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Proving pump efficiency by the accurate measurement of shaft power

21 December 2016

Using helicopters has been found to be effective in a number of industries, including agriculture, forestry and firefighting in particular.

Containing large fires, sometimes stirred by winds, is an extremely dangerous job, costing hundreds of lives of firefighters every year, not to mention the ones who get injured in the process.

As a result, when it comes to big fast spreading fires, water bombers serve as an essential firefighting tool all around the world. Being able to deliver 10,000L of water in one drop on average and dump enough water to cover six double-width football fields, aerial firefighting is becoming an obvious choice for fast response fire-fighting services.

The challenge

Although speed, mobility and capability of pump motors in the short run duration refill applications are beyond question, the water pump systems are still complex, heavy and in many cases unreliable due to absence of water sites nearby. The Kawak team was tasked to develop a new innovative jet pump series, able to improve flexibility of the water bombers systems and therefore their performance.

Kawak Aviation Technologies developed a new line of “Jet Pump” (or JP) series of helicopter refill systems, allowing them to draw water from practically any accessible water resource, decrease refilling cycle times without a need for landing and using the motor as the driver of an air conditioning system.

Unlike previous helicopter water pumps, the new Jet Pump line of products provides helicopter operators with a high-volume, lightweight powered fill options that can produce higher water fill rates between 1150 and 2500 gallons per minute, using shallow water resources as low as 40cm. This new JP series solves current problems with mechanical issues, complexity and reliability and offers customers a better value and a competitive advantage to outperform competitors and win more contracts.

The challenge was to demonstrate that the motor could meet the worst case

drive requirements at temperatures over 50°C. With the Datum M425 Torque Sensor we were able to accurately measure the motor heat generation, do this quickly and be confident in the test data.

The solution

In order to determine suitability of the new pump motor in this application, Kawak needed to conduct testing to verify motor performance and its cooling. Being passionate about developing the best product technology on the market and having enough internal resources, Kawak decided to run motor performance testing in-house. However, Kawak required a reliable product to measure shaft torque and speed on the motor and needed to make a choice between purchasing a commercial dynamometer or a highly accurate and reliable non-contact torque transducer.

After making a comparison between products available on the market and consulting with the manufacturing partner, the Kawak team decided to use the Datum Electronics M425 Torque Transducer to measure motor heat generation as accurately as possible.

Following Datum’s M425 Torque Transducer Installation Guide, with a little bit of help from the Datum support team, the Kawak team was able to place the M425 Torque transducer on the new JP series pump motor and tests began.

Measuring performance of the pump efficiency is enabled by accurate measurements of a power input to the pump (power in) that equals to the sum of pumping energy (water flow rate and pumping lift) and generated heat change (power out).

Although the Kawak team wasn’t sure about test accuracy at the beginning, the inline rotary M425 sensor was able to measure motor shaft power to an accuracy that confirmed the test results including the temperature changes across the pump.

The impact

Accurate measurement of motor pump efficiency is essential for improving the pump efficiency as it can generate a big economic potential. As a result, the Kawak team was able to create new uses for the motor, namely as the driver of an air conditioning system where there is potential for much larger sales.

Today, new JP series refill systems leap forward allowing Kawak to increase efficiency, sharpen reliability and improve performance of the refill pump.

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