Measuring microns to produce megawatts. When engineers at British Energy's Heysham 1 Power Station in Lancashire were given the task of designing a new measurement system for a boiler they knew that the job would not be easy. Faced with finding a reliable and accurate method of recording microscopic variations in the displacement of the outer concrete shell of the boiler, they first enlisted the assistance of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Strathclyde to advise on the most appropriate state of the art technologies and components available. Exhaustive evaluation to find the right solution After a comprehensive analysis of the issues involved, they were presented with a choice of technologies including contact displacement measurement where RDP Electronics was one of a number of potential suppliers of LVDTs with products to meet the specification. As Wyn Roberts, Reactor Systems Engineer for British Energy at Heysham 1 explained, "We took the university's recommendations and ran a series of trials based on a selection of products they had identified." "Our aim was to measure and record variations in displacement of only about 100 microns across the concrete surface while compensating for variations in ambient temperature." Engineering the best method for mounting RDP transducers University engineers worked with Wyn and his team to develop special supporting brackets needed to minimise the effects of fluctuating temperatures. Expansion and contraction of the mounting surface could easily swamp the accuracy of delicate measurements. A solution was found using Invar 36 - a nickel/iron alloy with very low thermal expansion - on which the LVDT transducers were mounted. Then came the choice of transducer, and after further trials the RDP solution was chosen, combining GTX in displacement of only about gauging probes and a Modular 600 conditioning interface unit linked to an external data recorder. "We chose the RDP solution on the basis of its performance, accuracy and reliability; it also proved to be a suitable, practical solution for this application," said Wyn. Heysham 1 supplies the National Grid using two AGRs (advanced gas-cooled reactors) consisting of eight boilers per reactor, and two 660MW generators producing up to 1250MW of power. The first of the new measurement systems was commissioned in August 2001. Wyn concluded, "We have been very pleased with the results and are planning to replicate the measuring system for the second reactor in May." Further information about Heysham 1 power station is available from _________________________________________________________ For sales and technical information contact:- RDP Electronics Limited Grove Street, Heath Town, Wolverhampton WV10 0PY. UK. Tel: +44(0) 1902 457512. Fax: +44(0) 1902 452000 E-mail: Website: August 2005

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