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Advantages of Shell Form Transformers

These advantages can be summarized as follows:

• High short-circuit withstand capability. The shell-form transformer is a mechanically

strong design for a transformer, with the coils arranged vertically and completely
surrounded on all sides by the iron core. The tank of the shell-form transformer is a
“form-fit design” that fits just over the core, creating a very strong reinforcement against
possible coil movement. This helps the transformer to withstand the high mechanical
forces that are experienced during an external short-circuit condition. Also, the coils are
arranged in alternating groups of high voltage and low voltage windings, referred to as
an interleaved arrangement. This allows the short-circuit forces of the high and low
voltage windings to act in opposing directions, thus partially canceling each other out
and further increasing the short-circuit withstand capability of the transformer. For a
shell-form transformer, as the transformer capacity increases, the size of each coil is
kept similar, but more numbers of high and low voltage coil groups are added, which
reduces the ampere-turns per winding group. This keeps the short-circuit force inside
the transformer relatively constant even for very large capacity units.

• High mechanical strength. The strong design of the shell-form transformer also has
other benefits besides short-circuit withstand strength. The shell-form transformer also
has high seismic withstand strength. Along with seismic strength, the shell-form
transformer can also withstand the demands of transportation by various means,
including ocean vessels and railroads. This allows the transformer to remain intact
during shipping, without the need for internal shipping braces. Shell-form transformers
can even be shipped laid on their sides for instances where the inland transportation
dimensional limitations are severe.

• High dielectric strength. The shell-form winding design can achieve a very high
dielectric strength against impulse voltage due to the design of the windings and
insulation structure. In general, the number of coils in a shell-form transformer is
relatively low and the surface area of each coil is large. This creates a large
capacitance between the coils and a low capacitance to ground. This allows for the
surge distribution across the winding to be almost uniform, with no oscillations. The
static plate located on the line end of each winding also enhances the surge voltage
distribution and plays an important role in smoothing the steep front of the impulse
wave. The oil-immersed transformer insulation system generally consists of special
paper and pressboard materials immersed in oil that provide insulation for the copper
conductors and other internal parts of the transformer. In shell-form transformers, these
pressboard materials that surround the coils subdivide the oil insulation into many small
gaps. The oil impregnated pressboard materials have a much higher dielectric strength
than the oil gaps. This insulation design leads to a very high dielectric strength. In
shell-form transformers, the coils and solid insulation are also easily arranged along
equipotential lines, providing a high dielectric strength against insulation breakdown.
Due to this arrangement, insulation breakdown cannot develop unless the solid
insulation is punctured. And from the insulation structure of shell-form transformers, for
a discharge to break down the insulation and cause an internal fault in the transformers
it must puncture several layers of this pressboard material. This provides a highly
reliable insulation system. For these reasons, shell-form transformers offer an
advantage for extra high voltage applications.

• Excellent control of leakage magnetic flux. The shell-form transformer provides for
excellent control of leakage magnetic flux to prevent against local heating inside the
transformer. The coil windings are almost completely surrounded by the iron core,
which absorbs most of the leakage flux from the windings. Additional tank shield areas
are added to further eliminate leakage flux. Also, the wire size of each coil can be
selected flexibly, depending on the leakage flux in the windings, to prevent from local
heating in the winding itself. Similar core-form designs cannot freely select the wire size
of each coil, due to their continuous winding construction. This may lead to the
possibility of local heating in the winding of core-form transformers.

• Efficient cooling capability. Shell-form transformers have an efficient cooling

capability due the vertically arranged pancake coils. This allows the oil to easily flow
across the entire coil surface and cool the transformer. The form-fit design also directs
almost all of the oil flow over the coil surfaces, eliminating oil flow to unnecessary areas
inside the transformer. This efficient cooling allows for a lower hot spot temperature vs.
the average winding temperature when compared with a core-form design. This allows
for longer life of the insulation system and also provides greater ability to handle short
term overloading.

• Flexible design. The shell-form interleaved high and low voltage winding group
arrangement allows for flexible design of the transformer to meet virtually any
requirement. The impedance between windings can easily be adjusted, which allows
for easy parallel operation with any other transformer, even other core-form
transformers. It is also easy to lead out taps from any winding, due to the interleaved
arrangement of the coils, which makes it easier to design and manufacture transformers
with tap changers. It is also easy to build coils of high current capacity, which makes
shell-form designs especially suitable for transformers of ultra-large current capacity.

• Compact size. Due to the form-fit construction of the shell-form transformer,

unnecessary oil volume in the transformer tank is eliminated. The oil volume of a shell-
form transformer is generally approximately 40% less than a comparable core-form
transformer. This also provides for a compact transformer with a compact footprint.
Thus for cases where an existing shell-form transformer must be replaced with a new
one, the new shell-form transformer can easily fit to the existing foundation. Sometimes
core-form transformers cannot easily fit onto existing shell-form transformer foundations
and also, the increased oil volume of the core-form unit may require the existing oil
containment facilities to be increased to handle the extra oil volume, which can greatly
add to the cost, duration and complexity of the installation work.

• Highly Reliable Design. All of the above advantages combine to provide a transformer
design with a very high degree of reliability and robustness, even in the most severe of
operating environments.