what's new

Natel's third video release in its ongoing update series is below, and also up on our website.  This release focuses on the ongoing SLH100 assembly.

01 Product development

Construction of PTO pedestal
With the milestone of assembly of the SLH100 cassette achieved in August
(see last newsletter), the team’s focus turned to checking how the full system would be installed.  In order to do this, a  pedestal of concrete blocks was built to mimic the layout in the eventual powerhouse.  
This pedestal serves as the foundation for testing the installation of the power takeoff frame, which ensures accuracy and ease of alignment when coupling the generator to the gearbox and SLH100.  
Sensor integration into cassette
The SLH100 ships with a SCADA-compliant control system capable of autonomously operating the plant.  The control system collects data from a host of sensors throughout the cassette, which need to be installed and routed. Mechanical Technician Alex Conn carefully installs some of the sensor wiring.
Cassette structural testing
The cassette has undergone a variety of pre-shipment tests including an array of structural tests.  For example, the belts have been tensioned and measurements taken under load, to check actual deflections versus expected. Additionally, an assessment of internal mechanical friction has been taken, and the results have matched the expected numbers.
Controls integration and HITL
To ensure a robust control system, the entire control architecture - hardware and software - is run through a suite of hardware-in-the-loop (HITL) tests.  Test cases representing both common and rare operating scenarios are fed to the control system to validate that the controls react appropriately to the simulated sensor inputs.  Mechanical Engineer Ian Tam conducts a HITL test by loading a new scenario into the HITL simulator. 
Housing fabrication
The SLH100 housing fabrication is nearing completion at one of our partner manufacturing sites and after pressure and fit testing, will be painted to marine-grade specs before being shipped to Natel’s assembly facility in Alameda. 
Production blade assembly
A major supply milestone was achieved in October with the receipt of the complete set of production blade endplates. These parts are seamlessly investment cast from a duplex-grade stainless steel, with twice the strength of 300-series stainless steels and superior corrosion fatigue properties. Mechanical Technician Alex Conn checks one of the endplates for fit within the manufacturing tolerances, prior to assembling it with a blade.

02 Business development

distribution agreement

In October, Natel and Chilean partner Wireless Energy formalized a distribution agreement.  Wireless Energy is Natel's exclusive distributor of the hydroEngine in Chile, and will provide local engineering, installation and maintenance support for  hydroEngine installations in Chile. Natel will train Wireless staff in installation and maintenance procedures as we roll out hydroEngine-powered projects there. The agreement punctuates great progress by both companies in building a pipeline of sales and projects there, and a series of projects are under study already.  
Natel is hiring with open positions for engineers and engineering technicians.

03 Project Focus

Finalization of Monroe design

The team is in the final preparation for civil works construction on the first Oregon project, which will commence in November 2014.  Final plant layouts are carefully analyzed in-house and then reviewed with the external project engineer and construction firm.
President and CTO Abe Schneider leads a review of the draft tube layout.  The team has taken advantage of the unique attributes of the SLH to create a design that integrates into the existing irrigation drop structure with minimal civil works.  An array of simulation tools including CFD, HEC-RAS, FEA, and, of course, hand calculations are used to generate plant loads and ensure a suitable design.

Chile Progress 

Natel continues to identify and screen potential projects in conjunction with Natel’s distribution partner in Chile, Wireless Energy.  Our team has visited and gathered data from almost 50 sites.

04 Media and outreach

ACWA conference

Natel will be at booth 408 at the ACWA conference in San Diego Dec 2-4.  Please come visit.
Testing page
Natel has published to the website new material on the performance and fatigue testing that the team has completed over the past two years. 

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