Earlier this year the state of Texas saw one of its most devastating statewide power outages when winter storms rolled through the state and left freezing temperatures behind for weeks. While the vast majority of power was lost due to the failure of so-called thermal sources including coal, natural gas and gas power plants, and nuclear (87% of Texas’ outages were from these sources only %13 from the failure of renewable sources*) , much was made of the failure of renewable sources like solar and wind which in normal circumstances, generate about ¼ of the state’s power.
It turns out that CPI thermal switches can be part of the solution for Texas’ infrastructure improvements, particularly in the area of wind turbines. Wind turbines can be made to work reliably even in extreme weather as they do routinely in Greenland or the Artic regions of Sweden and Finland. Here’s one of the ways we help do that.
* Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)
Thermal Switches for cold detection in Windmills
In the great Texas freeze of 2021, it was clear that winterization techniques are now a reality to deal with a rapidly changing global climate. In the case of wind turbines, many systems can be protected from cold related failure by used of special anti-freeze fluids, more weatherproof or heated gearboxes not to mention internally heated electronics which can also fail in extreme cold.
This is a proven application for CPI thermal switches which have been used in power grid applications, windmills, and shipboard military equipment to do exactly this: accurately detect cold conditions to turn on systems that heat things up!
Commonly used in these applications is our M1001 Plugstat Thermal Switch. This switch is a hermetically sealed, bimetal thermal detector rated for accurate switching down to -17 degrees C. It is slow make and break, providing natural hysteresis against chatter. The technology is a carefully manufactured and calibrated electromechanical assembly that has decades of proven operation in the field and in applications all over the world, both hot and cold.
In windmill applications there are actually many ways to use this switch to activate heater systems or other fail prevention systems. For example, windmills depend on critical voltage converters to translate the mechanical energy of the turbine to electrical energy. But these converters have a lower limit on the temperature under which they can safely operate. Our switch is used as a cold temperature indicator that the converter controller software reads. If the temperature hits the low temperature set point (in this case -3C) it is a signal that the internal heating system for the voltage converter has failed to turn on. To prevent a failure, our switch sends a signal to raise a fault and shut down the converter.
In other applications the same switch closure is used to turn on local heating elements which prevent the gearbox and associated electronics from reaching freezing temperatures which may exceed their ratings.
The switch closure can also be used in windmills to enable the flow of antifreeze by turning on pumps and generating alarms when various temperature thresholds are reached.
For Hardening the Power Grid – Think CPI Thermal Sensors and Switches.
CPI has been evolving its thermal switches for over 75 years until now, where they are arguably the most robust, fool-proof, thermal detectors in the world. When you’re protecting something as important as the power grid, your best choice is to design-in CPI.
Call us today for a free engineering consultation on your Thermal Switch Application.
Make The "Switch" to CPI
If your momentary switch application demands high performance, we think you should demand CPI. Please call us today to speak with our engineering team about your needs.