrical Inspections
WITH REGARD TO inspection of energized electrical equipment, the first technology
that often comes to mind is infrared (IR) thermography. That's because IR traditionally
has been the tool of choice for identifying potential electrical faults. But, according
to Adrian Messer of UE Systems, Elmsford, NY (uesystems.com), relying on a single
technology for this task can be risky. The fact is, some electrical faults don't produce heat
signatures that an IR camera will detect. "Here's where airborne ultrasound comes in,"
Messer said. He offered the following overview of why and how.
- Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Adrian Messer is manager of U.S. Operations for UE Systems, Elmsford, NY. For more
information on ultrasound applications and solutions, visit uesystems.com.

APRIL 2019

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Airborne ultrasound has seen a large increase in the
number of users who combine it and IR to inspect
energized electrical equipment. Many operations
already leverage the technology for compressed
air and gas leak detection. Fortunately, the same
instrument used for airborne leak detection can be
used for electrical inspections.
There are four main reasons for using ultrasound
to inspect energized electrical systems.

SAFETY

Energized equipment doesn't need to be opened.
Performing an ultrasound scan prior to opening the
equipment can help alert the inspector to potential
problems such as corona, tracking, and arcing. This
reduces the risk or chance of an arc flash occurrence.

DETECTING FAULTS THAT DON'T
PRODUCE HEAT

Corona discharge typically doesn't produce enough
change in temperature to be detectible with a
standard IR camera. It does, however, produce
high-frequency sound that can be heard with an
ultrasound instrument. By combining ultrasound
and IR, an inspector is able to find any potential
electrical fault that may be present.

RECOGNIZED STANDARDS

Standards such as NFPA 70B, which deals with the
inspection and maintenance of energized electrical
equipment, now make mention of using ultrasound and infrared together for a multi-technology
approach.

ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY

Because ultrasound has advanced beyond just
what the inspector hears in the headset, as well
as evolved beyond just a decibel-level readout,
users are now able to diagnose the exact nature
of a fault. Advanced instruments have capabilities
that allow recording of sound from a detected
anomaly and analysis of the recorded-sound file in
spectrum-analysis software. Corona, tracking, and
arcing faults each have signature characteristics
that will be present in either the FFT or time wave
form when the sound file is analyzed. EP
EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

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Efficient Plant April 2019

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