Electrical Insulation Conference, EIC/EMCW’99, October 26-28, 1999, Cincinnati, USA

PD Diagnostics on Rotating Machines Possibilities and Limitations
Martin Hoof and Stefan Lanz
ABB Industrie AG Insulation Systems for Rotating Machines CH-5242 Birr, Switzerland Abstract: A short overview is given of typical PD sources within large rotating machines. Characteristic pros and cons of on- and off-line measurements are presented and their significance with regard to condition based machine maintenance is discussed. The possibilities as well as the limitations of PD measurements as a tool to assess the insulation conditions of rotating machines are outlined. Examples are given for on-line PD measurements on generators that allow a clear diagnostic decision and therefore a reliable condition assessment to be obtained. However, it is additionally shown that PD measurements have some intrinsic limitations and therefore can not detect virtually all insulation related problems. condition [2]. Even if these tests provide a lot of useful diagnostic information, that in several cases can not be obtained by PD measurements, they are usually not sensitive to a few local insulation deficiencies. Consequently, in order to get reliable information on the performance of the entire stator winding insulation, due to the complexity of rotating machines, it is highly recommended to apply a combination of PD measurements (ABB-PAMOS®) and additional, well defined diagnostic tests and inspections (ABB-WIDIPRO®) at regular intervals.

PD Sources in Rotating Machines
The stator winding insulation of high voltage machines is subjected to several stresses during operation that may significantly influence the performance of the insulation system and especially its long-term properties due to various aging phenomena [2]. Modern insulation systems for high voltage machines are inherently resistant to partial discharges due to their inorganic mica components. However, the occurrence of PD in high voltage machines can be efficiently used to detect insulation aging caused by thermal, electrical, ambient and mechanical stress factors (TEAM-factors). In contrast to other high voltage equipment, like polyethylene insulated power cables, a certain amount of PD activity in high voltage machines can be tolerated without having significant influence on the insulation properties. Nevertheless, depending on the individual process, PD in machines may also directly attack the insulation possibly resulting in an insulation fault. The main sources of PD activity in high voltage machines are shown in Fig. 1. Voids / Delaminations: Voids within the main insulation are usually present in modern synthetic resin impregnated mica tape insulation systems. Depending on the quality of the impregnation process both the void content and the void size may vary slightly, but in principle a certain amount of PD activity from small voids embedded in the main insulation is acceptable. Delaminations at the interface of the copper conductor and the main insulation, that primarily result from thermal overstressing are more dangerous, since the turn or strand insulation of the conductors may be severely damaged. In addition delaminations within the main insulation or at the interface to the conductor will reduce the thermal conductivity of the insulation which may lead to accelerated aging or even a thermal runaway.

A sudden unexpected in-service failure of the stator winding insulation of large rotating machines would cause considerable expenses for non-availability and unplanned repair work. Therefore, modern diagnostic methods are applied to assess the condition of the insulation system. Diagnostic tests are usually performed in regular intervals either on- or off-line. Off-line tests and inspections of a machine are mainly conducted as routine tests at scheduled outages according to a time-based maintenance strategy. However, on-line tests are carried out during normal operation of the machine on either continuous or periodic basis. These on-line monitoring methods can be efficiently used for trend analysis and especially for optimizing the timing of routine outages for off-line diagnostic tests and thus allow condition based maintenance work to be performed. When applying a condition based maintenance program the availability can be increased and down times as well as life-cycle costs of the equipment can be significantly reduced. One of the most important tools used today for diagnosis of large rotating machines like generators and high voltage motors is the partial discharge (PD) measurement and analysis [1]. PD diagnosis can be applied both on-line and off-line and is (apart from visual machine inspection) the only method that allows locally confined insulation defects to be reliably detected. The results, however, strongly depend on the individual machine design. Other non-destructive methods like loss factor measurements, insulation resistance / leakage current or charging / discharging current measurements are typical offline tests that give an ‘integral’ information on the insulation

Endwinding Discharges: Partial discharges in the endwinding area may occur at several locations with high local electric fields. loss of wedging pressure due to settling effects. However. USA iron core main insulation slot corona protection field grading bar / coil copper conductor slot discharges voids / delaminations damaged end-corona protection iron core spacer slot-exit discharges (damage due to vibration) overhang part / phase separation endwinding discharges overhang support system Fig. The slot corona protection is intended to minimize the electric field at the interface between the main insulation and the stator core. October 26-28. 2: Discharges in the slot / slot exit area Fig. abrasion) high energy discharges will occur that will additionally damage the main insulation finally resulting in an insulation fault. reliable field grading is no longer ensured. thermal or other effects. EIC/EMCW’99. 1999. contamination. if this semi-conductive coating is damaged due to bar/coil movement in the slot or slot exit area (e. porosity. or at components of the overhang support system. Fig. Potentially damaging surface discharges are therefore reliably suppressed due to a good electrical and mechanical contact between the grounded iron core and the surface of the winding element.Electrical Insulation Conference.e. material erosion.g. Cincinnati. due to inadequate interphase clearance. e. In addition PD may occur in the area of the phase separations. 3: Discharges in the endwinding area . Usually these discharges occur at interfaces between different components of the stator winding overhang part. 1). The semiconductive coating is usually extended beyond the slot exit to provide a connection to the electric stress grading paint/tape in the endwinding area (Fig. i. surface discharge will develop gradually eroding the materials.g. If the end-corona protection becomes ineffective because of poorly designed interfaces. 1: Typical partial discharge sources in large rotating machines Slot / Slot Exit Discharges: In high voltage machines the straight part of the coils or bars will have a semi-conductive surface coating.

1999. is available. USA Motor / Generator capacitive couplers Amplifier / Filter ABB PAMOS® II ~ Off-Line On-Line Data Base Expert System High speed A/D converter Fig. there will be a certain amount of PD from additional sources that are not active during operation. The measurement is performed during normal operation of the machine and therefore under realistic stress conditions (thermal. it is essential to examine PD results obtained at regular intervals from one machine for trends over time in order to detect progressive aging and to determine whether or not additional diagnostic or even maintenance activities are needed. Off-line PD testing: The stator winding is energized with an external power source while the machine is out of service. no thermal and mechanical stresses) and in contrast to normal operation the entire winding is at high voltage. Since heavy noise may mask PD resulting from actual machine problems. reduction of unscheduled and costly downtimes • planning of preventive maintenance • optimized reinvestment planning • optimized availability and reliability for operational effectiveness Thus. PD diagnosis has some inherent limitations that have to be considered. The measurement of PD inception and extinction voltages and the evaluation of the PD behavior with both increasing and decreasing voltage can be efficiently used to obtain information on the stator winding insulation condition. this allows preventive maintenance work to be planned and intervals for off-line diagnosis to be optimized. Regardless whether PD diagnosis is performed on. October 26-28. On-line PD testing: On-line PD testing is generally more cost effective than off-line testing since no service-interruption is required. Cincinnati. The interference level resulting from several noise sources is usually considerable higher than for off-line testing. an early detection of impending insulation faults is possible. During a short machine outage easy localization of PD sources is possible and additional dielectric measurements or visual inspection can be performed. .or off-line according to Fig.g. With each of these methods there are several advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when performing diagnostic testing and especially when analyzing PD measurement results [3]. EIC/EMCW’99.Electrical Insulation Conference. 4: Arrangement for the measurement of PD on rotating machines (off-line / on-line) Measurement of Partial Discharges The measurement of PD on rotating machines can be performed either on. However. that can not be obtained by off-line testing.or off-line. When performing off-line measurements the interference level resulting from external noise sources is usually quite low and due to the voltage variability a detailed analysis of the PD behavior of each phase can be carried out. sophisticated procedures for noise elimination (e. 4. Even though these benefits are quite promising.e. the overall life-cycle costs can be significantly reduced. Consequently. The main benefits of applying PD diagnosis as a tool for condition assessment especially to generators and high voltage motors in key functions are: • early detection of deteriorating insulation components • reduction of in-service failure rates. i. once the couplers are installed.g. and no external power source is needed to energize the winding. me- chanical and electrical stresses). Furthermore. Since on-line measurements on either periodic or continuous basis can easily provide PD data for trending. off-line testing is more time consuming and more expensive than on-line testing since the machine must be out of service. In addition there are no realistic stress conditions during the measurement (e. adaptive digital filters) and especially a profound experience in PD data analysis are required for making a reliable diagnostic decision. This situation makes the analysis more difficult and thus requires a considerable amount of experience in assessing the measurement results. When analyzing the PD behavior at various load conditions of the machine additional information on the insulation condition.

The specific transfer function from a PD source within the stator winding to the PD couplers is in principle unknown and depends significantly on the machine design. switchgears) rotating machines experience both static and dynamic stresses with quite complex interactions. transformers. as acceptance criteria during production or operation [3]. Therefore. it should be considered that PD measurement and analysis is not a tool that allows to detect all insulation problems that may occur within stator winding insulation systems. manufacturer. but mainly because a reliable comparison of PD measurements is only possible on certain conditions. Due to these difficulties. a direct comparison with machines of similar design and insulation system may provide additional useful information. This database should comprise several categories like machine design. insulation system and especially the complete history of PD behavior and operational as well as maintenance data of each machine under test. Fig. 5 a φ-q pattern from a 500 MVA turbogenerator is shown that is typical of inner discharges resulting from voids within the main insulation. 5: Normal inner discharges / voids Turbogenerator: 500 MVA / 24 kV / 60 Hz In Fig. October 26-28. Since stator windings are large inductive components.g. This requires not only appropriate experience of the engineer conducting the diagnostic tests but also a large database of PD measurements. In addition there are many different design features. these discharges are assumed to be rather uncritical.8 kV / 60 Hz . pulse propagation phenomena that significantly influence the measurement results have to be considered [4].g. e. since a calibration at the terminals does not adequately represent PD pulses actually occurring somewhere within the stator winding [5]. In comparison to other high voltage equipment (e. power cables. This is due to various reasons. These discharges can usually be found for synthetic resin impregnated mica-tape insulations since these systems can not be produced void free. USA Limitations of PD Diagnosis Even though PD measurements are widely accepted and have been made on stator windings for over 40 years. Furthermore. one individual PD measurement on a particular machine gives no reliable information about the actual condition of the insulation system. Consequently. Examples for On-Line PD Measurements In this section some examples are given for on-line PD measurements that were performed on turbogenerators and that could unambiguously be attributed to typical insulation problems. production and operation conditions for different machines and various insulation systems from different manufacturers. In the area of high voltage motors with form-wound coils for example about 70% of all winding failures can be attributed to turn-to-turn insulation faults that can hardly be detected by PD measurements. Cincinnati. there are no agreed PD specifications for rotating machines where limits are defined. 6: Endwinding discharges / end corona protection Turbogenerator: 20 MVA / 13. These pulse propagation phenomena also lead to difficulties with regard to a calibration of the measurement. EIC/EMCW’99. Fig. e. the evaluation of PD measurement results on rotating machines requires extensive knowledge of machine design.g. leakage currents. 1999. If the level of PD activity does not increase over time. insulation material characteristics and complex interactions of several physical and chemical processes. Commonly used PD measurement methods are in principle not able to detect so-called pulseless discharge phenomena or each phenomenon that involves low local electric fields but high currents. Even though the trend of using PD diagnosis for large rotating machines is very much increasing during the last few years. the individual ‘filter characteristics’ of a stator winding result in PD signals at the terminals that are characteristic of the machine under test. A reliable interpretation of PD data can only be obtained when examining trends of the PD behavior over time on the same machine under similar conditions using the same measurement equipment. the frequency response of the PD detection system will also considerably influence the measurement result. However.Electrical Insulation Conference.

October 26-28. No critical PD behavior was found and therefore it was recommended to perform a further measurement within one year to get more data for trend analysis. there may be also conditions where an on-line PD measurement does not indicate any insulation problem even in the case of an impending insulation fault as will be described in the following.e. An on-line PD measurement was performed on a 448 MVA turbogenerator in July 97. The diagnostic expert decision indicated that there were floating metallic particles within the endwinding area. Indeed. This type of defect can usually be fixed by reapplying special potential grading paints in the overhang parts of the winding. An extensive examination of the machine damage revealed that there had been a kind of ‘interturn’ insulation fault leading to circulating currents that finally caused a thermal runaway and therefore an insulation breakdown. shortly after the second measurement.8 kV / 60 Hz The φ-q pattern shown in Fig. Fig. Instead. 7: Endwinding discharges / floating metallic particles Turbogenerator: 180 MVA / 13. 8: Insulation breakdown without pre-indication by PD Turbogenerator: 448 MVA / 24 kV / 60 Hz The insulation breakdown within the overhang part of the machine is shown in Fig. there was highly conductive dust found within the overhang part. The analysis of the data did only show normal inner discharges within an expected range. This decision led to a shutdown of the machine within a few hours including a subsequent visual inspection. Cincinnati. 6. PD. However. The subsequent measurement carried out in June 98 did not show critical PD either. i. Before the actual cause for this increased temperature could be determined. However. an insulation breakdown occurred without any pre-indication by PD. . one of the RTDs of the machine showed a temperature that was about 25% higher than that of the others indicating a local overheating within the stator winding. 5 to 7 unambiguously allowed a diagnostic decision to be obtained with regard to the need of corrective activities on the machine and therefore allowed a reliable condition assessment to be made. 7 was measured on a 180 MVA Turbogenerator that is operated at a steel production site. USA Typical endwinding discharges resulting from an ineffective end-corona protection are shown in Fig. This type of insulation defect could not be detected by PD measurements since there were no pulse-shaped local electric discharges. The whole machine was carefully cleaned and afterwards it was put into operation again. this breakdown of the stator winding insulation was associated with continuous leakage currents without locally high electric fields that are required for PD inception. Fig. The on-line PD measurements on turbogenerators shown in Figs. The further on-line PD measurement did no longer show any critical PD behavior.Electrical Insulation Conference. EIC/EMCW’99. 8. 1999.

com stefan. Draft 9. 21-32 Culbert. Symp. (1997) Hoof.. First promising results of these new approaches that will be published soon. H. Especially with regard to PD diagnosis latest developments involve the worldwide remote access to on-line measurements in power plants in order to optimize strategies for condition based maintenance.T. it must be considered that PD diagnosis is not a tool that allows to discover all insulation problems within stator winding insulations. Montréal.com . USA. Montréal. Stefan Lanz ABB Industrie AG. (1992).hoof@ch. Canada. Dipl. USA ABB .. and patterns derived from the PulseSequence-Analysis [6] in combination with expert-systems comprising modern pattern recognition algorithms [7] are currently under intense investigation. IEEE Int. These systems are intended to support the human expert decision.WIDIPRO® diagnostic inspection of a machine ABB . Vol. 9. EIC/EMCW’99. on Electrical Insulation. 8. PD diagnosis on rotating machines requires profound human experience in the assessment of PD results and a large database for comparative analysis and trend investigation. Electrical Insulation Conference. USA. IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine. G.C. Power Plant Electrical Reference Series. e. EPRI. M. 192-96 Zhu.O.. (1989) Draft IEEE Guide to the Measurement of Partial Discharges in Rotating Machinery. Cincinnati. Martin Hoof. R.abb. 1999. Patsch. e. Dept.g. A typical concept for the assessment of diagnostic measurements on large rotating machines is shown in Fig. Symp. M. University of Siegen. M. the overall lifecycle costs can be significantly reduced. I. Canada.: Handbook to Assess the Insulation Condition of Large Rotating Machines. Consequently. References [1] Hutter.g. 3.: Partial Discharge Detection in Rotating Electrical Machines.: Analysis of Partial Discharge Calibration Difficulties in HV Rotating Machines. ∆u. (1996). Cincinnati. In addition. on High Voltage Engineering. H. PhD-Thesis.. (1998) Holbøll. IME Insulation Systems for Rotating Machines P. IEEE P1434. 16.M.: Pulse-Sequence-Analysis: A New Method of Partial Discharge Diagnosis (in German). Therefore. No. PD diagnosis needs to be combined with other diagnostic tools and should be integrated into a general diagnostic concept. pulseless discharge phenomena. October 26-28. Box 126 CH-5242 Birr Switzerland Fax: +41-56-466 6902 E-mail: martin.Electrical Insulation Conference. which includes PD diagnosis as one of several diagnostic methods.abb. (1999) [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] author's address: Dr.: Frequency Dependent PD-Pulse Distortion in Rotating Machines. However. Especially the application of on-line monitoring allows condition based machine maintenance to be performed. (1997) Hoof. Int.-Ing.PAMOS® diagnostic database method n method 1 machine m machine 1 expert system experienced engineer expert / design knowledge computer system neuro / fuzzy algorithms inspection i inspection 1 operating conditions maintenance actions data analyses / trend analyses condition assessment diagnostic decision preventive maintenance Fig. Dhirani. Vol.lanz@ch. Germany. show that considerable improvements of today’s techniques in PD diagnosis on rotating machines can be obtained. B. Freisleben. Henriksen.: GNC-Network: A New Tool for Partial Discharge Pattern Classification. J. The application of novel discharge parameters.-Ing. 9: Concept for stator winding insulation diagnosis on rotating machines Conclusions and Further Developments PD measurement and analysis is a powerful tool for a reliable detection of locally confined insulation defects that often can not be found by other dielectric methods.. Stone. W.