Local engineering company RTS Africa Engineering is currently focused on the commissioning of manufacturing company Procon's boiler tube leak detection equipment, which tests and inspects the sound of leaking steam tubes within the boiler, at both the Medupi and Kusile power stations, owned by State-owned power utility Eskom.
The company explains that early leak detection is essential as it prevents expensive secondary damage and unscheduled outages in boilers, feedwater heaters, headers, steam pipes and valves.
Additionally, the detection system is designed to identify a steam leak the moment it begins, allowing time for a planned schedule to shut down the boiler at an optimum time, such as during the weekend. The early detection of a tube leak will ensure financial savings that will easily exceed the initial capital cost of the detection system.
Procon Southern Africa agents RTS Africa Engineering MD Ian Fraser explains that the equipment’s primary objective is to diagnose and identify minor leaks in boiler tubes so that these can be repaired during scheduled shutdowns, rather than causing unexpected tube bursts that will shut down the boiler, resulting in unnecessary delays and expense.
The boiler tube leak detection equipment incorporates specially designed acoustic sensors which are about the size of a hand-held microphone. These are mounted on 50-mm-diameter acoustic (hearing) tubes, which are open to the inside of the boiler space. The signals from the acoustic sensors are modified and amplified by an adjacent amplifier, from where they are transmitted to the monitoring software resident in the control room.
The acoustic microphone is shock heat and vibration resistant and 30 to 50 times more sensitive than piezo-electric microphones. “This sensitivity enables the system to locate even very small leaks and gives you the time you need to plan a proper course of action for repair,” he notes.
Fraser asserts that RTS Africa has become renowned locally for providing innovative technologies and solutions, and globally sourced, quality products to clients in the mining, steel and energy industries. The long-standing relationship between the two companies has had an extremely positive impact on both organisations, allowing Procon and RTS Africa to work in synergy on many successful projects.