Professor Ian Glover will be leading a research project in detecting potentially dangerous and destructive faults in electricity sub-stations.
Professor Glover from the University of Huddersfield, who was born and grew up in Bailiff Bridge, will be the lead investigator on the £670,000 scheme funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The aim is to introduce easily-installed wireless sensor networks in sub-stations that will have economic benefits, raise safety standards and reduce the chances of power cuts.
The technology is designed to locate and diagnose imminent system faults, so that repairs can be made.
Prof Glover explained that when the insulation of cables and other power equipment becomes old or damaged, it radiates microwave energy, known as partial discharge.
“This can be picked up by radio receivers and by monitoring the intensity of this microwave energy, you can predict when an item of plant is going to fail.”
Partial discharge has usually been detected by a technician walking the substation with a radio receiver and a pair of headphones.
“That might typically be only done once a year, but that is not enough. A piece of equipment can degrade very quickly.”
In the worst cases, equipment can explode, leading to power cuts and massive repair costs plus safety risks.
The novel feature of Prof Glover’s research is that it uses free space radiometers to sense microwave radiation intensity.
These instruments are not attached to the power cables and can be installed without switching high voltage equipment off, so there is no interruption to power supplies.