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CIRED 20th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Prague, 8-11 June 2009

Paper 0134

EXPERIMENTAL MODEL FOR DIAGNOSING ON-LOAD TAP CHANGER CONTACT


AGING WITH DYNAMIC RESISTANCE MEASUREMENTS

Jur ERBRINK Edward GULSKI Johan SMIT Rory LEICH


Seitz Instruments AG Delft University of Technology Delft University of Technology Liandon
Switzerland The Netherlands The Netherlands The Netherlands
je@seitz-instruments.ch e.gulski@ewi.tudelft.nl j.j.smit@ewi.tudelft.nl rory.leich@nuon.com

weakening its insulation properties. Electrical treeing along


ABSTRACT the supporting resin-bonded paper cylinder and insulating
drive shaft can occur. Other aging effects are caused by the
It is known that many failures of power transformers are switching arcs that wear of the arcing contacts.
related to aging effects of the on-load tap changer.
Especially the OLTC contacts are prone to several aging
mechanisms. To understand the aging mechanisms and to
develop knowledge rules to interpret different failure
mechanisms a test model has been developed. The effect of
the several aging stages of tap changer change-over
selector contacts on dynamic resistance measurements
(DRM) has been considered, by several experiments with
aged tap changer contacts. These aging phases include
clean contacts, contacts with an oil film layer and contacts
with coking. Based on these experiments it is shown that the
DRM method is very sensitive to aged change-over selector Fig. 1. The on-load tap changer model used for laboratory
contacts of an on-load tap changer. experiments. This hand-driven one-phase tap changer is
In addition to laboratory experiments, the same connected in series with a transformer.
measurements are performed on naturally aged change-
over selector contacts at a Dutch utility. This change-over An important aging mechanism is the so-called long term
selector was accessible so the physical status of the tap effect on the change-over selector and tap-selector, which
changer contacts can be compared with the measurement occurs when the tap changer is motionless. The long term
results. effect starts with the formation of a thin layer of oil. This
organic film is a less conductive layer build from
polymerized oil: organic components in the transformer oil
INTRODUCTION bond to silver or copper oxide and sulphide that is formed
on the stator blocks [3]. This oil film layer will not cause
The most important cause of power transformer failures in tap changer failures directly. The increased contact
the Netherlands is the tap changer, a transformer component resistance due to the oil film layer will cause coking
used for voltage regulation. On-load tap changers are (creation of pyrolitic carbon) at places where the load
responsible for at least 50% of power transformer failures in current flows. Fig. 1 shows typical damage of coarse tap-
the Netherlands [1,2]. By keeping the tap changer in good selector contacts due to the long term aging effect.
condition, by means of adequate maintenance, the The long term effect is accelerated by high temperatures,
transformer failure rate can be reduced. Tap changer high load current, infrequent movement and low contact
diagnostics are important to determine when and which pressure. Due to its infrequent movement, the change-over
maintenance is necessary on the tap changer. Nowadays selector is prone to the long term effect. However, the
several on-line and off-line diagnostics are in use. This change-over selector is not accessible during normal
paper focuses on off-line diagnostic measurements on tap maintenance, so diagnostic measurements are necessary.
changers using dynamic resistance measurement (DRM).

DYNAMIC RESISTANCE MEASUREMENT


FAILURES OF ON-LOAD TAP CHANGERS
[4] describes an in 1993 developed off-line method,
A tap changer is the only movable part of a power designed to diagnose the long term effect inside a tap
transformer and therefore suffers from various aging changer. This tool is based on DRM, originally used for
mechanisms. The insulation oil inside the tap changer circuit breaker analysis. [5] describes another measurement
compartment becomes dirty due to switching arcs, therefore device, the TPC analyzer, that is used for the experiments in

CIRED2009 Session 1 Paper No 0134


CIRED 20th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Prague, 8-11 June 2009

Paper 0134

this paper. Both devices use a fixed voltage source and a insulation oil on copper contacts is according to [6]:
−6 3.862 0.3559
test current of 1ADC to measure the resistance. A short
circuit at the secondary side of the transformer also allows a
s = 1.883 *10 θ 0 t (1)
fast response of the test current. Dynamic resistance Where s is the thickness of the oil film layer in Å, θ0 is the
measurements use this fast response to detect increased contact surface temperature in ˚C and t the duration of the
contact resistances. When applied to a power transformer, aging test in hours.
DRM is able to detect deviant contact resistances when the To form a representative artificial oil film layer, simulation
on-load tap changer switches. These deviant resistances can parameters are selected based on the transformer population
be caused by the long term aging effect on the change-over of a Dutch utility. The average age of power transformers is
selector contacts or by other defects inside the OLTC. 30 years. The long-term effect is measured (using DRM) at
transformers of at least 25-35 years old. The population of
transformers with disruptions in the DRM current pattern
EXPERIMENTS WITH OLTC CONTACTS has an average age of 40 years.

Measurement setup
Laboratory experiments on several aged tap changer
contacts are performed to get more insight in the way aged
contacts influence the dynamic resistance. Different stages
of aging are considered. A test model is used for testing
artificial tap changer aging. The test model is connected in
series with the power transformer that is tested. The design
of the test model is based on a common selector switch type
tap changer in the Netherlands. The model consists of one
phase of this tap changer and uses resistors to simulate the Fig. 3. An undisrupted current pattern as measured with dynamic
transformer windings. Fig. 2 shows a schematic resistance measurement on the test model. The slope of the current
representation of the test model. profile is caused by resistors that simulate the winding resistance
of the transformer's regulating windings. Each time the tap
changer selects another tap; its transition resistors shortly change
the test current.

An oil layer corresponding to 40 years is formed in the high


voltage laboratory, based on an operation temperature of
60ºC, using oil of 165ºC. The selected oil film layer
therefore has a calculated thickness of 1300Å.
Several dynamic resistance measurements show that this
Fig. 2. The on-load tap changer model used for laboratory
layer of oil film is not measurable with this method. All
experiments. This hand-driven one-phase tap changer is
connected in series with a transformer. measured DRM current profiles are without any disruptions
and look like fig. 3. Additional measurements with test
A fixed DC test voltage is applied to the test model (and the currents of 100ADC show an average increase of contact
in series connected power transformer) with such amplitude resistance of 300µΩ, which are outside the measurable
that the initial test current is 1ADC. After stabilizing the range of the test setup.
current, the test model is switched through all its tap Because the local contact temperature of tap changer
positions and the current and voltage are recorded. Fig. 3 contacts can be higher, the experiments have been extended
shows an example of such a current profile in case no aging to thicker oil film layers (up to 15h at 200ºC). Fig 4 shows
is put on the contacts (the reference measurements). The that an advanced oil film layer is indeed able to disrupt the
transition resistors cause a short decrease of the test current current pattern. The disruptions decrease during the
each time the tap changer selects another tap. The slope of experiment due to the wiping effect of the contacts: the oil
the test current is caused by resistors that simulate the film layer is damaged and a good contact is restored again.
winding resistance of the transformer’s tapped windings.
Coking
Oil film layer When the oil film layer grows, coking will occur. Coking
As discussed above, the long term effect starts with the accelerates itself because the carbon will increase the
formation of an oil film layer. For these experiments an resistance and act as heat insulator. Local thermal runaway
artificial grown oil film layer is used, grown from used tap is likely to occur [7].
changer oil at higher temperatures to accelerate the growth Two levels of coking are artificially applied to the tap
rate. This growth rate of oil film under Shell Diala changer model, using semi conductive paint used for field

CIRED2009 Session 1 Paper No 0134


CIRED 20th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Prague, 8-11 June 2009

Paper 0134

measurements on tap changers which suffer from the long


term effect.

Fig. 4. A typical dynamic resistance current pattern as recorded


on the test model. A thick oil film layer is applied to all contacts.
The tap changer constantly moves over this layer, resulting in a
decreasing spiky current pattern. Fig. 6. A typical dynamic resistance current pattern as recorded
on the test model. A thick layer of artificial coking is applied to all
control in power cable terminations. This artificial aging contacts. The tap changer constantly moves over this layer,
showed to have the same resistive behavior as naturally resulting in a spiky current pattern.
grown coking when a test current from 0 to 100ADC and
back to 0 is applied.
A thin layer of artificial coking results in an increased
Contact wear
contact resistance, but this layer is damaged by the tap Contact wear of the arcing contacts results in a small
changer contacts in most of the cases, see fig. 5 (left). The difference of the contact timing. The worn contact will
conductive path is fully restored, only one of the six aged break the current earlier and the transition resistor is used a
tap positions shows a deviant resistance. little longer. This difference can easily be detected by
A thick layer of coking is always measurable, see fig. 5 DRM. Fig. 7 shows the time the transition resistor is used
(right). The amplitude is equal. divided by the total switch time at the test model. Contact 3
has worn arcing contacts.

Fig. 7. The time that the transition resistor is used for each tap
change operation. The arcing contact of contact 3 is worn. This
results in longer use of the transition resistor.

SERVICE AGED OLTC CONTACTS


Measurement data from more then hundred different tap
changers have been examined within this project. The
Fig. 5. A typical dynamic resistance current pattern as recorded selector or diverter switch of all these tap changers was
on the test model. A thin (top) and thick (bottom) layer of artificial
taken out of service for maintenance. However, only a
coking is applied to some tap positions.
limited number of change-over selectors were available for
visual inspection because of their accessibility. One of these
These defects mostly produce quite stable and reproducible
change-over selectors is measured extensively during an
current patterns because the model is motionless between
overhaul.
the tap change operations. A third test concerns the constant
movement of tap changer contacts over a layer of artificial
coking. Fig. 6 shows a spiky current pattern as measured
with DRM. These current spikes are quite common at field

CIRED2009 Session 1 Paper No 0134


CIRED 20th International Conference on Electricity Distribution Prague, 8-11 June 2009

Paper 0134

CONCLUSION
This paper focused on the contact diagnosis of on-load tap
changers for high voltage power transformers using DRM.
In particular the following can be concluded:
1. The contact deterioration of OLTC’s can be
described by different aging mechanisms.
2. Modelling and laboratory investigation of the
deterioration processes is helpful to gain more
systematic knowledge about the applicability of
DRM.
3. Dynamic resistance measurements provide more
information about the contact status compared to
static resistance measurements.
4. Laboratory investigation has shown that light aging
(the thin oil film layer as presented above) is not
measured with DRM while advanced aging (coking)
Fig. 8. Left: a stator contact of the tested change-over selector is measurable. Thick artificial coking is measured at
suffered from the long term effect. Deep pitting and coking is every measurement while a thin layer of artificial
visible at the top, the oil film layer is visible in the middle. Right: coking tends to break due to contact pressure and is
silver plated stator contacts are measured after the overhaul. therefore not always measured.
5. Transitions resistors are used longer when the arcing
The measured tap changer is a common selector switch type contacts are worn and this can be measured by DRM.
tap changer in the Netherlands and is almost equal to the 6. Laboratory experiments and a test case showed that
laboratory model used for the experiments described above. DRM is indeed effective for assessing the long term
However, this tap changer has a change-over selector which effect on the tap changer contacts.
doubles the number of tap positions. DRM data from this
tap changer showed deteriorated contacts due to the long
term effect. Based on these diagnostic measurements, it was REFERENCES
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CIRED2009 Session 1 Paper No 0134