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2015

Electrical Insulation Conference (EIC), Seattle, Washington, USA, 7 -10 June 2015

Monitoring HV transformer conditions: the strength


of combining various diagnostic property
observations
Gian Carlo Montanari

Peter Morshuis

University of Bologna
DEI
Bologna, Italy
Giancarlo.montanari@unibo.it

Delft University of Technology


ESE
Delft, the Netherlands
p.h.f.morshuis@tudelft.nl
Alan Cervi
Techimp HQ
Via Toscana llic
Zola Predosa, Italy

Abstract- Power utilities are constantly increasing their


demand for on-line monitoring systems able to dynamically
assess the condition of their electrical assets, in order to perform
cost-effective maintenance. The power transformers connected to
the transmission and distribution networks represent a wide
population of electrical apparatus where the on-line monitoring
of their overall conditions can allow maintenance and asset
manager to prevent major outages or damages, having
sometimes cost higher than the whole apparatus. The condition,
or health index, of a transformer can be assessed by off-line and
on-line property measurements, repeated in time or monitored
permanently. This paper presents the results of a case study of
on-line monitoring of HV power transformers, considering
different techniques available such as partial discharge analysis,
dissolved gas analysis, and capacitance and loss tangent
measurements. It is highlighted how the combined results of the
different techniques allows condition evaluation and early
detection of insulation problems or faults to be achieved.

global approach presented in this paper condition information


is obtained from three sets of measurements:

Capacitance and dielectric


(DDF) of the bushings;

Partial discharge analysis (PDA) of the windings


and bushings.

dissipation

factor

MONITORING APPROACH

The partial discharge signals, the bushing capacitance and


the dielectric loss factor are obtained through adapters
connected to the taps in each of the six transformer bushings,
see Fig. 1. By electronic filtering, separate signals are obtained
containing the information on partial discharge and
capacitance/dielectric loss factor.

INTRODUCTION

A. Partial discharge

As a result, a development is taking place towards a global


monitoring of power transformers, i.e. the monitoring of a
variety of diagnostic parameters that allow to establish the
condition of the different parts of the transformer. By now, also
all major transformer manufacturers are now providing such
systems. As no single diagnostic parameter can provide the
overall condition or health index of the transformer, in the

IEEE

II.

Transformers are considered by asset managers and


industry to be among the most challenging assets for condition
assessment [1,2]. The complexity of the construction of a
transformer, containing many parts with different insulating
materials ageing simultaneously, leads to different failure
modes that sometimes operate concurrently.

978-1-4799-7354-5/15/$31.00 2015

Dissolved gas analysis (DGA), humidity and


temperature of the oil;

This global monitoring approach was applied to


transformers in various countries. The results obtained for a 40
year old step-up transformer in a hydro power plant are
reported in this paper. A thorough analysis of the combined
results of the measurements allowed the health index (HI) of
the transformers to be evaluated as a function of time, thus to
achieve the so-called dynamic HI estimation. Based on that, the
asset manager was provided with a set of recommendations.

Keywords-component; monitoring; diagnostics; transformer;


partial discharge; DGA; loss tangent
1.

To maximize the acceptance of on-line monitoring by asset


owners it is of the utmost importance to minimize the amount
of false alarms. Because the monitoring of PD takes place on
line, in a noisy environment, the first issue to be solved is the
rejection of noise. This is achieved using the information
contained in the frequency content of the measured pulses. The

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so-called T-F map [2] allows a differentiation between noise


and PD and between PD from different types of defects. The
wave forms from each defect or type of disturbance have their
own signatures which show up in a cluster on the
T-F map.
B.

After about six months, PD activity was also measured in


the green phase. The amplitude of this PD activity was
irregular but considerably larger than in the yellow phase.
Also in this case, the trend of PD magnitude and PD pattern
over a longer period of time was stable.

Capacitance and dielectric loss factor

The dielectric dissipation factor and the capacitance of the


bushings are measured using the signals from the tap adapters
and applying physical models. The models take into account
the temperature and the moisture content of the bushing
insulation using a temperature and relative humidity sensor. In
this way false variations of the DDF due to environmental and
load conditions are identified and rejected.
C.

DGA, humidity and temperature

The on-line DGA system is connected to the transformer


through an oil valve. The system detects the concentration of
carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) dissolved in the
transformer oil. The presence of H2 and CO provides an
indication of degradation processes occurring inside the
transformer. In particular, CO is developed in anomalous
quantities at hot spots when thermal decomposition of paper
occurs. The production of H2 is associated with arcing in the oil
and/or with PD activity.

Fig. I. Partial discharge signal, capacitance and dielectric loss factor


obtained via bushing tap adaptor.

D. Transformer condition assessment


The diagnostic markers obtained from the above
measurements, together with information about the transformer
load history, are subsequently used to determine how the health
of (subsystems of) the transformer evolves as a function of
time under stress (age). Finally, this assessment of the
transformer condition is used to define actions to be taken by
the asset manager. This is done through advanced identification
and data mining algorithms that are handled by artificial
intelligence tools [2].
III.

Fig.2. On- line dissolved gas analysis via oil valve

MONITORING RESULTS

B.

In the following, the results are shown of global


on-line
monitoring during a period of one year of a power transformer
of 125 MVA, 151240 kV operated in a hydro power plant.

Capacitance and dielectric loss factor markers

Due to the considerable age of the transformer, the


dielectric loss factor is quite high, close to or just above the
threshold for a first level warning (0.007). During the entire
monitoring period the loss factor remained constant, indicating
that there was no imminent need for further action. The values
of the capacitance were well within the required range.

A. PD diagnostic markers
Right from the start of the monitoring, internal PD were
detected in the monitored transformers. Initially, PD were
measured only in the yellow phase, with a low amplitude.
Figure 3a shows a characteristic PD pattern observed in the
yellow phase after one year of monitoring. In the course of
time, the phase resolved partial discharge pattern (PRPD) and
PD amplitude remained approximately constant. By separating
different clusters in the TF plot in Fig. 3b, external
disturbances and corona could be separated from PD inside the
transformer. Figure 3d shows the PD pattern without the
contribution of the external disturbances. This pattern was
identified as internal PD. Without this separation of external
disturbances, an alarm could have been triggered, without
justification, for this particular situation.

C.

DGA, humidity and temperature

The measured levels of oil temperature and moisture were


within a normal range and constant in time. The moisture level
in oil was about 19 ppm, considerably below the first alarm
trigger of 25 ppm. All alarms are set based on the values
mentioned in IEEE Standard C57.l04-2008 [3].
In the first week of October 2014, unexpectedly a strong
reduction of H2 and CO levels was observed, see Fig. 4 and
Fig. 5.

142

D 

E 



F 




G 

Fig. 3. PD data processing using T- F map. a) PRPD pattern detected; b) Separation of external disturbances and internal PD using T- F map; c) PRPD pattern of
external disturbances; d) PRPD pattern of internal PD

26

&

16

11

J
Fig. 4 On- line DGA: Concentration in oil of H2 recorded in the period
October - December 2014. In the first week of October the oil was
replaced, leading to a remarkable dip in the concentration.

Fig. 5 On- line DGA: Concentration in oil of CO recorded in the period


October - December 2014. In the first week of October the oil was
replaced, leading to a remarkable dip in the concentration.

DGA. In the three months following the oil treatment, the


production rates of CO and H2 were well below the
maximum allowed for condition I as defmed in IEEE
standard C57.104-2008. Before oil treatment the H2 level

After contacting the power plant it appeared that in the


first week of October the oil had been replaced without
informing the monitoring system. The asset owner in fact
was quite pleased that this was "detected" by the on-line

143

TABLE Ill.

was well below the condition 1 threshold, while the CO level


indicated condition 2 (above 350 ppm but below 570 ppm).
For this level of CO it is recommended to exercise extreme
caution, sample the oil quarterly and determine any load
dependence.
IV.

PO

Hydrogen

Carbon Monoxide

(H,)

(CO)

350

Condition

701-1800

571-1400

Condition 4

TABLE II.

>

1800

>

After treatment

Reference limit

<5 ppm

100 ppm
350 ppm

CO

10 ppm

H, rate

0.0 ppm/day

(H2

CO rate

0.17 ppm/day

<6.28 ppm/day

Yellow phase

tan ()

CO)

0.0071

capacitance

185.9 pF

tan ()

0.0057

capacitance

188.1 pF

tan ()

0.0052

capacitance

191.1 pF

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES
limits

C57.104

for

[I ]

condition 1
H,

40 ppm

<5 ppm

100 ppm

CO

500 ppm

10 ppm

350 ppm

H, rate

0.15 ppm/day

o ppm/day

CO rate

0.5 ppm/day

0.17 ppm/day

TDGC (H, + CO) rate


< 6.28 ppm/day

Global monitoring of electrical apparatus is the best tool


available to asset and maintenance managers to keep under
control return of investments, reliability and availability of
an electrical asset.
Regarding a global approach to transformer condition
monitoring, it is shown in this paper that clear and dynamic
indications on transformer conditions can be achieved,
which is also the basis to evaluate a dynamic health index.
On-line PD measurements can be performed successfully by
separating external disturbances and internal PD, so that
false alerts can be prevented. Transformer conditions can be
represented globally by traffic light indications,
encompassing the diagnostic information provided by PD,
DGA and tan delta, so as to drive the asset manager to
decide about transformer loading and maintenance.

1400

Reference

IEEE

treatment

measurement

H,

DGA RESULTS
Before

within

free

V.

(ppm))

351-570

internal PO detected

Green phase

Dissolved key gas concentration limits

100

Green phase

Red phase

TABLE I.
DISSOLVED GAS CONCENTRATION LIMITS ACCORDING TO
IEEE C57. l 04-2008 [3]

101-700

PO

Capacitance, dielectric loss factor

After the oil had been replaced, the DGA resulted in H2


and CO concentrations far below the threshold for an
"orange" indication. Based on DGA alone it is suggested to
continue normal operation.

Red phase

DGA

The PD diagnostic markers, i.e. type of defect, PD


magnitude and PD trend in the green and yellow phase led to
an orange light, indicating the need to further monitor the
detected PD phenomenon. No special actions are due as long
as the PD level remains constant in time.

Condition

internal PO detected

Mean value

In this particular case, the transformer was 40 years old


which was probably reflected in the relatively high values for
tan 8 of the bushings. The resulting traffic light indication
was "orange" indicating the need for at least keep tan 8
monitored carefully.

Condition 1

Yellow phase

sensitivity

The diagnostic information presented in section III was


used to determine the condition or health of the transformer.
For each set of diagnostic markers, a traffic light indication
was provided taking into account the information given by
the standards, experience and load history.

[Ill/I

Global Monitoring Result

TRANSFORMER CONDITION ASSESSMENT

Status

OVERVIEW OF THE RESULTS OF GLOBAL MONITORING

A. Naderian Jahromi, R. Piercy, S. Cress, J.R.R. Service, W. Fang,


"An Approach to Power Transformer Asset Management Using
Health Index". IEEE Electr. Insul. Mag., Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 20-34,
2009.

[2 ]

A.E.B. Abu- Elanien, M.M.A. Salama, "Asset management techniques


for transformers". Electric Power Systems Research, Vol. 80, pp. 456464,2010.

[ 3]

A. Cavallini, X. Chen, G. C. Montanari, F. Ciani, "Diagnosis of EHV


and HV Transformers Through an Innovative Partial-Discharge
Based Technique". IEEE Trans. Power Del., Vol.25, No.2 pp. 814824,2010.

[ 4]

IEEE Guide for the Interpretation of Gases Generated in Oil


Immersed Transformers, Std C57. l 04-2008.

The overall condItIon of the transformer receIved an


"orange" light and is determined by the condition of the
different sub systems and load history. A summary is shown
in Table IV. The orange light is a medium-level warning
that sends a message to the asset owner that (continued)
monitoring of critical diagnostic indicators is required.

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