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IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, Vol. 14, No. 4.

December 1999

Increased Sensitivity of Capacitive Couplers for In-Service PD Measurement in Rotating Machines
H. Zhu, M. IEEE, V. Green, M. IEEE, M. Sasic, M. IEEE
ADWEL International Ltd. Toronto, Ontario Canada
Abstract  Capacitive couplers are widely used as sensors for in-service/on-line partial discharge (PD) measurement in rotating machines. They are permanently installed in operating generators and motors to detect partial discharges. The capacitive couplers traditionally used for PD detection on rotating machines have been 80 pF. Recently it has been found that higher detection sensitivity can be obtained by increasing capacitance of 80 pF couplers. This paper presents theoretical analysis, laboratory tests and field test experience to compare traditional 80 pF couplers and higher-capacitance couplers for in-service PD measurement in rotating machines. The frequency bandwidth of various capacitive couplers is characterized and analyzed in relation to the PD detection sensitivity. This investigation concludes capacitive couplers with a higher capacitance than 80 pF are more sensitive for in-service/on-line PD measurement in rotating machines. More partial discharges and higher PD magnitudes can be acquired by using higher capacitance couplers than 80 pF couplers.

S. Halliburton
Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. Springfield, Missouri USA Epoxy mica encapsulated couplers developed in recent years have a much smaller size than cable-type couplers. 80 pF capacitive couplers have been widely used for more than ten years to measure PD in operating generators and motors, particularly in conjunction with Partial Discharge Analyzers (PDA) [1] [2]. Capacitive couplers can be installed in either differential mode [3] or directional mode [4] on an operating generator and motor. They are connected via coaxial cables to a nearby termination box mounted outside the rotating machine, as shown in Fig.1. The termination circuit transforms PD current pulses to voltage signals (mV) which can be recorded by a PD measurement instrument. PD analysis software running on a PC can then enable a comprehensive data analysis.

Key words: partial discharge, capacitive coupler, stator insulation diagnosis, motor, generator.


1. INTRODUCTION In-service/on-line PD measurement in generators and motors can monitor the condition of stator insulation without interrupting normal machine service. A variety of PD measurement instruments and the associated PD sensors (e.g. capacitive couplers, current transformers, stator slot couplers, etc.) have been developed. Capacitive couplers have been the most widely used PD sensors for PD measurement in rotating machines. Two types of capacitive couplers are often used: cable type couplers and epoxy-mica encapsulated couplers.

Fig.1 The capacitive coupler detection circuit 80 pF capacitive couplers were originally used at the circuit ring bus of hydro-generators to detect PD at line end bars or coils where high magnitude pulses often occur. The capacitance of the initial cable-type couplers was selected to be 80 pF to accommodate conflicting requirements on size, PD detection bandwidth, and voltage tracking protection. One requirement was that the cable coupler should be long enough to form a sufficient capacitance that in turn would give a reasonable PD detection bandwidth. By contrast, the cable-type couplers also had to be small enough to fit within the physical space constraints of the circuit ring buses, phase buses and enclosures of most rotating machines. The advent of smaller epoxy-mica encapsulated couplers however, has now made it possible to increase the capacitance while still meeting physical size constraints on capacitive couplers.

PE-455-EC-0-2-1988 A paper recommended and approved by the IEEE Electric Machinery Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. Manuscript submitted August 4, 1997: made available for printing March2, 1998.

The frequency bandwidth of this detection circuit for different capacitances of the couplers terminated into 50 Ω is calculated. Vol. and illustrated in Fig. using a Tektronix TDS520 oscilloscope with a 500 MHz bandwidth. i. The increased detection sensitivity of capacitive couplers is demonstrated by theoretical analysis. The investigation concluded that a PD pulse appearing at the winding terminals after travelling via the stator winding have lengthened risetime in addition to the attenuation in magnitude. in conjunction with the winding frequency spectrum [9]. In particular. The pulse risetime is associated with the high-frequency components of PD pulses. The longer the PD risetime. This paper presents some investigation and field test experience to show the detection-sensitivity difference among couplers with different capacitances. However. IMPROVED FREQUENCY BANDWIDTH OF CAPACITIVE COUPLERS The frequency bandwidth for a capacitive coupler should be sensitive enough to detect as many PD pulses as possible yet able to minimize noise.e. A simulated PD pulse was injected at various points of a complete stator winding and its response was recorded at the winding terminals. comparative laboratory tests and field tests on operating rotating machines. The capacitive coupler and the termination circuit constitute the detection circuit. A frequency bandwidth of a PD detectors has a critical effect on PD measurement results.6 0.4 0. Fig. (b) the winding frequency characteristics. Further. increases the difference among PD readings on a rotating machine [10]. most PD pulses measured at the winding terminals have a risetime of at least 5 ns. . Attenuation of the very high frequency components of PD pulses by the stator winding has been observed from both the time domain measurement [8] and the frequency characteristics of the stator winding [9]. the less PD energy contained in the high-frequency range. 3 Frequency characteristics of the detection circuit with various PDA capacitive couplers. Fig. The desirable frequency bandwidth of a capacitive coupler is. Consequently. 4. Based upon our experience with in-service PD measurement on hundreds of rotating machines. in general. determined by: (a) the PD and noise frequency characteristics at the detection points. A lengthened risetime in the time domain is equivalent to the high frequency attenuation of a PD pulse in the frequency domain. PD detectors with various bandwidths will produce different PD readings for a given PD event due to the different frequency characteristics of PD detectors themselves. 2. signal-noise-ratio (SNR). PD pulse originating within stator windings have short pulse risetime. PD detectors with various bandwidths. 14. the very high frequency components of PD pulses are attenuated more than the relatively lower frequency components due to the frequency dependence of the pulse attenuation in the stator winding [7]. No. 2 shows a typical PD pulse measured with an 80 pF capacitive couplers installed on an operating hydro-generator. the PD pulse appearing at the machine terminals after propagating through the stator winding via a complex transmission path has a lengthened risetime. based on the circuit fin Fig 1. 2 A typical PD pulse detected at the winding terminals of an operating hydro-generator by an 80 pF capacitance coupler. 1 0. capacitive couplers with an excessively high cut-off frequency might not be sensitive enough to detect some PD pulses at the winding terminals.2 PD spectrum 0 1 C=1000 pF C=500 pF C= 80 pF 10 100 Frequency (MHz) Fig.8 Gain (V0/Vi) 0. December 1999 It has been found recently that couplers with a capacitance greater than 80 pF have better detection sensitivity for inservice PD measurement in rotating machines. An extensive investigation of the pulse propagation in complete stator windings has been carried out [5] [6].IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. The PD risetime in the generator was 10 ns. 3.

The –3 dB cut-off frequency of the 80pF coupler is 40MHz. This is because there often is noise at sites of rotating machine operation. 3. 4. No. Therefore. it is evident that increasing the capacitance of the couplers increases the number and magnitude of PD pulses detected. the lower the cut-off frequency of the PD detection circuit. The voltage applied to the was 9 kV. a desirable frequency bandwidth of capacitive couplers for the PDA instrument would be sensitive enough to detect as many PD signals as possible but also able to prevent noise from entering the measurement system. comprehensive noise cancellation techniques have to be applied at the low frequency measurement.g. did not change and was consistent for all three capacitances. The test result with 1000 pF capacitive coupler is shown in Fig. By comparing the test results from the 80 pF. this does not necessarily mean that the lower the cut-off frequency of the coupler. A PDA instrument with a frequency bandwidth of 150 MHz was used to record partial discharges simultaneously from the 80 pF. 14. This demonstrates that increasing the capacitance of couplers will not change the nature of partial discharges measured in the stator insulation (e. since more PD energy will be taken into the detection circuit with a relatively lower frequency bandwidth. 5 Partial discharges detected with the 500 pF capacitive coupler in the HV laboratory. A capacitive coupler with a relatively low cut-off frequency can detect more PD energy than one with a higher cut-off frequency. LABORATORY TEST The detection sensitivity of 80 pF. However. 6. 500 pF and 1000 pF capacitive couplers in connection with the same terminal circuit was tested in a high voltage laboratory.8 kV stator bar. Vol. the better is the detection sensitivity. The number of PD pulses detected by the 500 pF coupler was also much higher than that from the 80 pF capacitive coupler. 4 Partial discharges detected from the 80pF capacitive coupler in the HV laboratory. The figure illustrates that the higher the capacitance. the predominance of positive or negative pulses). The 1000 pF coupler detected higher PD magnitudes and more PD pulses than the 500 pF and 80 pF couplers did. while that of the 500 pF coupler is 7 MHz and the 1000 pF coupler is 4 MHz. Notice that the predominance of positive pulses. Fig. Appropriately increasing he capacitance of couplers enables better detection sensitivity yet still maintaining a margin against noise. Noise is mainly distributed in the low frequency region and hence noise could become dominant at low frequencies if the PD detection bandwidth falls too low. Hence. increasing the capacitance of a coupler can increase its detection sensitivity by enabling it to operate at relatively lower frequencies and so detect more PD signals. In-service PD measurements must overcome noise to ensure false readings are not recorded. The couplers were physically connected to a 13. .IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. 500 pF and 1000 pF capacitive couplers. which indicates surface discharges on the stator bar. Fig. December 1999 The frequency spectrum of a typical PD pulse is superimposed on the frequency characteristics of the capacitive couplers. 500 pF and 1000 pF couplers. The laboratory test concluded that 500 pF capacitive couplers have higher sensitivity than 80 pF capacitive couplers under the exactly same test conditions. Consequently. The maximum PD magnitude from the 500 pF capacitive coupler was approximately twice that from the 80 pF capacitive coupler.

at the terminals of the motor. when travelling to the detection points via the long shielded cables. The power cables connecting the motor to the power system were quite long (>200 feet). 8. only three capacitive couplers. 4. we performed in-service PD testing on a 6. FIELD PD TESTING ON AN OPERATING MOTOR To compare the detection sensitivity of different capacitive couplers on operating machines. The PD test was performed at a stator temperature of 41°C with the same PDA instrument as used in the HV laboratory test. Vol. three 500 pF epoxy-mica capacitive couplers were installed. The motor has been in service for fourteen years and was rewound three years ago when the test was taken. December 1999 Fig. Fig. . The motor has not been repaired since being rewound. Initially. Here. 14. Normally. is greatly attenuated and hence effectively blocked from entering the PD measurement system [11]. 8 PD phase distribution graph obtained from the operating motor with 500 pF capacitive couplers. 4. one per phase. 6 Partial discharges detected with the 1000 pF capacitive coupler in the HV laboratory. Fig. one per phase. two capacitive couplers per phase are installed in a directional configuration on rotating machines with isolated phase buses. The PD phase graph obtained with the 500 pF coupler on phase A is shown in Fig.9 kV motor under test. Software in conjunction with the PDA instrument provides a comprehensive analysis of PD data to identify various faults in the stator winding insulation. Each coupler pair rejects external noise using a “time-of-flight” technique [3]. 7. 6000 HP boiler feed pump motor. The stator winding insulation of the motor is epoxy mica.IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. No.9 kV. were installed at the machine phase terminals since the motor was fed by insulated power cables. Any external noise from the power system. not isolated phase buses. 7 The 6. as shown in Fig.

14. 10. the insulation material expands and makes the voids smaller in the groundwall insulation. . Subsequent PD testing was again taken from the 500 pF couplers at the same voltage and load conditions except for a stator temperature of 51 °C. the 500 pF couplers were replaced by three 80 pF couplers to determine their effect on the PD readings. Fig. The PD phase distribution from the 80 pF couplers is show in Fig. The same PD measurement instrument recorded almost no partial discharges with the 80 pF capacitive couplers. PD pulses normally distribute between 0° to 90° and 180° to 270° in the phase graph while noise pulses may appear everywhere in the 0° to 360° phase range. seven months after the previous test using the same 500 pF couplers. There was a 7 °C temperature difference between the 500 pF test (41 °C) and the 80 pF test (34 °C). No events or repairs occurred on the machine between the replacement of the capacitive couplers. Vol. thus decreasing the PD activity. December 1999 The three dimensional phase distribution graphs display the relationship among the discharge magnitude. The PD activity at 50°C was slightly lower than that at 41 °C. 4. The same amount or more partial discharges would be expected five months later if the 80 pF couplers had the same detection sensitivity as the 500 pF couplers. Fig. As the temperature increases. Therefore the higher PD activity would be expected at 34 °C (the 80 pF test) than at 41 °C (the 500 pF test).IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. since the pulses are regularly distributed between the 0° to 90° phase and the 180° to 270° phase. The absence of any distinct predominance of either positive pulses or negative pulses indicates that the partial discharges were occurring within the groundwall insulation of the stator winding. The test results are shown in Fig. This was expected due to the temperature effect on the PD activity in the groundwall insulation. 10 PD phase graph obtained in November 1996. No. The phase distribution graph of this motor shows that a number of PD pulses were detected by the 500 pF capacitive couplers without any signs of significant noise. Inservice PD testing was then taken on the machine under the same operating conditions as before with the 500 pF capacitive couplers except for a stator temperature of 34 °C. 9. the 500 pF coupler were put back on the same motor. Normally. There is no reason to expect a decrease in the PD activity. In this case. This indicates that the temperature difference in the tests was not the reason of the significantly different PD readings. 9 PD phase graph obtained from the operating motor with 80 pF capacitive couplers. the number of discharges per second and the relative phase position of discharges along the sinusoidal AC voltage wave. This later test verifies that 500 pF couplers detect more PD pulses than 80 pF couplers. Two months after the 500 pF couplers have been replaced by the 80 pF couplers. Five months later. They show essentially the same PD activity as those obtained seven months earlier with the same 500 pF couplers. the PD activity in the epoxy mica decreases with increasing stator temperature. the 80 pF couplers actually detected much less partial discharges than the 500 pF couplers did. Instead. as described in the previous paragraph. the stator insulation of the machine could only deteriorate more after five months and more partial discharges would be detected.

some rotating machines have smaller partial discharges than others. August 1984. Vol. 7. Therefore a great number of small PD pulses should not be ignored for insulation diagnosis. but that did not cause the significantly different PD readings between the 500 pF and the 80 pF couplers. C. [9]. PAS-103. Kurtz. G. G. The ability of a PD measurement system to detect small partial discharges enables plant engineers to monitor the insulation problems in the stator winding at an early stage. 14. The 500 pF couplers have higher detection sensitivity than the 80 pF couplers. 1992. [11]. Costello. 10 with the temperature difference (9°C). 32. 500 pF couplers with higher detection sensitivity can detect more PD pulses to provide more PD information for analysis and give an indication of more accurate PD magnitude than 80 pF couplers. A. laboratory tests and field testing experience on the couplers with different capacitances have drawn the same conclusion: 500 pF couplers have better detection sensitivity than 80 pF couplers. p. J. Stone. 4. Canada. Vol. J. J.416. Sedding.C. Zhu and I. They are able to detect some PD pulses which 80 pF couplers are not sensitive enough to detect and still avoid noise. “Experience with PDA diagnostic testing on hydraulic generators”. Proceedings IEE B. March/April 1996. p234-244. “Application of partial discharge testing to motor and generator stator winding maintenance”. “Analysis of partial discharge calibration difficulties in HV rotating machines”. H. Lyles and G. Both a small number of large PD pulses and a great number of small PD pulses may indicate that damage has occurred to the insulation of the stator winding.F. 2148-2157. 8. Vol. McDermid. May 1997. 132. The PD phase distribution graphs for all three phases in the several PD tests did not show any signs of noise pulses. 3. Measurement and Technology. [7]. Sedding. M. J. G. Tychsen. The theoretical analysis and the laboratory test described earlier in the paper support the field test results. Wilson. “The partial discharge calibration problem in rotating machines”. J. [2]. Colombo and G. IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications. 1985. C. 459-464. Kemp and H. August 1997. June 7-10. USA. IEEE Electrical/Electronics Insulation Conference. Stone. H. 10th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering. DISCUSSIONS During the whole process of changing of the capacitive couplers in the following order 500 pF – 80 pF – 500 pF. No. 140. J. Higher-sensitivity couplers bring two benefits.1132-1135. Vol. First. Bromley. An ideal PD capacitive coupler should be able to detect as many PD pulses as possible and yet prevent significant noise from entering the PD measurement system. H. The partial discharges themselves can further exacerbate the damage. 409. H. “Application of partial discharge testing to hydro generator maintenance”. W. By comparing Fig. and R. “Discharge detection techniques for stator windings”. "Studies of partial discharges in HV machines: initial considerations for a PD specification" IEE Proceedings A: Science. Kemp. Su. Korea. Stone and M. IEEE International Symposium on Electrical Insulation. Jackson and N. no repair was made on the motor. Zhu. [3]. [8]. IEEE Transaction on Power Apparatus and Systems. “Monitoring rotating machine insulation with the CEA PDA through the use of directional couplers”. J. 8 and Fig. p. . J. 411-414. G. E. “Travelling wave propagation of partial discharges along generator stator winding”. C. No. IEEE Transaction on Energy Conversion. Chicago. W. 1993. “ENEL’s experience with on-line partial discharge measurement on stator windings of large synchronous hydro generators”. Tontini. USA. Wood. 8 and Fig. Hence the significantly different PD readings between Fig. the operation conditions or anything else. 1992. Q. Only the stator temperature differed slightly. 1992 IEEE International Symposium on Electrical Insulation. K. Canada. I. the PD activity was not temperature sensitive. “Pulse propagation in rotating machines and its relationship to partial discharge measurements”. 9 were certainly not due to the temperature difference of 7 °C. Seoul. Proceedings of 5th International Conference on Properties and Applications of Dielectric Materials. Chang. Toronto. 5. not due to the change of the motor conditions. No. p. C. [5]. REFERENCES [1]. All of the above tests were performed under the same voltage and load conditions. October 1985. The field test results indicate that significant different PD readings were due to different capacitances of the couplers. [4]. December 1999 5. December 1988. [10]. Panel Session 92 THO 425-9PWR. Vol. No. Hogg. June 1990. p. The theoretical analysis. Kurtz. CONCLUSIONS The frequency bandwidth of PD sensors is critical in determining the detection sensitivity of a PD measurement system.C. [6]. Zhu. IEEE Winter Meeting 1992. Montreal. Wang. 6. 4. Higher-capacitance couplers with increased sensitivity can provide more PD information for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance of the stator insulation of rotating machines. Secondly. W.IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. 2. R. 500 pF capacitive couplers have since been installed on more than ten operating motors and generators and have given similarly satisfactory results.F. Lyles. Baltimore. No. p. H. Sedding and M.

IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. 14. No. Vol. December 1999 . 4.

14. No. December 1999 98 WM 455 A paper recommended and approved by the IEEE Electric Machinery Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society . 4. Vol.IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion.