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Online Treatment of Transformers

and

Regeneration of Insulating Oil

Andreas Gruber
Dipl Ing TS

Managing Director

Abstract

For securing operational safety of power transformers on a long terms basis, it is essential to
maintain the moisture content in the oil and in the entire insulation as low as this is possible.
Comprehensive studies in regions all over the world have revealed that a high number of power
transformers operate with an increased moisture content in the insulating oil, as well as in the in-
sulation. Depending on the amount of cellulose insulation, operating temperature, voltage class,
moisture content, age and service book of the transformer, the operators or the servicing com-
pany must decide on the drying technology to be applied and the degree of urgency under which
this has to be done. Main factors for such decision, such as available equipment or investment
capital, efficiency of a specific drying process, operational and maintenance cost, required per-
sonnel etc. must be carefully evaluated, in order that the optimal drying and treatment technology
can be chosen. In this report we shall offer a display of available processes for the treatment of
power transformers and we shall make an in depth analysis of requirements taking the examples
of two technologies that are given preference by Messrs. Micafluid.

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Register of contents

1
U Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 3
U U U

2
U UTechnology of Oil Purification ................................................................................................................. 4
U U

2.1 Requirements on insulating fluids...................................................................................................... 4


U U U U

2.2 Requirements on insulating fluids in operation .................................................................................. 5


U U U U

2.2.1 Moisture content (ppm) ............................................................................................................. 5


U U U U

2.2.2 Gas content (%Vol) .................................................................................................................. 6


U U U U

2.2.3 Dielectric strength (kV/cm)........................................................................................................ 7


U U U U

2.2.4 Dielectric Loss Factor (tan delta) .............................................................................................. 7


U U U U

2.2.5 Neutralization number (KHO/g) ................................................................................................ 7


U U U U

2.2.6 Interfacial tension (mN/m)......................................................................................................... 7


U U U U

2.2.7 Inhibitor content ........................................................................................................................ 7


U U U U

2.3 Indications on intervals between inspections on power transformers ................................................ 8


U U U U

2.3.1 Power transformers .................................................................................................................. 8


U U U U

2.3.2 Step switches (tap changers) ................................................................................................... 8


U U U U

3.1 On-line treatment without vacuum ..................................................................................................... 9


U U U U

3.1.1 Molecular sieves ....................................................................................................................... 9


U U U U

3.1.2 Cellulose filters ......................................................................................................................... 9


U U U U

3.1.3 Cold traps ................................................................................................................................. 9


U U U U

3.2 Oil treatment under vacuum .............................................................................................................. 9


U U U U

3.3 On-line Oil Treatment under Vacuum .............................................................................................. 10


U U U U

3.3.1 On-line oil treatment plants with low through flow capacity ..................................................... 10
U U U U

3.3.2 On-line oil treatment plants with high through flow capacity ................................................... 10
U U U U

3.4 On-line Treatment and Regeneration under Vacuum ...................................................................... 11


U U U U

3.4.1 Conventional pressure “fullering” ............................................................................................ 11


U U U U

3.4.2 Combined oil purification and regeneration plants .................................................................. 11


U U U U

3.5 Drying through heat and vacuum .................................................................................................... 12


U U U U

3.5.1 Pulsation drying through oil circulation and vacuum ............................................................... 12


U U U U

3.5.2 Hot oil spray drying ................................................................................................................. 13


U U U U

3.5.3 Low frequency heating and drying with oil circulation ............................................................. 13
U U U U

3.5.4 Low frequency heating and drying with hot oil spraying .......................................................... 14
U U U U

4. Comparison of various Technologies ................................................................................................... 14


U U U U

4.1 Locations of plants in service .......................................................................................................... 14


U U U U

4.2 Requirements on operational personnel .......................................................................................... 15


U U U U

4.3 Evaluation of efficiency.................................................................................................................... 16


U U U U

4.4 Time consumption of each system vs. intervals between services .................................................. 16
U U U U

4.5 Estimation of costs .......................................................................................................................... 17


U U U U

4.6 Possibilities among various methods .............................................................................................. 18


U U U U

4.7 Discussion ....................................................................................................................................... 18


U U U U

4.7.1 Transformer operator.............................................................................................................. 18


U U U U

4.7.2 Maintenance and service companies...................................................................................... 19


U U U U

4.7.2 Analysis of requirements ........................................................................................................ 19


U U U U

5.1 On-line treatment plants .................................................................................................................. 20


U U U U

5.1.1 Scope of duties ....................................................................................................................... 21


U U U U

5.2 Combined purification and regenerating plants ............................................................................... 21


U U U U

5.3 VOP + VH312 ................................................................................................................................. 21


U U U U

5.4 MORP ............................................................................................................................................. 22


U U U U

5.4.1 Purification unit ....................................................................................................................... 23


U U U U

5.4.2 Regeneration unit ................................................................................................................... 23


U U U U

5.4.3 Description of the process ...................................................................................................... 23


U U U U

5.4.4 Performance MORP ............................................................................................................... 25


U U U U

6.1 Outlook............................................................................................................................................ 26
U U U U

7
U UAnnex ................................................................................................................................................... 27
U U

7.1 Regeneration................................................................................................................................... 27
U U U U

7.1.1 Sample fullering ...................................................................................................................... 28


U U U U

7.1.2 Consumption of Fuller’s earth in function of the ageing behaviour.......................................... 28


U U U U

7.2 Register of Graphs .......................................................................................................................... 29


U U U U

7.3 Register of Tables ........................................................................................................................... 29


U U U U

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1
0B Introduction

Power transformers are an important and also costly component in the chain of electrical
power supply. Thus they represent a high investment value.

In conjunction with the basically in Europe ongoing deregulation and privatisation process
of the power supply market, generation, transmission and distribution of electrical energy
gains more and more importance in a liberal market. With the increase of demand of elec-
trical energy on one side and political pressure against nuclear or other climate active
power generation on the other side, there exists an ever rising concern over future short-
ages in electrical power supply. Since necessary capital investment is held back due to the
above, one of the remaining measures to counter the catastrophic effects of a general
shortage in power supply, will be to maintain and service the existing gear in an optimal
way. This presentation will focus on maintenance of transformers as a relevant contribu-
tion to securing power supply on the long run.

On oil filled transformers, various monitoring and servicing systems may meet. The opera-
tors of such transformer systems demand a reliable and economic method in order to con-
tinuously supervise and evaluate the operating condition of transformers. Inevitably, such
method ends up to be a compromise between technical practicability and economical con-
siderations.

The lifetime of oil insulated transformers is mainly determined by the general condition of
its main insulation, principally expressed by the oxygen content, the quality of the oil, the
moisture content in the insulation and the operating temperature of the unit, the latter two
being the main factors of influence.

Decomposition products dissolved in the oil are important indicators of possible weak
spots within the active part, quite often so, long time before sizeable damages do occur.
Besides the classical dielectric tests, nowadays the gas-in-oil-analysis has an increasingly
important part in the quality evaluation of oil-paper insulation systems.

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2
1B Technology of Oil Purification

2.1
4B Requirements on insulating fluids

The use of mineral oil as an insulating medium reaches as far back as high voltage tech-
nique has been applied. By impregnating the solid insulating system and filling of all empty
spaces in the transformer, homogeneousness of the electrical field was achieved. With
ever increasing capacity density in modern transformers, a reliable transport of heat losses
from inside of the active part to the outside became yet another necessity, which not only
made the oil an insulator, but also a thermal carrier medium.

The most important requirements on an insulating fluid are:


• Good dielectric characteristics (high dielectric strength, low loss factor)
• High resistivity against oxidation and thermal stress
• Optimal viscosity properties, particularly so at low temperatures
• High flash point
• Simple and ecological disposal
• Low cost of supply

Minimal requirements on new insulating oil are set forth in the IEC specifications no.
60296, which are displayed in table 1:

ƒ Specification for unused insulating liquids : IEC 60296


ƒ Electrical breakdown (AC) : IEC 60156
ƒ Dielectric dissipation factor and resistivity of oil : IEC 60247
ƒ Water content (Karl Fischer) : IEC 60814
ƒ Acidity (Neutralisation factor) : IEC 62021
ƒ Sediment and Sludge content : IEC 61125
ƒ Oxidation stability : IEC 61125
ƒ Inhibitor content (Anti-oxidant additives) : IEC 60666
ƒ Gas in oil analysis : IEC 60567
ƒ Particulates (particle count) : IEC 60970
Table 1: Minimal requirements on insulating oils as per IEC specifications

Oxidation and thermal stress in the transformer modify the physical and chemical proper-
ties of the oil, as these lead to so called „ageing“ of the oil. For the operational supervision
of transformers, a detailed monitoring of all modifications in the quality of oil becomes es-
sential, particularly of those changes that could have a negative effect on the operational
safety of the unit. In order to obtain valid information on the development of the dielectric
properties of the oil, one has to draw regular oil samples or these must be supervised and
analysed with an on-line system. It is important to collect as many parameters as this is
possible, so that a reliable assessment of the condition of the transformer can be made.

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2.2
5B Requirements on insulating fluids in operation

In the following chapter we shall review the most important parameters and their effect on
the performance of insulating oil in operation:

2.2.1
27B Moisture content (ppm)
The moisture content in insulating oil is dependent on the temperature and the number of
polar molecules in the oil. Diagram 1 demonstrates how the moisture content in the oil
changes in function of the environmental moisture and the temperature.

Graph 1: Moisture content (ppm) in function of the temperature

The moisture content in the transformer oil allows conclusions regarding the moisture con-
dition of the paper insulation; it can be assumed that there exists equilibrium in mass
transportation of water between the outer layers of the solid insulation and neighbouring
oil. High moisture content in the oil indicates that the insulation is likely to contain an ele-
vated amount of water too.

Next to oxidation, the hydrolysis of cellulose is one of the most important decomposition
processes of paper insulation. Hereby water is being both consumed through an autocata-
lytic reaction, as well as new water is being generated.

In the stage of advanced decomposition of cellulose fibres, under certain circumstances


chains of cellulose are created, which increase the risk of a dielectric rupture in the trans-
former. Graph 2 displays moisture equilibrium curves according to Dr. Oommen, as well as
the saturation values for insulation oils.

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Graph 2: Equilibrium curves in paper-oil-systems

2.2.2
28B Gas content (%Vol)

During the decomposition of cellulose material and disturbances in the active part (e.g.
partial discharges) gasses are being generated, which to a large extent end up being dis-
solved in the oil. The dissolved gasses lead to an expansion of the oil volume, reason why
the gas in the oil is expressed in percent by volume (%Vol).

Dissolved gasses are being identified and quantified through the gas-in-oil analysis. From
the composition of these dissolved gasses, the experienced operator may conclude on
possible causes of disturbances behind the high dissolved gas volume.

The following gasses may allow conclusions on possible cause of such disturbances (de-
pending on their share and mixing ratio:
- Hydrogen H2 - Oxygen O2
- Nitrogen N2 - Ethylene C2H4
- Methane CH4 - Acetylene C2H2
- Ethane C2H6 - Carbon monoxide CO
- Carbon dioxide CO2

Characteristic decomposition gasses appearing as a consequence of disturbances in transformers:


Decomposition of cellulose Low energy discharges High energy discharges Local overheating
(Gas) (Sparks, light arcs) (hot spots)
CO H2 H2 H2
CO2 CH4 C2H2 CH4
C2H2 C2H4
C2H2
Possible causes:
High moisture content in the Bad impregnation of the solid Bad contacts, discharges Overload; high transition
insulation insulation, entrapment of air between varying potentials resistance, scale loss

Table 2: Characteristic decomposition gasses as a consequence of disturbances in transformers

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2.2.3
29B Dielectric strength (kV/cm)

Dielectric strength is mainly influenced by three factors:


- Moisture content [ppm] in the oil (dissolved water)
- Temperature of the oil [°C]
- Contaminations in the oil, which can absorb water (e.g. cellulose fibres)

2.2.4
30B Dielectric Loss Factor (tan delta)

The parameter tan delta (tan δ) is an important criterion for estimating the ageing condition
of insulating oil. Tan δ is influenced by ageing products contained in oil, such as acids,
sludge and other particles. Main cause for this ageing process is the increased oxygen
content in the oil and the insulation.

2.2.5
31B Neutralization number (KHO/g)

The neutralization number is an indicator for the danger that sludge formation.
Sludge content is measured in percent by weight and serves as an indicator on an already
advanced oil ageing. New oil is expected to display a value of below 0,01 KHO/g. Since
measuring inaccuracy increases considerably below 0,03 KHO/g, IEC standards stipulate
< 0,03 KHO/g.

2.2.6
32B Interfacial tension (mN/m)

The interfacial tension expresses the tension of the interfaces between oil and water. This
ratio of tensions depends on the groups of polar molecules in the oil.

2.2.7
3B Inhibitor content

Inhibitors are chemical additives, which are mixed with the basic transformer oil in order to
enhance its stability to oxidation. This results in a slowed down ageing of the insulating oil.
By recommendable standards inhibited oils have an inhibitor content of 0,3 to 0,4%, re-
lated to the total oil volume in the transformer. If the inhibitor content decreases to a value
below 0,1 % one of the following possible steps is to be investigated as counter measure:

- supplementary filling of inhibitors in order to enhance the inhibitor concentration


- regenerate the insulating oil with a subsequent inhibition process
- new filling with inhibited oil

The same is being determined through an ageing test in compliance with IEC 61125
method C. The content of inhibitors in the oil is being measured according to IEC 60666.

Probably the single most important parameter for all measuring methods is the actual av-
erage temperature in the transformer. Without this indication, all moisture content measur-
ing are more or less worthless.

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2.3
6B Indications on intervals between inspections on power transformers

The frequency to inspect transformers is being influenced by technical as well as commer-


cial aspects. The oil testing as it is described under chapter 2.2 is quite costly. In the past
years it was concluded that the here below listed periods and intervals between inspec-
tions of oil-insulated electrical devices have proven to be recommendable:

2.3.1
34B Power transformers

Basic measurements according to IEC 60422 (recommendable limiting values may vary
depending on the operational voltage range of the unit).

Period Activity

0 Upon conclusion of the erection labour and filling with insulat-


ing oil, thereby using an vacuum oil purification plant (e.g.
Micafluid system), it is recommended to draw an oil sample
in order to determine the residual moisture content, the elec-
tric break-down strength, the dielectric loss factor “tan
δ“, as well as the composition of gasses in the oil (DGA).
after 3 to 6 3 to 6 months after setting the transformer into operation a
months DGA will be carried out in order to determine its actual condi-
tion, which will be considered the “Fingerprint” of this trans-
former unit.
3 years Every 3 years a short analysis of the transformer condition
and smaller services should be carried out according to the
operator’s check-list.
6 years Every 6 years the transformer should be inspected and ser-
viced according to operator’s check-list.
Table 3: Periodic inspections on Power Transformers

2.3.2
35B Step switches (tap changers)

The necessity to service step switches basically depends on one of two criteria (which
ever occurs first):
• Time in operation
• Number of switching operations

With MR-tap changers (star-point connection) the recommended servicing intervals are at
6 to 7 years. Main criteria for a thorough check-up are:
• Burn-up loss on the contacts
• Oil values
• Retrofit (after approx. 25 years)

In transformers as well as in tap-changers the analysis of the oil offers decisive information
on the general condition of the system, i.e. oil analyses as per methods and standards de-
scribed under chapter 2.2.

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3 Oil treatment technologies
The various treatment and drying technologies can be divided into the following groups:

Note: In this case „on-line“ means that the transformer is switched off for a rather short
time (1 – 2 hours for the connection of the treatment plant); thereafter the actual
treatment is carried out under normal operational conditions of the connected
transformer.

3.1
7B On-line treatment without vacuum

3.1.1
36B Molecular sieves

A relatively small amount of oil (100-200 lt/h) will be continuously pumped


(in a by-pass) through a molecular sieve. The molecular sieve has the
capability to adsorb water dissolved in the transformer oil and thus
continuously drying the oil. A typical drying capacity of such molecular
sieve would around 6-7 lt/year. Once the cartridges are saturated, these
must be ex-changed and regenerated in a separate plant. This technology
is mainly applied on newly installed transformers, as the moisture content
will be controlled right from the beginning and the gas content in the oil is
not influenced.

3.1.2
37B Cellulose filters

A by-pass flow of the transformer oil is being conducted through a cellulose filter. This filter
has a limited water absorption capacity and the cartridges must be exchanged in regular
intervals. For large oil volumes this method is not very suitable as it has a low drying ca-
pacity. Yet, the gas content will not be influenced.

3.1.3
38B Separator (Cold traps)

A partial stream of the insulating oil is being cooled to the extent that the
previously dissolved water will condense or can be trapped in a filter. This
method offers the advantage that the gas analysis is not influenced (dis-
torted). Yet, it combines a relatively low drying capacity with high (cooling)
energy consumption.

3.2
8B Oil treatment under vacuum

Oil treatment and regeneration in off-line mode does not require much different equipment
(except the supervision and monitoring devices) than on-line plants do. For this reason we
refer to chapters 3.3 and 3.4.

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3.3
9B On-line Oil Treatment under Vacuum

3.3.1
39B On-line oil treatment plants with low through flow capacity

A relatively small amount of oil flow (100-400 lt/h) is continuously being submitted in a by-
pass system to withdrawal of gasses and water in a vacuum chamber. The dried, dehu-
midified and filtered oil is subsequently being conducted back into the transformer.
Depending on the system, there will be a vacuum pump installed (pressure in the vacuum
chamber approximately 5 mbar) or the vacuum is being generated by hydraulic pumps
(pressure 100-200 mbar). In this case, the plant remains installed to the transformer for
several years (or even the life time of the same). In transformers treated this way, gas-
analyses cannot be compared with traditionally obtained values, since with this system,
the gasses generated by errors are continuously withdrawn form the oil. The treatment
values regarding dryness and degassing are strongly dependant on temperature.

3.3.2
40B On-line oil treatment plants with high through flow capacity

Graph 3: On-line oil treatment with Micafluid plant type VOP

A relatively high quantity of oil (approx. 1’000 to 9’000 lt/h) is continuously being degassed
and dehydrated in a vacuum chamber (2). Contrary to those plants working with very low
amount of oil, these plants will only be installed for a limited period of time (weeks/
months).
The supervision and monitoring systems control the condition of the transformer (1) during
the entire process, i.e.:
- No leaks (lowering of the oil level in the transformer
- No evacuation of the transformer tank
- No back-flow of gas into the transformer
- Operational condition of the treatment plant
- Analysis of the oil parameters (e.g. DGA, drawing of oil sample)

Despite of this detailed and automatic supervision it is recommended to also supervise the
actual treatment process. In this case, the gas analysis is being influenced for a limited pe-
riod of time. Depending on the residual moisture content in the insulation, this treatment
process may have to be repeated up to several times, because water continuously diffuses
from the moist insulation into the now dry oil, due to now modified condition of equilibrium.

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3.4
10B On-line Treatment and Regeneration under Vacuum

3.4.1
41B Conventional pressure “fullering”

With the conventional pressure fullering, the regenerated oil is being pumped through one
or several adsorption columns. Chemical ageing products and contaminants will be ad-
sorbed on the surface of activated clay (Fuller’s earth). As the adsorption clay not only ad-
sorbs contamination products, but also natural and artificial inhibitors of the oil, the regen-
erated oil will have to receive the required quantity of new inhibitors.

The fullering and inhibition plant normally is supplementary equip-


ment to the existing oil purification plant. It will be connected to the
latter between oil heater and degassing column as a by-pass. Dur-
ing regeneration, a part of the oil flows through the adsorption col-
umns. It cannot be avoided that certain amount of finest particles of
the Fuller’s earth are transported into the main stream of the oil.

Graph 4: VH312

These fine particles have a high moisture absorption capacity, which again will dramati-
cally reduce the electric break-down strength, as this was described under chapter 2.2.3.
For this reason, the oil is being conducted via the fine filters of the oil purification plant,
thus excluding the possibility that moist fuller’s earth particles can distribute over the ac-
tive part of the transformer.

During a regeneration process with Fuller’s earth, the activated clay reaches a state of
saturation after a certain amount of oil having passed through it, i.e. no further chemical
contaminations can be adsorbed. In other words, the adsorption clay must be replaced
and correctly disposed of.
.

3.4.2
42B Combined oil purification and regeneration plants

Graph 5: Combined oil purification and regeneration plants MORP

This type of plant comprises an oil purification unit and a regeneration plant, which can
operate jointly or separately. For the regeneration of aged oil, a variable amount of it will
be lead through one or several adsorption columns. The regenerated oil will thereafter be
dried and degassed in the degassing chamber of the oil purification unit, and finally it will
be filtered in special fine filters, before it is conducted back into the transformer.

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Modern regenerating plants are capable of automatically regenerating saturated Fuller’s
earth up to 300 times. The clay remains in the adsorption columns and its surface will be
reactivated with a special method. During this reactivation process, basically it is a “de-
sorption”, the regeneration unit is separated from the purification plant, through which the
entire regeneration and treatment time is extended. However, this stand-still time can be
reduced with commutable regenerating columns (parallel operation).

These combined plants offer the advantage, that various parameters, which influence the
oil quality, will be improved.
- Reduction of acidity
- Reduction of water content
- Improvement of the neutralisation number
- Increase of the electric break-down strength
- Improvement of the loss factor (tan δ)

3.5
1B Drying through heat and vacuum

This method can only applied with the transformer having been switched-off, since a good
part or the complete volume of oil will be drained from the transformer tank. During the
treatment process, moisture will be removed from the insulation through thermal and con-
vective diffusion.

3.5.1
43B Pulsation drying through oil circulation and vacuum

1 3
5
2

Graph 6: Pulsation drying through oil circulation and vacuum phase

The oil purification plant (2) heats the oil volume in circulation to treatment tempera-
ture, whereby the transformers (1) temperature will also rise to 60-80 °C. Thereafter
the oil will be drained into a separate tank (4) and vacuum will be pulled on the trans-
former. This will cause the water in the insulation to evaporate and this vapour will be
pumped off by the vacuum pumps (3). The evaporation of the water causes the insula-
tion to cool down again, which will require that this heating cycle has to be repeated up
to several times, depending on the total weight of the insulation. This method requires
that the transformer is taken out of service for several days up to weeks. The prime
cost for such drying process is relatively low. Yet, the cost of process time and the re-
sulting cost of the transformer being out of operation are substantial.

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3.5.2
4B Hot oil spray drying

1 3

Graph 7: Hot oil spray drying

The transformer oil will be drained into a separate tank (6) and the transformer tank (1) will
be evacuated. A relatively small quantity of spray-oil will be heated in the oil heater of the
purification plant and will be sprayed over the evacuated active part (4). This spray-oil will
heat the active part to the required drying temperature (80-120°C). Hereby water will
evaporate from the insulation and the vapour will be pumped off by the vacuum pump (3).

At the end of the heating process, the spray oil will be completely drained and the trans-
former tank will be completely evacuated for an optimal dry-out of the insulation. Thereaf-
ter the transformer will be refilled with purified oil. As in this process, the vacuum is main-
tained through-out the entire process, the concentration of oxygen is in negligible propor-
tion and thus no risk of ageing exists for the paper insulation, despite of the relatively high
process temperature.

3.5.3
45B Low frequency heating and drying with oil circulation

2 1 5
6
4

7
Graph 8: LFH-Drying with oil circulation

The oil filled transformer (1) is simultaneously heated by the oil purification plant (4) and
the low frequency heating plant (2). Once the process temperature is reached, the oil will
be drained and the transformer evacuated. As a consequence water will evaporate from
the insulation and the vapour will be pumped off by the vacuum pumping group (5). Fur-
ther temperature increases relevant to the process will be effectuated and controlled by
the LFH plant.

The continuous development of the LFH-technology allows for a safe drying process,
which results in low residual moisture contents in the insulation through short drying time.

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LFH drying in the field (with mobile LFH plant) is the most effective and efficient method to
dry an installed transformer. Die relatively high cost of procurement for the required
equipment can be written off after a few transformer drying processes, depending on size,
location and required processing time. This is why this system does not only appear attrac-
tive for operators of transformers, but also for service companies.

3.5.4
46B Low frequency heating and drying with hot oil spraying

2 1 5
6
4

Graph 9: LFH-Drying with hot oil spraying

Contrary to the combination of LFH and oil circulation, with this method, the oil will be
drained right at the beginning of the process. The active part is being heated under vac-
uum by the combination of hot oil spray and LFH. By using the hot-oil-spray system, the
heat is also conveyed to parts of the insulation that are quite distant from the conductors,
which would require much more time with a pure LFH system. The thus resulting even
temperature distribution over the entire active part has a very positive effect on the drying
results.

4.
2B Comparison of various Technologies
The here below cited comparisons and claims refer to records and values of experience,
which were gained over the past ten … twelve years while assisting Service and Mainte-
nance companies in the treatment of power transformers. Depending on the region where
such service was provided, the most varied requirements and specific application turned
out to bet he rights ones.

4.1
12B Locations of plants in service

Graph 10 displays a selection of locations where aforementioned on-line treatment plants,


X X

regeneration plants (MORP) and mobile LFH systems are in service. We refrained from
displaying locations of further systems, as described in chapter 3, in order to maintain a
neat survey.

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Online MORP LFH

Graph 10: Locations of Micafluid treatment systems in service

Graph 10 displays a concentration of “on-line systems” in the Asian/Indonesian zone. This


X X

may be a result of the high relative humidity in these regions, as well as the sometimes in-
sufficient net-work coverage. Transformers on isle states normally can only be taken off
the network for very short period of time, but they often present above average moisture in
the oil as well as in the insulation.
MORP systems are often used in regions with outdated power supply infrastructure, where
regeneration is badly needed due to advanced ageing of oil and insulation.
LFH technology is mainly applied in industrialized countries.

4.2
13B Requirements on operational personnel

Graph 11 displays the requirements on the professional training of personnel as con-


X X

tracted by transformer operators and service companies, divided into requirements for the
regular operation and for maintenance and repair services on various systems.
Betrieb Unterhalt

Molekularsieb
10
Zellulosefilter9
Kältefalle8
Ölaufbereitung (offline)7
Regeneration (offline)6
Ölaufbereitung (online)5
Regeneration (online)4
Vakuum-Trocknung3
Oil-Spray2
Mobile LFH1
0
grün gelb orange rot
0 5 10 15 20
Green Service technician
Yellow Operator
Orange Specifically trained operator
Red Engineering specialist

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Graph 11: Requirements on operating personnel

From Graph 11 it can be concluded that the demands on the specialization of the operat-
X X

ing and service personnel increases with the application of more advanced technology of
the used systems. Whilst for transformer operators easy to operate systems are available,
service and maintenance firms must contract specially trained personnel.

4.3 14B Evaluation of efficiency

Graph 12 demonstrates an evaluation of the efficiency of various drying technologies re-


X X

garding their treatment capabilities:

Regeneration Entfeuchtung Entgasung Filtrierung

Molekularsieb
10
Zellulosefilter9
Kältefalle8
Ölaufbereitung (offline)7
Regeneration (offline)6
Ölaufbereitung (online)5
Regeneration (online)4
Vakuum-Trocknung3
Oil-Spray2
Mobile LFH1
0
grün gelb orange rot
0 5 10 15 20
Diagram 3
Green 100% Efficiency
Yellow 75% Efficiency
Orange 50% Efficiency
Red 25% Efficiency
Graph 12: Evaluation of efficiency of each treatment technology

As this may have been expected from the above descriptions, the efficiency increases and
also the possibilities to combine different techniques with more advanced drying technol-
ogy (regeneration, dehumidification, degassing, filtering).

4.4
15B Time consumption of each system vs. intervals between services

Graph 13 compares the estimated treatment times and the resulting service intervals with
X X

the various methods. A rather advanced condition of ageing of oil and insulation was taken
as reference point.

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Aufbereitung Intervall

Molekularsieb
10
Zellulosefilter9
Kältefalle8
Ölaufbereitung (offline)7
Regeneration (offline)6
Ölaufbereitung (online)5
Regeneration (online)4
Vakuum-Trocknung3
Oil-Spray2
Mobile LFH1
0
grün gelb orange rot
0 5 10 15 20

Green Shortest treatment time vs. extended service intervals (years)


Yellow Short treatment time vs. Long service intervals (months)
Orange Long treatment time vs. short service intervals (weeks)
Red Very long treatment times vs. shortest service intervals (days)
Graph 13: Time consumption of each system vs. estimated intervals between services

4.5
16B Estimation of costs

Graph 14 represents a summary of the investment, operational and costs of consumables


X X

of the different technologies:

Investition Betrieb Verbrauch

Molekularsieb
10
Zellulosefilter9
Kältefalle8
Ölaufbereitung (offline)7
Regeneration (offline)6
Ölaufbereitung (online)5
Regeneration (online)4
Vakuum-Trocknung3
Oil-Spray2
Mobile LFH1
0
grün gelb orange rot
0 5 10 15 20

Green < 10 kCHF


Yellow < 100 kCHF
Orange < 500 kCHF
Red < 1’000 kCHF
Graph 14: Estimated cost for each technology

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4.6
17B Possibilities among various methods

Graph 15 describes the possibilities of on-line treatment and drying methods under vac-
X X

uum referred to the different methods:

Vakuum Online

Molekularsieb
10
Zellulosefilter9
Kältefalle8
Ölaufbereitung (offline)7
Regeneration (offline)6
Ölaufbereitung (online)5
Regeneration (online)4
Vakuum-Trocknung3
Oil-Spray2
Mobile LFH1
0
grün gelb orange rot
0 5 10 15 20
Green Vacuum vs. on-line operation available
Yellow Vacuum optional vs. on-line operation optional
Orange Vacuum conditional vs. on-line operation possible
Red No vacuum vs. no on-line operation
Graph 15: Possibilities among various methods

4.7
18B Discussion

4.7.1
47B Transformer operator

The demands of a transformer operator on the treatment technologies can be summarized


as follows:

a) New installations
- Optimal first filling with insulating oil (oil purification plant required)
- Conservation of the operating condition without tampering the DGA (small systems
with molecular sieve)

b) Transformer in operation
- On-line supervision of the operating condition (e.g. DGA, and so forth)
- Short service time (time transformer out of operation)
- Long service intervals

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4.7.2
48B Maintenance and service companies

The demands on the treatment possibilities by a service companies can be summarized as


follows:

- low investment costs


- low operational and maintenance costs
- realistic demands on the operating personnel
- flexible possibilities of use in one system
- short treatment times
- adaptation to the regional conditions (on-line treatment)

4.7.2
49B Analysis of requirements

- first filling: Micafluid VOP


- conservation of the actual status: Molecular sieves
- on-line treatment: Micafluid VOP with on-line supervision
- regeneration Micafluid MORP
- Drying Micafluid Hot Oil Spray (VOP HOS)

On the basis of above summary, following chapter 5 will emphasize VOP on-line and
MORP regenerating plant.

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5 Technology by Micafluid
Drying capacities and the correspondingly needed time for drying vary depending on the
drying mode. With all drying methods, the drying temperature plays a major role. In this
chapter we shall offer a detailed survey on the treatment technologies mainly used by Mi-
cafluid.

5.1
19B On-line treatment plants

The on-line treatment system consists of a Micafluid oil purification plant VOP, which is
equipped with a transformer monitoring system. In the purification plant, the oil is being
pre-filtered, heated (optionally regenerated by a pressure fullering system), degassed by a
thin-film degassing system and finally fine-filtered.

Graph 16 displays the process diagram of an on-line treatment:


X X

Graph 16: Diagram of VOP on-line plant

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5.1.1
50B Scope of duties

The client has a power transformer with critical oil values. The operator could not or did not
want to take the transformer from the network and opted for an on-line drying.

Transformer
Basic data 12 MVA / 22 kV
Type 3-phase power transformer
Oil content 5’775 lt

Initial conditions
Moisture content in oil 48 ppm at 60 °C
El. break-down voltage 18.4 kV

Values measured after 4 days of on-line processing at 3'000 lt/h


Moisture content in oil 3 ppm at 60 °C
El. break-down voltage 55 kV
Table 4: Examples of an on-line treatment

5.2
20B Combined purification and regenerating plants

Basically we distinguish between two system and products:

• Traditional pressure fullering: VOP + VH312


• Re-adsorption process: MORP

Micafluid offers both systems for the regeneration of aged insulating oil. The plants differ
from each other mainly regarding the through-flow capacity, respectively the number of
adsorption columns and the handling of the Fullers’ earth.

5.3
21B VOP + VH312

VH 312 with 2 adsorption columns and one inhibition tank Flow capacity

Adsorption columns (Fuller’s earth filled tanks) 1’500 lt/h


Inhibition tank 400 lt/h

VH 312 with 6 adsorption columns and two inhibition tanks Flow capacity

Adsorption columns 4'500 lt/h


Inhibition tank 800 lt/h
Table 5: Summary on VH312

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Per adsorption column, approx. 80 kg of Fuller’s earth are
required. Micafluid proposes the use of the following type
of Fuller’s earth:

• Microsorb LVM* Mesh Size 16/30 or alternatively


• Microsorb LVM* Mesh Size 30/60
(*Low volatile matter)

Depending on the flow capacity of the VH312 unit, a cor-


responding VOP plant will be selected.

Graph 17: Mobile VH312 system

Graph 18: Problem of correct disposal of used Fuller’s earth with traditional regeneration

There is a clear disadvantage to this regeneration method, i.e. that the Fuller’s earth will
saturate with ageing products after approx. 10 to 15 passes through the columns. Thereby
the adsorption capacity of the Fuller’s earth decreases so much, that the same must be
exchanged. The advantages of this classical pressure fullering are the low capital invest-
ment and the relatively short processing time.

5.4
2B MORP

As this was already described in chapter 3, this plant type (Micafluid Oil Regeneration
Plant) actually consists of two separate units, i.e. of the purification plant und the regenera-
tion plant.

Graph 19: MORP

Depending on the desired execution, the plants will be mounted in a 20ft or a 40ft standard
container. They can be equipped with up to 36 columns. The equipment may also com-
prise a test laboratory, in order that necessary oil test may be carried out directly on site
(Karl Fischer test, break-down voltage testing (Bauer DPA) and Tan Delta ... tan (Bauer
DTP)

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5.4.1
51B Purification unit

The purification unit corresponds in its function and treatment technique with one of the
VOP Micafluid purification plants, as described in chapter 5.1.

5.4.2
52B Regeneration unit
The automatic regeneration of the Fuller’s earth of-
fers a decisive advantage over the conventional
pressure fullering. In this system, the Fuller’s earth
can be reactivated between 250 to 300 times. Thus
the Fuller’s earth remains in the columns for a time
span of several years and does not have to be re-
placed after a short period of time. Yet, this system
doesn’t offer advantages only. The relatively high
cost of procurement of the corresponding equipment
is one of the factors, and relatively long process
times, depending on the execution of the plant, may
yet be another factor.

Graph 20: The disposal of used Fuller’s earth with MORP plant

5.4.3
53B Description of the process

The system permits to operate the plant as filtration plant, as oil purification plant or as a
combined regenerating and oil purification plant. Depending on the desired process pro-
gram, the plant may work ON-LINE or OFF-LINE, i.e. during the purification and regenera-
tion process, the transformer may be treated whilst being under current or being switched
off. Depending on the condition of oil and Fuller’s earth, the regeneration process takes
between 8 to 12 hours. As soon as the Fuller’s earth is saturated with ageing products, the
plant automatically switches over to the re-activating process. All plants do have a variable
oil through-put of 1’000-5'000 lt/h.

Graph 21: Process diagram with MORP system

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a) Purification and filtration

The purification and filtering process can be oper-


ated as fully independent process. The is being
pumped by the entry pump through the oil heater,
the coarse filter and then either through the fine fil-
ter unit back to the tank, or through the thin film
degassing system of the oil purification plant and
via the fine filters back to the transformer..

This process may also be operated either ON-


LINEA or OFF-LINE. Micafluid also offers a hose
supervision system, so that the plant can be oper-
ated over a longer period of time, without the con-
tinuous control by the operators.

Graph 22: MORP Purification and filtration

b) Regeneration of transformer oil

The aged oil is being fed from the


transformer via the Fuller’s earth col-
umns and thereafter through the thin
film degassing chamber of the oil puri-
fication plant, through the fine filters
back into the transformer. As soon as
the colour of the oil does no longer
change, the plant will automatically
switch over to “reactivation” of the
Fuller’s earth.
Graph 23: MORP regeneration

c) Reactivation of the Fuller’s earth

As soon as the automatic colour de-


tector recognises that the quality of the
oil does not improve anymore, the
plant switches over to the reactivation
process. The two plant types are being
separated from each other and the oil
processing plant continuously purifying
the oil. In the meantime the saturated
Fuller’s earth will be reactivated.

Graph 24: MORP reactivation of Fuller’s earth

This process takes approximately 16 hours. During this time, the oil purification plant con-
tinues to purify the oil. After conclusion of the reactivation of the Fuller’s earth, the plant
switches automatically back to the regeneration mode.

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5.4.4
54B Performance MORP

The combined treatment and regeneration plant improves the dielectric characteristics of
the insulating oil. The following parameters are favourably influenced:

• Electric break-down voltage


• Moisture content in the oil
• Dielectric loss factor
• Neutralization number
• Surface tension
• Colour code
• Acidity
• Particles count

These values are quite often standardized, depending on national standards and operators
specifications (e.g. IEC 60422).

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6. Summary

Transformers represent a high capital investment and maintenance work. Reasonably


planned care and maintenance will contribute to enhance their availability and effective
operational time. In order to extend the life time of a transformer it is necessary to maintain
the moisture content of its insulation as low as this is possible and improve the dielectric
properties of its insulating oil.

In the wake of ongoing liberalization of the power market, many of the power companies
have outsourced maintenance of their transformers to external service companies.
Thereby, a number of different processes are available. Practically all of these processes
have in one or the other way a positive influence on the dryness of the insulation and thus
they have a positive influence on the transformers life time as well.

As this can be concluded from this report, none of these methods is in position on its own
to cover the full scope of needs regarding dryness, treatment and regeneration. Full satis-
faction will therefore always require a combination or a go together of various processes.

6.1
23B Outlook

In the restructuring process of the MICAFIL Vacuum Plants Division of ABB Switzerland
Ltd., the newly (since 2005) formed company Micafluid Ltd. took over the product line of
insulating oil purification and regeneration plants.

In the future, Micafluid Ltd will seek even closer cooperation with the transformer manufac-
turing industry, as well as with power generators, power distributors and service compa-
nies, in order to be able to develop new solutions and technologies in the field of treatment
of insulating fluids, e.g. to directly combine the gas in oil analysis with the oil purification
and drying technology.

Micafluid oil purification and drying plants will further be developed closer to the needs of
the users, also taking into consideration their economical and ecological requirements, and
also fulfilling the most stringent quality standards. A project for the fully automatic oil proc-
essing in several transformers of one power substation will be launched soon.

Micafluid is further planning to develop a new line of plants for the processing of other
types of liquids, e.g. for the treatment of used motor oil, for edible oils and for thermal flu-
ids. Yet, the main business is expected to remain in the field of processing and drying of
transformers and insulating oils.

31.12.2008

Micafluid Ltd., Switzerland

Andreas Gruber
andreas.gruber@micafluid.ch
HU UH

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7
3B Annex

7.1
24B Regeneration

The only known and effective treatment of aged oil, in order to improve its dielectric char-
acteristics is the adsorption of the ageing products with Fuller’s earth. Activated clay, e.g.
on the basis of “magnesium-aluminum-silicate” have the capability to adsorb carbonyl and
hydroxyl groups as the main ageing products of the oil.

In order to evaluate the ageing condition of insulating oil, several limiting values have been
set forth under IEC 60422 specifications:

Power transformers < 72,5 kV < 72,5 kV-170 kV > 170 kV

Oil colour [Scale no.] max. 2 max. 2 max. 2

Water content [ppm] < 10 <5 <5

Inter facial tension [mN/m] 35 35 35

Neutralisation number [mg KoH/g] > 0,15 mg > 0,15 mg > 0,15 mg

Loss factor tan δ (at 90°C) [-] max. 0,015 max. 0,015 max. 0,010

Electric break-down voltage [kV] > 55 > 60 > 60


Table 6: Proposed limiting values for new oil in transformers as per IEC 60422

During the regeneration of the oil through adsorption, it has been observed that the loss
factor starts to decrease first. Somewhat slower we can observe an improvement of the
neutralization number, followed by the interfacial tension. After an optimal regeneration of
the oil, the oil characteristics correspond to a large extent with those of new oil.

Graph 25: Steps in regeneration of aged insulating oil

Before regenerating insulating oil with Fuller’s earth, a test fullering should be carried out
in order to investigate the reaction of the aged oil to the treatment with Fuller’s earth and to
determine the approximate consumption of Fuller’s earth during such regeneration. This
mainly applies for the conventional pressure fullering method.

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7.1.1
5B Sample fullering

Procedure:

Heat one litre of aged oil to 60° C. Keep stirring whilst adding in
even steps quantities of Fuller’s until the interfacial tension reaches
a value close to the one of new oil. If the dielectric values do not
significantly improve, one may assume that the insulating oil has
been exposed to excessive chemical and thermal stresses. This
again would lead to the conclusion that this oil has to be fully re-
placed.

Graph 26: Test fullering

7.1.2
56B Consumption of Fuller’s earth in function of the ageing behaviour

Graph 27: Consumption of Fuller’s earth

In Graph 27 displays the consumption of Fuller’s earth in function of oil weight. Based on these
X X

values, one may draw conclusions on the consumption of Fuller’s earth and through a test fuller-
ing, it can be evaluated whether a specific oil is suitable for yet another regeneration.

Basically it can be said that the typical Fuller’s earth consumption is around 10-15 kg per 100 kg
of oil (corresponding to 10-15 percent by weight).

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7.2
25B Register of Graphs

Graph 1:
U U Moisture content (ppm) in function of the temperature ................................................................. 5
U U

Graph 2:
U U Equilibrium curves in paper-oil-systems ....................................................................................... 6
U U

Graph 3:
U U On-line oil treatment with Micafluid plant type VOP .................................................................... 10
U U

Graph 4:
U U VH312 ........................................................................................................................................ 11
U U

Graph 5:
U U Combined oil purification and regeneration plants MORP .......................................................... 11
U U

Graph 6:
U U Pulsation drying through oil circulation and vacuum phase ........................................................ 12
U U

Graph 7:
U U Hot oil spray drying .................................................................................................................... 13
U U

Graph 8:
U U LFH-Drying with oil circulation .................................................................................................... 13
U U

Graph 9:
U U LFH-Drying with hot oil spraying................................................................................................. 14
U U

Graph 10:
U Locations of Micafluid treatment systems in service ................................................................ 15
U

Graph 11
U Requirements on operating personnel ..................................................................................... 16
U

Graph 12
U Evaluation of efficiency of each treatment technology ............................................................. 16
U

Graph 13:
U U Time consumption of each system vs. estimated intervals between services .......................... 17
U U

Graph 14:
U U Estimated cost for each technology ......................................................................................... 17
U U

Graph 15:
U Possibilities among various methods ....................................................................................... 18
Graph 16:
U U Diagram of VOP on-line plant .................................................................................................. 20
U U

Graph 17:
U U Mobile VH312 system .............................................................................................................. 22
U U

Graph 18:
U Problem of correct disposal of used Fuller’s earth with traditional regeneration ....................... 22 U

Graph 19:
U U MORP ...................................................................................................................................... 22
U U

Graph 20:
U The disposal of used Fuller’s earth with MORP plant .............................................................. 23
U

Graph 21:
U U Process diagram with MORP system....................................................................................... 23
U U

Graph 22:
U U MORP Purification and filtration ............................................................................................... 24
U U

Graph 23:
U U MORP regeneration ................................................................................................................. 24
U U

Graph 24:
U U MORP reactivation of Fuller’s earth ......................................................................................... 24
U U

Graph 25:
U Steps in regeneration of aged insulating oil ............................................................................. 27
U

Graph 26:
U Sample fullerung ...................................................................................................................... 28
U

Graph 27:
U U Consumption of Fuller’s earth .................................................................................................. 28
U U

7.3
26B Register of Tables

Table 1:
U U Minimal requirements on insulating oils as per IEC specifications ............................................. 4
U U

Table 2:
U U Characteristic decomposition gasses as a consequence of disturbances in transformers ......... 6
U U

Table 3:
U U Periodic inspections on Power Transformers ............................................................................. 8
U U

Table 4:
U U Examples of an on-line treatment ............................................................................................ 21
U U

Table 5:
U U Summary on VH312 ................................................................................................................ 21
U U

Table 6:
U U Proposed limiting values for new oil in transformers as per IEC 60422 ................................... 27
U U

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Literary References
1 T.V. Oommen Bubble evolution from transformer overload, IEEE Insulation life subcommittee
Oct 2000

2. Sokolov, Griffin, Vanin Moisture equilibrium and moisture migration within transformer insulation
systems CIGRE WG
12.18

3. W. Lampe Beitrag zur Berechnung der notwendigen Trocknungszeit von Grosstransformatoren


(A contribution to calculating the necessary drying time for large power transformers), Archiv für
Elektrotechnik, Band 53 (1969) Heft 3

4. Y. Du,M. Zahn, B.C. Lesieutre, A.V. Mamisehv, S.R. Lindgren Moisture equilibrium in Trans-
former paper-oil systems IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine 1999

5. T.V Oommen Moisture equilibrium in Transformer paper-oil systems, Doble Conference Paper
April 2003

6. IEC 60422 Specifications on Fluids for Electrotechnical Applications

7. H.J. Knab Die Betriebsüberwachung von Transformatoren (Operational supervision of


transformers), Bulletin SEV/VSE 21/96

8. Hinweis zur Überwachung und Wartung von Leistungstransformatoren (Indications for the
supervision and servicing of power transformers), Micafil Technische Nachrichten (Micafil
technical news), MNV 500D, 1990

9. Fa. Engelhard Clay Specifikation

10. Ekofluid Specification

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