Virtually engineering power plants

July 13, 2009

The design engineer's head is spinning. He has been analyzing data on his computer for hours, with no end in sight. Designing a hydroelectric power station, he would like to know what the pressures, temperatures and fluid flows will be in the facility. He may simulate them with simulation software. However, this only delivers vast columns of numbers or a one-dimensional representation which he will have to analyze bit by bit - a laborious task.

This will get easier in the future. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg have developed a method that visualizes the processes inside energy conversion plants, e.g. such as photovoltaic, wind, biogas and hydroelectric power stations. To do so, they have coupled 3-D plant engineering and simulation results with a virtual reality (VR) program developed at the IFF. "A special software tool has enabled us to visualize all the motion sequences for the first time ever - at just the push of a button," explains Dr. Matthias Gohla, Manager of the Process and Plant Engineering Business Unit.

Arrows that move through the VR model show engineers the direction in which and speed at which fluids and gases flow through a plant. Colored markings indicate potential weak points such as areas where critical temperatures, deposits or erosions could occur. Is there a potential for collisions when the plant components are moving? The virtual insights facilitate engineering and should therefore ensure that plants become more efficient and have lower emissions.

"Our VR model also helps plant operators in day-to-day operation," says project manager Dr. Martin Endig. For instance, extensive documentation may be implemented in the system. Instead of hunting through thick instruction manuals for desired information, a technician merely needs to click on the appropriate representation to obtain data on a certain plant component. Moreover, personnel can be trained to handle a plant before it is operational. Even critical situations can be simulated without endangering employees. Currently, the developers are working on another tool that notifies operators when a component is due for maintenance.
-end-


Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Related Photovoltaic Articles from Brightsurf:

A versatile photodetector assisted by photovoltaic and bolometric effects
A versatile photodetector based on MoTe2/VO2 heterostructure integrates photovoltaic and bolometric effects.

Studying new solar tracking strategies to maximize electric production
The University of Cordoba analyzed a new strategy for solar tracking using backtracking in order to avoid shadows being cast among solar panels in photovoltaic plants

Nanodots made of photovoltaic material support waveguide modes
New spectroscopic technique for studying nanostructures demonstrates that stibnite nanodots can act as high-optical-quality waveguides and are promising candidates as photoswitchable materials for future applications

Newer solar power equipment ages better than older units
Utility-scale photovoltaics are the largest sector of the overall solar market within the US and the fastest-growing form of renewable power generation, and this fleet of utility-scale photovoltaic projects is relatively young and hasn't been operating long enough to establish a lengthy history of operational field service.

New discovery settles long-standing debate about photovoltaic materials
Scientists have theorized that organometallic halide perovskites-- a class of light harvesting 'wonder' materials for applications in solar cells and quantum electronics -- are so promising due to an unseen yet highly controversial mechanism called the Rashba effect.

Development of new photovoltaic commercialization technology
A technology to further accelerate the commercialization of Colloidal Quantum Dot(CQD) Photovoltaic(PV) devices, which are expected to be next-generation photovoltaic devices, has been developed.

Organic photovoltaic cell with 17% efficiency and superior processability for large-area coating
The research group from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Prof.

A consensus statement establishes the protocols to assess and report stability of perovskite photovoltaic devices
The existing characterization procedures to evaluate emerging photovoltaic devices are not appropriate for halide perovskite solar cells, a new generation of solar cells called to overcome the present state-of-the-art technologies.

Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night
What if solar cells worked at night? That's no joke, according to Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis.

New efficiency world record for organic solar modules
Researchers from Nuremberg and Erlangen has set a new record for the power conversion efficiency of organic photovoltaic modules.

Read More: Photovoltaic News and Photovoltaic Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.