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Functions of transformer oil

The function of the oil in an electrical transformer is to insulate the windings and to transfer the heat generated when the transformer is in operation The oil must possess good dielectric properties and low viscosity for efficient heat transfer

Properties of oil


Flash point / Fire point


It is the property of a liquid or fluid by virtue of which it offers resistance to its over flow It is measure by time taken for a given volume of oil pass through a orifice
The lowest temperature of which the oil gives off enough vapours that ignite for a moment Fire point vapours will burn continuously at least 5 seconds Change in flash point may indicate the contamination of the oil by more volatile products

Properties of oil -2

Neutralization value

It refers to the determination of acidic or basic constituents of oil Generally free acids are not present oil. Of the acid value greater than 0.1 mg/KOH indicates the oil has been oxidized.
Water is one of the most destructive agents in a transformer It reduces the lubricity of the oil and leads to corrosion in metal parts.

Water content

Properties of oil - 3

Electrical strength ( BDV)

Oil is subjected to a steadily increasing A.C voltage until break down occurs. The test is carried out six times on the same cell filling and arithmetic mean of six results obtained

Dissolved gases

Gases are formed in oil filled transformer due to ageing and at a much greater rate as a result of faults and incipient faults. If the discharge or over heating occurs the oil and the insulation paper will degrade This produces gases such as hydro carbons Periodic sampling of oil and analysis for dissolved gases will assist in the detection of faults at an early stage and serious damage to the equipment may be prevented

Analysis Details

The most widely used method for the detection of fault gases is the Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) technique. In this method, a sample of the oil is taken from the unit and the dissolved gases are extracted. The extracted gases are then separated, identified, and quantitatively determined.

Dissolved Gas Analyser

ASTM methods D-3613, D-

Types of gases and Limits ( ABB)

Gases Hydrogen ( H2) Methane ( CH4) Ethylene ( C2H4) Content cm3 / cm3 100 100 150

Ethane ( C2H6)
Acetylene ( C2H2)


Carbon monoxide ( CO)

Carbon dioxide ( CO2)


When one of the gas levels exceed the above it is wise to increase supervision of the transformer by taking frequent samples of the oil and monitoring the change of gas content
Typical gas ratios to be monitored are C2H2 / C2H4 , CH4 / H2 , C2H4 / C2H6, C2H6 / CH4

Code of range of ratios Ratios of characteristic gases

C2H2/ CH4 / C2H4 H2

C2H4/ C2H6

< 0.1
< 0.1 - 1




1 - 3.0
> 3.0




Case No 0


C2H2/ C2H4 0

CH4 / H2 0

C2H4/ C2H6 Typical examples 0 Normal ageing Discharge of gas filled cavities resulting from incomplete impregnation or super saturation or cavitations or high humidity As above but leading to tracking or perforation of solid insulation Continuous sparking in oil between bad connections of different potential or to floating potential. Break down of oil between solid material

No fault Partial discharge of low energy density Partial discharge of High energy density

Discharge of low energy



Case No

Characteristic Fault

C2H2/ C2H4

CH4 / H2

C2H4/ C2H6 Typical examples

Discharge of High energy

Discharge with power follow - through arcing breakdown of oil between winding or coils or between coils to earth , selector breaking current General insulated conductor over heating

Thermal fault of low temperature < 150 C

Thermal fault of low temperature range 150 C - 300 C

Local over heating of the core due to concentration of flux, Increasing hot spot

Case No Characteristic C2H2/



CH4 / C2H4/ H2 C2H6

Typical examples

Thermal faults of temperatur e range 300 C 700 C

Eddy currents bad contacts / Joints ( Pyrolitic carbon formation) up to core and tank circulating currents An increasing value of the amount of C2H2 may indicate that the hot point temperature is higher than 1000 C

Thermal fault of High temperatur e > 700 C

Test report - G.T -1 of MTPS

Methan e Date CH4 09.11.04 13.05.05 24.10.05 10.11.05 10.11.05 21.11.05 23.11.05 29.11.05 9.12.05 21.12.05 21.12.05 106 167 318 309 349 383 467 325 319 277 317 C2H6 33 68 81 110 99 102 232 88 77 80 110 C2H4 15 33 44 46 53 56 110 48 43 42 46 C2H2 0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 1 H 69 611 1551 1096 2254 2869 913 1440 1583 1405 1271 CO2 1503 2074 2562 4488 2832 3332 4668 2590 2780 2458 4428 C2H2/ C2H4 0.0000 0.0030 0.0023 0.0022 0.0019 0.0018 0.0009 0.0021 0.0023 0.0024 0.0217 CH4/ H2 1.536 0.273 0.205 0.282 0.155 0.133 0.512 0.226 0.202 0.197 0.249 C2H4 /C2H6 0.455 0.485 0.543 0.418 0.535 0.549 0.474 0.545 0.558 0.525 0.418 Ethane Ethylen e Acetyle ne Hrdrog en Carbon dioxide Coded of range of ratios



It is device used for disconnecting a transformer from the supply upon the occurrence of an inter turn fault This relay will act due to collection of sufficient gas which in turn actuate the mercury float Collection of gas may be due to short circuit

Gas in - let

Gas out let

Pure Silver Nitrate solution

Ammonical Silver Nitrate Solution

Test Procedure

Pass the gas through bottles 1 and 2 in series If the gas forms white Precipitate in bottle 1 and which turns brown in sunlight it means that oil has decomposed ( Because of Acetylene) Probably flash occurs between two rare conductors If forms dark brown precipitate in bottle 2 it means that insulation material like wood, paper, cotton etc has decomposed. (because of CO)