The Port Elliot facilities provide for a wide range of electrical tests and measurements, using high voltages and heavy currents. These include tests on rotating electrical machines, and electrical and mechanical tests on electrical power transmission and distribution components and systems.
Its director is Andrew Baghurst, who established the company when, as Associate Professor of Electrical Power Engineering, he left the University of South Australia (formerly the South Australian Institute of Technology) in 1997.
CalTest was established to continue, as far as possible, the services previously provided by the Australian Electrical Testing Centre (AETC) which he had established on the University of South Australia’s campus at Mawson Lakes.
Completed in the early 1990s, the AETC specialised in high power testing, to which the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA - now SA Power Networks) had provided 1.6 km of 132 kV 3-phase power line and ex-power station transformers as the main power supply. That laboratory produced short-circuit currents up to 63 kA for a second, but was later dismantled to make way for a housing development.
Those facilities included a high voltage laboratory in which were generated impulse, mains-frequency and d.c. voltages up to 600 kV, 175 kV and 200 kV respectively, and whose research interests included the measurement and location of partial discharges in high voltage equipment.
CalTest has retained much of the university’s test equipment, and the Port Elliot laboratory can still, for example, generate mains-frequency currents of around 10 kA, 3-phase, for temperature-rise and thermal cycling tests.
Research interests include the development of methods for measuring efficiency of both motors, motor systems and transformers for minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) purposes.
CalTest also has a strong interest in the analysis of failures in electrical equipment, and the development of test and measurement systems generally.