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Article Monitoring Moisture... English

Article Monitoring Moisture... English

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Monitoring of Moisture Migration in Power Transformers

Jacques Aubin, GE Syprotec, Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada Pierre Gervais, Hydro-Quebec, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Introduction The importance of moisture management in power transformer is well recognized. Traditionally, the dryness of transformers in service has been assessed by periodic measurements of the water content in the insulating oil. This information can be used to assess the moisture content of insulating paper. Excessive moisture in the solid and liquid insulation can significantly reduce the dielectric strength and partial discharge inception level. The effect of moisture on insulation aging has been well documented. It has also been demonstrated that at high temperatures, the residual moisture in winding insulation can trigger the release of free gas bubbles, thus creating an immediate threat to the dielectric integrity of the insulation structure. These factors explain well the persistent effort to improve the determination of the moisture content in the transformer solid insulation. Moisture in Oil The traditional method of moisture monitoring calls for oil sampling at regular intervals. The oil sample is usually processed using a Karl Fischer titration method that provides the total water content in the oil in ppm. Alternatively, the moisture content can be assessed as relative content in regard to the saturation value. One problem with periodic sampling is that the moisture content can vary significantly with the load and the resulting winding temperature. This is illustrated in Figure 1 where the relative moisture content of a 25-MVA transformer is shown before and after removal from service. This transformer is an old, watercooled generating station unit.

100 90 80 Oil Temperature, RH% 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 5 10 Days 15 20

Oil Temperature

Relative Humidity

Figure 1 - Relative Moisture Content Before and After Removal From Service

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

1

Under full load, the relative saturation is 83 %, with the oil temperature in the sensor being 43 °C. At the end of day 3, the unit is removed from service. Some 15 days later, the relative saturation is nearly stabilized at 30 % with an oil temperature of 35 °C. Oil samples submitted to Karl Fisher titration indicate 80 and 32 ppm respectively for these two conditions. Although this transformer can definitely be classified as “wet”, discrete measurements showing such large variation can make it difficult to establish a dependable value for the water content of insulating paper. It can be seen from this graph that a new equilibrium can take many weeks to be established. The measured relative saturation is closely related to the oil temperature in the sensor. At full load, the oil is in circulation and it can be assumed to be homogeneous. This assumption is valid in normal operation because the oil circulation is much faster than moisture transfer, so the absolute water content of the oil (in ppm) can be assumed to be the same through the circulating oil. Therefore the relative saturation can be determined for any oil temperature within the transformer. The oil saturation characteristics are shown in Figure 2. This relation is characteristic of Voltesso 35 but the slope is practically the same for any oil. On this graph, the x axis is 1000/T and the y axis is the log of the moisture content. On such a graph, the oil relative humidity versus temperature is a straight line. If the oil characteristics are not known, the line can be traced from two measurements of the same oil at two different temperatures. When the moisture content of the oil changes, the characteristic line is displaced but remains parallel to the original one. Thus when the oil is characterized by a specific slope, a single measurement suffices.

100 Relative Moisture Saturation (%) 50

100
Oil relative saturation at winding hot spot: 22 %

10 5

10 5

Water-in-oil condensation: 41 °C

1

-40

-20

0

20

40

60

80

100

120

1

Temperature (°C)
Figure 2 - Oil Relative Humidity Versus Temperature

From this graph, it is possible to see at once the temperature that will lead to water condensation in case of sudden cooling of the transformer under cold ambient temperature. In the example shown in Figure 1 for a wet transformer, the extrapolated value for 100 % saturation is 41 °C. From this graph it is also possible to find the relative humidity at any oil temperature. In the transformer referred to in Figure 1, the hot-spot temperature at full load can be evaluated at 85 °C. It can be assumed that the oil in contact with insulating paper is at the same temperature as the surface paper and in moisture
© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved 2

equilibrium with it. At 85 °C, the relative humidity of the oil in contact with paper is 22 %. This function is implemented in the GE Syprotec’s FARADAY™ TMCS™. Thus with a single measurement of the relative saturation and temperature, it is possible to calculate the relative oil saturation at any temperature. Moisture in Paper Under Steady-State Conditions If stable conditions have been reached, i.e. no significant exchange of water taking place between the oil and paper, then oil-paper partition curves can be applied. The moisture equilibrium curve developed by Oommen(1) is shown in Figure 3. This curve is applicable for thermally-stable conditions and allows to convert the relative humidity of the oil to moisture content in the solid insulation.

14 Moisture content of paper (% by dry weight)

12

0 °C

10

20 °C 40 °C

8

6

60 °C 80 °C 120 °C

4

2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Relative oil saturation (%)

Figure 3 - Equilibrium Curve for Moisture Partition Between Oil and Paper

Moisture in Paper Under Transient Conditions In a transformer submitted to variable load and variable ambient temperatures, the assessment of moisture content of the paper from the moisture content of the oil is a challenge. Pressboard and paper are hydrophilic materials that tend to absorb all the water available, while the oil being hydrophobic only carries traces. Moreover the saturation characteristics of the oil and paper are evolving in opposite directions in regard to temperature (hot oil can carry more water than cold oil and the reverse is true for paper). Moisture partition curves can be used to determine the moisture content of the paper from the moisture content of the oil. However these relations can be applied only when the transformer has been under steady temperature conditions for some time. Such conditions are never truly met on a transformer in service but quasi-steady conditions can be achieved. To this effect, a method developed by Sokolov(2) can be used to determine approximately the amount of water in the main insulation. It is reported that if a transformer is operating at a top-oil temperature between 60 and 70 °C for a period of three days, the rate of moisture transfer is low enough to indicate that a state close to equilibrium has been reached. The relative saturation of water in oil is then used to calculate the moisture content of the solid insulation.
© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved 3

A modelization of the transient behavior of moisture migration would be tempting, but the mechanisms of adsorption and desorption are complex in themselves and further complicated by the architecture of the transformer insulation. A small proportion of the solid insulation is thin and well irrigated by insulating oil while the major component is thick insulation, not always in direct contact with circulating oil. Oommen(3) has shown that for a 500-kVA distribution transformer submitted to a sudden load increase, the time to equilibrium is in the order of a few days during desorption and a few weeks during adsorption. On samples of high-voltage windings, Azizian(4) and Davydov(5) have also found large differences in the time to equilibrium depending whether the paper is releasing moisture into the oil or absorbing this moisture. It can also be shown that the migration phenomenon cannot be modelized with simple exponential functions, even if a variable time constant is introduced. Considering the complexity of the adsorption/desorption phenomenon and the complex structure of transformer insulation, it is not to be expected that the dynamic behavior of moisture migration can be modelized in a practical way for on-line monitoring. The solution of moisture migration monitoring is to be attempted by making use of periods of quasi-stability occurring naturally and by introducing some simplifications to the problem. The Concern Is the Thin Insulation In a transformer, most of the water is stored in the bulk insulation material making up the dielectric insulation between windings. This main insulation accounts for more than 90 % of the solid insulation weight. The equilibrium conditions between this insulation and the surrounding oil are difficult to achieve due to the very long time constant in these thick cellulose components. Moreover some sections of the insulation structure may not have access to the circulating oil, thus hampering further the moisture transfer. Fortunately the insulation of most interest is the turn insulation within the windings. This insulation is made of thin material and well irrigated by the insulating oil. It is also the insulation component that will be affected by thermal aging and this is where the bubbling may occur under high overload conditions. Therefore it is acceptable that calculations of moisture in paper be limited to the paper in the hottest part of the winding. Accuracy Is Needed Only at High Temperatures The effect of moisture on insulation aging is significant. The aging rate for cellulose is approximately proportional to the amount of water in it(6). This simply means that going from 0.5 % moisture to 1.0 % accelerates the aging rate by two. The reference moisture level typical of material samples used in aging tests is 0.2 to 0.3 % by weight. In a practical transformer in service, it is more reasonable to use 0.5 or 1 % as the reference for normal aging rate. However the hot-spot temperature remains the prime aging factor and it decreases exponentially with temperature. Therefore, the accuracy on moisture content is important mainly at high temperatures because it is multiplied by a large thermal aging acceleration factor. At low temperatures the aging is very low anyhow, and the accuracy of the moisture calculation has no significant effect on overall aging. The risk of free gas bubbles being released is also a concern limited to high-temperature conditions. It has been shown that at high temperatures, the residual moisture in the insulation paper can lead to the release of free gas bubbles. This situation is to be avoided at any rate since it constitutes a major threat to insulation integrity. Gas bubbles occurring in highly-stressed areas can lead to dielectric breakdown of the main insulation. A simplified relation between moisture content and bubble inception temperature is shown in Figure 4. These investigations led by McNutt (7) and later confirmed by Oommen(8) and Davydov (9) indicate that for a “wet” transformer with a 5 % moisture content in paper, the bubbling temperature is around 100 °C, while for a dry transformer with 0.5 % moisture the bubbling temperature is above 180 °C. Therefore it is reasonable to focus on accuracy at high temperatures and to accept a larger margin of error at low temperatures where the moisture content of paper has no immediate consequences.

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

4

200 180 Bubble inception temperature (°C)
Davydov et al.(9)

160 140 120 100 80
Oommen et al.(8)

60 40 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Moisture content in paper (%)

Figure 4 - Critical Temperature for Bubble Evolution

Diffusion Time for Thin Insulation at High Temperatures Not too many data are available yet to assess the diffusion time constant for winding insulation. A short collection of published data(10) is presented in Figure 5 for test object simulating high-voltage windings. The time constant is defined as the time required to reach 63 % of equilibrium when submitted to a step variation in temperature. Theoretical diffusion time constants for thin insulation material have also been proposed in the literature and they are also plotted in Figure 5. Until further experimental work sheds additional light on the diffusion time constant of real transformer windings insulation, we can use the approximate function shown on Figure 3 as a dotted line. This is the function used in the FARADAY™ TMCS™ to characterize the diffusion time constant of winding insulation in the hot-spot area. It can be noted that experimental references always refer to the desorption phase (paper moisture being released in the oil). For the cooling-down period the absorption process is known to be much longer, but insufficient data is available to assess the applicable time constant. For cooling-down periods, utilization of a shorter time constant is a conservative approach since it assumes that the winding insulation is picking up water at a rate faster than in reality.

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

5

140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 1 10 100 1000

Davydov et al.(5) (winding model) Davydov et al. Griffin
(11) (5)

(pressboard)
(2)

(insulated conductor) (full-size transformer)

Sokolov and Vanin

Temperature (°C)

Oommen(3) (distribution transformer) Du et al.(12) (theoretical) Von Guggenberg(13) (theoretical) Sokolov et al.
(14)

(theoretical)

FARADAY™ Model approximation

10000

Diffusion time constant (hours)
Figure 5 - Theoretical and Experimental Diffusion Time Constant on Thin Insulation Material

Practical Approach for Moisture-in-Paper On-Line Monitoring The FARADAY™ TMCS™ comprises a moisture analysis model that provides continuous monitoring of the water condensation temperature, moisture content of insulation paper and bubbling inception temperature. The model for the assessment of moisture content in winding insulation paper is based on analysis of the following historical data: • Relative humidity in the oil • Humidity sensor temperature • Top-oil temperature • Load current The model is executed in the sequence outlined in Figure 6. The hot-spot temperature is computed from the oil temperature, load current and transformer characteristics. If the hot-spot temperature is below 80 °C, no further calculations are made and the moisture content in paper is assumed to be unchanged from the last calculated value. If the hot-spot temperature is equal to or above 80 °C, the following parameters are averaged over the stability period: • Average hot-spot temperature • Average moisture content in oil • Average sensor temperature From these values is computed the relative humidity of the oil in contact with winding insulation at the hotspot temperature. Oil-paper partition curves are then applied to convert the relative humidity in oil to moisture content in solid insulation. The calculated value of moisture content in the insulation paper is used to update a register where a default value is kept. This default value is to be used if the hot-spot temperature and thermal stability do not allow for application of equilibrium curves.

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

6

Top oil temperature

Load current

% R.H.

°C

Moisture-in-Paper Model Calculate average values for the computation period • Moisture content in oil • Moisture sensor temperature • Hot-spot temperature Calculate moisture content in oil at the hot-spot temperature Calculate moisture content in paper

Refresh default value of moisture content in paper

Aging Acceleration Model Bubbling Model

Condensation temperature

Bubbling temperature

Aging acceleration factor

Figure 6 - Moisture Management Model

Conclusions The water content in transformer oil can be monitored on-line with a relative-humidity sensor such as GE Syprotec’s AQUAOIL™ 300. This information leads easily to the water condensation temperature. The relative humidity of the oil in contact with the winding insulation can also be inferred from the relative saturation characteristics. In order to assess the moisture content of the solid insulation, some compromises need to be made to deal with the difficult dynamic pattern of moisture migration between paper and oil. It appears reasonable to focus on the thin winding insulation paper and disregard the bulk insulation where most of the water is hiding. The main concerns with moisture in paper are accelerated aging and risk of bubbling. These detrimental effects are to be feared only in the winding insulation and only at high temperatures. It is therefore sufficient to limit the accurate assessment of moisture content to the condition of high hot-spot temperature.

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

7

Taking advantage of these two simplifications, it is possible to apply on-line condition monitoring systems to identify quasi-steady hot-spot temperature conditions that allow for the assessment of the moisture content in insulation paper in the most critical operating conditions.

References 1. T.V. Oommen “Moisture Equilibrium in Paper-Oil Insulation Systems” Proc. Electrical Insulation Conference, Chicago, October 1983 V. Sokolov and B. Vanin “In-Service Assessment of Water Content in Power Transformers” Doble Client Conference, Boston, May 1995 T.V. Oommen “On-Line Moisture Sensing in Transformers” Proceeding of the 20th Electrical/Electronic Insulation Conference, Boston, October 1991 H. Azizian, J.A. Proskurnicki and J.G. Lackey “Relative Saturation Versus Moisture Content of Insulating Oil and its Application in Monitoring Electrical Equipment” Doble Client Conference, Boston, 1995 V.G. Davydov, O.M. Roizman and W.J. Bonwick “Evaluation of Water Content in Transformer Insulation Systems” EPRI Substation Equipment Diagnostic Conference VI, New Orleans, February 1998 IEEE Standard C57.91-1995 “IEEE Guide for Loading Mineral-Oil-Immersed Transformers” W.J. McNutt, G.H. Kaufmann, A.P. Vitols and J.D. MacDonald “Short-Time Failure Mode Considerations Associated With Power Transformer Overloading” IEEE Trans. PAS, Vol. PAS-99, No. 3, May/June 1980 T.V. Oommen, E.M. Petrie and S.R. Lindgren “Bubble Generation in Transformer Windings Under Overload Conditions” Doble Client Conference, Boston, 1995 V.G. Davydov, O.M. Roizman andW.J. Bonwick “Transformer Insulation Behavior During Overload” EPRI Substation Equipment Diagnostic Conference V, New Orleans, February 1997

2.

3.

4.

5.

6. 7.

8.

9.

10. B. Noirhomme, B. Sparling, J. Aubin and P. Gervais “A Practical Method for the Continuous Monitoring of Water Content in Transformer Solid Insulation” EPRI Substation Equipment Diagnostic Conference V, New Orleans, February 2000 11. P.J. Griffin “Water in Transformers – So What!” Doble Client Conference, Boston, May 1997 12. Y. Du, M. Zahn, B.C. Lesieutre, A.V. Mamishev and S.R. Lindgren “Moisture Equilibrium in Transformer Paper-Oil Systems” IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, January/February 1999 13. P.A. Von Guggenberg “Discussion of Sokolov and Vanin Paper” (Ref. 2) Doble Client Conference, Boston, May 1995 14. V. Sokolov, P. Griffin and B. Vanin “Moisture Equilibrium and Moisture Migration Within Transformer Insulation System” Doble Client Conference, Boston, May 1999

© Copyright GE Syprotec Inc. December 2000. All Rights Reserved

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