T&D World Magazine

University of Manchester Researching Power Transformer Condition Assessment

BPL Global, Ltd. has announced a collaboration with The University of Manchester School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering to advance the science of power transformer condition assessment. The purpose is to study the diagnostic gases for power transformers insulated with ester-based oil. Publication is planned for 2012.

Dissolved gas analysis (DGA) of transformer oil is the most effective indicator of a transformer's overall condition. Power transformers are the largest single asset class in the electric grid. Ester oils are an alternative to traditional mineral oil, offering improved biodegradability and higher flashpoints for improved fire safety. The dissolved gas generation characteristics and their interpretation for ester-based insulating oil are not as well understood as those of traditional mineral-based oils. Understanding these differences is critical to properly diagnosing fault conditions that can arise within the transformer. Given the ever increasing demand for "greener" transformers, this study is timely and forward thinking.

"BPL Global's technology in transformer monitoring provides us with timely and accurate monitoring of fault gases evolved under a range of experimental conditions," said Zhongdong Wang, Professor of High Voltage Engineering, The University of Manchester. "Over the years, our core experimental research activities have been on electrical performance of environmentally friendly transformer liquids. Collaborating with BPL Global, this study is designed to advance the industry's understanding of ester oil behavior under fault conditions, and provide condition assessment tools that enable timely identification and resolution of transformer faults."

The Electrical Energy and Power Systems (EEPS) group at the university is at the forefront of research and teaching in the field of electric power engineering in the United Kingdom and internationally. Professor Zhongdong Wang is directing the research at the National Grid Power Systems Research Centre which consists of the largest and best equipped high voltage laboratory of any UK University. It now includes facilities for teaching and research on topics such as power system protection and insulating materials. BPLG's industry leading Serveron® TM8 online transformer monitor provides measurements of dissolved gases a short time after an experiment is performed, such as causing ester-based oil breakdown from high voltage arcing or low-energy ("partial") electrical discharges. The results will provide new information and advanced DGA diagnostic tools for interpreting ester oil breakdown.

Reliable energy flow is paramount and transformers are critical, and some of the costliest, assets in the electrical network. BPLG's Serveron family of on-line transformer monitors provides DGA condition assessment. The software and services offer analytical tools for data presentation and analysis as well as transformer monitor control. The recorded on-line data is populated on diagnostic tools that deliver new and immediate insights for possible fault conditions and integrates with BPLG's Power SG smart grid platform for advanced distribution automation.

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