CTG Brasil and REIVAX develop sustainable pneumatic system

The solution for regulating small turbines is unprecedented in the energy generation sector in Brazil and uses compressed air as an alternative to hydraulic oil

CTG Brasil, one of the leaders in clean energy generation in the country, and REIVAX, the Brazilian multinational leader in the supply of equipment to control energy generation, are developing a pioneering and innovative solution for the market. It is a pneumatically operated speed regulation system that can be used in small turbines. The initiative was developed within the Research & Development (R&D) program of ANEEL, with an investment of R$ 3 million by CTG Brasil. The solution includes a set of pneumatic linear valves and actuators to control the speed of the generating unit.

In addition, the system also activates the water inlet butterfly valve through a hydropneumatic jack, which controls the opening and closing speeds, and prevents the effect of water hammer, that is, damage caused by sudden pressure variations. “It is a simple, affordable and sustainable system, as it uses compressed air instead of oil, reducing the production of chemical residues and generating a clean operation. Other advantages are the acquisition costs, which are around 45% lower than conventional hydraulic equipment, simpler installation and reduced need for maintenance”, explains Leonardo Weiss, project coordinator at REIVAX.

The development meets the requirements of international standards, which regulate the operation of automation and control systems applied to hydroelectric generation, in which precise and safe operation is essential to maintain the quality of electricity generation and the integrity of the equipment. In addition to these performance requirements, the robustness and cost-effectiveness of the equipment are being considered.

“Bringing to the electricity sector a solution for a speed regulation system powered entirely by compressed air (pneumatic) is in line with CTG Brasil’s priorities. We are concerned with the operational efficiency of our plants and with the preservation of the environment. And our premise is to seek innovative solutions for the challenges of the company, the electricity sector and society. The completion of this project reinforces our work to put these priorities into practice, on a daily basis”, emphasizes Cesar Teodoro, Engineering Director at CTG Brasil.

Pilot project is already being tested at a CTG Brasil hydroelectric plant in SP

The solution was tested in an auxiliary group at Salto Grande HPP, one of the hydroelectric plants under concession of CTG Brasil, located on the Paranapanema river between the municipalities of Salto Grande (SP) and Cambará (PR). For Renato Castilho, Electromechanical Engineering manager at CTG Brasil, the system’s performance in tests is within expectations. “Preliminary results showed that the prototype was able to withstand the operating conditions normally expected in small generating units, such as those at the Salto Grande Plant”, he reinforced.

The system is undergoing a period of monitoring and performance evaluation, and may be commercialized as of 2022. For REIVAX, the solution is an opportunity to enter the market of micro and small hydroelectric power plants. “Our expectation is to consolidate the use of low-cost technology in pneumatic control in small hydroelectric turbines, filling an existing gap in the Brazilian market. This is a niche that is growing a lot, and that represents an opportunity to increase our competitiveness”, comments Fernando Amorim da Silveira, CEO of REIVAX.