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Proc. of Int. Conf.

on Control, Communication and Power Engineering 2010

Power Transformer Protection


R. P. Gupta, M. B. Lonkar
Global R & D Centre
Crompton Greaves Limited, Mumbai
India
Ramprakash.Gupta@cgglobal.com,Manoj.Lonkar@cgglobal.com

AbstractA power transformer is a very valuable and an


important link in power transmission system. It provides
voltage transformation and power transfer. Faults occur in
transformer due to insulation breakdown, aging of
insulation, overheating due to over-excitation, oil
contamination and reduced cooling. It is an important
aspect to implement reliable, secure and fast protection
scheme which is essential to minimize damage. In this
paper, various faults taking place in transformer and
suitable protections are described. This paper will be useful
to enhance knowledge of the students and practicing
engineers in the area of substation engineering.

consisting of bus fault logic, feeder back-up logic, and


two-bank substation load shedding are described [1].
Multifunctional microprocessor-based relays are used
for protection. According to additional features and
applications, the complexities in these relays are
increasing. A sophisticated computer software is required
for the analysis, setting coordination, data acquisition and
testing of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs). The paper
describes automatic test system used for advancement in
transformer protection [2].
The inrush current in power transformers is causing
unreliable operation of numerical relay. Artificial Neural
Network (ANN) is applied to inrush detection. As the
saturation of protective Current Transformers (CT)
cannot be totally eliminated, ANN is used for the
reconstruction of distorted secondary CT currents. ANN
is applied in both cases. It is experimentally proved the
enhancement in reliability due to reconstruction of
distorted CT secondary. The results confirm faster and
more reliable recognition of transformer inrush, as well
as satisfactory reconstruction of the distorted secondary
CT currents. Thus, the possibility of improving digital
power transformer protection is described [3].
Protection of transformer is described using principle
of excitation impedance. On occurrence of external
faults, fault components of terminal voltages and currents
are obtained. The large magnitude and positive values
are used for calculating excitation impedance. On
occurrence of internal fault, the impedance is calculated
with fault component. It is the impedances of the
transmission lines and equivalent sources of system. In
this situation, the magnitude is smaller than that
calculated when external fault occurs, and the sign is
negative. In such situation of inrush current, the sign of
fault component impedance is positive and the magnitude
is larger than that in internal fault situation. The method
described can act as the primary protection of
transformers with wye-delta connection. The simulation
is also given which shows that the implemented
technique can immunize the maloperation when
transformer is energized, and has high sensitivity and
reliability [4].
A fault detection technique using fault generated high
frequency current transients is described. The transients
are to be generated through a designed relay unit. The
relay is to be tuned to a band of high frequencies. It is
connected to the transformer through CTs on both the
high and low voltage sides of the transformer. When a
fault is detected, the transient currents from both ends of
CTs are extracted by the detector. The working of
detector is based on differential and average currents

KeywordsDifferential protection, back-up protection,


over fluxing, Buchholz relay

I.

INTRODUCTION

Power Transformer plays a vital role in power system.


It is everywherein all parts of power system, between all
voltage levels, and existing in many different sizes, types,
and connections. The increasing demand of power in
transmission and distribution system has resulted in
design of very large capacity transformers. The choice of
suitable protection is decided on the basis of economical
considerations. Circuit breaker or other disconnecting
device is available at or near the winding terminal of
transformer bank. The transformer bank thus can be
connected directly to a bus, line, or a power source. For
both phase and ground faults, differential protection
provides, the best overall protection. In ungrounded
system, differential protection provides only phase fault
protection. Differential protection is usually provided to
transformer of 10 MVA and above. IDMT relays are to
be used to provide backup protection. In this paper, the
authors have given various transformer faults conditions
and accordingly protective schemes.

II.

POWER TRANSFORMER PROTECTION

In this section, specific areas of transformer protection


are given. In case of power plant transformer protection,
the protective schemes are described for over-excitation,
differential restraint, generator step-up unit (GSU)
transformer ground fault protection, and auxiliary/start I
up and industrial transformer protection. For transmission
substation transformer protection, over-excitation (V/Hz)
protection and sudden pressure relay (SPR) blocking is
given. For distribution substation transformer protection,
under-frequency / under-voltage load shedding is
described. The logic schemes for distribution substation

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saturate the energized transformer. It thus results in an


apparent inrush current

between the two ends. The spectral energies of these


current signals are then extracted to produce the operate
and restraint signals. On the basis of comparison between
the levels of the two signals, it comes to know whether
the fault is internal or external to the protected zone [5].
The current ratio differential relaying (CDCR) with
harmonic restraint is used for transformer protection. The
second harmonic current components depend on the
capacitance of the high voltage status and underground
distribution. It can be reduced with necessary changes in
material of iron core or its design technology.
Modification in the CDCR relay is thus required. A
numerical algorithm for enhanced power transformer
protection is described. The algorithm enables a clear
distinction of internal faults, magnetizing inrush and
steady state. It uses the RMS fluctuation of terminal
voltage, instantaneous value of differential current, RMS
changes, harmonic component analysis of differential
current, and analysis of flux-differential slope
characteristics. The result shows more rapid and reliable
performance of protection of transformer [6].

Transformer
deenergized
at this point

Transformer
reenergized at
this point

(a)

III. POWER TRANSFORMER PROTECTION SCHEMES


Transformer
deenergized
at this point

Various faults that can occur in power transformer:


HV and LV bushing flashover (external to tank)
HV winding earth fault
LV winding earth fault
Inter turn fault
Core fault and Tank fault
Phase to phase faults are relatively rare within the tank.
These are more likely to take place external to tank on
HV and LV bushing. The required protections for power
transformers are given in this section. Terms related with
energizing current of transformer are given below.
i) Energizing Inrush-It is caused by remanance (residual
flux) in the core and the point in the voltage waveform
when the transformer breaker closes. Under the normal
steady state conditions, the magnetizing current required
to produce the necessary flux is relatively small, usually
less than 1% of full load current.
In case of transformer is energized at voltage zero, the
magnitude of flux during first half of voltage cycle
becomes as high as twice the normal current flux. The
energization with and without inrush is represented in fig.
1(a) and fig.1 (b) respectively.
The relay may be given a setting higher than the
maximum inrush current. Also, the time setting may be
such that before the relay operates, magnetizing current
should fall to a value below the primary current.
ii) Recovery inrush- In case of fault or momentary dip in
voltage, an inrush may occur when the voltage return to
normal. It occurs at the clearing of an external fault. The
current level is less than it is during the transformer
energization.
iii) Sympathetic inrush- It is due to energization of
adjacent transformer. A common case is paralleling a
second transformer bank with a bank already in
operation. The dc component of inrush current can also

(b)
Fig.1. Energization (a) without inrush (b) with inrush

A. Fuse Protection:
Fuses are economical, require less maintenance, and
do not need external power supply. Fuses can protect some
power transformer against damage from primary and
secondary faults. Fuses are insensitive and relatively slow
except at higher current levels. It does not sense low level
faults.
In case of fault current magnitude is extremely high; a
fuse can be faster than a circuit breaker and can clear the
fault within 0.5 to 2 cycles. For fused transformer
protection, it is recommended to implement phase and
ground over current relays with a low side circuit breaker.
This is to provide back-up protection of secondary faults.
B. Differential Protection:
It compares currents entering and leaving the protected
zone and operates when the differential current exceeds
the predetermined value. The type of differential scheme
normally applied to a transformer is called the current
balance or circulating current scheme.
The CTs are connected in series and the secondary
current circulates between them as in fig. 2 (a). In case of
internal fault, the relay operates since both the CT
secondary currents add up and passes through the relay as
represented in fig. 2(b).

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Transformer
reenergized at
this point

Proc. of Int. Conf. on Control, Communication and Power Engineering 2010

CT 1

differential scheme is represented for a deltastar


transformer in fig.3.

CT 2

A2

A1

a1

a2

Fault

(a)
CT 1

BW

BW

CT 2
C

Fault

BW-Biased Winding, A/B/C-Operating Coil/Winding


Fig.3. Differential protection scheme for a deltastar transformer

(b)
Fig.2. (a) Differential connection for single phase transformer
(b) Differential relay operation for internal fault

Differential protection provides faster detection of


faults. The determination of fault location depends on
size of zone. Relays of three general classes are used in
current differential scheme Time over current relay
Percentage differential with restraint actuated by
currents going into and out of protection zone
Percentage differential with restraint actuated by one
or more harmonics in addition to the restraint actuated
by currents going into and out of protection zone
The CTs are connected in series and the secondary
current circulates between them. In case of internal fault,
the relay operates since both the CT secondary currents
add up and pass through the relay. There are some factors
which need consideration in differential scheme.

In case of transformer differential scheme, most


relays are provided with bias with slope of 20%, 30% and
40% as required. The requirements of differential
protections:
i) Triple pole with individual phase indication
ii).Unrestrained instantaneous high set over-units which
should not operate during inrush.
iii) One bias winding per phase and per CT input
iv) An adjustable operating current
v) An adjustable multi-bias setting
vi) Second harmonic or in-rush proof
vii) Fast operating time
C. Restricted Earth fault Protection (REF):
The biased differential relay is not sensitized for
certain earth faults within winding. This situation occurs
in case of transformer is resistance or impedance earthed
and current in the internal fault is disproportionately low.
The earth fault protection gets improved by the
application of unit differential or restricted earth fault
systems.
The residual current of three line CTs is balanced
against the output current if CT in the neutral conductor.
It makes the protective scheme stable for all types of
faults outside the zone. For low voltage side, the value of
earth fault current may less than full load current in case
of fault occurs in midwinding.
In such cases, the value of voltage available is half
the line voltage. High voltage over current will not
provide required protection. The delta winding cannot
supply zero sequence current to the system. A relay, an
instantaneous high impedance type, is to be connected to
monitor the residual current will provide restricted earth
fault protection. The protective scheme is represented in
fig.4.

i) Transformer vector group


ii) Mismatch of HV and LV CTs
iii) Varying currents due to on-load tap changer (OLTC)
iv) Magnetizing in-rush currents (from one side only)
v) The possibility of zero sequence current destabilizing
the differential for an external earth fault.
Factor (i) can be overcome by connecting the HV and
LV CTs in star/delta respectively (or vice versa). The
opposite vector group connections counter balance the
effect of phase shift occurred in transformer. The delta
connection of CTs provides a path for circulating zero
sequence current.
Thus is stabilizes the protection for an external earth
fault as required by factor (v). To overcome the current
unbalance caused by factors (ii) mismatch of CTs and
(iii) OLTC, it is necessary to bias the differential relay.
Harmonic filters are to be used to stabilize the protection
in case of magnetizing current in-rush i.e., for factor (iv).
The operating range of CT causes the biggest current
unbalance under healthy conditions. Hence, desired
setting is dictated by the operating range of the OLTC. A

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i) It should be of three pole type


ii) IDMT characteristics, directional on LV side
iii) Variable setting range 50-200% of rated current
iv) Variable setting 50-200%
v) Characteristics angle 45-90 degree lead
vi) Hand reset indicators per phase

R
R

Fig. 4. Restricted earth fault relay

The requirement of REF protection:


i) It should be of single type
ii) Operating current sensitivity of at least 10%
iii) Be tuned with system frequency
iv) High or low impedance principle
v) Suitable value on non-linear resistor to limit peak
voltage during in-zone faults

Ground faults in case of delta winding connected to solidly


grounded power system are relatively easy to sense. Time
delay is must be used for high sensitivity setting.
The requirement of ground over current protection:
i) It should be of single pole type
ii) IDMT characteristics
iii) Variable setting 20-80% of rated current
iv) Characteristics angle 45-60 degrees lag
v) Hand reset indicators per phase

D. Overfluxing Protection:
The increase in input voltage increases the level of
working flux. This results in increasing magnetizing and
iron current. The core and core belt get heated leads to
weaken the interlamination insulation and core belt
insulation. Also, the same effect is observed in case of
reduction in supply frequency. In such cases V/f relays are
used to detect over fluxing in transformer. This
phenomenon is more in generator transformers. For 50 Hz
AC supply, setting of relay should be 1.0 to 1.3 on 110 V.
The relay is provided adjustable time delay so as to
prevent transient operation due to momentary
disturbances. The transformer over fluxing protection is
implemented for both sides of interconnecting transformer.
This is to cover all possible operating conditions. For other
transformers, over fluxing relay should be provided on the
untapped winding of transformer.
The requirement of over fluxing protection:
i) Phase to phase connection
ii) Operation on voltage to frequency ratio
iii) High resetting ration of 98 % or more
iv) Inverse time characteristics compatible with
transformer over fluxing
v) Independent alarm with definite time delay at value
voltage to frequency between 100-130%

a1

I OL

RCL

a2

I OL
I OL

Phase
Relays

3 IOL /
R

51

R
87
3 IOL /
R

Fig. 5. Ground fault protection for delta-star transformer with residual


over current and differentially ground relay

(b) Negative sequence over current


It is particularly applicable to delta-star grounded
transformer where only 58% of secondary per unit phase
to ground fault current appears in any one phase. It can
be connected in primary supply of transformer. The
sensitivity of setting may be according to protection
against secondary phase-ground or phase-phase-faults.
The relay setting should be higher than negative sequence
current due to unbalanced load.
F. Sudden Pressure protection:
This protection scheme is used for 5 MVA and above
transformer typically provided with gas cushion. The gas
pressure is generated by an arc under the coil. It thus
leads to oil decomposition and gas product formation.
The relay is sensitive to both low- and high energy arcs
within the transformer and have inverse time
characteristics. It is fast for heavy faults and slow for
light faults. It is usually connected to the contact parallel
to differential relay and other trip relay contacts.
As represented in fig.6, the change in pressure actuates
bellows 5 closing micro-switch contact 7. Equalizer port
8 is much smaller than port 4. It prevents bellows
movement for slow changes in gas pressure. This type of
protective scheme is only designed to respond only to
arcs within the coil. It detects an increase in gas pressure.

E. Over current Protection:


(a) Phase-or and ground- fault over current
The external faults are the short circuits or earth faults
outside the transformer. At about 10 MVA and below,
primary fuse may be used. The inverse time over current
relays and in case of high voltage line, distance relays
provide protection for transformer. Instantaneous over
current relays may be applied as supplemental differential
or over current relays. The relays must not operate on
magnetizing inrush unless harmonic restraint is used. The
high fault current passing through transformer can cause
thermal as well as mechanical damage. The relays or fuses
should protect the transformers against through faults. The
ground fault protection for delta-star transformer with
residual over current and differentially ground relay is
represented in fig. 5.
The requirement of phase over current protection:

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the setting of restraint is adequate to prevent the relay


operation.
In fig.8, various protection schemes are represented
for power transformer. Also, differential protection
scheme for 13.8 kV, breaker failure for 115 kV may exist.

115 kV
50/51
P,N,Q

400:5

52

400:5

52

52

Fig. 6. Sudden Pressure relay


63 49

G. Turn- to- turn fault protection:


Due to electromechanical /electromagnetic forces on
the winding, chafing or cracking of insulation between
turns takes place. Ingress of moisture content in to the oil
can also be a contributing factor. When the transformer is
subjected to lightning surge, the steepfronted surges may
hit the end windings causing the puncture in the insulation.
It thus leads to short circuit. Phase differential relay may
detect a turn-to-turn fault protection as this fault changes
the transformer turns ratio. The fault case is given in fig.7.

18/24/30
MVA
400:5

RG
400A
20
10 Sec

RG
51G

87N

Trip Dir
51
P.Q,N
Partial
Differential

2000:5
Bus BU

67/51
P,Q,N
32

52

E
Short
Turn

52

27 P,
59P/N,
47

L
O
A
D

2000:5
51
P.Q,N

Fig.7. Turn-Turn fault

Bus Tie
52

13.8 kV

2000:5

H. Excessive high voltage protection:


The relay offers high impedance to CTs. Hence, CTs
are required to develop an extremely high voltage. To
limit this voltage, a voltage dependent resistor (VDR) is
normally mounted across the relay to prevent the external
flashover. It is usually preferred in polluted environments.
For maximum efficiency, transformers are operated near
the knee of their saturation curve. So, at voltage above
about 110% of rated, the exciting current becomes very
high. These large currents can destroy the units. The
protection against over voltage is included in the
regulating and control devices.
I.

Harmonic restraint protection:

The magnetizing inrush current has a high harmonic


content, particularly second harmonic. The second
harmonic can be used to restrain and thus desensitize the
relay during energization. While setting the relay in such
case, it should be made sensitive to internal fault. In
harmonic restraint relay unit, a second harmonic blocking
filter is connected in operating coil circuit, whereas a
second harmonic pass filter in restraint coil circuit. Thus,
the predominant second harmonic characteristics of an
inrush current produce ample restraint. It requires
minimum operating energy. The circuit is designed to hold
open its contact when secondary harmonic component is
higher than 15% of fundamental. For all inrush currents,

F1

F2

F3

F4

a) Relay units: 50-Instantaneous, 51-Time over current, 49-Thermal,


63-Sudden Pressure, 67-Directional over current, 87-Differential b) 52AC circuit breaker c) RG Ground resistance
Fig.8. Various protection for power transformer.

J. Thermal Protection
The conventional thermal relays measure the oil
temperature and transformer current to calculate hot-spot
temperature. It is usually supplied as a part of transformer.
It is used for monitoring and alarm, but may be used for
tripping.
K . Gas Detection:
Gas detection devices can be applied only to the
transformer units built with conservator tanks. A gas
accumulator device commonly known as Buchholz relay is
connected between the main and conservator tanks.
Failure of winding insulation will result in some form of
arcing. It collects any gas rising through oil. It decomposes
the oil into hydrogen, acetylene, methane. It can detect the
core fault. The intense localized heat damages the winding
insulation. Localized heating can also precipitate a
breakdown of oil into gas.
One part of this device accumulates gas over a time
period and provides sensitive indication of low energy
arcs. It is used for alarm. The other part of this device

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87R
87U

Proc. of Int. Conf. on Control, Communication and Power Engineering 2010


[2] Apostolov, A.; Vandiver, B., Automatic test system
advances transformer protection, Computer Applications
in Power, IEEE, Volume 13, Issue 2, Apr 2000 Page(s):31
36
[3] Pihler J. et al. Improved operation of power transformer
protection using artificial neural network IEEE
transactions
on
power
delivery
,
1997, vol. 12, no3, pp. 1128-1136 (19 ref.)
[4] Suonan J., et al., A Novel Transformer Protection
Principle Based on the Excitation Impedance
Developments in Power System Protection, 2008. DPSP
2008.
IET
9th
International
Conference
on
Volume , Issue , 17-20 March 2008 Page(s):308 314
[5] Aggarwal, R.K et al. A new relaying principle for power
transformer protection using transient comparison
technique , Developments in Power System Protection,
Sixth International Conference on (Conf. Publ. No. 434)
Volume , Issue , 25-27 Mar 1997 Page(s):139 - 142
[6] Chul-Won Park et al. Numerical Algorithm for Power
Transformer Protection 14b6 KIEE International
Transactions on PE, Vol. 4-A No. 3, pp. 146-151, 2004
[7] Rockfeller G. Basler Electric, Transformer Protection
Application Guide revised 2006/07 John Horak.
[8] Hewiston L.G., Mark Brown ,Ben Ramesh Practical
Power System Protection Newnes Publications 2004,
Burlington MA 01803, ISBN 0 7506 6397 9
[9] J.L.Blackburn, Protective Relaying Principles and
Applications
Second
Edition
Marcel
Dekker
,Inc.USA.1998, ISBN 0-8247-9918-6
[10] W.A.Elmore, ABB Power T&D Co.Inc. ,Florida
Protective Relaying Theory and Applications Marcel
Dekker ,Inc.USA.1994, ISBN 0-8247-9152-5

responds to heavy faults operating the relay with high


velocity to give trip signal. It can detect the core fault.
L . Tank fault:
Loss of oil through leak in the tank can cause a reduction
in insulation and possibly overheating on normal load
takes place. Oil sludge can also block the cooling duct and
pipes, which may cause overheating. The MV fuses are to
be used for protection in such cases.
CONCLUSION
Various faults taking place in transformer are described.
The required protective schemes are given accordingly.
The utility may prefer the required protection necessary
for power transformers.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors duly acknowledge the support provided by
Global R & D Center, Crompton Greaves Limited,
Mumbai, India.
REFERENCES
[1]

Mozina, C.J., Beckwith Electr. Co. Inc., Largo, FL;


Protection of power plant transformers using digital
technology, Transmission and Distribution Conference,
1999
IEEE,
Publication
11-16
Apr
1999,
Volume: 1, page(s): 421-432

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