19 March 2010
Researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have demonstrated a world-first laser cladding system that offers a permanent solution to sealing leaks and repairing cracks at power stations.
According to a statement by the CSIR last week, the provisionally patented laser beam-welding and leak-sealing technology was developed for Eskom in collaboration with Eskom welding engineers.
The technology will aid in the maintenance of South Africa’s power stations, particularly in sealing and repairing leaking water coolers without having to drain them before conducting the repair work.
‘A world-first technology’
“This is a world-first technology designed and developed in South Africa by South Africans,” said CSIR National Laser Centre (NLC) head Dr Ndumiso Cingo during a demonstration to Eskom and other external stakeholders, adding that the technological breakthrough coincided with the 50th anniversary of the laser.
“The design and development of this technology has proved that the application of lasers extends much further than could have been foreseen when they were first demonstrated a few decades ago,” he said.
“The application of lasers also extends to all aspects of modern manufacturing, especially in the technology of refurbishment and maintenance.”
The state-of-the art laser welding and cladding system is mobile and able to reach multi-storey heights with the laser power unit located firmly on the ground. The system functions by remote control provided by an operator on the ground.
“We have designed a system that is completely mobile and can execute maintenance and repairs on site,” said NLC operations manager Hardus Greyling.
Laser cladding is a remarkably accurate and an effective process whereby weld overlays of layers as thin as 0.1 mm can be applied, with minimal distortion to original components.
This is specifically valuable when performing maintenance welding on components. Laser cladding is extensively researched and applied to new industrial applications at the CSIR.
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