Technological Innovation

Areas of Expertise

At Hydro-Québec, research and innovation projects are based on extensive technical and scientific know-how. Our highly skilled teams work in complementary areas of expertise:

Calibration and Repair

Challenge

Measurement and testing equipment have a key role in power systems and the industry. To ensure reliability, precision and proper performance, an adequate calibration and repair maintenance program is crucial.

Contribution

Our metrology technicians use reference standards of the highest quality to calibrate a wide range of devices:

  • Voltmeters
  • Ammeters
  • Multimeters
  • Wattmeters
  • Sensor calibrators
  • Power quality analyzers
  • Oil analyzers
  • Temperature sensors
  • Frequency counters and generators
  • Resistors
  • Current transformers
  • Voltage transformers

Thanks to their extensive expertise, our technicians examine and repair a wide variety of testing devices and measuring equipment.

Electrical equipment

Challenge

Power system reliability and efficiency depend on a huge amount of electrical equipment, which is exposed to all sorts of wear and tear: lightning, ice, pollution, over-voltage, rises in temperature. On the production side, the different pieces of equipment, particularly the generators, withstand stresses that can compromise their insulation.

Contribution

Develop efficient tools to evaluate the condition of equipment in order to prolong service life and optimize use. Our projects involve:

  • Assessing the condition of generators and uprating them
  • Monitoring substation equipment
  • Developing a smart grid
  • Assessing underground system cables and junctions
Energy use

Challenge

Hydro-Québec wants to help its customers use electricity more efficiently and improve the energy performance of their facilities.

Contribution

Develop new technologies, adapt existing technologies to meet market requirements, evaluate the efficiency of promising options. Our projects involve:

  • Understanding and characterizing energy and power requirements
  • Integrating renewable, alternative and auxiliary energy sources
  • Electro-technologies
  • Optimizing the electrical system
  • On-site and remote measuring
High-voltage testing

Challenge

Transmission equipment must be validated or optimized before it is implemented and once it is deployed. This must be done according to applicable manufacturing standards and requirements.

Contribution

Combining their exceptional know-how to the laboratory’s large-scale testing capabilities, our engineers and technicians carry-out a wide range of tests:

  • Tests under dry or wet conditions
  • Radio interference voltage (RIV) tests
  • Corona detection
  • Partial-discharge measurements
  • Capacitance and loss angle measurements
  • High-voltage measurements in oil or gas
  • Temperature-rise tests
  • Loss measurements
Materials science

Challenge

Hydro-Québec's equipment is made up of a wide range of materials: steel, alloys, ceramic, etc. Sometimes, the problems experienced at the system level are caused by microscopic issues. Thanks to nanotechnology, we are able to monitor the properties of materials at an infinitely small scale. This scientific progress influences, for example, the manufacturing of tomorrow’s transformers and batteries.

Contribution

Refine the properties of materials to improve equipment performance and service life. Our projects involve:

  • Characterizing materials
  • Studying aging phenomena
  • Integrating advanced materials in the design and manufacturing of equipment
  • Synthesizing and formulating materials
  • On-site refurbishment methods
Measurement and information systems

Challenge

Given the current booming energy market, Hydro-Québec needs to know the exact real-time condition of its system. Operators must thus have access to information which is precise and reliable. Acquiring, processing and disseminating quality data is essential for the planning, operation and maintenance of generation, transmission and distribution equipment.

Contribution

Ensure the enhanced performance and optimal management of the system, as well as its progress toward a more integrated smart grid. Our projects involve:

  • Partial discharge detector systems
  • Systems for locating faults on cables and conductors
  • Modeling operational know-how
  • Developing decision support tools
Mechanical and thermomechanical testing

Challenge

It is essential for electrical systems, as well for the industry in general, to analyze and resolve technological problems related to the mechanical and thermomechanical behavior of many types of equipment, and to validate their operation and performance under various conditions.

Contribution

With the help of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, our engineers and technicians perform a wide range of tests:

  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Thermomechanical
  • Climatic
  • Cycling and temperature-rise
Mechanical engineering, metallurgy and the integration of hydro and wind power

Challenge

Generation, transmission and distribution equipment is subject to all kinds of problems: cracking, fatigue, wear, deterioration and aging. The operation of such equipment is influenced not only by its condition and performance, but also by wind and water supply (wind-hydro).

Contribution

Analyze the condition of equipment; evaluate and improve performance; adapt operation to new challenges, such as the integration of wind energy to the system and climate change. Our projects involve:

  • Modifying hydraulic turbines to enhance the capacity and efficiency of generating units
  • Automating repairs and welding
  • Resolving problems linked to the rise in temperature and the deterioration of contacts, lines, cables and electrical equipment
Power grids and mathematics

Challenge

The operation of power grids is becoming more and more complex. Our goal is to increase interconnection capacity with the U.S. Northeast and neighboring Canadian provinces, as well as to maximize output from wind energy. The quality and reliability of service pose significant challenges.

Contribution

Develop a series of technological tools to improve the planning and operation of the company’s generating fleet and its transmission and distribution systems. Our projects involve:

  • Simulating and analysing tools for the integration of wind energy
  • Real-time HYPERSIM simulator
  • Control systems and automated systems to improve grid behavior
  • Optimizing call centres for customers
  • Optimizing production management
Robotics and civil engineering

Challenge

To ensure the smooth operation of Hydro-Québec's facilities and extend their service life, inspections and maintenance work are carried out, including some in hostile environments: under water, in turbine runners or in other tight spaces. Work also has to be performed to resolve problems related to embankment structures (infiltration, ice pressure, overtopping, etc.).

Contribution

Devise innovative maintenance strategies by developing technologically advanced robotic tools to safely perform inspection and maintenance work in hostile environments and hard-to-reach locations. Our projects involve:

  • Inspecting submerged structures
  • Maintaining and repairing turbine runners
  • Inspecting live transmission lines
  • Developing non-destructive diagnostic methods
  • Studying phenomena related to ice loading on retaining structures
Scientific information systems

Challenge

More than ever, information and communication technology (ICT) is at the heart of IREQ's technological development. Software programs and computer applications have a significant impact on a number of the institute's areas of activity – particularly robotics, system behavior studies, prediction of hydraulic equipment performance, embedded systems and measurement systems.

Contribution

Support IREQ research teams with respect to software development and data management in technological innovation projects with high ICT content. Our work focuses on:

  • Software engineering and methodologies : software architecture, material requirements, analysis, design, user interface ergonomics, development, testing, integration and life cycle of applications
  • Data management: storage modeling, exploration techniques and functions

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