Most of us associate the term “corona” with the global pandemic or a brand of beer, but it is also the term used for electrical partial discharge in medium- and high-voltage systems that emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation which, at night, can be seen as a halo.
Electrical grid faults can be the outcome of a wide range of reasons. Corona is created because of some of these reasons and therefore indicates the existence of problems. When corona discharge is involved, the imminent results are accelerated aging processes, compromised safety, annoying noise, release of ozone, radio interference and more. On dark nights, one can see the sparks on high-voltage lines; however, during daytime, they are invisible to human eyes. Maintenance teams would like to be aware of the existence of problems, preferably at their earliest possible stage, and even predict the chronologies of systemic failures. The only way to detect these failures in real time during daylight is by using Ofil’s UV imagers.
The Ofil company specializes in developing and producing electro-optical solutions based on UVc light sensing proprietary technology. UV radiation with wave lengths of 240-280 nanometers cannot penetrate from space and is blocked by the ozone layer. Therefore, all radiation in this range originates from within the Earth’s surface. Ofil’s optical sensing solutions are highly sensitive and enable the detection of single photons. “20 years ago, we began developing the early generations of bi-spectral UV-Visible cameras, which combine the solar blind and visible spectral bands” says Eran Frisch, Chief Technology Officer at Ofil. “these optical expertise enables Ofil to develop advanced prognostic systems to be used for predictive, preventive and condition based maintenance.” “Ofil owns a registered patent over this development and uses the prefix “DayCor®” for its range of products”, says Hannah Barzilay, Ofil’s marketing director. “Day – stands for daytime and Cor for corona. DayCor® is used in over 90 countries by thousands of organizations”.
How are these products being used?
“The most common use is with portable handheld cameras. Technicians and engineers scan electrical facilities looking for UV signals of corona and when these are detected, they record and document the detected findings. Corona events are reported to facilities’ managers, who then decide on an action or continued follow-up. These cameras are effective for reducing the time it takes to investigate problems, and valuable to reveal hidden faults. Corona cameras are essential when checking areas abundant with critical installations, such as substations.
To inspect long and remote power lines, electrical utilities use helicopters and drones. Aerial inspection systems excel in integrating multi spectral remote sensing technologies with moving maps and laser range finders carried in stabilized gimbals. Since 2020 Ofil manufactures these high-level gimbals in its facility in Austria. These airborne systems are successfully used in Europe and North America. These days the Italian utility Terna purchased 4 systems for its helicopters fleet.
“Ofil developed a system for fast trains. It is mounted on testing wagons and operates automatically and autonomously, scanning the catenary overhead lines identifying and reporting on the fly existing problems. Railway companies benefit from getting updated reports and information in real time about the condition of their lines, and can ensure the ongoing and safe operation of trains.”
Environmental and sustainability solutions
Ofil is active in detecting offshore oil spills and condensates. The company developed for a leading European organization that monitors ocean pollutants a multi-sensor multi-spectral airborne system that enables the detection of thick and thin layers of oil spills at sea. In fact, Ofil’s ‘OrSolar’ airborne system is capable of detecting oil spreads of one-tenth of a micron thick, while all other existing technologies can only detect oil spreads of at least 100 microns thick. “We realized that our systems have advantages in environmental sciences and sustainability. Acknowledging our achievements, Chevron signed with us on a contract to develop stationary monitoring systems for ports and oil rigs as well as portable systems for drones” says Frisch, adding that the company keeps expanding to new applications. “We are now in the midst of a breakthrough with a new technology to replace the old-fashioned sensors with cost effective semiconductors which have flexible capabilities.
“Most of the fire detectors that currently exist are based on smoke detection, which, in most cases, is too late. The sensors that we are developing will be integrated into early fire detection systems, including chemical fires, that are hard to detect by thermal sensors. We are currently in the preliminary implementation stages for one of the world’s leading fire detection manufacturers and we hope to have a working prototype by the end of this year. There is an enormous market potential, and we have a lot to contribute to the end user’s value chain.”
“Our vision is to offer our customers comprehensive, meaningful and state-of-the-art solutions that will meet their needs with much emphasis on quality, ergonomics and sleek design” says Giora Levi, Ofil’s CEO. “Our solutions should act like high-yield real estate. Just as smartphones continuously keep on bringing revenues to their manufacturers through the app stores so will our products. I would like to manufacture valuable products that yield large after-sale revenues . Up until now most of our focus has been on electrical utilities. This is a large market, hence they are everywhere around the world. We are now capable of providing high value solutions to additional industries such as chemicals, oil rigs, pipelines, agriculture, environmental organizations etc,,whose concern is environmental and sustainability. In future, Ofil systems will be installed on many additional platforms and serve a wide range of applications, focusing on the environment – a field which we are proud to be able to contribute.”
partnered with Ofil