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D A Wilson r
Technology and Science Division, NGC For a transmission company such as NGC the transformer stock represents a major capital asset. There are some 650 units with ratings 100-1000MVA and high voltage windings of 400 and 275kV. Their replacement value would approach E1B. Whilst much debate within the asset management area concentrates on replacement policies, the issues are much wider. This paper will attempt to describe some of the technical aspects of these issues which are addressed within NGCs Technology and Science Division (TSD). The overall strategy is shown in Fig 1. It is through three main thrusts,facilitating new
assets, working plant harder and life assessment that asset optimisation is achieved. Each

must be given the appropriate balance. Exceptionally long times can be achieved before replacement provided the design has been sound, the transformer correctly rated and operated. The key questions are how to determine the operating regime to work the plant d i c i e n t l y hard to achieve an acceptable lifetime, how best to assess lifetime before failures, how best to specify new plant and how to determine a replacement policy acceptable to the City. Life Assessment The major factor influencing the technical life of a transformer or shunt reactor is the deterioration of the insulation in the main tank. Fortunately other components with shorter lives can be replaced - the tap changer, pumps, fans and radiators. It may be reasonable to contemplate a mid-life oil replacement - where the winding itself is assessed to have a longer than normal life. Research is ongoing at the Leatherhead laboratories of NGC to identify methods of measuring oil ageing and to determine the oil ageing rates. The seminal work on ageing of winding insulation is that undertaken at Leatherhead in CEGB days by Shroff and Stannett. This showed a linear relationship between log life and log DP, dependent upon operating temperature, a r and water content. The loss in i mechanical strength, quantified by a measurement of degree of polymerisation (DP) on a paper sample, is an indicator of the risk of failure in a short circuit. This earlier CEGB research is continuing in order to identify ageing rates appropriate to the actual environment of NGC transformers, and to identify the most suitable tests on oil and paper to indicate ageing. The work is undertaken at Surrey University in through a five year project sponsored by NGC and NP. Laboratory studies are supplemented by tests on paper and other insulating materials removed from scrap transformers. Samples are taken from defined positions in the windings and assessed in techniques-such as those being developed in the Surrey investigation. Intemational collaboration is appropriate (although their age vs life curves will differ due to different materials and operating conditions). A CIGRE task force of SC1501 is looking at comparability between test techniques using common samples from scrap transformers, and this is co-ordinated by NGC. There are other aspects of deterioration. Pressboard and paper will shrink, leading to slack windings and risk of failure in external short circuit. Experience has shown some designs to be more prone to this problem and the identification of the type weakness is important. One of the techniques developed by TSD has been the expertise to use fibrescopes, under


oil, to record on video the condition of the clamping, any slackness, or cracking in clamping materials3. Other parts prone to deterioration follow failure of glued joints in the pressboard and breaking of linen tapes. These can lead to local loss of cooling oil flow and overheating of the insulation. Some transformers are prone to loosening of the paper wrapping on conductors, again risking overheating. Vibration can lead to loosening of metal parts, and this can lead to partial discharge. Each of the above problems can be assessed during any stripdown during a fault investigation or scrapping. A key role to the assessment of the transformer stock is, therefore, a thorough investigation made at all opportunities. This can lead to the identification of type problems on the assessment of life of others in the family - and to give generic information. It is on the basis of materials research, plant Derformance assessment and failure investigations that life assessment can be made. This, together w t ih international comparisons possible through CIGRE and DOBLE that realistic life estimates can be made. Working Plant Harder The key to determining the most cost effective operating regime arises through validated ratings. TSD has recently issued a loading guide for NGC use in ascribing circuit ratings. This is based upon works test data and a simple computer program to relate the data to operational loads, ambient temperatures and estimated winding temperatures. The future will see two new developments. A new code TEFLOW2 has been developed to provide calculations for the complete transformer circuit under the transient loads experienced in normal service and also in faults. The code runs on a 486PC with a Windows Graphical User Interface. This allows a wide variety of designs to be assessed easily in terms of oil flow, mean and hotspot temperatures4. Validation has been through rig measurements and operational transformers fitted with fibre optic probes. Whilst the initial interest has been in distributed optic fibre systems, this technology remains in the future. Practical systems can be implemented now using point sensors and NGC has paid for these Luxtron probes to be fitted to two new transformers4. Once validated TEFLOW2 will provide rapid assessment of new designs and also estimates of service temperatures fiom service loading conditions - and fiom this an estimated life expended on the paper. Both uses will however only be possible through collaboration of the owner of the design and the utility.
A further improvement over ratings based upon off line calculations will be achieved through the development of the Transformer Thermal Monitor. A prototype was developed in the 1980s and an improved version has now been commissioned to provide grid control engineers with real time assessments. Within the year this system will cover seventeen transformers. In this actual ambient and oil temperatures are used to calculate the winding hot spot temperature for a projected load condition. This avoids pessimistic assumptions and allows N utilisation of the rating4. 1

Where there has been a malfunction it is important to be able to make a condition assessment. Techniques are being developed in areas of partial discharge (PD), frequency response, and return voltage. A research programme is in place at the Caledonian University to understand the propagation of PD pulses in windings, and so lead to a measurement strategy appropriate for site or factory use. Site location is attempted using current technology of point sensors on the tank wall. For the future there is the possibility of using fibre optic distributed sensors which are sensitive to vibrations fiom PD within the


tn' Once there has been a short circuit there is a risk of winding movement. The ak. technique used in NGC to detect this uses a swept frequency sine wave to establish the winding response, and the expertise has been built up to detect movement with some reliability6. Other complementary techniques to assess ageing and malfunction include recovery voltage and Doble testing.
Most ageing and breakdown processes are relatively slow in developing into a major fault. The normal practice has been to rely upon dissolved gas analysis (DGA) on oil samples interpreting the data using systems developed in the CEGB by Rogers. The Leatherhead laboratories now test some 4000 oil samples per year, interpreting the information using Rogers codes and the trend data held in a laboratory information systems, the development of this new data base and the new automated test systems has created a world class oil laboratory at Leatherhead'. Within the 199112 year this technology identified eleven super grid transformer units as having significant operational problems requiring investigation. Each unit is tested once per year.
DGA is, however, only part of the condition assessment of transformers possible through oil testing. New techniques are under development which will provide a complete assessment of the oils and solid insulation. The future scenario is more likely to be, therefore, one where much of the routine fault indication is done in the field, and the laboratory test is a more comprehensive range of oil assessments to indicate life expended in oil and solid components. New Assets Most of the transformer stock was purchased between 1960-1970. Replacement will not be fiom Treasury resource, but City finance. An appropriate rate of replacement needs to be identified and one which is far less than the initial commissioning rate. It is on the basis of the two theories addressed earlier that the rate and identification of sequence is derived. It is also as a result of learning more about operational features determining life that policies and specifications for new purchases can be drafted. Traditionally transformer specifications were very prescriptive and open to complaints of non-compliance with EC purchasing requirements. To meet this a new suite of specifications for all NGC plant has been produced. In those National Grid Technical Specifications (NGTS) it has been particularly important to identify the correct operational conditions and test regime to check compliance. For the future there is also a need to ensure that new technologies are followed - either in terms of watching briefs or by direct involvement. These would include alternatives to paper, alternatives to oil, SF, and superconducting transformers, solid state tapchangers, etc. Conclusions Since privatisation NGC has made a substantial effort to assess the condition of its transformer assets and to optimise its use of these. This is being achieved through a substantial and wide ranging research programme with the scientists working in close collaboration with plant design specialists and routine test chemists and combining in house research with that sponsored in universities. References 1. Shroff, D.H. and Stannett, A.W., 1985, "A Review of Paper Ageing in Power Transformers". IEE Proc C 132 (6) pp 312-9.


Emsley, A.M. and Stevens, G.C., 1992, "A Reassessment of Load Temperature Thermal Degradation of Cellulose", IEE Sixth DMMA Conference, Manchester. Ali, M., Cooper, J.M., Fitton. S.J. and McCann, S.P., 1994 "Development of Techniques for Analysis of Materials", Seventh BEAMA Conference, Brighton. Funnell, I.R., Lapworth, J.A. and Simonson, E.A., 1994, "Thermal Rating of Transformers", Seventh BEAMA Conference, Brighton. Cosgrave, J.A. et al, 1993, "Acoustic Monitoring of PD in GIs Using Optical Sensors", IEE Proc A 140 (5), pp369-374.




Jannan, P.N.and Lapworth, J.A., 1994, "Transformer Winding Movement and Fault Detection by Frequency Response Analysis". Seventh BEAMA Conference, Brighton.
Cox, B.M. and Dum, G.W., 1994, "Dissolved G s Analysis of Transformer Oil" a ibid.




Asset Optiknisation

This paper is published with the permission of NGC

0 1994 The Institutionof Electrical Engineers. Printed and published by the IEE. Savoy Place. London WCSR OBL. UK.