When regulatory changes loomed in 2007, Advanced Protection Technologies (APT) saw the opportunity to develop a new type of surge protective device and did so with help from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP). Today, the resulting device is one of APT’s most popular products.

A respected industry leader and award-winning manufacturer of electrical surge protective devices (SPDs), Advanced Protection Technologies of Clearwater, Fla. was founded in 1985. Lou Farquhar, PE, CEM, GBE, APT Vice President – Engineering Services, has been with the company since 1998 and was the one who decided to approach SATOP for assistance in the development of the new SPD.

“We were working to create a new product in anticipation of the obsolescence of an older class of SPDs,” Farquhar explained. “With our expertise, we knew that the technology of the new SPD was rock solid; however, the enclosure design of this new device was a little outside our core competencies, so I thought it might be a good idea to ask SATOP for help.”

Farquhar filed a Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with SATOP’s Florida office where Senior Program Engineer Ryan Greenough paired him with Yu-Ping Tang of New Mexico State University, a SATOP Alliance Partner. Farquhar hoped to receive validation and/or suggestions of changes that might need to be made to the enclosure design.

APT’s plans for the device enclosure were submitted to Tang, who was able to draw a schematic for the enclosure in a software program that APT did not have. Tang also put Farquhar in touch with another university that would create a prototype of the device enclosure for a reasonable fee. After thorough review of APT’s design, Tang suggested some minor remodeling and modified sealing procedures, which produced a prototype that tested extremely well.
The resulting “SPDee” surge protective device is a perfect replacement to the obsolete surge arrestors, Farquhar says. With a small, compact design and installation flexibility, the unit can be installed anywhere in any electrical distribution system.

“With the SPDee, our intent was to make it fit as many different applications as possible. As a result, the enclosure wound up being a huge part of this product as it had to accommodate so many different applications and be cost effective to build,” Farquhar said. “The suppressor part was easy; the enclosure was not, so we greatly appreciate SATOP’s part in helping to develop this product.”

Sales of SPDee are going so well that APT is releasing a special version for the photovoltaic industry in the near future.

“It’s gratifying to know that SATOP helped an established company like Advanced Protection Technologies successfully expand its product line,” said SATOP’s Greenough.