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A Solution for Maintenance of Power Transformer Operating

Under Frequent Overloads
Jean-Claude Duart
DuPont de Nemours International S.A., Geneva-Switzerland

David J. Woodcock
Weidmann Systems International Inc, Lyndonville, VT-USA

Keywords Overload management - uprating - transformer useful life - hybrid insulation - maintenance
- modernisation - economics - contingency load

Abstract Changes in the way utilities manage their transmission and distribution assets, as well as
increases in peak load demand, has led to the need to subject more and more substation transformers
to overload conditions. This paper will present the concept of utilizing a high temperature insulation
system, also called a hybrid insulation system, as a way for enhancing the performance and load
capability during the transformer repair process.

Hybrid insulation systems are becoming more common, particularly in the transformer repair industry, as
they provide an opportunity to add load capability and reliability to failed units. The high dependence of
electrical properties of cellulose on its moisture content, the mechanical behaviour under compression,
the reduced life expectancy at hot spot temperatures (140°C to 160°C is generally accepted for overload
conditions), the water generation as it ages (reducing oil quality) and the gas creation are discussed in
this technical paper.

The availability of insulation materials with both improved temperature and dielectric properties, has
allowed transformer manufacturers to replace the cellulose in the transformer windings. New
applications like traction transformers, mobile units or rectifiers have extensively used this high power-
density advantage. In the case of re-engineering failed or under-utilized transformer, significant
improvements can be made to the existing design when utilizing the same core dimensions. By taking
advantage of properties of high temperature insulating materials, the windings of such
units can be redesigned to allow an increase in average winding rise. In so doing, the normal and
overload capability of the transformer can be significantly increased. In addition, reduced load losses
can be achieved resulting in cooler windings at existing load levels.

The repair unit's windings can be redesigned to include more active material, thereby making better use
of the available space within the core window. The typical transformer is then designed with a 95 K
winding rise and a 105°C maximum top oil temperature. Depending on the original design, the power
rating can usually be increased 20% to 100%, with 50% being an average value. Increased capacity,
enhanced system flexibility in loading, reduced losses and improved reliability are all key advantages for
this concept, which has been applied in more than two hundred rebuilt transformers around the world.
Examples of rebuilt transformers will be presented with some of the economical aspects. High
contingency of load capability, with minimal loss of insulation life, will also be discussed.

IEEE P.E.S. Transformers Committee in the USA established a Working Group to investigate what
standards or guides could be formulated. A Trial Use Guide for the application of high temperature
insulation materials in liquid immersed power transformers has been issued and it was confirmed last
year as a full standard. This guide provides information guidelines for applying existing qualified high
temperature materials to insulation systems suitable for high temperature liquid immersed power
transformers. It also gives recommendations regarding the loading of high temperature liquid immersed
power transformers and technical information for insulation system temperature rating and test
procedures for qualifying new high temperature materials as they become available. These points will be
detailed in the paper.

This gradual increase in temperature has the effect of reducing the peak load insulation life by approximately a factor of 8 [6]. deferred capital expenditure and reduced maintenance expense are all a part of the guidelines for today's T & D asset strategists and managers. Obviously system growth is uneven and regionally skewed toward the South and Western USA. Increased Demand for Normal and Contingency Loading New rules in the deregulated electric utility business require Transmission and Distribution companies to find ways to improve their competitive position. Although tighter operating budgets and reduced spending are nothing new to utility engineers and planners. if the average hot spot temperature rise above ambient was 50°C in 1974. When replacement transformers are deducted from the total installed. Application in the case of short or long term contingency loading is also possible with a negligible loss of insulation life when compared to conventional cellulose systems. the majority of substation assets are on average 30 years old. Maximizing return on investment (ROI) is often a key financial driver when formulating a profitable operating financial strategy. This paper will describe technical and economical advantages of such a system for power transformers. [3] Figure 1 Installed Power Transformers Per Year During the same period. But another system. One example is the development of high temperature insulating systems. especially for those units that see frequent overloads. there have been substantial changes in the way utilities purchase. These changes have. At many electric transmission and distribution companies in the United States. which combine high temperature solid insulation and high temperature fluid. Installed power transformer capacity has reduced from 185 GVA (giga Volt Amperes) to 50 GVA per year over the past twenty-five years (Figure 1). which are 30 years and older. which combines high temperature solid insulating materials with cellulose based materials and mineral oil. and pole distribution transformers [2]. have worked together to develop a standard that provides guidance in the application of hybrid insulating systems in power transformers. in turn. where the technology has been used for several years. especially in the area of modernization and repair of power transformers. operate and maintain transformers. today's increased need to leverage more out of existing equipment must be achieved with an aged asset base. but on average transformer utilization (load factor) has increased by 22% (Figure 2). a shortfall in additions for real growth of the system can be found. at normal peak load [5]. . has been developed. For 65% of transformers in service. average load growth moved slowly upward at a rate of approximately 2% per year [4]. then today the average would be 73°C. These systems have found interest for applications such as traction transformers [1]. Utilities and transformer manufacturers in the USA. called a hybrid insulation system. introduction of a pressboard material suitable for high temperature operation made possible the concept of insulating systems for liquid filled power transformers different than the conventional cellulose-mineral oil system. resulted in a difference in the way new transformer specifications are optimized.Introduction In the middle of the 1980's. This approach has provided utilities with another option in transformer life management. and in the need to enhance some existing designs in the field to deal with high normal and contingency loading requirements. For most substation transformers a 22% increase in load equates to approximately a 48% increase in oil hot spot temperature. Compared to the time when the average substation transformer was new. Increased equipment utilization.

Aramid fibers and pulp have long been used in paper and pressboard forms suitable for a continuous operating temperature of 220°C in air. under AC conditions (power frequencies). This means paper for conductor insulation and board for spacers in cooling ducts (see Figure 3). Such a system utilizes high temperature insulation only where it really provides benefits. Figure 2 USA Load Growth vs. The rest of the solid insulation is kept in cellulose. no off gases or water are released due to thermal degradation at temperatures up to 750°C. Electrical properties of aramid paper and board have also been demonstrated as being superior to those of the Kraft materials [8]. Utilization and Temperature Increase This paper touches on changes in design practice for new transformers. Such properties have resulted in a rapidly growing use of aramid insulation in hybrid insulation systems for power transformers. aramid insulation can be electrically stressed under the same levels as oil-impregnated cellulose insulation. From a mechanical standpoint. aramid sheet products have shown better stability and toughness than cellulose based products when submitted to compression stresses. dielectric strength is similar to Kraft. Extensive testing has shown the low impact of temperature in insulating liquids compared to cellulose [7]. Hybrid Insulation Systems Hybrid insulation systems are based on the advantages of the high temperature materials. These links also provide a very good chemical stability and compatibility of the polymer versus all kinds of oil and resins used as insulating materials. The advantages come from a synthetic aramid fiber discovered in the early 1960's. As a consequence. This provides the possibility to retain extremely tight windings. The Figure 4 provides comparative results between cellulose pressboard and aramid pressboard. Tests on paper wrapped conductors have shown that. reducing the risk of failure due to short-circuit forces. Figure 3 Description of solid insulation in a hybrid insulation coil . but its focus is on design enhancements to existing units which will have a positive impact on life and loading capability. Unlike cellulose. and mineral oil can be used for cooling. The thermal stability is related to the strong chemical links we can find in the molecule. but under impulse conditions aramid paper shows a 25% better behavior [9].

The first approach is the one generally adopted for repair transformers. This will produce a new design of the coil allowing much greater output with a reduction of losses and better reliability due to the outstanding properties of the aramid insulation. . Two approaches can be taken. The second approach takes advantage of this space available to reduce the size of the coil allowing a transformer with lighter weight and smaller dimensions. Figure 4 Static compression of cellulose board and aramid board under 10 MPa Allowing higher temperatures on the conductor provides the possibility to reduce cooling. First. one can realize the benefits in utilizing the new space available by adding copper. Cooling ducts can then be redesigned to match electrical limits rather than thermal limits. while the second approach is generally used for new transformers such as in mobile substations [10].

220/66/23 kV the savings were about 60% and the utility has gained a 33 % overload capability with lifetime extension over 25 years. which is to increase the capacity of the failed transformer within the shorter time required for repair. temperature rise can be increased. this average temperature rise has been limited to 55 K or 65 K. The residual value of the core and tank can then be utilized.12 % 1 Replacement by a new 40/30/15 MVA .5 60 The limitation in this original unit was due to average winding rise over ambient temperature under forced air conditions (ONAF). 64.5 K. namely 71. increasing the limit on the conductor. conductor must be worked harder.220/66/23 kV. However. A power transformer designed with a hybrid insulation system can then provide a unique opportunity. This is shown in the following table describing a design comparison between a typical 12/20 MVA substation transformer and the same redesigned unit with hybrid insulation [11].Advantages of Hybrid Insulation in Transformer Repair Whenever a failure occurs. The stress put on the manufacturer is more on delivery time rather than enhancement of the transformer. The re-designed unit takes advantage of the aramid material. Recently a breakthrough has been achieved in South America as the first unit operating under 220 kV was uprated by Ande. Table 1 Temperature rises comparison between original unit and re-designed unit with hybrid insulation system Original Unit Re-designed Unit Cooling Mode ONAN ONAF ONAN ONAF MVA 12 20 18 30 Av.220/66/23 kV built in 1986 that was uprated to 40/30/15 MVA . Top oil rise under natural or forced cooling operation is well below the limit of 65 K. The modernization has been done by Los Conce in Argentina. But compared to a new 40/30/15 MVA . utility or private industry. The limit of the system is now set by the top oil rise under natural cooling mode. The system limitation is now transferred from the conductor to the oil. to replace the transformer as soon as possible. By increasing the current and/or reducing the cooling close to the conductors. Cellulose insulation required that continuous temperature rise had to be kept below 55 K. respectively. (K) 50 55 71. which in turn increases temperature rise.220/66/23 kV 500 000 Not applicable 140 % .4 Av.7 45. The transformer was a BBC 30/35/10 MVA . 55 K. the increase of the load on the transformer due to a higher demand may have been the major contributor to the failure. Confronted with the dilemma of buying a power transformer with higher capacity or repairing the failed one leads to a debate where cost and manufacturing time of new equipment are the main limitations. With the use of thermally stable insulation like aramid or high temperature enamels on the conductor. the temperature rise reaches values well above 55 K.220/66/23 210 000 . this always puts stress on the end-user. Due to the use of cellulose based materials. Wind. To increase capacity of a transformer. (K) 38 28 55. Actually. rise / Amb. rep Replacement by a new 30/25/10 MVA . This has allowed a gain of 50% capacity in both ONAN and ONAF cooling modes.1 K under ONAN and ONAF conditions.220/66/23 kV 300 000 62 % 43 % Replacement by a repaired 30/25/10 MVA . the end-user has interest in the enhancement approach. Oil rise / Amb.1 Top Oil rise / Amb.5 K and 81.5 81. Table 2 Economics Comparison Transformer replacement options Price ($) Comparison vs conv. the local utility in Paraguay [12]. in certain conditions. As Table 2 shows a final price of 70% of a new transformer with the same capacity was achieved with the transformer insulated with hybrid insulation. (K) 44 37 64.220/66/23 185 000 1 13 % Replacement by a repaired 30/25/10 MVA .

However. the calculated loss-of- life per cycle is often the limiting factor for units with cellulose insulation. A major Western USA utility with high load growth. During long or short term contingent loading. In these cases. 1.5 p.u. has provided planners with new criteria for considering transformer replacements or additions to their system. As previously discussed. The results of a thermal loading study identified options they may have when faced with the decision to rewind with hybrid insulation or replace the existing units with a larger size. along with seasonally adjusted loading and ambient temperature cycles. Bushings which do not utilize thermally uprated insulating paper are components which typically set this upper limit. This has resulted from investment in automation controls and equipment. core. hybrid insulated units are limited in load capability by their top-oil temperature. This is reflected in the added flexibility provided to load planners in the 1995 revision of ANSI/IEEE C57.3 p. Transformer loading studies should include. equipment such as power transformers are required to operate at higher loading levels during both normal and contingency conditions than in the past. Load Factor Per Unit Current IEC 1.3 p. the replacement unit can be re-engineered with a Hybrid System in order to mitigate this limiting factor. A typical transformer loading policy may include suggested loading criteria and limits as shown in Table 3. (N/A) 1. cables. To establish the loading limits for any given transformer it is necessary to calculate the above criteria or whichever limit occurs first.100.u. In many cases. in addition to winding. hottest spot and top oil temperatures.New Loading Practices and Effect on Operation In today's electric utility systems. The above factor has had an impact on increasing normal transformer loading and has in a number of cases switched the criteria for replacement from the normal to the contingent load limit. Improvements in transformer utilization have been gained by the ability to switch load from one substation to another more quickly and with greater flexibility. .IEEE 140°C 150°C 160°C 200°C etc) IEC (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) IEEE 105°C 110°C 110°C 110°C Top Oil Temperature IEC 105°C (N/A) 115°C 115°C IEEE (N/A) (N/A) (N/A) 1.19. calculation for loss of the insulation life and temperature rise of the other current carrying components such as: bushings.110° C in IEEE/ANSI because of the ancillary equipment located in the top oil of the transformers.u. for the expected seasonally adjusted loading cycle and ambient temperature.5 p. The inclusion of the Planned Loading Beyond Nameplate condition permits higher temperature for periodic or daily cyclical limits. The top-oil temperature is limited to 105° . etc.u. tap changers. the adoption of planned loading above nameplate. The temperature calculations (in degrees C) should also include: a) Top oil b) Top duct oil c) Bottom oil d) Winding hot spot e) Average oil rise f) Average winding rise g) Winding hot spot gradient h) Average winding gradient i) Bushing gradient j) Cable gradient k) Tap changer contact gradient It is also important that the above data be available for any specific transformer when considering design modification to existing equipment. Life Loading Emergency 1-3 Emergency 1 Insulated Conductor IEEE 120°C 130°C 140°C 180°C Hottest Temperature IEC 120°C (N/A) 130°C 160°C Other Metallic (supports. the revised limits require the user to be more rigorous in calculating the loss of insulation life for various loading criteria. had several substations which were at or above the utilities loading criteria. This added switching flexibility enables greater utilization of the overall transformer contingent load capability.

OA/FA/FOA Voltage: 230. These limits may vary substantially between other utility companies.5% 0.000v Grd Y/132.800 .000Y/39480 Limiting Criteria for Loading Operating temperature and loss of insulation life limits were used in this example study for normal and contingency operation (Table 4). Autotransformer MVA & Cooling: 224/298/374. at a hot spot of 120°C was . Table 4 Load Limiting Criteria Parameter Normal Loading Above Long-Time Short-Time Max Hot Spot Temp 120° C 140° C 160° C Max Top Oil Temp (Priority 105° C 110° C 110° C Max Loss Of Life/Cycle 0. MVA at 65°C AWR LTC 65°. Figure 5 Peak Ambient Temperature Figure 6 Peak Load Cycle The maximum peak load limit for normal loading above nameplate.037% 0. These limiting criteria were agreed limits of the utility for the operation of this type of transmission substation transformer.75% The thermal load study considered the summer time ambient temperature and the associated peak loading cycle shown in Figures 5 and 6.69.Example Thermal Loading Analysis for Normal and Contingency Situations Transformer Type: Three-phase.

The utility criteria dictated a possible long term contingency loading condition anticipated to be from days to several weeks. The analysis was based on the unit operating at 100% load and a 4 hour contingency occurring at 2 hours before the peak of load and ambient temperature cycle (Figure 9). a maximum peak hot spot temperature of 159 would be reached with an associated 0.U.3 P. In this condition.U. the study determined that with a 110°C top oil limit. The related temperature curves are shown on Figure 7. Figure 7 24-Hour.5 p. Long Term Contingency Load .u.determined to be 1. load and with a cellulose insulation system. with a 1.14 P. The short term (4 hour) contingency study.9% loss of insulation life per cycle. with a top oil temperature of 88. Normal Peak Load Above Nameplate Figure 8 24-Hour. reached a peak hot spot of 174°C and 110°C top oil limit and an associated 0. peak load. a 1.03 per cycle. The thermal conditions are shown in Figure 8.5°C and loss of insulation life for cellulose calculated at 0.8% loss of insulation life per cycle.

The anticipated reduction in load loss of 58 kW at maximum nameplate rating had an approximate Total Owning Cost (T. . These combined factors are most important in developing an enhanced repair or replacement strategy. The intent of this standard is to provide information on the application and use of high-temperature insulation in liquid-immersed power transformers and guidance on the use of these transformers. average winding rise over ambient temperature must not exceed 65 K and the typical hot-spot differential temperature is 15 K. Systems with 65 K average temperature rise are taken as a reference. that an unacceptably high loss of insulation life would occur with a cellulose insulation system and that a rewind with a Hybrid insulation system would resolve this problem. the working group developed a guide [15].0 65 105 0.91-1995. S.000. 41 561 1.) saving of $100. according to IEEE Std C57. Max. In these systems. Given that the rewind unit would most probably have an improved winding space factor. Equivalent Cellulose Nameplate Max. two ratings for temperature have been listed (Table 6).36 110 159 0. L. Figure 9 4-Hour. because of the previously discussed hybrid insulation cooling criteria. The study demonstrates that in short or long term contingency conditions. Based on industry experience with hybrid insulation systems.. a reduction in load losses of approximately 15% could be expected in normal operating condition.T.T.03 24 Hr. Table 5 Maximum Load Capability vs.14 89 120 0.03 (continuous) 24 Max. After a first step of documenting the materials and their application [14]. 40 374 1. limited by top oil temperature. Loss of Life Operating Cycle Max. Summer Max. Load 41 426 1.9 Standardization The development in recent years of transformers utilizing high temperature materials in power transformers [13] led to the establishment of a working group within the IEEE Transformer Committee whose scope was to establish directions for a standard. 41 508 1. Max. Max.50 110 174 0.8 4 Hr.C. Short Term Contingency Load Thermal Load Study Conclusions A comparison of the overall thermal study is given in Table 5. This produces a maximum hottest- spot temperature of 120°C. Top Oil Hot SpotTemp.O.

Kiss. There are future plans to submit the dual temperature aging model and the IEEE Guide to IEC for standardization but already adoptions around the world are showing the attractiveness of such a technology. as in conventional systems. Vienna [2] B. 3rd International ASTA Symposium. Insulation around a conductor is heated at a much higher temperature than bulk solid and liquid insulation. reduced losses at normal operating conditions and increase in overall reliability. manufacturing and thermal characteristics of a NomexÒ Midel insulated high temperature locomotive transformer. In order to qualify hybrid insulation systems. which means that advantage is taken of the difference between conductors and oil and without a change in the top oil temperature. The risk of bubbling is also limited as the main factor is water content in the conductor insulation [17]. but it can also be utilized by power companies for upgrading old conventional mineral oil filled units prior to failure. But the approach has been the same. Conclusion The concept described in this paper allows much greater flexibility when repairing failed transformers. It brings the advantage of giving more value to the rebuilt units by increasing their operating range with negligible loss of insulation life. 145°C) is justified because of the lack of free oxygen near the winding hottest-spot. O. This allows the aging of a combination of materials with significantly different thermal capabilities. May 1986. Guilbert. The operation at high temperature (above the flash point of oil. Aramid insulation doesn't generate water when thermally stressed and it picks up less moisture than cellulose when exposed to the same conditions. Top oil temperature rise is only 60 K. Table 6 Maximum Temperature Limits for Insulation Systems Insulation system temperature 65°C rise High temperature rise systems Average winding rise over ambient temperature (K) 65 95 115 Winding hottest-spot rise over ambient temperature (K) 80 130 150 Ambient temperature (maximum) (°C) 40 40 40 Winding hottest-spot temperature (°C) 120 170 190 Top oil temperature rise over ambient temperature (K) 65 65 65 Top oil temperature at maximum ambient (°C) 105 105 105 Cellulose hottest-spot rise (K) 80 80 80 Cellulose hottest-spot temperature (°C) 120 120 120 The allowable top oil temperature in these transformers has been limited to 105°C. This allows continued use of mineral oil as the cooling medium. Bibliography [1] L. This may be especially attractive when emergency or high contingency loading conditions are frequent on such units. June 94 pp137-42 . the standard recommends the use of a dual-temperature aging model. Standardization is now helping users and manufacturers to take better advantage of this new insulation concept. Recent tests have shown the superior life characteristics of hybrid insulation systems compared to conventional all cellulose ones [18]. Faltermeier A new medium/low voltage transformer for use in rural public distribution networks Power Engineering journal . Potocnik Design.F. J. There is a difference when considering transformers according to IEC 76 [16].

1996. Declercq.I. Duart. pp10-14 [10] J.Investigations 1991/1992. Insul. Part 2 : Temperature rise IEC 60076-2 (1993-04) [17] T. Dahinden Transformerboard II 1987. Moser. N°4.P. Rapperswil. R. Riline La Aplicacion de la Reingeneria a los Transformadores de Potencia I Congreso Peruano de Ingeneria de Mantenimiento Industrial. 1989.L. Whearty Transformer technology for mobile substations CIGRE Symposium London.[3] US Department of Commerce Data [4] NERC/IEEE Statistical Data..M.J.V.. 96 WM 21-2 PWRD Nomex® is a registered trademark of E. Whearty Thermal life evaluation of high temperature insulation systems and hybrid insulation systems in mineral oil 1996 IEEE/PES Winter meeting. Oommen.J. H. V. J. 5.C. 6D-1-11 [12] A. H. Provost. D. Lima. Snyder. 94 PW 005-9 PWRD [15] IEEE Guide for the application of high-temperature insulation materials in liquid-immersed power transformers IEEE Std 1276-2000 [16] Power transformers. R.J. "Loading guide for Oil-Immersed Power Transformers" [7] E. July/August 1989-Vol. 600-03 [11] W. du Pont de Nemours and Company . Petrie Bubble generation in transformer windings under overload conditions Doble conference. Mag. 7-9 th June 1999. McNutt. SN/HI-em [8] H. 1996 [5] IEEE/ANSI C57. Prevost. May 1994 [14] Background information on high temperature insulation for liquid-immersed power transformers IEEE/PES 1994 Winter Meeting.1995 [18] W. Switzerland [9] T. Baltimore. "IEEE Guide for Loading Mineral-Oil Immersed Transformers" [6] IEC 354: 1991. Schneider Static compression of NomexÒ Final report . de la Cruz. 18-19th May 2001 [13] R.91 .C. Weidmann AG. M. Electrico y Minero. New York. McNutt Increased MVA transformer rebuilds with thermally upgraded insulation Doble conference. Wicks The use of Nomex® aramid insulation in transformer repair Midwest Transmission Conference. E. R. Kraft IEEE Elect. Franchek Conductor Insulation Tests in Oil Aramid vs.J.

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