Conformal Thermal Models for Optimal Loading and Elapsed Life Estimation of Power Transformers
Pradhan, Manoj Kumar
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Power and Generator Transformers are important and expensive elements of a power system. Inadvertent failure of Power Transformers would cause long interruption in power supply with consequent loss of reliability and revenue to the supply utilities. The mineral oil impregnated paper, OIP, is an insulation of choice in large power transformers in view of its excellent dielectric and other properties, besides being relatively inexpensive. During the normal working regime of the transformer, the insulation thereof is subjected to various stresses, the more important among them are, electrical, thermal, mechanical and chemical. Each of these stresses, appearing singly, or in combination, would lead to a time variant deterioration in the properties of insulation, called Ageing. This normal and inevitable process of degradation in the several essential properties of the insulation is irreversible, is a non-Markov physico-chemical reaction kinetic process. The speed or the rapidity of insulation deterioration is a very strong function of the magnitude of the stresses and the duration over which they acted. This is further compounded, if the stresses are in synergy. During the processes of ageing, some, or all the vital properties undergo subtle changes, more often, not in step with the duration of time over which the damage has been accumulated. Often, these changes are non monotonic, thus presenting a random or a chaotic picture and understanding the processes leading to eventual failure becomes difficult. But, there is some order in this chaos, in that, the time average of the changes over short intervals of time, seems to indicate some degree of predictability. The status of insulation at any given point in time is assessed by measuring such of those properties as are sensitive to the amount of ageing and comparing it with earlier measurements. This procedure, called the Diagnostic or nondestructive Testing, has been in vogue for some time now. Of the many parameters used as sensitive indices of the dynamics of insulation degradation, temporal changes in temperatures at different locations in the body of the transformer, more precisely, the winding hot spots (HST) and top oil temperature (TOT) are believed to give a fairly accurate indication of the rate of degradation. Further, an accurate estimation of the temperatures would enable to determine the loading limit (loadability) of power transformer. To estimate the temperature rise reasonably accurately, one has to resort to classical mathematical techniques involving formulation and solution of boundary value problem of heat conduction under carefully prescribed boundary conditions. Several complications are encountered in the development of the governing equations for the emergent heat transfer problems. The more important among them are, the inhomogeneous composition of the insulation structure and of the conductor, divergent flow patterns of the oil phase and inordinately varying thermal properties of conductor and insulation. Validation and reconfirmation of the findings of the thermal models can be made using state of the art methods, such as, Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques, Artificial Neural Network (ANN) and Genetic Algorithm (GA). Over the years, different criteria have been prescribed for the prediction of terminal or end of life (EOL) of equipment from the standpoint of its insulation. But, thus far, no straightforward and unequivocal criterion is forth coming. Calculation of elapsed life in line with the existing methodology, given by IEEE, IEC, introduces unacceptable degrees of uncertainty. It is needless to say that, any conformal procedure proposed in the accurate prediction of EOL, has to be based on a technically feasible and economically viable consideration. A systematic study for understanding the dynamical nature of ageing in transformers in actual service is precluded for reasons very well known. Laboratory experiments on prototypes or pro-rated units fabricated based on similarity studies, are performed under controlled conditions and at accelerated stress levels to reduce experimental time. The results thereof can then be judiciously extrapolated to normal operating conditions and for full size equipment. The terms of reference of the present work are as follows; 1. Computation of TOT and HST Theoretical model based on Boundary Value Problem of Heat Conduction Application of AI Techniques 2. Experimental Investigation for estimating the Elapsed Life of transformers Based on the experimental investigation a semi-empirical expression has been developed to estimate the loss of life of power and station transformer by analyzing gas content and furfural dissolved in oil without performing off-line and destructive tests.