KSB Pumps and Valves has assisted the University of Pretoria in the construction of a large controlled-temperature test unit, which will form the backbone of ongoing research into heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.
The unit will allow students to plug directly into hot, moderate or chilled liquids to use on research projects and will cut off approximately 50% of students’ overall project build-up time, allowing more time to carry out research. It is also expected to save considerable costs in future.
Chairman of the School of Engineering and head of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Professor Josua Meyer, says the multi-million Rand project was part-funded by the University, with donations from industrial companies like KSB Pumps and Valves for funding, equipment and construction of the system.
The system relies on temperature monitoring of flow loops where water is conditioned through the relevant heat pumps and chilling units at near boiling or lower temperatures, as well as Glycol at -20˚C.
“The user demand within each loop is controlled using a system of pumps, variable speed drives, pressure transducers and special valves to allow up to 8 experiments to plug-in simultaneously without affecting either the flow rate, working pressure or temperature of the unit. This calls for absolute reliability and requires the best possible equipment to be used to avoid downtime that may impede any of the research programs,” says Danie Gouws, Technologist of the laboratory.
The University specified five Etanorm 50/32/250 pump sets with 3kW, 2.2kW and 1.5kW motors respectively according to flow rates, required pressure and other requirements.
PLC- control ensures that all parameters are checked and balanced so the system delivers fluid at the right temperature set points and flow conditions 24-hours per day, regardless of the number of students using the facility. It also ensures that ongoing and larger-scale research projects can be undertaken, including research that is already being done in collaboration with other international Universities.
This includes research concerning concentrated solar power (CSP) research, nuclear safety as well as micro and power-related electronics, heat exchange tubes and clean energy studies among others being carried out by ten staff and thirty full time students, including ten PhD students, as well as a number of Master’s degrees students.