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THE ULTRA EFFICIENT AMORPHOUS SUBSTATION TRANSFORMER

Copyright Material IEEE


Paper No. PCIC-90-43
W. D. N a g e l
GE C o m p a n y - - H i c k o r y , NC

I n d u s t r i a l users have addressed


p r o d u c t i v i t y through conservation i n many areas o f
operations, but few have recognized the p o t e n t i a l
f o r p r o d u c t i v i t y i n power d i s t r i b u t i o n systems.
While over 95% o f e l e c t r i c u t i l i t i e s buy
transformers on an evaluated basis, which f a c t o r s i n
the l i f e cycle cost of e f f i c i e n c y ; 99% o f i n d u s t r i a l
users purchase transformers based on 1owest p r i c e .
The n e t r e s u l t i s t h a t transformer manufacturers
have l i t t l e i n c e n t i v e t o supply more e f f i c i e n t
transformers t h a t would y i e l d lower t o t a l cost when
i n c l u d i n g e f f i c i e n c y r e l a t e d operating costs. The
net r e s u l t i s t h a t i n d u s t r i a l owners o f transformers
pay a high l i f e cycle p r i c e f o r losses and the
f u t u r e cost impact i s predicted t o get even worse.

ABSTRACT
Conserving and s t r e t c h i n g scarce US. and
world energy resources i s essential t o economic
p r o d u c t i v i t y and f o r assuring long term energy
a v a i l a b i l i t y f o r p r i v a t e and p u b l i c use.
The u l t r a e f f i c i e n t amorphous metal core
transformer technology o f f e r s the industry a
conservation a l t e r n a t i v e which can help the energy
equation and boost p r o d u c t i v i t y . Amorphous core
d i s t r i b u t i o n transformers (10kVA through 2500kVA)
have become a technological and commercial r e a l i t y
w i t h p o t e n t i a l f o r reducing US. u t i l i t y losses and
s t r e t c h i n g scarce generating capacity by over 7000
MW, equivalent t o 60,000 b i l l i o n KWHrs annually.

Economic b e n e f i t s from a p p l i c a t i o n o f
amorphous transformers i n the u t i l i t y industry have
already been evaluated t o be very s i g n i f i c a n t .
Opportunity f o r economic b e n e f i t i n the i n d u s t r i a l
sector i s even greater because: 1) the degree o f
e f f i c i e n c y improvement a v a i l a b l e i s greater since
i n d u s t r i a l s are buying unevaluated s i l i c o n steel
transformers which have higher losses than u t i 1i t i e s
who evaluate; 2) where transformers are inside, a i r
conditioning loads can be reduced since amorphous
releases l e s s heat and; 3) i n d u s t r i a l users pay f u l l
cost o f power production plus u t i l i t i e s p r o f i t
margin.

Application o f t h i s advanced technology


t o 1 i q u i d f i l l e d i n d u s t r i a l substation transformers
(1OkVA through 2500kVA) w i l l provide p o t e n t i a l f o r
a d d i t i o n a l conservation o f over 2500 MW, equivalent
t o 22 b i l l i o n KWHrs annually.
This paper b r i e f l y describes amorphous
transformer technology development and broadly
compares the technical c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and
performance t o conventional high e f f i c i e n c y s i l i c o n
steel transformers. The paper addresses how
amorphous transformer technology can reduce
i n d u s t r i a l power losses and improve p r o d u c t i v i t y .

AMORPHOUS TRANSFORMER SAVINGS

I
"

Nationally, renewal o f a l l i n d u s t r i a l

!
substation transformers up through 2500kVA w i t h

distribution.

amorphous transformers vs. s i 1 icon transformers


would reduce losses by over 2500 MW, savings over $2
b i l l i o n annually, a t 1990 power costs.

P r o d u c t i v i t y improvements are essent ia1


t o p r o f i t a b i l i t y and business s u r v i v a l i n an
increasingly competitive world economy. Energy
r e l a t e d f a c t o r s w i l l be making p r o d u c t i v i t y
improvements more d i f f i c u l t .

2500 MW i s equivalent t o annual and


system l i f e t i m e savings as follows:
Annual

US. e l e c t r i c generating capacity i s


projected t o f a l l short o f demand by over 125 GW by
the year 2000 based on e x i s t i n g and planned
capacity.

L i f e Times

KWHRs
22 b i l l i o n s
660 b i l l i o n s
O i l (Equiv.barrells) 36 m i l l i o n
1 billion
Emissions (coal sys.)
15 m i l l i o n
-SO tons
500 thousand
16 m i l l i o n
480 m i l l i o n
-co2 tons
285 t r i l l i o n
8550 t r i l l i o n
BTU'S*~
(*75% from generation, 25% from transformer)

Reserve margins are already below


objectives i n some regions o f the country according
t o the council f o r economic awareness. Capacity
margins are expected t o f a l l t o 17% n a t i o n a l l y by
1991, compared t o a 19%goal.

AMORPHOUS TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

E l e c t r i c i t y prices w i l l escalate d r i v e n
by a resumption o f f u e l costs i n f l a t i o n ( c h a r t ) ;
generating emission c o n t r o l s t o l i m i t impact on the
environment from a c i d r a i n , global warming, as well
as health considerations; and the law o f supply and
demand as e l e c t r i c i t y demand overtakes supply.

Core Metal
Amorphous metal i s t r u l y a new class o f
metal t h a t , u n l i k e conventional metals have no
c r y s t a l l i n e structure.

PRICES OF OIL. NATURAL GAS, A N D COAL


TO ELECTRIC LTILI IIES

/1

16
14

12
10

NON-CRYSTALINE

CRYSTWINE
SILICON STEEL

RlIoRptulus

m
A
L

Because the automatic s t r u c t u r e


resembles t h a t i n gl;ss,
they are sometimes r e f e r r e d
They have high strength,
t o as "glassy metals
spectacular toughness, and excellent magnetic
properties.

6
4

1990

- zoo0

2010

SOURCE Dala Resource I n i l i l ~ l ~

151

90-CH2922-3/1/90/0000-0151 $01.00 @ 1990IEEE

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The electric power industry is


particularly interested in the metals potential for
significantly reducing core losses of
electromagnetic apparatus conventionally made with
grain oriented silicon steel. Core loss reduction
of 60% to 70% has been demonstrated relative to the
highest efficiency silicon steels and 80% to 90%
compared to older less efficient transformers in
service. Renewal of utilities distribution
transformer system and industrials substation
transformers would reduce losses nationally by over
9500 MW equivalent to over 80 billion KWHRs
annually. To date most comnercial activity has been
in distribution transformers. Recent developments
are extending application to liquid filled
substation transformers.
Amorphous metal thinness, lower space
factor, stress sensitivity toughness and brittleness
after annealing, presented challenges for making
transformers economically in mass production.
The most difficult property for
transformer manufacturers is its hardness. It is
8.8 GPA on diamond pyramid hardness scale, four to
five times harder than silicon steel. Conventional
cutting tools, even with carbide tips wear out 1000
times faster cutting amorphous than grain oriented
si1 icon steel.
Amorphous foil like thinness, .025mm VS.
silicons 2.5mm, results from the casting which
cools the metal from molten to solid state at the
rate of one million degrees per second. Rapid
cooling is critical to achieving the noncrystalline
structure responsible for ultra low losses.
Thinness combined with relatively uneven surface
results in only 80% space factor compared to 95%
for conventional technol ogy

Another apparent amorphous disadvantage


is lower magnetic saturation density than silicon
steel. Silicon steel saturates at 2.0 tesla
compared to amorphous at 1.58. This limitation,
coupled with lower space factor generally increases
the core, coil and tank size. This increase is
partially offset by need for less tank size and
cooling systems with less losses and need for
thermal dissipation.
Despite these disadvantages, and a 30%
to 40% higher first cost than silicon steel
transformers, lower total owning costs, when
considering conservation savings, makes the
amorphous transformer technol ogy a worthwhi 1 e
investment for utility and industrial power
distribution systems.
Transformer Devel oDment
Amorphous transformer technology development
relates principally to the
core of the transformer and
its higher efficiency performance over that available
from conventional silicon
steel cored transformers.
The heart of a transformer
is a core and coil assembly
which transforms electrical
power to user levels.

nn

Development of ultra efficient amorphous


metal was the basis for amorphous transformer
development

Amorphous metal R&D started in the


1960s with primary advances through the 1970s and
refinement continuing throughout the 1980s.
Primary contributors to the metals development were
Allied Signal and GE. GE recognized the commercial
potential for amorphous transformers in the mid
1970s and initiated transformer application
development in Hickory, NC in 1978. Westinghouse
and .other manufacturers have also engaged in
amorphous technology development in the past several
years.
Initial work focused on fundamental
evaluation using several small Toroidal cores and
fractional kVA models and on commercial feasibility
analysis. Technical objectives included
understanding basic materi a1 properties, transformer
design requirements and manufacturing processes.
GEs operating experience began in 1982
with installation of one 25 kVA amorphous
transformer on Duke Powers system in Hickory, NC,
followed by installation of 25 identical
transformers around the country in 1983.
Transformer construction was uncut wound core with
cruciform cross section. Coils were continuously
wound into the core window. Conventional silicon
steel transformer construction involves a wound cut
core interlaced into a coil.
Core loss performance of the initial
(26) 25kVA amorphous transformers was 40% to 50%
lower than the highest efficiency silicon steel
counterpart. To determine long term stability,
measurements were made over a two-year period. No
significant change was perceptible in core loss or
exciting current. To further establish magnetic
stability and confirm that amorphous metal would not
affect insulation system life, identical
transformers were subjected to accelerated life
tests. The insulation system was subjected to aging
corresponding to five times that specified as
minimum normal life expectancy in ANSI C57.91. The
guide is based on insulation systems that will give
20 years minimum life when operated at rated llOC
hottest spot temperature. These tests demonstrated
that amorphous metal cores are as immune to aging
and loading beyond nameplate rating as silicon steel
cores, and in turn have no deleterious effect on the
insulation system.
DesiQn Evaluation. To establish the
best design for performance as well as economical
producabil ity, GE expended major engineering and
manufacturing effort investigating critical
technical issues that could limit application of 10
candidate core design concepts. Most of the
concepts were selected because they minimized
cutting of this very hard material.

Assembly

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Basic Concevts 0 f Amorvhous Meta 1 Core Transformers

25 kVA knor%%ransfomr
Y L
~

S i 1 Icon Iron Transformer


Si 1 icon

DISTRIBUTED GAP

plnorDhous

Iron

15.4
328
.14
2.45
33
48
40
21/13

57
314
.36
2.45
40
57
40
23/14

2/10
441

5/25
406

Core Loss (W)


Load Loss (W)
Exciting Current (%)
Impedance (%)
Audible Noise (db)
Temperature Rise (OC
Short-circuit Test (XN)
Inrush Current (XN)
(Calc. O.Ol/O.l sec.)
TIF @ 100/110% Exc.
(IT/kVA)
Weight (Lbs .)

- CORE

Jable 2
g
pnd Central Louisiana Electric
Tests on Pilot ArnorDhous Transformers

v
- CORE

CRUCIFORM

P L A T E CORE

A) At Rated Voltaae
Factory
Test
10/2/85
Unit
Core
Loss Excit.
1
2
3
4
5

WYE CORE

18.3
12.8
16.7
17.2
18.6

.39
.18
.20
.21
.26

CLECO
CLECO
Test
Test
12/2/85
12/15/86
Core
Core
Loss Excit. Loss Excit.
Watts h D S

18.3
12.7
16.7
17.5
18.4

.23
.19
.19
.23
.25

18.3
12.7
16.7
17.6
18.0

.21
.19
.19
.23
.24

24.0
17.5
22.2
22.9
24.4

.71
.68
.55
.74
.87

24.0
17.8
22.2
22.7
24.8

.61
.71
.54
.69
.84

B) At 110% Rated Voltaae

1
2
3
4
5

No Test
Conducted
At Factory

COMMERCIALIZATION

TOROID

In the Spring of 1986, Amorphous


distribution transformers were made commercially
available in ratings of 25 kVA and 50 kVA. Ratings
have been extended through 1000 kVA by 1990, and are
planned through 2500 LVA. As of 1990, there are
four domestic suppliers of amorphous transformers,
GE, AB6 (Westinghouse), Howard and Kuhlman.

OCTAGON

The 10 design concepts were eventually


narrowed to three for further investigation and
performance testing and the full range of American
Standards Institute (ANSI) design tests, including
short circuit tests. After completion of analysis
of the final three, the distributed gap approach was
selected for production and installation of 1000
25 kVA pole mounted transformers in 1985.
These 1000 transformers displayed an
average of 70% lower core losses and 60% lower
exiting current than average high efficiency silicon
steel transformers. Other characteristics were a1 so
equivalent to or better than the silicon steel
alternative. (Table 1) field tests at the time of
delivery to the utilities and subsequent tests over
the next one and two years correlated very closely
with measurement at the time o f shipment from the
factory confirming stability. (Table 2)

APPLICATION TO INDUSTRIAL SUBSTATION TRANSFORMERS


Based on distribution transformers
technical and commercial performance, application of
amorphous core techno1 ogy has been i ni t i ated in
liquid fil'led substation transformers.
In 1987, eight three-phase silicon
filled amorphous substation transformers, with
ratings of 75 kVA and 150 kVA, were built for the
Navel Civil Engineering Lab (NCEL). Core losses
were approximately 75% lower than silicon steel
transformer alternative.
NCEL installed these transformers at the
Public Works Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and
have conducted annual testing. Test results are
shown in Table 3.

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Payback for the incremental investment


in amorphous vs. silicon for this 750 kVA substation
transformer was calculated to be in the range of
three to four years, after which the amorphous
transformer yields net savings for the life of the
transformer, normally over 30 years.

Three-Year Amorphous Performance Summary


at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

13-PhI# 1987 1988 1989 :hg From


Initial
Rat. Core Core Core nstall.
kVA Loss Loss Loss (XI
K-28
C-11
TC-7
PB-B91
TF-9
PB-B169
TO-10
1+3

NSC S-959
S/Y 8-393
FORD 1S.S-25E
BARPT B-91
FORD 1S.B-99
BARBPT 8-169
FORD 1S.B-181
BLDG 1166

150
150
150
150
75
75
75
150

86.6 86.5
85.6 85.2
91.6 91.6 '
87.2 87.2
47.5 47.5 '
48.3 48.3 '
51.2 51.2
86.4 86.4 '

Key variables that determine the


relative value of amorphous efficiency savings vs.
silicon alternatives are:

+2.1
-1.8
-2.2
+1.3
-0.4
-0.2
-1.7
-0.4

88.5
84.0
89.5
88.4
47.3
48.2
50.3
86.8

-Cost of power, $/KWHR and S/KW demand


-The first cost differential for the amorphous
vs. silicon transformer
In addition to benefits shown in the
above example; if the transformer is located in an
air conditioned building; additional power savings
will be realized from reduced air conditioning load.
Savings will be approximately equivalent to the
direct efficiency savings and would therefore
shorten the payback period.

NCEL also conducted a very extensive


evaluation on GE 25 kVA amorphous distribution
transformers prior to their selection of amorphous
substation transformers for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Work performed by an amorphous transformer
manufacturer other than GE, successfully verified
the re1 iabil i ty and performance of these amorphous
metal core transformers. Amorphous transformers met
or exceeded ANSI/IEEE or NEMA standards for all
tests conducted.

CORE LOSS COMPARISONS 500 kVA THROUGH 2500 kVA


Most i ndustri a1 substation transformers
in use are rated between 500 kVA and 2500 kVA. The
following table represents core loss values for
amorphous designs compared to typical designs
available now in silicon steel in high efficiency
and standard efficiency. Most transformers now in
service are standard efficiency.

Based on test results, NCEL concluded


that "it is reasonable to expect that the amorphous
metal core transformers will operate with equal or
better reliability than the silicon steel
transformerslover the nominal lifetime of a
transformer.

TYDiCal Core Loss CmDari son for knorDhOUS vs.


Si 1 icon Steel Industrial Transformers Watts)

In 1990, the first 750 kVA amorphous


substation transformers were installed at GE's Rome,
GA Plant to replace a high loss PCB filled silicon
steel transformer. Real -time power measurement was
added to show power saved compared to the replaced
transformer. The decision to install amorphous
rather than a new higher efficiency silicon steel
transformer was based on total owning cost of
amorphous vs. silicon steel alternatives. The chart
below outlines the analysis on which the decision
was based. Costs for amorphous and silicon steel
alternatives are assumed at typical price levels to
the market.

Losses CWl

Annual (1)
0Der.Cost
50% 100%

Amorphous $23000 325 4975 -0- -0Silicon $17000 1900 7000 1463 1953
(1)

(2)

500
750
1000
1500
2000
2500

225
325
400
570
665
825

1200
1600
1800
1900
2300
2600

1200
1970
2120
3035
3960
4790

65%

100%

REALIZATION OF AMORPHOUS BENEFITS


Most industrial owners of transformers
have not seriously considered the impact of electric
power cost on productivity. In many cases, this is
because contractors make the choice, lowest first
cost, resulting in highest contractor margin. In
cases where industrials make the choice, decision
priority is on higher cost elements of the system
with little thought given to operating cost relative
to power distribution efficiency.

Payback
lYearsl(22

loox

4.1

Amorphous

Typical Relative
Losses (X)
18%

750 kVA Substation Transformer


AmOrDhOUS Metal vs. Silicon Steel Core

Price NL LL

kVA Rating

Silicon Steel
New Std. Eff. &
New Hi Eff
In-service

3.1

Operating Cost Calculations based on:


Cost per KWR. $0.05524
Demand Charge: $4.87/KW

The key to realizing benefits from


amorphous efficiency is to recognize the total cost
equation, not just first cost. This requires:

50% & 100% represents % average duty at full


load. Values shown are delta operating cost
vs. amorphous operating cost.

1.

Payback is calculated by dividing the price


delta between amorphous and si1 icon
transformer by the silicon operating cost
disadvantage.

Taking the decision


hands by specifying
criteria other than
lowest total owning

2.

Evaluating the current and future cost of


power in the geographic area of interest.

154

out of the contractors'


economic performance
price, criteria based on
cost/highest productivity.

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3.

4.

Evaluating future power requirements and need


for replacing existing transformers for any
reason; or adding additional transformers.
Evaluating additional benefits from reduced
air conditioning based on less transformer
heat dissipation.

5.

Comparing the total owning (price + operating


cost) over the life of the transformer (30
years +).

6.

Consider the environmental benefits of no


emissions associated with stretching
generating capacity and burning less fuel.

References
C. J. McMillen, "Amorphous Metal Cored Distribution
Transformers", presented at the Minnesota Power
Systems Conference, St. Paul, MN, October 8, 1986.
M. P. Sampat and L. A. Lowdermilk, "Amorphous Metal
Distribution Transformer Technology Development at
General Electric Co., USA", presented at
International Conference in Transformers, New Delhi,
India, November 15-16, 1988.
L. A. 'Lowdermilk and A. C. Lee, "Five Years
Operating Experience with Amorphoys Transformers",
presented at ASM Materials Week, 87, Cincinnati,
OH, October 10-15, 1987.

CONCLUSION

A. C. Lee, "Field
Performance ;f Amorphous Metal Cored Distribution
Transformers , Proceedings of the 1985 International
Conference on Magnetism, Vol. 54-57 (1986) pp.
1618-20.
D. J. Bailey, L. A. Lowdermilk and

Amorphous transformers have a role in


the equation of industrial productivity improvement.
Each industrial user must make an independent
assessment. Some will derive greater benefits than
others. Most will realize some benefits. Benefits
are considered to be greatest in: 1) areas with
high electricity costs; 2) when transformer
replacement is happening for PCB removal or other
reasons; 3) when a new plant is being constructed;
4) where transformers are inside and create an added
air-conditioning load; 5) where transformers
experience seasonal loads or extended low duty cycle
and; 6) when overall economics justify replacing
existing transformers for efficiency, reliability
and other reasons.
Application of amorphous technology can
help keep industrial systems competitive in the
world environment.

A. C. Lee, L. A. Lowdermilk and H. U. Ng, "Field


Performance of 1000 EPRI porphous Metal Core
Distribution Transformers , presented at 1989 IEEE
Transmission and Distribution Conference, New
Orleans, LA, April 2-7, 1989.
P. M. Curran "Metglas Alloy for Distribution
Transformer Cover", July 26, 1988, IEEE Power
Engineering Society Meeting.
J. Franchi : "Field Performance of Three-phase
Amorphous Metal Core Distribution Transformers at
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii", April 1990 (ANCEL report - to
be pub1 i shed).
iransmission & Distribution Viewpoint April 1989,
Navy Verifies,,Low No-Load Loss on Three-phase
Amorphous Core .
Navy - Domestic Technology Transfer, October '88
Low-Loss Amorphous Transformers Tested

G. V. Urata and J. 0. Franchi "25 kVA Amorphous


Metal-Core Transformer Developmental Test Report",
Navel Civil Engineering Laboratory, Port Hueneme, CA
93043-5003, Report UTN-1801, August 1989.

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