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IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 15, No.

5; October 2008
1070-9878/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE
1449

In-situ Insulation Test of 400 kV GIS

H. Mohseni, J. Jadidian, A. A. Shayegani-Akmal, E. Hashemi, A. Naieny and E. Agheb
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Tehran, Campus #2, North Kargar Ave, P.O. Box 14395/515, IR-
14395 Tehran, Iran

ABSTRACT
To guarantee the insulation strength of gas insulated substations (GIS), a number of
different voltage waveforms, e.g., switching, lightning and ac have to be applied to the
GIS after installation. Because of very huge dimensions of GIS for nominal high
voltages, it is not possible to carry out these tests in the factory and parts of the whole
system have to be delivered and put together to build the complete GIS. As the result,
all insulation tests have to be performed on site. Even if different parts of the system
are tested in the factory, because some of the problems occur during the transportation
and installation, the insulation strength of the whole GIS can be degraded. In this
paper, a novel test set-up and the measurement results of a 400 kV GIS have been
installed for the Mobarakeh steel industries, Isfahan, Iran, are presented. This system
has a length of about 100 m, which corresponds to a total capacitance of about 10 nF
per phase. Because of this relatively large capacitance, the power ratings of the test
voltage sources have to be very high. For achieving such a high power, a two step
cascade voltage transformer (each 800 V/300 kV with a maximum output current of 2
A) fed through an autotransformer enhanced with a number of inductors to
compensate the capacitive current and to minimize the input current of the test
transformers have been used to apply the necessary 515 kV to perform the ac tests of
the whole GIS. The measurements carried out on the system showed that the first two
phases passed the test successfully; however the third phase could not withstand the
applied voltage because of the pollution near one of the spacers. After replacing the
faulty spacer, the insulation strength of the third phase has been recovered.
Index Terms EHV Insulation, gas insulated substations, insulation test, GIS,
cascaded transformers, resonance.


1 INTRODUCTION
NOWADAYS Gas Insulated Substations, because of
small dimensions and having no contaminations are widely
used in transmission and distribution of electrical power [1].
In Iran, also many GISs have been installed successfully up to
extra high levels of voltage such as 400 kV and they are in use
presently. One of the important aspects of GIS installation is
how to perform the insulation tests on site [2]. Although all
pieces of GIS have been tested in manufacturer factories, in
transporting its different parts, joining them up and starting
the whole GIS, many faults might be come up. These types of
mistakes or faults would affect the functionality of GIS. For
instance, some cracks could be created on insulators, also tiny
pieces of conductor or insulator would remain in bus ducts. It
is possible to detect such particles using UHF partial
discharge detection [3].These particles can be moved by
electrostatic forces and create some serious problems such as
electrical breakdown [2-3].
Insulators are the most sensitive parts of GIS. They are
placed between the inner conductor and the outer pipe in the
bus bars and bus ducts. Free moving particles are absorbed by
stronger field and might settle on the conductor surface or
insulator spacers [4]. As a result, the shape of the field would
be disturbed; this can lead to an insulator defect and hence a
breakdown. To be able to trap the free particles, before taking
GIS into service, the whole system has to be stressed
electrically. For this purpose, an alternating high voltage wave
with frequency of 50 Hz, or more is required [4-6].
It is recommended to apply voltages with amplitudes as
high as 80% of the nominal voltage for 15 minutes.
(420/3)1.2=290 kV is the phase to earth voltage for a 400
kV system. The rated phase voltage has to be applied for 3
minutes, which is followed with an applied voltage of 120%
of the nominal voltage for one minute [7-10]. The first two
stages are the so-called forming or conditioning stages.
Manuscript received on 18 March 2008, in final form 22 June 2008.
H. Mohseni et al.: In-situ Insulation Test of 400 kV GIS 1450
After the conditioning stages, insulator tests can be started
by application of voltage waveforms such as impulse voltage,
switching surge or sinusoidal. In this paper, test set-up and
measurement results of a 400 kV GIS installed for the
Mobarakeh Steel Industries, Isfahan, Iran, are described.
Different possible solutions to generate the necessary voltage
waveforms as well as the measurement results are discussed in
detail.

2 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

2.1 TEST REQUIREMENTS

To perform the test with alternating voltage, one high
voltage supply is needed. The capacitance of each bus bar
might be up to 10 nF or even 20 nF. For a typical value of this
capacitance about 12 nF and voltage of 520 kV, the current
will be about 2A using 50 Hz. Therefore, for the whole three-
phase test in single essay, i.e., whole substation bus bar with a
power of about 1 MVA is required. It is obvious that
preparing such a power with an adjustable voltage source is
too complicated.
One solution which could be applied in such tests is
resonant circuits; since, the load of the test circuit, can be
stated as a pure capacitance. There are two different methods
to achieve resonant circuits: series resonance and parallel
resonance which is usually called compensation. In the next
sections, these types of the circuits are discussed briefly.

2.2 SERIES RESONANCE

In series resonant circuits, one reactor is applied in the
circuit in series as demonstrated in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Series resonant circuit

In this circuit, C represents the capacitance between bus bar
and the earth; L is an adjustable high voltage reactor which is
placed in series with C to make the capacitor-inductor
resonance possible. This circuit is fed by transformer T. The
variable R is assumed to be the whole equivalent resistance of
the circuit. Variation of the ratio of voltage across the
capacitor terminals and the source voltage in terms of applied
frequency could be obtained from Figure 2. This figure has
been plotted for constant L and two different resistances. As is
represented in this figure, the value of equivalent resistance
can change the amount of optimum frequency (f
o
) [11].

Figure 2. Variation of voltage ratio in terms of frequency for two different
values of R.

In series resonance, maximum voltage and current of
capacitor can be obtained when the values of L and C satisfy
the resonance condition, C=1/L, therefore the maximum
current is equal to I=U
0
/R. As a result, the voltage of the
capacitor can be written as follows:

R
L
U
C R
U
C
I
U


0
0
0
= = = (1)


This means that the voltage magnitude of the capacitor
which is the voltage across the bus bar is L/R times greater
than the magnitude of the source voltage. This ratio is called
as quality factor, Q.
To attain the resonance, it is possible to adjust L or . In
this way, Q could be up to 40. It can be stated that the power
supply required for the test procedure, would be scaled down
with the factor of Q. To perform the test in this method, after
achieving resonance by varying L or or both of them, the
voltage of power supply should be increased up to the value in
which required current of the test is achieved.
Figure 3 shows an instance reactor which is used as the
series reactor transported to medium voltage side [8].


Figure 3. Series reactor which is used in medium voltage GIS.
The dimensions of such a reactor for high levels of voltage
are much greater than a medium voltage one, and
consequently, transportation of such equipment into the site is
more complicated.
IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 15, No. 5; October 2008 1451
2.3 PARALLEL RESONANCE

In the parallel resonance, capacitive current of the bus
bar should be compensated with one or more parallel
reactors [12-14]. It is not necessary for these reactors to
be joined with capacitive load directly. Since high voltage
inductors are usually heavy and expensive, non-direct
inductors (reactors which are transmitted to the lower
levels of voltages) are recommended for in-situ
applications. If high voltage reactors are available at the
substation site, there is no distinct need to have any high
voltage transformer which is capable of supporting the
test current. In this paper, much smaller inductors have
been used in low voltage side of the transformer. Figure 4
shows the suitable circuit for GIS insulation test by means
of parallel resonance. In this kind of circuit, if L can
compensate the capacitor current, no high power is
required to perform the test. This power is of the order of
the circuit losses, but it is not possible to achieve
complete compensation in practice, since L is usually not
fully arbitrary adjustable.


Figure 4. Parallel resonant circuit using reactor in low voltage side of
transformer

2.4 APPLIED SOLUTION: CASCADED VOLTAGE
TRANSFORMERS

Because of great weight and large dimensions of extra
high voltage transformers, these transformers are not
suitable for portable test systems. Therefore, in such cases,
some less massive equipment should be applied. There are
many experiences on in-situ measurements of GIS [1]. The
different energy supply systems for on-site measurement of
the high voltage components with high capacities are
already known [13-14]. In this paper a couple of cascaded
transformers have been designed and fabricated to provide
the test. This two-stage cascaded voltage transformer set
has provided two reactors to supply high levels of
capacitive currents. The construction and the application
method of these transformers are proposed in this paper.
Each of these transformers has provided two reactors to
supply high levels of capacitive currents which could be
connected in series or in parallel with the load. In this way,
it is possible to choose suitable configuration of reactors to
compensate the capacitive current.
The complete circuit of the test set-up including the
low voltage autotransformer (T
m
), step-up transformer,
(T
3
) and cascaded transformers, (T
1
and T
2
), is shown in
Figure 5. According to Figure 5, the test set-up has been
fed by means of a low voltage phase to phase port, i.e.,
400 V with relatively low output power (lower than 40
kVA).
This method also needs a step-up transformer which has
a reactor in parallel at the second side to compensate a
portion of capacitive current of the load. In this particular
test, we used a high current dry transformer. This
transformer is shown in Figure 8 and also at the left section
of Figure 9 in the GIS. As it can be seen in Figure 8, these
transformers have been specially designed to be able to
provide a wide range of voltage/current gain ratios, and
even reactive compensation values via connecting the
input/output terminals in many ways. In this test procedure,
the connections of the dry transformer are performed in a
manner to supply the maximum reactive compensation. In
addition, some high current cable is twisted in a spool and
placed in the second side of the transformer as air-cored
reactor (L
3
in Figure 5 and L
0
in Figure 6) to compensate
the rest of the capacitive power and consequently minimize
the demanding apparent power of the test set-up. The role
of reactive compensation is also performed in the upper
levels of voltages, i.e., by means of interior reactors of each
stage of the cascaded transformers as illustrated in Figure 5.
This principle can be better figured out in the simplified
circuit which is shown in Figure 6. In the circuits of
Figures 5 and 6, T
1
and T
2
are the cascaded transformers,
L
11
, L
12
, L
21
and L
22
are their internal inductors. The internal
reactors of each transformer were arranged in series with
each other and then paralleled with the input of the
transformer. In this configuration, internal impedance of
each transformer is about 3.5 . The inner physical
construction of these transformers is shown in Figure 7.
In Figure 6, the currents which are flowing through each
branch of the circuit are demonstrated. Some of these
values are measured at the test procedure, and the rest
which could not be directly measured are calculated
according to the measurements. As it can be seen, each
reactor compensates a large amount of capacitive power.
Without these reactors, the demanding power of the test
set-up and also the dimensions of the transformers would
be very huge.
The voltage ratio of each stage of cascaded transformers
is 800/300000; therefore in two cascaded stages, the total
ratio would be 800/600000 (see Figure 6). Consequently, to
achieve the output voltage of 515 kV, a feeding voltage of

V
kV
kV
U 690
600
515
800 = =
(2)

is required.
H. Mohseni et al.: In-situ Insulation Test of 400 kV GIS 1452

Figure 5. Complete circuit of the cascaded transformers

Figure 6. Simplified circuit of cascaded transformers and test objects
IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 15, No. 5; October 2008 1453

Figure 7. Inner construction of a cascaded transformer


Figure 8. High current dry transformer and its adjustable outputs can be
chosen in different connections via cables.

The current of C in this test was 1.9 A in one phase and in
the other two phases, this current was about 1.6 A. In the
optimum connection of the parts together, the current of
reactors in each stage would be about 200 A. Even with such
compensations which are performed in multiple levels of
voltage, the current of the primary low voltage supply is about
100 A. Total apparent power is required for this test is up to 1
MVA, and in the case that no inductive compensation has
been applied, in the low voltage side, the power supply must
provide up to 2500 A instead of 100 A; In addition, the
dimensions of the whole test setup will be one order of
magnitude larger. In these conditions, this test is inapplicable,
since the test set-up should be portable and also such high
power at low voltage grid is hardly available.
According to the magnitude of currents in each phase, it is
obvious that the capacitances of the three phases were not
equal. The capacitance of the center phase was greater than
the others, since it had an additional bus duct. The capacitance
of center phase was about 11.5 nF and the two other phases
were about 9 nF.
One of the significant points of this work is the use of air-
cored twisted cable which is used in the secondary side of the
step-up transformer. This reactor was capable to pass current
of 800 A. This reactor can be made promptly in a typical GIS
site, since such cables are easily available. Moreover, the
magnitude of such inductance, L
0
, could be adjusted by
increasing or subtracting turns of the bobbin. Using this
bobbin, the current of the variable transformer is compensated
to less than 100 A which was the critical value for our system.
This compensation is significant in practical experiences,
since many limitations arose in current supplying instruments.
For instance in this case, variable transformer can support 0 to
400 V with 150 A.
Figure 9 shows a comprehensive scheme of the test set-up
including step-up high current dry transformer, the cable
which is twisted around the spool as a shunt air-cored reactor,
the cascaded transformers, and the connection between the
secondary stage of the output transformers which are installed
on site, and the bushing of the GIS phase under test.


Figure 9. Comprehensive scheme of the test set-up and the 400
kV GIS.

2.5 VOLTAGE DIAGNOSTICS

To measure high voltages, one of the best methods which is
recommended in this paper is using bushing tap. In other
words, the measurement is performed by means of the
capacitive divider situated in the high voltage bushing which
is accompanying the test procedure by entering the output
voltage of the cascaded transformers into the GIS bus bar.
These typical bushings are SF
6
insulated with nominal voltage
of 400 kV and has been tested by a voltage up to 680 kV. This
capacitive type bushing is shown in Figure 10. By scaling
H. Mohseni et al.: In-situ Insulation Test of 400 kV GIS 1454
down the output voltage of the transformers, it can be
measured by means of a peak voltmeter. In cases where such
bushings are not available, providing a low capacitance high
voltage capacitive divider is unavoidable. The total
capacitance of such a divider should be lower than few nano
Farads.


Figure 9. Measuring circuit using bushing tap.


3 TEST RESULTS

In 400 kV GIS of Mobarakeh Steel Industries, Isfahan, Iran,
the final test was successfully made with 515 kV alternating
voltage by means of two cascaded transformers with a current
of about 1.9 A. This current led to a large apparent power of
up to 1 MVA.
After application of the test voltage as described above, no
phenomena corresponding to breakdown in GIS have been
detected. As a result, it has been concluded that the first tested
phases are without any problems. During the application of
the test voltage with amplitude of 80% of the rated phase
voltage for 15 minutes to the third phase, two breakdowns
have been detected in two separate test rounds. During the
third time, the first part of the test voltage (80% for 15
minutes) has been successfully withstood, but during the
application of the second part of the test voltage (100% for 3
minutes), a breakdown occurred once more.
After inspection, the fault has been located near one of the
spacers of the GIS. Figure 11 shows the breakdown traces on
conductors and ducts of the GIS for the third phase.

(a)

(b)
Figure 10. Defected bus bars due to insulation weakness.

After removing these faults, the test procedure has been
repeated and the third phase could also withstand the applied
voltages.
It must be noted that in such failures during service, the
energy dissipated could be much higher and therefore the GIS
can be seriously damaged. In Figure 12, the bus bar after such
failures during normal operation is shown [13]. This shows
the importance of the insulation tests before starting the
operation of the gas insulated substations to prevent faults
resulting in disasters and waste of big investments.


Figure 11. A defect caused by high short circuit capacity power grid.

4 CONCLUSION
Insulation Tests of high voltage Gas Insulated Substations
(GIS) is a very important issue to be considered to guarantee
the appropriate functionality of such systems. Because of very
large dimensions of the high voltage GIS, it is not possible to
test the whole GIS before delivering to the installation site. On
the other hand, because of relatively large capacitance of such
systems, especially in cases where the total length of the
IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 15, No. 5; October 2008 1455
installed GIS exceeds some tens of meters, the high voltage
source has to be capable of delivering relatively high levels of
current.
In this paper, a high power high voltage test setup is
proposed to perform in-situ insulation tests on a 400 kV GIS
installed for the Mobarakeh Steel Industries, Isfahan, Iran.
Different possibilities to produce such high power high
voltages have been discussed and the measurement results
have been analyzed in detail. In the solution which is applied
in this paper, for achieving such a high power, a two step
cascaded voltage transformer (each 800 V/300 kV with a
maximum output current of 2 A) fed through an
autotransformer enhanced with a number of inductors to
compensate the capacitive current and to minimize the input
current of the test transformers have been used to apply the
necessary 515 kV to perform the ac tests of the whole GIS.
The measurements carried out on the system showed that the
first two phases passed the test successfully; however the third
phase could not withstand the applied voltage because of the
pollution near one of the spacers. After replacing the faulty
spacer, the insulation strength of the third phase has been
recovered.

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[4] IEEE Std C37.122: Gas-Insulated Substations, 2003.
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Insulated Substations, Toronto, Vol. 2, pp. 746-749, Canada, 1985.
[9] R. Haller, W. Hauschild and W. Mosch, High-voltage field testing of
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[10] K. Azumi., H. Kuwahara, I. Sakon, T. Marutani and H. Niwa, Design
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956, 1980.
[11] H. W. Anderl, C. L. Wagner and T. H. Dodds, Insulation
Coordination for Gas Insulated Substations, IEEE Trans. Power
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[13] J. P. Dupraz and G. F. Montillet, A new method for the measure of
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[14] G. Aldrovandi, I. Bonfanti, E. Figini, F. Giornelli, W.Koltunowicz and
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Hossein Mohseni (M'88) was born in Tehran on 7
February 1942. He studied electrical engineering at the
Technical University Graz, Austria and received the
degrees Dipl. Ing and Dr. techn in 1971 and 1975,
respectively. From 1971 to 1976 he was with ELIN
UNION AG Austria, working as testing and research
engineer in the High Voltage Laboratory and the
Transformer R and D Department. In 1976 he joined the
Faculty of Engineering, University of Tehran, Department
of Electrical Engineering. He is currently an associate professor and teaches
high voltage engineering, high voltage insulation technology, and transients in
power System and Apparatus. During 1981/82 he was chairman, Department
of electrical engineering at the University of Tehran. Since 1980 he has been a
technical consultant of the Iran Power Generation and Transmission Company
(TAVANIR). Also since 1998 he is the dean of the High Voltage and Pulsed
Power research center, at the University of Tehran

Jouya Jadidian (S06) was born in Kermanshah, Iran, on
9 June 1984. He received the B.Sc. degree in electrical
engineering with "Exceptional Talent" honor from
University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran in 2006. He is
currently working toward the M.Sc. degree at the
University of Tehran. Since 2004, he has been with the
High Voltage and Pulsed Power research center, at the
University of Tehran. Also, since 2007 he has been
working at the Iran Grid Management Company (IGMC) in the High voltage
transmission system protection office as a researcher. He has over 20
technical papers in journals and international conference proceedings. His
current research interests include pulsed power systems, high voltage, high
power technology, and plasma processing.

Amir Abbas Shayegani Akmal was born in Tehran, Iran,
in 1974. He graduated with a B.Sc degree from the Sharif
University of Technology and from the University of
Tehran with a M.Sc. and Ph.D. with cooperation of the
University of Hanover (Schering-Institute) all in electrical
engineering in 1996, 1998, and 2005, respectively. He has
been with the University of Tehran as an assistant professor
since 2006 and also has worked at the High Voltage
Laboratory of the University of Tehran. His principal research interest is in
high voltage power transformer insulation systems, testing and diagnostics.

Ehsan Hashemi (S07) received the B.S. degree in
electrical engineering from the University of Tehran in
2006 and this year, started studying for the M.Sc. degree
in the University of Tehran. He has jointed the Research
and Testing Division of High Voltage and Pulsed Power
research center, at the University of Tehran in 2005.
Since 2007, he has been with Iranian Grid Management
Company as a Power Engineer.


Alireza Naieny(S07) received the B.Sc. degree in
electrical engineering from the University of Tehran in
2006 and this year, started studying for the M.S. degree in
the University of Tehran. He has jointed the Research and
Testing Division of High Voltage and Pulsed Power
research center, at the University of Tehran in 2005.



Edris Agheb (S07) received the B.S. degree in electrical
engineering from the University of Tehran in 2006 and this
year, started studying for the M.S. degree in the University
of Tehran. He has jointed the Research and Testing
Division of High Voltage and Pulsed Power research
center, at the University of Tehran in 2005. Since 2007, he
has been accepted as a Power Engineer in Iranian Grid
Management Company.