Power-line sparking noise characterisation in the SKA environment

Langat, Philip Kibet (2011-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and its demonstrator MeerKAT are being designed to operate over a wide frequency range and are expected to achieve greater sensitivity and resolution than existing telescopes. The radio astronomy community is well aware of the negative impact that radio frequency interference (RFI) has on observations in the proposed frequency band. This is because weak radio signals such as those from pulsars and distant galaxies are difficult to detect on their own. The presence of RFI sources in the telescope’s operating area can severely corrupt observation data, leading to inaccurate or misleading results. Power-line interference and radiation from electric fences are examples of RFI sources. Mitigation techniques for these interference sources in the SKA system’s electromagnetic environment are essential to ensure the success of this project. These techniques can be achieved with appropriate understanding of the characteristics of the noise sources. Overhead power-line interference is known to be caused mainly by corona and gap-type (commonly known as sparking noise) discharges. Sparking noise is the dominant interference for the SKA. It is mainly encountered on wooden pole lines, which are usually distribution lines operated at up to 66 kV AC in the South African network. At this voltage level, the voltage gradients on the lines are insufficient to generate conductor corona. The power requirements for SKA precursors will be below this voltage level. The aim of the research in this dissertation is to evaluate the power line sparking characteristics through measurements and simulation of line radiation and propagation characteristics. An artificially made sparking noise generator, which is mounted on a power line, is used as noise source and the radiation characteristics are measured. Measurements were carried out in different environments, which included a high-voltage laboratory (HV-Lab), a 40m test-line, and another 22-kV test line of approximately 1.5 km. The key sparking noise parameters of interest were the temporal and spectral characteristics. The time domain features considered were the pulse shape and the repetition rate. The lateral, longitudinal and height attenuation profiles were also quantified. Since sparking noise current pulses are injected or induced onto power line conductors, the line will act as an unintentional antenna. The far-field radiation characteristics of the line were evaluated through measurements on physical scale-model structures and simulations. 1/120th and 1/200th scaled lines, using an absorbing material and metallic ground planes, respectively, were simulated in FEKO. The measurements of the constructed scale models were taken in the anechoic chamber. Both measurements and simulations showed that the line exhibits an end-fire antenna pattern mode. Line length, pulse injection point and line configuration were some of the parameters found to affect the radiation patterns. The findings from this study are used to determine techniques to identify the sparking noise, and locate and correct the sources when they occur on the line hardware. Appropriate equipment is recommended to be used for the location and correction of sparking noise.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Vierkante Kilometer Reeks (SKA) en sy demonstrasie projek, die Karoo Reeks Teleskoop (KAT), word ontwerp om oor 'n wye frekwensie-bereik te funksioneer. Beide sal na verwagting beter sensitiwiteit en resolusie as bestaande radioteleskope he. Die radio-astronomie-gemeenskap is deeglik bewus van die negatiewe impak wat radio-frekwensie steurnisse (RFS) op waarnemings in die voorgestelde frekwensieband het. Die rede hiervoor is dat swak radio-seine soos die van pulsars en verafgelee sterrestelsels inherent moeilik is om te bepaal. Die teenwoordigheid van RFS bronne in die teleskoop se onmiddellike operasionele gebied kan waarnemings nadelig beinvloed. Dit lei uiteindelik tot onakkurate of misleidende resultate. Kraglyne en uitstralings van elektriese heinings is voorbeelde van RFS bronne. Metodes om die oorsake van die steurnisse van die SKA se elektromagnetiese omgewing te verminder is noodsaaklik om die sukses van hierdie projekt te verseker. Dit vereis egter deeglike begrip van die eienskappe van hierdie bronne. Steurnisse as gevolg van oorhoofse kraglyne word hoofsaaklik veroorsaak deur korona en gapingtipe ontladings (algemeen bekend as vonkontladings). Vonkontladings word hier beskou as die belangrikste oorsaak van steurnisse vir die SKA. Dit word in die Suid-Afrikaanse netwerk hoofsaaklik aangetref op houtpaal-installasies, wat gewoonlik bestaan uit distribusie lyne wat tot en met 66 kV wisselstroom (WS) bedryf word. By hierdie operasionele spanning is die spanningsgradient op die lyn onvoldoende om korona op te wek. Die kragvereistes vir die SKA se voorafgaande projekte sal sodanig wees dat hierdie spanningsvlak nie oorskry sal word nie. Die doel van die navorsing omskryf in hierdie proefskrif is om die eienskappe van vonkontladings rondom kraglyne te evalueer. Dit word gedoen met behulp van metings en simulasies van uitstralings- en voortplantingspatrone wat met 'n spesifieke lyn geassosieer kan word. 'n Kunsmatige vonkontladingsopwekker word op 'n kraglyn geplaas en dien as bron om die uitstralingspatrone te meet. Metings is uitgevoer in verskillende omgewings, insluitende 'n hoogspanningslaboratorium (HV-Lab), 'n 40 m toetslyn en 'n 22 kV WS toetslyn van ongeveer 1.5 km lank. Die hoof vonkontladings eienskappe van belang is die temporale en spektrale eienskappe. Die tydgebiedeienskappe wat ondersoek is, is die pulsvorm asook die pulsherhalingskoers. Die laterale, longitudinale en hoogte-attenuasie profiele word ook gekwantifiseer. Aangesien stroompulse deur vonkontladings op die kraglyn geplaas of geinduseer word, sal die lyn as 'n ongewenste antenna optree. Die ver-veld uitstralingskenmerke van die lyn is ook geëvalueer deur gebruik te maak van fisiese skaalmodelstrukture en -simulasies. 1/120ste en 1/200ste geskaleerde lynmodelle, wat onderskeidelik 'n absorberende- en metaalgrondvlak bevat, was gebruik om 'n 3 spanlengte kraglyn te simuleer met behulp van FEKO. Metings van die fisiese skaalmodel strukture is in 'n anegoise kamer geneem. Beide die metings en die simulasies toon dat die lyn 'n endpunt uitstralingspatroon het. Lynlengte, die opwekkingsposisie van die stroompuls en die lynkonfigurasie is 'n paar van die parameters wat die uitstralingpatroon beïnvloed, soos in die navorsing aangedui. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie word gebruik om steurnisse as gevolg van vonkontladings op die kraglyn te identifiseer, op te spoor en uiteindelik reg te stel. Toepaslike toerusting word voorgestel wat gebruik kan word vir die identifisering en opsporing van vonkontladings.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17970
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