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Innovation in the UAE

Team Including Emirati GE Engineer earns patent for gas turbine leak detection method

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Innovation in the UAE

Most of us don’t stress too much about tiny vibrations felt in our car, washing machine or fan, or minuscule leaks in a showerhead or faucet. But for mechanical engineers like GE Gas Power’s Bouria Faqihi, Dr Mohamad-Maher Aboujaib, Rajarshi Saha and Sindhu Penna, vibrations and leaks cannot be ignored.

In industrial settings such as power plants, they can be extremely costly in terms of money, time, and safety. That’s why maintenance and service personnel lean on engineers such as those in this team to help fix these issues.

Occasionally, after a maintenance or repair job, when gas turbines are tested before going back into service, leaks are detected in their liquid fuel lines. Sometimes, the only effect is dripping fuel, but at other times, the fuel can also catch fire.

As engineers with GE Gas Power, it’s this team’s job to help customers find solutions to tough engineering challenges like these. Bouria, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, and fellow engineers Dr Mohamad-Maher Aboujaib in France. Rajarshi Saha and Sindhu Penna in India found a highly effective solution but one for which GE was granted a patent by the European Patent Office.

Appropriately, the patent was granted on 17th February 2021, four days before the start of UAE Innovates 2021, running from 21st – 27th February.

For Bouria, a UAE national, it is the second patent where he is an inventor and reflects the environment of innovation that the country had nurtured since its founding nearly 50 years ago.

“I am proud as an Emirati and member of the GE team here in the UAE to have contributed to this solution, which will enable our customers all over the world to increase the reliability of their gas turbines, including startup reliability after maintenance and repairs, and help them to avoid unplanned outages,” said Bouria.

The patented solution, which is now available to Gas Power customers during gas turbine maintenance, provides a new way to test sections of the liquid fuel line previously difficult to test, particularly the piping closest to the turbine combustors.

The team members each brought unique skills and experiences to the project: Bouria is a senior engineer with Gas Turbine Product Services Engineering; Dr Mohamad-Maher is a senior engineer with Gas Turbine Fluid Systems / Technical Support; Rajarshi is a senior engineer with Gas Turbine Customer Application Engineering, and Sindhu is a lead engineer with Gas Turbine Systems Engineering.

Their challenge was to find a long-term solution to the problem of insufficiently tight pipe connections.

“This was an issue affecting customers in this region and around the world. By bringing this team together, we were able to understand the problem and then find a long-term solution that would help solve this issue for our customers. Working together over many hours of video and telephone calls and emails, sharing configurations, ideas and approaches – and despite different time zones stretching from France to the UAE to India – we were able to come up with a more efficient and reliable solution,” Bouria explained.

The patent includes the pressurized water system used to check pipes and the software that controls the pressurization order for testing different sections of pipe and an innovative approach to draining the water out of the pipes combustor and the turbine.

Bouria, who holds a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from Carleton University in Canada and an MSC in Energy from Scottish university Heriot-Watt’s Dubai campus, where he is currently in the mechanical engineering PhD program, is also overjoyed by the timing of the patent.

“Ever since I was young, I have been interested in problem-solving. It’s my personality, but it also reflects the culture of innovation here in the UAE,” stated Bouria. “That’s why it was so exciting that this patent was published last week, right before UAE Innovates 2021, and the same month that the UAE’s Hope Probe reached Mars!”

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