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Eddy Current NDT for Power Busbars

Power busbars are an integral part of heavy-duty power-dependent applications. Busbars are the strip or bar of copper, brass, aluminum, or other metals that help in power distribution by collecting the incoming current and distributing them through the outlet terminals used in high-power spacecraft, wind turbines, and other electrical systems.

Busbars need to be free of defects to ensure proper functioning. Inspection with eddy current (EC) testing before installation and periodically while in use is a helpful way to guarantee their quality. 

Functionality of Power Busbar and Potential Defect Development

Power busbar can be typically found inside switchboards and busway enclosures to help conduct electricity from one electrical terminal to the other. They are assigned a typical voltage, mostly high, and can be found in various sizes and shapes, i.e., bars, strips, and rods.

The busbar acts as a junction from where collection and distribution of power can be made possible; it is composed of conductive materials like copper or aluminum. Different circuits are connected within this junction along the busway rather than branching off of multiple circuits from the main switch. Each power busbar has an isolator and a circuit breaker. The circuit breaker trips when the wiring fault is detected, saving the main switch from being damaged. The damaged busbar can also be easily disconnected and replaced.

Power busbars are cost-effective and durable solutions to wirings. However, material composition and mechanical use of the power busbar can lead to defect development. Under stress and temperature fluctuation due to high current and voltage, fatigue cracks can develop, especially at the bent area. 

This defect can ultimately lead to arching and shorts in the power transmission system. With non-destructive testing (NDT), the power busbar can be examined for possible defects even before the installation. The reliable NDT assessment using EC testing can help massive power generation industries test busbar for surface cracks at different installation and operation phases, thus saving massive repair costs.

Eddy Current Inspection Approach to Power Busbar

In a simple electric panel to large-scale wind generation turbines, the power busbar performs a critical function. Inspecting this component with the advanced eddy current array (ECA) can help prevent failures and potential hazards. 

For a wide range of geometries, the frequency can be optimized in ECA to facilitate greater sensitivity in scanning. With the help of multi-element probes, ECA can inspect larger areas in a single pass as compared to conventional EC testing. In power busbar inspection, surface and near-surface cracks along the surface and bend areas can be simplified with ECA probes which can facilitate:

  • Faster inspection with larger coverage area
  • Flaw detection in varying geometries and orientations
  • 2D or 3D scanning ability
  • Improved defect sizing and data recording capabilities

With advanced eddy current testing solutions from Zetec, power busbar inspection can be made easier.

Learn more about Zetec’s solution for Wind turbine busbar inspection.

Solving Busbar inspection Challenge in Power Generation with NDT

Power busbar is used in almost every application and industry where power is generated. The safety of the power system depends on the quality of the power busbar, which should be free of defects. With Zetec’s solutions, such as Surf-X array probe and MIZ-21C instrument, technicians can easily inspect multiple busbars simultaneously with much more sensitivity and accuracy. 

  • Surf-X Eddy Current Array probe provides flexibility in inspection, which allows assessment of power busbar such as that of wind turbine towers with complex geometries. 
  • MIZ-21C, a portable, handheld instrument provides excellent user interface, display, and data recording capabilities facilitating defect sizing for improved flaw detection in critical applications. 

Quick inspection turnarounds with Zetec’s solution provide an efficient and economic way to ensure the power distribution system operates at its finest. 

Zetec provides portable and flexible ECA instruments that can help serve your NDT needs in the power generation industry with efficient power busbar inspection. Contact Zetec today to create your custom power busbar inspection solution.