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Condition Assessment


Power Transformers
- Status & Challenges Dr S R Kannan FIET
Third International Conference on Power systems IIT Kharagpur December 27-29, 2009

Context - Physical Asset Management

Objective of a Utilitys Physical Asset Management (PSA): To Maximise return on investment in providing Reliable Quality Power while remaining competitive in a deregulated market Environment: Market - Increasing cost of Outage & Poor Power Quality System - Complex network with a large number of elements - Increasing average age of equipment - Reduced spare capacity - High load factor - Tighter design margins in new units Extraneous - Political & Societal pressures PSA Involves - Decisions (business & technical) on Investments - Efficient Utilisation of Materials & Resources - Controlling Operation & Maintenance Costs Assessment of condition the asset, the Power Apparatus, is fundamental to making optimum asset replacement decisions

Objectives of Condition Assessment

Operational - Minimise unplanned outages, outage time & maintenance costs - Eliminate Catastrophic faults Strategic - Extend Life of the asset - Plan Refurbishments / Replacements to cut down Lead times - Develop data base which helps more accurate failure analysis and enable design/process/system improvements to improve reliability in service 3

Asset life
During service, all equipment go through - natural ageing under operating stress & - accelerated ageing, due to defects and over-stress Ideally asset manager would like to know the Residual life But, end of life is seldom due to overall ageing of the equipment But is mostly due to escalation of local defects to faults Defect (state in which continued operation is possible for short or long period) Reversible deterioration before degenerating into fault if appropriate action is taken Fault (state in which continued operation may be possible for short period before a failure) Irreversible deterioration, requires repair or replacement Failure (an event) The termination of the ability of the subsystem / equipment to perform a required function and requires its removal for remedial work or replacement. Aim at avoiding degeneration of defect to fault to failure by suitable monitoring of the condition of the asset
[Lokhanin et al., Internal insulation failure mechanisms of HV Equipment under service conditions, CIGRE 2002, paper 15-201] 4

Condition Assessment Process

Condition assessment involves - monitoring of stress and defect levels (agents of ageing) - estimation of extent of defect and extent of degradation - detection faults at incipient stage - estimate elapsed life if not residual life Diagnosis and decision on pre-emptive corrective action requires - monitoring of several parameters - history of operational problems and maintenance, design/process information and finger print Since measured quantities often do not have a direct corelation with defects and ageing, decision making requires deployment of - trend analysis with prior data - signal processing & statistical tools - comparison with experimentally developed models - expert systems

Power Transformers
A few additional factors in respect of Power Transformers - Critical element, a failure of which can cause large disruptions in power supply - one of the costliest equipment in the System - mostly custom built, have a long lead time for replacement - repair involving winding also results in long shut down and

Needle in a haystack ?
Ageing and defects may be widespread but serious failures are essentially point phenomena to be identified among:
Core (80000 SQM for 800 MVA, 525 kVA Tr) Copper (285 km OF COPPER WIRE) Insulation (10T paper, 40T oil, 4500 sq.m board) Structural (Frame, Tank 16000 sq.m core plate surface) Bushings Tap changer Radiators Fans, Pumps 7

Monitoring strategy
For monitoring to be cost effective, need to understand: - Causative factors, ageing process and failure modes - Weak links in the system - Parameters to identify and preferably locate faults Monitoring of causative factors, the agents of ageing, is the first target for pre-emptive action in arresting degradation Next is the monitoring of parameters that diagnose the extent of ageing to decide the corrective actions before an unplanned outage All this preferably on-line not requiring a shut down A 2-stage Condition Based Maintenance is deployed: - deploy low cost, basic monitoring of all units without shut downs to isolate critical equipment with potential problems - deploy additional monitoring and condition assessment methods depending on the extent of problem which may require downtime for equipment

Failure Causes And Modes

Causes Voltage High E O/C, O/F Contamination Cooling defect Poor drying, Dielectric losses Leakage Bad joint Thermal Temp Chemical Moisture, Acids Oxygen, Sulphur Particles Transit shocks Short circuit Inrush current Vibration Mechanical EM forces Shocks Winding deformation

Stresses Electrical Agents PD Tracking

Effect Arcing Decomposition of oil, Produce gas, acids Depolymerisation of cellulose, lower mech. & electrical strengths

Finally insulation or mechanical failure of winding


Weak links
Winding insulation - Subject to multi-stresses, has the lowest withstand strength in respect of all stresses condition or replace Bushings High design stress but graded, fails when this grading is affected by internal or external contamination and can even cause burn-out of transformer. Surface discharges in oil a major cause of failure Tap changers only moving element that also carries the main current, may fail due to mechanical failures causing arcing causing contact erosion & de-composition of oil & contact erosion. Fans & pumps a failure of these can cause over heating & failure of insulation

Transformer (Insulation?) life

[CIGRE WG A2.18, Guide for life management techniques for Power Transformers, June 2003] 11

Most used monitors w/o shut down

Stress monitors: - Operating voltage and current - Transient measurement technically feasible, not prevalent - Motor torque / current of Tap changer - Fan and Pump operation - Top oil temperature measurement - Moisture in oil (also indicative of ageing) - Particle content - Acid content in oil Diagnostic parameters - Dissolved Gas in oil Analysis (DGA) - BDV of Oil - Furfural content in oil Note that the last 7 items are oil parameters

Oil angel, devil and mole ?

Oil plays several critical roles in a transformer - As insulator and heat transfer medium - Is susceptible to to various stresses and can itself lead to ageing of other component - Easily sampled, its properties provide a good indication the condition of the insulation Composition of combustible gases dissolved in oil is the most widely used monitor. Interpretation for nature of fault requires consideration of several factors such gas content (CO, C02, H2, CH4, C2H6, C2H4, C2H2, C3H8, C3H6) & their proportions, trend and rate of generation Diagnosis is still not de-skilled though several rules, Expert systems have been proposed and is a fertile ground for 13 conference papers.

Advanced monitors
On-line or off-line without shut down: - Acoustic and UHF PD measurement - Hot spot temperature (fibre-optic distributed / spot sensor) - Hydrogen gas in oil - Moisture content in oil - Bushing Tan delta Off line with shut down - Degree of Polymerisation - High Frequency response of winding - Relaxation characteristics of the insulation Except for possibly PD measurement, others are essentially global detection techniques and diagnosis are inference based & cannot determine location specific potentially dangerous fault

Winding Assessment
Let us look at the last two as these are for winding assessment whose - degradation is irreversible - repair requires un-tanking and is a long process - replacement have long lead times and - winding insulation failures and movements can result in catastrophic fault Re-iterating user requirements: - On-line or atleast without shut down - Early warning of developing faults - No failures - Direct indicators rather than inference based

Transformer insulation elements

Cellulose constitutes a major portion of the insulation of transformer & provides both electrical insulation and mechanical support

[Crompton Greaves]


Typical composition is 76-86 % Cellulose, 10-15 % Hemi cellulose, 4-8 % Lignin and 0.2-0.8 % Mineral Substances. A linear polymer chain consisting of 1000-2000 units of Glucose per molecule. Hemi cellulose forms the actual matrix in which the cellulose fibres are embedded. It plays a significant part in the sheet strength. Lignin acts a binder between the cellulose fibbers.

Ageing is essentially the scission of the molecular chain due to Pyrolysis, Oxidation and Hydrolysis causing a reduction in mechanical strength
[T A Provost & T V Oomen, Cellulose Insulation in Oil-Filled Power Transformers: Parts I & II, IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, January/February 2006 Vol. 22, No. 1]

Degradation of Cellulose *

[*Unsworth J, Mitchel F, Degradation of Electrical Insulating paper monitored with HPLC, IEEE Trans on EI, Vol 25, No. 4, 1990]


Degradation of Cellulose
CO 2 cellulose oxidation H2O Temperature Hydrolysis O2 CO oil oxidation H2O Acids


Division of molecule chipping off levoglucosane Levoglucosane fragmentaion

Furanoid compounds


CO 2




CIGRE WG A2.18, Guide for life management techniques for Power Transformers, June 2003]

Figure1.Effects of degradation factors 19

R esidu al

a nd in gressed oxyge n



Agents and Products of Ageing

Hydrolysis is essentially due to H+ concentration from the disassociation of low mol. Weight Carboxylic acids by water Heavy acids are retained by oil and only the water soluble acids aid ageing. Total acid content is hence not an indicator For every molecule of water consumed in acid hydrolysis, 3 are released in subsequent dehydration, thus the process of degradation itself produces moisture The scission of the cellulose chain releases Glucose and its degraded forms Thus moisture is the main agent of ageing and is a also a product of ageing Source of moisture is that residual moisture in thick insulation and seepage from atmosphere As transformer warms up, moisture migrates from cellulose into the oil fairly quickly and as it cools the moisture returns to paper more slowly
[Lundgard of oil impregnated paper in Power Transformers, IEEE Trans. on PD, 2004]

Degradation Agents & Products

[Baird P J et. Al., Non-destructive measurement of the degradation of Transformer insulating paper, IEEE trans. on D & EI, Vol 13, No.1, 2006]


DP and Furan measurements

DP of paper is obviously the most direct measurement of condition of paper But is an invasive method, location specific and the viscometry measurement method is subject to several sources of error Measurement of Furans released into oil during the degradation of cellulose offers a completely non invasive method not requiring transformer shut down. Furfuraldehyde among the many degradation products is comparatively stable and soluble in oil Being a global method, it is not sensitive enough to monitor weak points. But as the only non-invasive direct detector of the condition of paper without de-energising transformer, its usage will increase with more experience with old oil. Currently, levels of 1 -2 ppm is considered the upper limit of normal behaviour with 5ppm a cause of concern There is also considerable effort to measure the main agent of degradation, the moisture in paper
[Ali M & Eley C, Measuring and understanding the ageing of Kraft insulating paper in Power 22 Transformer, IEEE Electrical Insulation magazine, 1996]

Moisture determination from oil

Moisture in oil measured by Karl Fischer titration on samples drawn from transformer and that in cellulose be deduced with the equilibrium curves of relative saturation of water in oil and paper Not accurate as the system is seldom in thermal equilibrium and the diffusion of moisture between oil to reach steady state can take days depending on temperature and insufficient data on used oil

23 [*TV Oommen estimation from Transformer insulation, IEEE Transformer committee, 2004]

Temperature variations
Even if equilibrium were obtained, hypothetically, under constant ambient and load conditions, temperature varies along the winding Equilibrium moisture level being temperature dependent, the moisture in oil at the sampling point can only be an average Measurements made after several days shut down may have the entire system in equilibrium but the curve is not very accurate at low temperatures

[M Koch, K Feser, Reliability and Influences on dielectric diagnostic methods to evaluate the ageing state of oil-paper insulations, APTADM conference, Poland, 2004

Relaxation Measurements
Molecules of moisture and other ageing products from cellulose being Polar, Relaxation measurements are used to detect them Complex permittivity is derived from relaxation measurements, either in the time domain by Polarisationdepolarisation current method or in the frequency domain by Frequency domain spectroscopy method with excitation across the insulation Polarization phenomena relevant to moisture induced ageing are orientation, interfacial and hopping polarizations, which have a large time constant Hence, the measurements are made at very low frequencies, 100nHz 10Hz or over very long times

[M Koch, K Feser, The negative dissipation factor and the interpretation of the dielectric response of power transformers, Paper A2, ISH 2009]

[Walter S. Zaengl, Dielectric spectroscopy in time and frequency domain for HV power equipment ISH 2001]

DF measurement on transformer
Sensitive to moisture in paper

Sensitive to oil conductivity

[M. Koch and M. Krger, The negative dissipation factor and the interpretation of the dielectric response of power transformers Paper A2, ISH 2009]


Transformer Insulation Structure

But, the terminal measurement depict only the average condition in the system

An equivalent circuit taking into account the geometric disposition of the insulation system and properties of Components is required to find the condition of paper

Equivalent circuit of the system

For this, dielectric properties of: - Cellulosic material is modelled using three terms, conductivity, general dielectric relaxation model* and relative permittivity - Oil being essentially non-polar is represented by conductivity and relative permittivity All the properties are dependent on temperature, frequency and moisture Individual properties under various aged (defined by DP), moisture content and temperature conditions are determined individually by controlled experimentation The complete insulation system is reduced into X-Y model and the measured parameters are compared with the material data base for interpretation [*A.K.Jonscher The universal dielectric response, IEEE Electrical insulation magazine
Part I III, Vol 6.Nos.2,3,4]

Complex Permittivity of Kraft Paper*

[*Linhjel D., Dielectric response of mineral oil impregnated cellulose and the impact of ageing, IEEE Trans on D & I, Volu 14, No.1, 2007]

X-Y Model *

- Cellulose & oil in various ducts have the

same properties and temperature; - Pressboard and paper insulation have the same properties - Electric field is assumed homogeneous (coil radius >> insulation thickness) and field normal to plane of insulation - Neglect surface conductivities
[*Jaya M & Leibfreid T, Dielectric Modelling & diagnosis of the oil paper insulation system in Power Transformer, ISH-2009 Paper C39]

Issues with Polarisation methods

Being Integral method, gives overall moisture content, not possible to determine moisture distribution Interpretation is largely empirical now Based on controlled experiments on materials, limited data for different aged oils/cellulose Previous history for the same geometry needed Long testing time FDS at 1 mHz can take over an hour while at .0.1 mHz it will take 12 hrs. Winding temperature may fall over 20 deg C during measurement Equipment available which will use PDC for long times and FDS for 1 mHz and higher Electrostatic Model suitably placed inside for on-line monitoring the answer or RFIDs??

Winding dislocation
A major cause of destruction of winding Winding movement may take place during short-circuits in service or at transportation itself and results in huge forces Damage is usually cumulative Failure may be either winding collapse under short circuit forces or a arcing fault due to reduction in insulation clearance Early detection and corrective action will avoid catastrophic faults No-load current, leakage reactance are commonly used The sensitivity of the method is not high Frequency response analysis (FRA) is more sensitive and increasingly deployed now

Typical winding structure

Fig 6 Typical Insulation structure


FRA method
Transformer windings response to high frequency excitation is used to detect movements
Vout Vin

Or open

Vin H ( dB ) = 20 log 10 V out Vin H ( ) = tan 1 V out


The Network offers different impedances at different frequencies. Excitation by sweeping with sinusoidal signal (SFRA) & transfer function determined at each frequency Changes in geometry due to deformation alter local LC values and so modify the transfer function at various frequencies Detection is by comparison with Base line response, ideally that obtained at the time of commissioning Sister unit or phase comparison used when base line not available Diagnosis hence does require judgement SFRA is an off-line method and will take time but is very reliable.

Base line comparison




dB -50





10 Frequency - Hz


Phase comparison
0 -10 -20



-40 -50

-60 -70

-80 10


10 Frequency - Hz




Sister Unit comparison

0 -10 -20 -30 -40 dB -50 -60 -70 -80 -90 -100 10


10 F requenc y - H z




Equivalent circuit of two winding transformer

[L. Satish & S K Sahoo., An Effort to Understand What Factors Affect the Transfer Function of a two-winding Transformer, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, vol. 20, 2005]


Effect of multiple windings

Left shift of poles

Extra pole due to o/c

[L. Satish & S K Sahoo, , IEEE Tran on Power Delivery 2005]


While being most sensitive, certain issues remain to be resolved with multi-winding transformers to: - identify the defective winding from the pole shift - locate the defect - estimate the intensity of defect Interpretation requires an expert though there are efforts at developing algorithms* On-line technique is desired as SFRA requires considerable down time and transformer can take considerable abuse before a serious defect is revealed by tests Could Low Voltage method impulse be used for quick check on fault intensity LVI has the advantage of shorter time to test and the potential for on-line application, but the method is too sensitive. Even small changes in connection can affect response Can Travelling Wave method be used to estimate intensity of fault?
[*M Heidel et al.,Algorithmic determination of Pole-zero representations of Power Transformers transfer functions for interpretation of FRA data, Paper D-26, ISH 2009/

Partial Discharges
Omni-present, PD is both an agent & a symptom of ageing One of the few local defect monitor Hence has been a favourite monitor, very successfully for Cables, GIS and now rotating machines Its potential is yet to be fully realised for Power Transformers because of a complex insulation structure On-line PD measurement possible but efficient noise rejection required. Digital measurements, PD pattern bank and expert system required UHF PD measurement is being increasingly attempted. PD Location possible with multiple sensors by triangulation Quantitative relationship to actual ageing yet to be established PD Power, Repetition rate holds the answer
[J J Smit, Trends in PD-diagnostics for Asset Management of Aging HV infrastructures, Key note address, ISH 2005, Beijing]

Bushing Tan delta monitor

On-line monitoring through Bushing It is relative measurement Finger print is required and trend watched
[Lachman, M. F., On-Line Diagnostics of High-Voltage Bushings and Current Transformers Using the Sum Current Method, IEEE Trans. Power Delivery PE-471-PWRD-0-02-1999] 43

Dominant failure modes are contact erosion, spring failure or breakage of components in driving mechanism They led to the same problem more arcing in oil, an explosion or inflammation hazard Direct contact erosion difficult to identify Torque on the moving mechanism and the drive current monitors the mechanical faults DGA provides an indirect indication of contact erosion and mechanical faults, being increasingly deployed Acoustic and vibration measurements being tried out for early detection of fault Acoustic measurements is done at two frequencies, a lower one to detect mechanical mal-functions and higher one for arcing
[P Kang & D Birtwhistle, On-line condition monitoring of Tap changers- field experience, CIRED conference publication No. 482, 2001]

Summary of research areas

Moisture in Paper (structure, material data independent?) Degradation of paper (thru oil ?) Winding dislocation (LVI, Wavelets, Traveling wave theory?) Bushing monitor (surface discharges?) PD (energy, location, UHF?) OLTC (contact wear detector?) Application of RFIDs ? - Temperature withstand/dependence (digital circuits) - Electric field at location - Power power frequency magnetic field, electric field, or high frequency fed through winding to reduce antenna size - Protection from Chemical factory - Signal transmission through oil, winding - Sensor in the electric field

Thank You