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The Energy Saving Smart Distribution Board – a successful story of IIC-NEI-SQU collaborative project

Oman: Monday, January 23 - 2012 @ 11:11

The fruit of this high-level and successful collaboration is the Energy Saving “Smart” Distribution Board (SDB), which manages power consumption within the premises by means of prioritizing the power demand.

Speaking about this achievement, Dr. Abdullah Al Zakwani, Executive Director, Industrial Innovation Centre (IIC), “This is indeed a noteworthy success, not only for the Industrial Innovation Centre (IIC), National Electrical Industry (NEI) and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), but also for the industrial sector in the Sultanate,” he said, adding: “This major achievement should boost the enthusiasm of local industry to collaborate with the IIC so that they also embark on developing their innovative ideas into R&D projects. This will contribute to the improvement of the Sultanate’s industrial sector.”

Ahmed bin Ali Al Hinai, Client Manager at the Industrial Innovation Centre, stated that “The Energy Saving “Smart” Distribution Board (SDB) will symbolize a benchmark for other companies to utilize the offers we are providing. Besides, by having this successful story, we will be having a tangible product to showcase and thus we will gain more confidence from the industrialists. Moreover, we hope that this story will encourage other research institutions in Oman to take part in various projects in the future.”

N. Sudarsan, General Manager, National Electrical Industries, hailed efforts made by the Industrial Innovation Center to facilitate industrial R&D in the country.

“In Oman, electricity consumption trebles during summer. This requires the utilities to expand generation, transmission and distribution capacities,” he commented, adding that: “Beside the emission problem and its impact to the environment, power generation expansion is limited to the availability of natural gas. The expansion of transmission and distribution utilities is costly and the revenue is restricted with the off-peak demand during half of the year. The surge in demand can create load shedding causing inconvenience to the general public. This also leads to lower voltage which impacts the life time of house hold electrical appliances.”

To address this problem of national interest, the National Electrical Industry (N.E.I) approached the I.I.C for assistance with industrial research and development.

“After approaching various academic institutes in Oman, Sultan Qaboos University, elite in the field of Electrical Engineering were selected due to their positive response and strong research proposal which demonstrated their expertise and resources in this field,” noted Dr. Lorna G. Cork, Industrial Innovation Consultant at the IIC.

The project duration spanned eleven months, from approval to completion. The research team was headed by Dr. Amer Al Hinai and Dr. Amer Al Habsi and comprised three engineers and four Omani undergraduate final year students. This provided a unique opportunity to build capacity through the field of applied industrial electrical engineering.

Speaking on how SDP functions, Dr. Amer Al Hinai, Assistant Professor at the Sultan Qaboos University, said, “The voltage levels of all phases are periodically measured by the sensors. When the voltages drop below certain thresholds, appliances preselected by the user are turned off one after another and remain off until the voltage levels improve. When the voltage improves the appliances are turned back on. The appliances can be remotely controlled using GSM, GPRS or internet technologies. The product has implemented cutting edge technology at extremely competitive prices. The SDB is made to solve the core problems addressed.”

Having patented this successful new product, the product was demonstrated to an elite audience consisting of: The Technical Director of The Authority of Electricity Regulation, Oman; The General Manager of Muscat Electricity Distribution Company; The General Manager of Majan Electricity Company and senior representatives of Mazoon Electricity Company.

The feedback was positive and encouraging. Several members requested the opportunity to run a pilot testing this new product, which will be implemented soon. There is a strong likelihood that the R&D project will be further expanded based on the requirements of the aforementioned authorities.

The Industrial Innovation Centre is a government organization parented by The Research Council (TRC) and the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (P.E.I.E). The IIC, led by its Executive Director Dr. Abdullah Al-Zakwani, is mandated to assist industrial progression through research and development. It is also hoped to build capacity by encouraging local academic institutions to engage in applied industrial R&D. The IIC shares the total cost of funding with the company for all approved industrial R&D projects.

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Monday, January 23- 2012 @ 11:11 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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