Focus on power capacitors and high voltage
e-tech: Dr Nagamani, what made you focus on power capacitors and high voltage in particular?
Since my graduate days, I have had a particular interest in scientific research. Following my post-graduate studies and a short stint with the National Aeronautical Laboratory of India [now National Aerospace Laboratories, ed.] as a materials research scientist, I joined the CPRI (Central Power Research Institute) in Bangalore in 1981.
CPRI is among the most important technology research institutes in India. At CPRI, I was associated with the laboratory for power cables and power capacitors. The laboratory is equipped with excellent HV (high voltage) testing and research facilities for undertaking applied research in dielectrics.
Based on my progress in research and development work on insulating materials and systems, I was promoted to the position of head of the Power Capacitors Laboratory in 1997.
Under my supervision, the research facility and scope of the laboratory were upgraded and extended to include the research, testing and certification of a wide variety and range of power and allied capacitors. I am proud to say that the laboratory I now head is one of the foremost of its kind in this part of the world.
Involvement in international standardization and IEC work
e-tech: How did you get involved in international standardization and in IEC work?
CPRI is represented on several committees of BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), India's standardization body. My involvement in standardization began when I was a young researcher in CPRI. I was appointed as Chairperson of BIS National Committee for power capacitors in 2008 and as Chairman of IEC TC 33 from April 2014.
I was fortunate enough to be the first professional of Indian origin to be recognized as highly qualified enough to be on an international standardization committee, and CPRI was instrumental in my appointment to this position.
Main drivers behind power capacitors standardization and TC 33 work
e-tech: What drives power capacitors standardization and TC 33 work?
Capacitors, as electrical circuit components, have a long history. Their application in HV circuits as charge storage devices is almost two centuries old. Recent advances in manufacturing processes and the technology and availability of low-loss capacitor dielectrics with excellent electrical and thermal properties have resulted in compact capacitors with unit ratings beyond 1 Mvar (Mega Volt Ampere Reactive).
IEC TC 33 has prepared and published a number of International Standards on power and related capacitors and their applications.
Since standardization of power equipment is a continuous process, it is essential to make periodic revisions and modifications in the formulation from time to time. The main driving force behind standardization and TC 33 work is to validate the technological advances and developments on a common platform so as to be able to improve the quality, reliability and cost effectiveness of environmentally-friendly power equipment.
Challenges and opportunities ahead
e-tech: What are the main challenges/opportunities for the power capacitors sector?
Among the emerging technologies in the field of power capacitors, smart capacitor banks for Smart Grids represent the need of the hour. Super/ultracapacitors are emerging in a big way as energy storage devices for power applications. It seems that the effect of renewable energy systems, solar and wind in particular, on power quality will be imminent – so much so that the robust design of the capacitor banks of the required type they contain must be viewed as an important consideration. Nanotechnology may influence capacitor dielectrics in near future. Utilities may demand on-line condition monitoring of capacitor banks.
Recent technological and economic changes are expected to pose serious challenges to power capacitors. These changes include an enhanced focus on distributed generation and their integration, power quality issues, harmonics in particular and increasing customer and regulatory demands.
These changes may require the formulation of new Standards and IEC TC 33 may have to coordinate effectively with other related committees on reactors, power quality, Smart Grid, energy storage and more.