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Hydrogen Sensor Reduces Explosion Risk of Distribution Transformers

H2scan has launched the Gen 5 System, a hydrogen sensor package, to help utilities to monitor and protect their distribution transformers.

Electronics for the Gen 5 System are consolidated onto a 4.7 x 4.7 1.2-million-transistor, application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The ASIC, combined with three 1 in. by 3 in. flex boards, allow H2scan to develop a sensor package that weighs 1 pound, is 5.9 in. long and 1.6 in. wide. The ASIC and small flex boards drives down the cost of the device in large volumes by 80%. 

H2scan works with OEMs, other transformer manufacturers and transformer equipment providers to sell its sub-assembly sensors and fully packaged products to end customers. Initial interest in the  Gen 5 System has been very high from some of the largest transformer manufacturers in the world, according to the company.

“Power transformers are the most expensive and strategic components of any power system and the new small Gen 5 System acts as an early warning device that can alert the power utility to the health of the transformer,” says Dennis Reid, President, CEO and Founder of H2scan. “Demand for electricity is growing and utilities sometimes have to overload these transformers by up to 300 percent. With the Gen 5 System, utilities can better manage these valuable assets, keep their customers safe and keep the transformers in service for a longer time. No other company in the world can compete against what we can offer in this Gen 5 platform. Our ASIC technology can be extended to other sensor applications and we will be delivering some of these products in 2019.” 

High Accuracy
The Gen 5 System is designed for transformers immersed in oil, which are cooled and insulated using mineral, vegetable, or silicon oil. The sensor can be inserted through any port on the transformer, directly into the transformer oil where it takes measurements of hydrogen gas levels. 

The sensor head uses H2scan’s core sensor technology, which uses the interaction of hydrogen with palladium and a proprietary coating. This enables continuous, maintenance-free operation in harsh, contaminant environments.  The Gen 5 platform is designed to accommodate other sensors that could be integrated in the existing package using H2scan’s patented flex circuit.   

The Gen 5 sensor offers real-time, or step-change monitoring to report hydrogen levels as they fluctuate. Its high accuracy sensor head can track hydrogen levels in the transformer oil from 25 ppm to 5,000 ppm. This range is suitable for smaller transformers where power overloads can cause higher temperatures which drive up hydrogen levels more quickly.

The Gen 5 System is calibrated once while in production and then needs no maintenance or re-calibration for up to 10 years.

How Oil-Infused Transformers Fail
Hydrogen is a major fault gas observed in oil-filled transformers. Timely detection of a change in hydrogen concentration is critical in monitoring transformer health and extending asset life. Because distribution transformers are in populated areas, explosions can cause significant property damage and have the potential for loss of life.

In addition to monitoring distribution transformers, the Gen 5 System can also serve other currently unmonitored distribution transformers, including those used on wind farms, trains, and buses.

Technical Features
With an IP68 rating, the Gen 5 System can be submerged in up to 3 m of water for up to 14 days. This high protection level makes it possible to use in manhole applications where flooding may occur. The Gen 5 System is also marine compatible. The durable case can withstand up to 300 lbs. of weight. The Gen 5 System is rated for ambient temperatures to 80 degrees Celsius and oil temperatures up to 125 degrees Celsius.

The Gen 5 System communicates to a central monitoring console using the Modbus serial protocol over an RS 485 network. The system has a built-in DC power supply.

Availability
Prototypes of the Gen 5 System are with H2scan customers for their review. Low-volume production will begin in April 2019 with high volume production expected in July 2019.

 For more information, view the Web site

 

 

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