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2, APRIL 2005


A Sequential Phase Energization Technique for Transformer Inrush Current Reduction Part I: Simulation and Experimental Results
Yu Cui, Sami G. Abdulsalam, Student Member, IEEE, Shiuming Chen, Senior Member, IEEE, and Wilsun Xu, Senior Member, IEEE

AbstractThis paper presents a new, simple and low cost method to reduce inrush currents caused by transformer energization. The method uses a grounding resistor connected at a transformer neutral point. By energizing each phase of the transformer in sequence, the neutral resistor behaves as a series-inserted resistor and thereby signicantly reduces the energization inrush currents. The proposed method has been tested by computer simulation and laboratory experiments. Both results show that the method has a performance similar to that of the resistor pre-insertion scheme. The proposed method is much less expensive, however, since there is only one resistor involved and the resistor carries only a small neutral current in steady-state. Index TermsInrush current, power quality, transformer.
Fig. 1. Proposed scheme: sequential phase energization aided with a grounding resistor.


NRUSH currents from transformer and reactor energization have always been a concern in power industry. Over the past several decades, a few methods have been proposed to limit the inrush currents. Representative examples are the synchronous closing of circuit breakers and the pre-insertion of series resistors [1][4]. Two recent developments in power industry have re-ignited interests in nding better methods for controlling inrush currents. One of them is the deregulation of electricity market. More and more independent power producers and co-generators are taking advantage of the situation. Their proposed generators often need to have the generator transformers energized from the system side due to cost considerations. This results in the problem of large inrush currents being injected into the supply system. Another development is the increased awareness on power quality. The power quality consequences of inrush currents can be quite detrimental. Examples are motor tripping, relay misoperation and so on. There is still a need to nd simpler and low cost schemes to limit the inrush currents. Independent power producers are especially interested in such techniques. The idea presented in this paper was conceived when we were solving inrush current problems encountered by two co-generator plants in Canada. In view of the fact that the inrush currents are always unbalanced among three phases, a neutral re-

sistor could provide some damping to the currents. This is the basis of the proposed idea. The idea is further improved by introducing delayed energization of each phase of the transformer. This improvement has made the proposed scheme almost as effective as the pre-insertion resistor scheme. The performance and characteristics of the proposed method have been investigated using simulations and experiments. Very encouraging results have been observed. This paper explains the proposed idea and presents its performance characteristics. The results are obtained from simulation and experimental studies. II. PROPOSED SCHEME The basic mechanism of inrush current generation from transformer energization has been well documented in [5]. It is well known that the inrush currents are highly unbalanced among three phases. If a transformer is Y grounded at the energization side, its neutral current will also contain the inrush current. One may, therefore, speculate that if a resistor is inserted into the transformer neutral, it may reduce the magnitude of the inrush current in a way similar to that of the series-inserted resistor. This consideration formed the basic idea of the proposed scheme, which is shown in Fig. 1. The bypass breaker may not be needed or can have a low rating as the neutral current is close to zero in normal system operation. Unfortunately, a simple implementation of the above scheme, simultaneous closing of all three-phase breakers, did not produce sufcient reductions on the inrush currents. This agrees with the conclusion drawn in [6], [7]. We reasoned, however, that if one closes each phase of the breaker in sequence with some delays between them, the neutral resistance could behave as a series resistor and improve the results. This simple improvement has proven to be very effective. In fact, the idea of

Manuscript received May 20, 2003; revised October 18, 2003. This work was supported by the Alberta Energy Research Institute. Paper no. TPWRD-002402003. The authors are with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2V4, Canada (e-mail: Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TPWRD.2004.843467

0885-8977/$20.00 2005 IEEE



sequential energization of three-phase equipment can lead to a new class of techniques to reduce switching transients. In the subsequent sections, simulation and experimental study results are presented to demonstrate the characteristics of the proposed method. Main studies were conducted on a 30 kVA, 120/208 V, three-phase three-limb laboratory transformer with grounded Y primary and delta secondary. III. SIMULATION RESULTS The proposed scheme was rst investigated using computer simulations. Initially, we used PSCAD/EMTDC to evaluate the proposed scheme. Unfortunately, the program produced erroneous results. Some of the simulation results presented in [8] are therefore not quite correct. Further investigations revealed that the program could not simulate transformers with neutral impedances correctly, though it has that feature. Such transformer conguration is known to cause simulation difculties for the EMTP programs [9]. As a result, we had to develop a dedicated simulation program for this project. The transformer model adopted in this study was published in [10]. It is an equivalent electric and magnetic circuit model. The program was further enhanced with the capability of scanning through all possible voltage phase angles and outputting the maximum inrush current. Details about the simulation model and model parameters are shown in the Appendix. A. Sample Simulation Results Three sets of simulations were conducted. The rst set involves the closing of the rst phase. The second set simulates the closing of the 2nd phase after the rst phase has reached steady state. The third set is the energization of the 3rd phase after the second phase switching has reached steady state. Typical inrush current waveforms are shown in Fig. 2 for the case of while different phase is energized. Examination of extensive simulation results revealed the following. The inrush current occurs in all phases that are electrically energized. For example, all three phases experience inrush currents when the 3rd phase is switched in. The highest inrush current does not necessarily occur in the switched phase. It takes about 5 to 10 cycles for the inrush current to reach steady state. As a result, there is no need to wait for a long time to energize the next phase. In other words, the proposed scheme can be implemented by closing each phase with 5 to 10 cycle delays. The instants of energization have an impact on the magnitude of the inrush current. However, the inrush currents are small when the neutral resistance is in certain range (see next section). There is no need to control the instant of switching closing. B. Impact of Neutral Resistance on Current Magnitude The most important parameter for the proposed scheme is the value of the neutral resistor. For this purpose, the maximum inrush current as a function of the neutral resistance is investigated. In this study, the voltage phase angles at the breaker

Fig. 2. Typical inrush current waveforms for the case of R different phase is energized.

= 2 5

closing instants are scanned through all possible values to obtain the maximum inrush current. The results for the three sequential switching scenarios are shown in Fig. 3. It can be seen that a large resistance value yields more reduction on the inrush current for the rst phase switching. This is understandable since the resistor serves as a series resistor in the energization circuit. For the second phase switching, a large neutral resistance will cause more second phase inrush current to ow through the rst phase. As a result, less inrush current ows into the neutral resistor, leading to reduced mitigation impact of the resistor. This phenomenon is shown in Fig. 4. In the , the scheme is equivalent to enerextreme case of gizing two series-connected transformer cores with a line-toline voltage. A large inrush current is expected. This explains the checkmark-shaped characteristics of the second curve. For the third phase switching, the inrush current increases with the neutral resistor. So it is not desirable to have the resistor in the circuit when the 3rd phase is energized. Further analysis of the phenomenon reveals that once the 3rd phase is energized, the neutral current reduces to zero almost instantaneously. Therefore, the resistor has no direct impact on reducing the inrush current. This



Fig. 5.

Flux pattern for the case of 3rd phase energization (R = 0).

Fig. 6. Comparison of the neutral resistor scheme with the series resistor.

Fig. 3.

Magnitude of inrush current as affected by the neutral resistor.

Fig. 4. Current ow pattern for the case of second phase energization.

explains why the scheme of simultaneous breaker closing does not work. However, the size of the neutral resistor can change the steady-state voltage that crosses the third breaker before it is closed. When the neutral resistance is zero, the breaker voltage is zero. This can be understood from Fig. 5. In this gure, phases A and B have been energized, so the ux in the phase C core is The voltage induced on the phase C winding becomes

3rd energization curve with the higher one of the 1st and the 2nd energization curves. For the results shown in Fig. 3, the optimal value is found to be about 3 . With this resistance value, the reduction of inrush current is about 89% for the rst phase energization, 91% for the 2nd phase energization and 93% for the 3rd phase energization respectively, in comparison with the cases of zero neutral resistance. This is a signicant reduction on the inrush current. Fig. 6 shows the effectiveness of the proposed scheme in comparison with the series resistor insertion scheme. For the case of a 3- resistor, the proposed scheme is essentially as effective as the series resistor scheme and is sufcient for intended application. If one increases the size of the resistor, the series resistor scheme can reduce the inrush current further. The inrush current will increase with the proposed scheme. This is because that the neutral resistor is no longer the optimal one. are slightly Note that the maximum inrush currents at different between the two schemes in Fig. 6. This is due to the fact that a simultaneous closing of three breakers was simulated for the series resistor scheme, while for the proposed scheme, it is a sequential closing. C. Impact of the Neutral Resistance on Current Duration

The above equation implies that the induced voltage is equal to the supply voltage. As a result, there are no transients when the third winding is switched on to the supply. As will be shown in the companion paper, this is an important requirement for the proposed scheme to be effective. When R becomes very large, the case is similar to energizing the second phase. Accordingly, we can conclude that there are conicting requirements for the size of the neutral resistor for each energization event. The optimal neutral resistance is the one that can yield compromised reduction of the inrush current for all events. Such an optimal value is the interaction point of the

In addition to reducing magnitude of inrush current, the neutral resistor can also reduce the duration of the inrush current. This postulation was investigated and the results are shown in Fig. 7. This gure shows the decaying peak current of each cycle as a function of time. The curves correspond to the largest inrush current case for the rst phase switching. It can be seen that inrush current is damped quickly when there is a resistor in the circuit. This is another benet of the proposed scheme. We also checked the time constant associated with the second phase switching. A similar phenomenon was observed. But the reduction of time constant is not as signicant as the rst phase switching. This is due to the fact that



Fig. 7. Decay of peak inrush current with time.

Fig. 9. Experimental transformer (30 kVA, 120/208 V).


Fig. 10.

Typical current waveforms when the second phase is energized.

Fig. 8.

Simulation results of a 72/13.8-kV transformer.

there is a second path for the inrush current. In theory, the neutral resistor has no impact on the time constant associated with the third phase switching. This is because the inrush current does not ow through the resistor once the third phase is closed. In summary, the neutral resistor has some positive effects on reducing the duration of inrush currents. Since the resistor has reduced the magnitude of inrush current so signicantly, the effect on duration can be considered as a secondary benet. D. Simulation Results of a Large Transformer Simulation studies have also been conducted on a 138 MVA, transformer. The nameplate of this trans72/13.8 kV, former is shown in Table I. The transformer is energized from the 72 kV side and the simulation results are shown in Fig. 8. A signicant reduction of the inrush current can be seen. The optimal resistor value is about 2000 , which is approximately 10% of the magnetizing impedance of the transformer. IV. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS The proposed scheme has also been investigated through extensive laboratory experiments. The experiments were conducted on the same transformer used for simulation studies,

which is shown in Fig. 9. The main difculties encountered for experiments are 1) the switching instant cannot be controlled at will, 2) there is an unknown amount of residual ux when the rst phase is energized, 3) the supply system has an impedance and 4) the supply voltage is distorted with harmonics. To overcome the rst difculty, each switching event was repeated more than 100 times. The results are then grouped according to the recorded phase angles of the supply voltage. The maximum inrush current was extracted from the results. A. Inrush Current Waveforms Due to space limitation, only shown in this paper are the sample results for the 2nd and 3rd phase switching when . The 1st phase switching is similar to the series resistor scheme and is omitted here. Fig. 10 shows the phase B and neutral current when phase B is energized. It can be seen that the neutral current is larger than phase B current. There is nothing special about this phenomenon since, depending on the instant of switching, phase A current could add to phase B current to yield a larger neutral current. Fig. 11 shows the Phase C and neutral current when phase C is energized. The most interesting information one can extract from this gure is that the neutral current reduces to zero almost instantly once the 3rd phase is energized. It justies why the neutral resistor has no direct impact on reducing the inrush current in this case. However, as will be shown in a companion paper, the neutral resistor contributes to the inrush current reduction through reducing the voltage across the 3rd breaker before it is closed.



Fig. 11.

Typical inrush current waveforms when 3rd phase is energized.

Fig. 13. Magnitude of inrush current as affected by the neutral resistor (Y-Y connection).

simulation studies cannot take into account the (unknown) impedance of the supply system. The far end of the saturation curve is not exactly known because of limitations of experimental facility. The harmonic distortion in the supply voltage is another signicant factor. The supply voltage has a harmonic voltage THD around 4%. This factor is likely the main cause leading to the uctuation of the curve representing the second phase energization. This judgment is supported by an open delta experiment for the transformer. In this experiment, the curves are determined for the test inrush currents versus transformer when its delta-connected secondary is open. In this case, the transformer cannot trap zero sequence current from the system. The resultant 2nd phase energization curve has more noticeable uctuation (Fig. 13). In spite of the differences, the effectiveness of the proposed inrush current suppression scheme has been veried by both simulation and experimental results. The resultant optimal value for the neutral resistor has a good agreement.

Fig. 12. Magnitude of inrush current as affected by the neutral resistor.

B. Impact of Neutral Resistance on the Current The maximum inrush current as a function of the neutral resistance is also determined from experimental results. As discussed earlier, each switching event was repeated more than 100 times. Approximate maximum inrush current was determined. The results are shown in Fig. 12. It can be seen that Fig. 12 is quite similar to the one derived from simulation studies. The results are good conrmation to the validity of the simulation technique. The optimal resistance is in the range between 2 and 8 . This value is comparable with that derived from simulation. One can also nd that there is a relatively wide range to select the value for the neutral resistor. A resistance value in the range of 2 to 10 has almost the same effectiveness. Use of exact optimal value is not essential for the proposed scheme. The difference between the simulation and experimental results is due to a number of factors. For example, the experimental results cannot catch the highest inrush current. The

This paper has presented a new technique to reduce inrush current caused by transformer energization. Extensive simulations and experimental results have conrmed the effectiveness of the proposed scheme. Main conclusions can be summarized in the following. i) There is an optimal neutral resistor value for the proposed scheme. This value is a compromised value between the need to suppress the inrush currents when the rst two phases are energized and the need to suppress the current when the 3rd phase is energized. It is not essential to use an exact optimal value. Resistances around the optimal value are almost equally effective. ii) With the proposed resistance value(s), the neutral resistor based scheme can lead to 80% to 90% reduction on the inrush current. The results also show that it is as effective as the series resistor scheme. As a result, the proposed scheme has the potential to fully eliminate the power quality concerns caused by transformer energization. It is important to note that the proposed time delay for sequential energization is a simple mechanical delay of 5 to 60 cycles. There are no strict requirements on the delay time. High voltage



Fig. A1. Fluxes diagram of a three-phase three-limb transformer.

Fig. A4.

Exciting characteristic of three phases.

A. Transformer Model
Fig. A2. Equivalent magnetic circuit of a three-phase three-limb transformer.

The transformer model is a set of nonlinear differential equations as shown below. In these equations all secondary-coil quantities have been referred to the primary side. N is the number of turns of the primary side windings.

Fig. A3. Equivalent electric circuit of phase j of a three-phase three-limb transformer.

circuit breakers are typically set up with independent operating mechanism for each phase. A delayed closing of phases is therefore achievable. In the case of a three-phase operated circuit breaker equipped with a common operating mechanism, the breaker typically has a built-in mechanical delay among three phases. This feature can be used to implement the proposed scheme. The voltage or current imbalance introduced by the delayed operation should not be a concern. This is because the transformer is unloaded and the duration of imbalance is very short. APPENDIX In this appendix information about the simulation model is presented along with experiments used to determine the model parameters. The model was published in [10]. Fig. A1A3 show the uxes diagram, the equivalent magnetic circuit and the equivalent electric circuit of a 3-phase 3-limb transformer. Magnetic uxes associated with the transformer can be subdivided into the following categories as indicated in Fig. A1. Magnetic uxes that link different phases and follow the magnetic circuit ( , , , , and ). They are associated with the nonlinear reluctances , , , , and ; Phase leakage uxes which link all the windings of one , , and ). phase, and partially go through air ( They are associated with constant reluctances , , . and and are the winding resistor and leakage In Fig. A3, and are those of the inductor of the primary side, while secondary side, but refereed to the primary side, respectively.

The above equations have taken into account the delta connection in the transformer secondary, which gives . This model consists of 13 equations. It is solved using the Matlab as well as MathCAD tools. Two independent programs were developed for this purpose. B. Model Parameters Parameters needed for the above model were determined from experiments. The parameters include the winding resistances, leakage inductances, inductances of limb and yoke and the reluctances. The winding resistances and leakage inductances were determined from standard short-circuit tests on each winding [11]. The average values among three phases are , . A zero sequence open-circuit test was used to deter. Measured average value is mine the air path reluctance , which is used for all three phases. To measure the nonlinear reluctances of the limbs and yokes, the transformer was reconnected into Y/Y connection and was supplied by a 3-phase balanced voltage. A set of open circuit tests is conducted to nd the saturation curves, which . are then converted to the nonlinear equation of Fig. A4 shows the exciting characteristic of different phases. Limited by the test facility, we could only get the front part



Fig. A5.

Computed inrush current waveforms for a transformer of [10].

of the saturation curve. The deep-saturation part of the curve is extrapolated according to the trend. C. Model Verication To verify the model, a test case shown in [10], which is a 10 kVA, 232 V, 3-phase 3-limb transformer with grounded Y/Y connection, is used. The inrush current waveforms computed by this project is shown as Fig. A5. The waveforms have a close agreement with the results shown in Fig. 9 of [10]. Due to the various factors described in Section IV, we could not produce inrush current waveforms that can exactly match the experimental results. However, there is an acceptable agreement for the general shape of the waveforms and their decaying trends. Furthermore, the validity of the model is conrmed by curves. the close similarity of inrush current versus ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors wish to thank C. Muskens of ATCO Electric and T. Martinich of BC Hydro for the suggestions and comments during the course of this project. The help of A. Terheide, a technician at the University of Alberta power lab, on experimental investigations is fully acknowledged. REFERENCES
[1] T. Specht, Transformer inrush and rectier transient currents, IEEE Trans. Power App. Syst., vol. 88, no. 4, pp. 269276, Apr. 1969. [2] CIGRE working group task force 13.07, Controlled switching of HVAC circuit breakers, in 1st Part Elektra, no. 183, pp. 4373, Apr. 1999. [3] , Controlled switching of HVAC circuit breakers, 2nd Part Elektra, no. 185, pp. 3757, Aug. 1999. [4] K. Smith, L. Ran, and B. Leyman, Analysis of transformer inrush transients in offshore electrical systems, Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng., Gen. Transm. Distrib., vol. 146, no. 1, pp. 8995, Jun. 1999.

[5] Westinghouse, Electrical Transmission and Distribution Reference Book. Chicago: The Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1944, pp. 411417. [6] B. Holmgrem, R. S. Jenkins, and J. Rinbrugent, Transformer inrush current, in CIGRE Proc. 22nd Session, vol. 1, 1968, pp. 113. [7] R. Yacamini and A. Abu-Nasser, The calculation of inrush current in three-phase transformers, IEE Proc. Electr. Power Appl., vol. 133, no. 1, pp. 3140, Jan. 1986. [8] L. Cipcigan, W. Xu, and V. Dinavahi, A new technique to mitigate inrush current caused by transformer energization, in Proc. IEEE 2002 PES Summer Meeting, Chicago, USA, Jul. 2002. [9] H. M. Dommel, EMTP Theory Book, 2nd ed. Vancouver, British Columbia: Microtran Power System Analysis Corporation, 1996. [10] M. Elleuch and M. Poloujadoff, A contribution to the modeling of three phase transformers using reluctance, IEEE Trans. Magn., vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 335343, Mar. 1996. [11] Members of the staff of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Magnetic Circuits and Transformer. New York: Wiley, 1943, pp. 443453.

Yu Cui received the B.Eng. degree from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 1995; the M.Sc. degree from Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China in 2000; and the M.Sc. degree from University of Saskatchewan (Canada) in 2003. He is currently working on his Ph.D. degree at University of Alberta. His research areas include power system stability and power quality.

Sami G. Abdulsalam (S03) received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from Elmansoura University, Egypt in 1997 and 2001, respectively. Since 2001 he has been with Enppi Engineering Company, Cairo, Egypt. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Alberta. His current research interests are in modeling and simulation of power system transients.

Shiuming Chen (M02SM02) received the B.Sc. degree in 1990 and M.Sc. degree in 1993 in electrical engineering from Zhejiang University, and the Ph.D. degree in 1997 from Tsinghua University, Beijing, P R China. He is currently an Associate Professor of the Tsinghua University and is working at the University of Alberta as a post-doctoral fellow. His research interests are over-voltage protection in power systems and electromagnetic compatibility in power and electronic systems.

Wilsun Xu (M90SM95) received the Ph.D. degree from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, in 1989. Currently he is a Professor with the University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. He was an Engineer with BC Hydro, Vancouver, BC, Canada, from 1990 to 1996. His main research interests are power quality and harmonics.