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IMTC 2006 Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference Sorrento, Italy 24-27 April 2006

Application of an Optical Temperature Measurement System on ZnO Surge Arrester Experiments

Tarso Vilela Ferreira, Edson Guedes da Costa, Max G. G. Neri and Estcio T. W. Neto.
Department of Electrical Engineering, Federal University of Campina Grande. 882 Aprgio Veloso Avenue, Campina Grande, PB, 58109-970, Brazil. Phone: +55-83-3310-1303, Fax: +55-83-3310-1418, Email:
Abstract This paper describes the application of a Bragg grating optical thermometer on ZnO surge arrester high voltage experiments. Further on, some experiments results used to validate software simulation are discussed. Keywords ZnO surge arresters, Bragg gratings, Temperature, Measurement, High voltage.

I. INTRODUCTION A surge arrester is a protective device for limiting surge voltages on equipment by discharging or bypassing surge current. Surge arresters allow only minimal flow of the 60-hertz-power current to ground. After the high-frequency lightning surge current has been discharged, a surge arrester, correctly applied, will be capable of repeating its protective function until another surge voltage must be discharged. The surge arresters importance, especially the zinc oxide (ZnO) arresters, in the electrical systems is unquestionable, considering the protection they provide to generation, transmission and distribution equipments, when overvoltages occur. These overvoltages are generated by atmospheric discharges or switching operations [1]. Electrical systems can suffer overvoltages of up to five times nominal voltage. In case the surge arresters were not installed, the protected equipments would need isolation enough to support the overvoltages without damaging [2]. They are connected between each phase conductor and earth, in all the systems external accesses. If the protected system is a power substation, the arresters will be installed in all the incoming and outcoming power lines, in such a way that, if a surge is generated outside the power substation and leads to it, the first equipment the surge will find is the arrester, as shown in Fig 1.

In normal conditions of operation, ZnO surge arresters present a small leakage current to earth. When a surge occurs and an overvoltage is present on its terminals, due to its high non-linear current tension relation, the resistance between the arrester terminals becomes very small. A high intensity current circulates by the arrester, provoking a voltage dump, which protects the other equipments from overvoltage. The arrester consists of a stack of nonlinear resistive blocks known as varistors. The stack is placed inside a sealed polymeric or porcelain housing so that it is not affected by moisture or pollution. The housing provides the external insulation for the varistor stack and allows the outdoor installation of the surge arrester. The thermal parameters collected in ZnO surge arrester experiments are directly proportional to the Joule effect wasted energy, due to varistor tablets conduction. Besides reflecting the current level that circulates in the equipment, located gradients of temperature can denounce some defects. Figure 2 shows a porcelain housed arresters basic structure [4].

Fig. 2. Porcelain arresters basic structure.

II. PROBLEM DEFINITION The arresters thermodynamic behaviour is the focus of the experiments, and will be used to validate software heat propagation simulations on ZnO surge arresters. Initially, the used methodology employed electronic thermometers based on thermocouples for the temperature measurement in the interest points. However, the electronic circuits had stability problems when immersed in the very intense electromagnetic

Fig. 1. Surge arresters installation position [3].

0-7803-9360-0/06/$20.00 2006 IEEE


fields, especially when the applied voltage is above 70 kV. In these occasions the thermometers presented oscillatory or unreal values, and sometimes were permanently damaged. Another temperature measurement technique was necessary, and it should be immune to intense electromagnetic fields. After considering some possibilities, the fiber optics based thermometer has shown itself as a great option. Amongst these thermometers, the most trustworthy and accessible nowadays are based on Bragg gratings. The main reasons for using fiber optics as sensors are their characteristics as low weight, flexibility, long distance of transmission, low reactivity of the material, electric isolation and electromagnetic immunity [5]. Today, optic sensors are still more expensive than conventional sensors. On the other hand, they present innumerable attractive advantages for some applications where traditional technologies are not efficient [6]. Fiber Bragg gratings are spectral filters fabricated within segments of optical fiber. They typically reflect light over a narrow wavelength range and transmit all other wavelengths. These accurate spectral filters are composed by very small slits spaced at equal intervals apart and are detected through the wavelength of light as a timed function. The grating reflects the wavelength B that satisfies the first order Bragg condition for normal incidence:

The great feature in Bragg gratings used as sensor is the fact that information is contained in the spectrum, and can be easily measured or multiplexed [8]. Fig. 3 shows the spectrums (incident, reflected and transmitted) on a Bragg grating. III. METHODOLOGY The optical thermometer used in the experiments is the OIS-106, developed and assembled by Gvea Sensors, a Brazilian company which deals with optical sensors development and application. An OIS-106 frontal panels photograph is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4. OIS-106 frontal panel.

B = 2n


The optical thermometer was connected via USB interface to a personal computer (PC), where all the acquired data was stored. The OIS-106 simplified block diagram is shows in Fig. 5.

where is the grating period and n is the effective refractive index of the fundamental mode of the fiber (core) at the free space centre wavelength [7]. The Bragg gratings sensitivity exists because B can be modified by mechanical efforts, which modify the regularity of the structure, or by temperature changes, which modifies the refractive index, n. These dependences can be summarized, in an approached linear form:

Fig. 5. OIS-106 simplified block diagram.

B / B = 9 10 6 T + 0,78


where T is the temperature variation, in C, and represents the deformation, in m/m.

The fiber sensors were placed in the five surge arresters interest points, which were inside the porcelain housing, as varistors, spacers (metal blocks between two sets of varistors) and the internal porcelain itself. The fibers have passed through the porcelain by small orifices. Fig. 6 shows the sensors arrangement inside the surge arrester.

Fig. 3. Incident, reflected and transmitted spectrums.

Fig. 6. Sensors arrangement inside the arrester [9].


The used surge arrester was a Siemens 3EP, designed for 85 kV (60 kV RMS). The initial applied voltage was 75 kV, during about half an hour, so the arrester could reach its steady state temperature. After this, the voltage was raised to 85 kV. Fig. 7 shows the voltage evolution during the test.
88,0 Applied voltage (kV) 86,0 84,0 82,0 80,0 78,0 76,0 74,0 72,0 70,0

and measured with conventional electronic thermometers. Fig. 6 shows the temperature curves for each optical sensor.

:5 5

:4 5

:5 0

:3 0

:4 0

:0 0

:1 0

:0 5

:1 5

:3 5

:2 0

:2 5















:3 0

:3 5

Time (Hours)

Time (hours)

Fig. 7. Peak voltage evolution during the test.

Fig. 6. Resulting temperature curves.

The overvoltage was applied for 40 minutes, and then, the voltage was reduced to zero. When the overvoltage was applied, the arresters current was increased, and so was its temperature. During all the test time, the thermometer was online and registering the temperatures behavior in the five interest points. The electrical values applied during the experiment are shown on Table I.
Table I. Electrical values applied during experiment.
Time 10:30 10:35 10:40 10:45 10:50 10:55 11:00 11:05 11:10 11:15 11:20 11:25 11:30 11:35 Voltage (kV/ 2 ) 74,224 75,046 73,886 73,354 74,176 73,789 83,847 84,137 85,104 84,959 85,539 84,282 85,201 84,089 Current (A) 1,482 1,473 1,500 1,476 1,461 1,473 4,651 4,835 4,974 5,511 5,608 5,448 5,870 6,091 Resistive Power (W) 48,459 48,507 49,160 48,629 48,427 48,635 150,023 154,367 160,757 176,159 180,593 175,815 189,860 197,954

As the time pass, the whole arresters temperature shall lead to ambience temperature. In the end of tests, the varistors and spacer curves were converging to the same temperature (about 25C). Varistor 1, has a faster heating because of its exposure to higher voltage levels. On the other hand, it has a faster cooling because of its proximity to the top flange, which easily drains the heat to the ambience. The other watched varistors and spacer didnt have this behavior because of their arrangement inside the arrester. The porcelain has lower heat conductivity and larger mass, so its curve has a time delay when compared to others, and a lower peak. This results shows the temperature measuring systems coherence, still the heating and cooling behavior for each sensor depends on the place it has been placed. The results were satisfactory for a first test, and the optical thermometer has show a good potential in high voltage applications. ACKNOWLEDGMENT Authors of this paper wish to present their gratitude to Chesf and Aneel for financial support provided. REFERENCES
[1] R. S. Nbrega, Modelo Eletrotrmico de um Pra-raios de xido de Zinco, Dissertao de Mestrado, Departamento de Engenharia Eltrica, UFCG, Campina Grande, PB, 2004. V. Hinrichsen, Metal-Oxide surge arresters fundamentals. Berlim, 2001. E. G. Costa, Anlise do Desempenho de Pra-Raios de xido de Zinco, Tese de doutorado, Departamento de Engenharia Mecnica, UFCG, Campina Grande, PB, 1999. T. Vilela. Ferreira, Aplicao de um Sistema ptico de Medio de Temperatura a Ensaio de Alta Tenso com Pra-raios de xido de Zinco, Trabalho de Concluso de Curso, Departamento de Engenharia Eltrica, UFCG, Campina Grande, PB, 2005.

The resultant curves were used to validate software heat propagation simulations on ZnO surge arresters. IV. RESULTS The ZnO surge arresters heating and cooling curves had the expected shape and behavior, when measured by the optical thermometer. The results were compared to other ZnO surge arresters test results, made in lower voltage levels






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