CO2 Cleaning Services for Energized Power Equipment

June 4, 2013
S&C Electric Co. has announced its offering of CO2 cleaning services for energized electrical equipment.

S&C Electric Co. has announced its offering of CO2 cleaning services for energized electrical equipment. S&C’s CO2 cleaning services allow utilities and customers who operate their own power systems to clean power equipment up to 34.5 kV without having to plan an outage. This innovative new service further expands S&C’s asset management portfolio for medium-voltage power systems.

S&C’s CO2 cleaning service is used on energized electrical equipment to remove contaminants such as dust, salt, dirt and silt that can build up on the equipment’s internal components over time or because of weather events like floods and dust storms. These contaminants reduce the dielectric strength of the components and can cause flashovers, which, in turn, can lead to equipment damage and cause power outages.

“This new service is a game-changer,” says Wanda Reder, vice president—Power Systems Services, S&C. “Globally, utilities face the challenge of maintaining their aging electrical infrastructure, which is critical to maintaining reliability. This service allows utilities to clean their equipment effectively without taking a planned outage and inconveniencing their customers.”

The CO2 cleaning process uses the solid form of carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice, to lift contaminants off of the equipment’s components, ultimately reducing the possibility of an outage. This can be done while energized because CO2 is non-conductive. For safety, a trained professional wears protective equipment and uses an insulated hose to perform the cleaning. Industrial processes reclaim the CO2, reducing the environmental impact of the service. A video covering the details of how CO2 cleaning works can be viewed here.

S&C tested and proved the application of this service in their Advanced Technology Center located in Chicago, Illinois. Working with contaminated pad-mounted switchgear, S&C tested leakage currents before and after CO2 cleaning and found that using the CO2 cleaning method resulted in an average 96 percent reduction in leakage currents. S&C then worked with local utility ComEd to test the application of this service on their energized power equipment.

“We picked two locations with pad-mounted switchgear energized at 12.47 kV, and had S&C perform CO2 cleaning on them,” Peter Tyschenko, Manager – Distribution Standards, of ComEd. “S&C quickly cleaned the equipment, provided us a detailed inspection report and helped gather the results into a presentation to evaluate and share our experience with this cleaning method.”

The traditional maintenance practice of cleaning contaminated switchgear involves de-energizing the equipment with a scheduled power outage in order to manually wipe surfaces with clean rags using soap and water. This work is often performed at night or on weekends when most scheduled power outages are permitted to occur.

“When we look at maintaining the equipment at critical 24/7 operating facilities, CO2 cleaning provides an alternative method to clean contaminated switchgear, which can eliminate switching operations, planned outages, generator deployment and overtime,” says Tyschenko.

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