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Presentation 17.

1
OMICRON electronics Asia Limited 2013 Conference on Electrical Power Equipment Diagnostics
Minimizi ng the Ri sk of Insulation Failures of Instrument Transformers
by Diel ectric Response Anal ysi s
Maik Koch, FKH, Switzerland
Stephanie Uhrig, Martin Anglhuber, Omicron electronics, Austria

Abstract
Instrument transformers in service are exposed to
the harming effects of water and ageing. The
increasing age is leading to a higher risk of
explosions, which can damage surrounding parts
and cause high follow-up costs. This paper
introduces a new approach to use the dielectric
response analysis for condition assessment of
instrument transformers. The measurement of the
dielectric response in a wide frequency range
provides information about the insulation condition
and especially for oil-paper/pressboard insulations
about the water content in the solid insulation. The
measured curve is formed by the superposition of
the dielectric response of the cellulosic material
and the oil. The curve can be used for the
assessment of the insulation condition in various
ways. Qualitative comparisons, e.g. between
instrument transformers of the same type and age,
might give general information which of these is in
better condition. The dissipation factor and the
capacitance trend can also deliver valuable data.
Furthermore the water content in the solid
insulation can be assessed using an automatic
analysis algorithm. To confirm the validity of this
assessment, measurements on several instrument
transformers in service were performed. Dielectric
response curves and the trend of the capacitances
for new and aged instrument transformers with
different water contents are discussed. Selected
examples presented in this paper show, that the
dielectric response is well modeled, the water
content can be derived and ageing effects can be
observed.
Introducti on
Instrument transformers are important apparatuses
used in transmission and distribution networks all
over the world. Being not as expensive as e.g.
power transformers, instrument transformers were
rather replaced than repaired. However, a defect
instrument transformer can explode, what may
cause extensive damages of surrounding plant
sections.
Nearly 50% of all major failures are caused by an
internal dielectric failure 0. Since the majority of
instrument transformers is oil-paper insulated,
ageing of the paper material is a crucial factor for
the lifetime. Paper is made of cellulose. Its ageing
might lower the dielectric strength and will lead to a
decreased degree of polymerization in paper. It is
depending on some influencing factors, like the
temperature, present oxygen, water or acids.
Especially water in the cellulosic insulation can be
critical [2]. Existing water causes hydrolysis, which
is producing more water as a product of this
chemical reaction. Therefore water is an
accelerator for ageing of the solid insulation.
Typically, new oil-paper insulations have a very low
water content of about 0.5% in the solid insulation.
During service the water content is increasing due
to e.g. leakages and hydrolysis. Above 2.2% water
content the solid insulation is called moderately
wet [3], what is typical for instrument transformers
being in service for several years. At the physically
end of life, the insulation is often wet having a
water content of 3.5% or above. Even though
water content in the solid insulation is no direct
measurand for ageing, it is a strong indicator for
the condition of the solid insulation.
To avoid failures with expensive secondary
damages, several tests can be performed to
determine the condition of instrument transformers.
The choice of tests and the testing frequency is
widely varying from utility to utility. Typical
maintenance strategy used prior to failure are
shown in TABLE I. Unfortunately the gained
information about the insulation condition is limited.
Oil sampling is often avoided due to the small
volume. The partial discharge measurement
detects weak points in the insulation and can not
give information about the overall condition. Finally
the insulation resistance is helpful to find already
defective insulations, but is limited for lifetime
estimation.
TABLE I. MAINTENANCE STRATEGY USED PRIOR TO FAILURE
FROM 3004 REPORTED FAILURES (OUT OF [4])
Maintenance strategy How often

Regular visual inspection 95%
Check of oil level and/or pressure

61%
Secondary voltage monitoring for
CVT
15%
Insulation resistance checks 11%
DGA and/or moisture of oil 7%
Thermovision inspection 4%
DF measurement at mains
f
2%
The measurement of dielectric properties, like the
dissipation factor (tan or DF) or ca pa cita nce a t
mains frequency (50/60 Hz) is often used to gain
information about the insulation condition.
However, several factors are influencing the
dissipation factor reading at mains frequency, what
causes uncertainties in the assessment. The
measurement over a wide frequency range can
help to distinguish between different effects for a
more detailed analysis of the insulation condition.
Presentation 17.2
OMICRON electronics Asia Limited 2013 Conference on Electrical Power Equipment Diagnostics
DIELECTRIC RESPONSE OF
INSTRUMENT TRANSFORMERS
Dielectric response methods have been developed
to deduce water content in paper and pressboard
from dielectric properties like polarization currents
and dissipation factor [5]. They are used to assess
the condition of power transformers, but can also
be applied to other oil-paper insulations like
bushings, cables or instrument transformers. Due
to the wide frequency range of the dielectric
response measurement it is possible to distinguish
between different effects and gain information
about the insulation condition itself, water content
in the solid insulation or oil conductivity [3].
The setup for the dielectric response measurement
is the same as for traditional dissipation factor
measurement at mains frequencies. The resulting
curves are similar to the single response of
cellulosic material without any oil (Figure 1) [6],
since the insulation itself consists mainly of paper
material. The dielectric dissipation factor is
decreasing with increasing frequency, usually
having a minimum around 1-100 Hz. Especially at
low frequencies, the slope of the curves seems to
be linear. As for other oil-paper insulations, the
temperature as well as the oil conductivity is
influencing the dielectric response. Higher
temperatures and higher oil conductivities are
shifting the curves towards higher frequencies [7].

Figure 1. Dielectric response of paper at 20C with 1% (2% and
3%) water content
ASSESSMENT OF THE
DIELECTRIC RESPONSE
Qualitative Comparison
A measured dielectric response curve can be
assessed using different methods. Like shown in
Figure 2 and Figure 3, a comparison between
instrument transformers of the same type can give
information, whether the overall condition in the
solid insulation is similar or if one of them shows a
stronger deterioration of the insulation. Typically
the one with a worse insulation condition shows a
higher dissipation factor. Reason for a worse
insulation condition could be e.g. a defect sealing
and resulting water ingress or a higher workload.
Figure 2 shows the dielectric response curves of
four current transformers of the same type. All of
them were manufactured in 1963 and having
nearly identical slopes, suggesting a similar ageing
behavior. The curve shape itself is very similar to
the one of paper material only (Figure 1).
According to the analysis (chapter 3.2), the
insulations have a water content of 1.8 1.9% and
an oil conductivity of 3 6 pS/m.

Figure 2. Dielectric response of four current transformers of
same type

Figure 3. Dielectric response of two current transformers of
same type
Figure 3 shows another example of two current
transformers of the same type. They are having
different curve shapes. Like mentioned above, the
curve with a higher DF is typically in a worse
condition, in this case it is having a water content
of 2% in the solid insulation according to the
analysis. The other current transformer has a
significant lower water content of 0.6% in the solid
insulation.

Figure 4. Dielectric response of instrument transformers of
different age and condition
f/Hz
0.001 0.01 0.1 1.0 10.0 100
DF
0.005
0.010
0.020
0.050
0.100
0.200
0.500
1.000
1%@20C
3
2
1
0,001
0,01
0,1
1
0,01 0,1 1 10 100 1000
D
i
s
s
i
p
a
t
i
o
n

F
a
c
t
o
r
Frequency / Hz
phase A
phase B
phase C
phase A-2
0,001
0,01
0,1
1
0,01 0,1 1 10 100 1000
D
i
s
s
i
p
a
t
i
o
n

F
a
c
t
o
r
Frequency / Hz
phase A
phase B
0,001
0,01
0,1
1
10
0,001 0,01 0,1 1 10 100 1000 10000
D
i
s
s
i
p
a
t
i
o
n

F
a
c
t
o
r
Frequency / Hz
new, 0.6% wc, Cratio=1.01
medium, 2.1% wc, Cratio=1.08
old, 3.0% wc, Cratio=1.35
old, 3,5% wc, Cratio=1.55
Presentation 17.3
OMICRON electronics Asia Limited 2013 Conference on Electrical Power Equipment Diagnostics
The principle changes of the dielectric response
curves due to ageing and/or moisture ingress can
be understood by comparing instrument
transformers of different age and condition
(Figure 4). Newly manufactured and very dry
instrument transformers have a very flat response.
Both, water content and ageing result in a steeper
slope at lower frequencies. However, the values for
the dissipation factor at mains frequencies are in
the same range as for new ones. Only for the
heavily aged and wet instrument transformer the
dissipation factor at mains frequency is significantly
enhanced.
Moisture Determination
The moisture determination using the dielectric
response curves is based on a comparison
between the measured curve and a modeled curve
(Figure 5). The curve modeling is done with help of
a data base including material properties of
cellulosic materials with different water contents
and temperatures. Using the so called XY-model
(Figure 6), a dielectric response is calculated under
consideration of the insulation geometry,
temperature, oil and moisture content [7]. A fitting
algorithm aligns the modeled response of the data
base to the measured curve of the real insulation
and automatically delivers the water content of the
cellulose material as well as the water saturation or
the oil conductivity.

Figure 5. Calculation of the water content based on comparison
of the measured dielectric response to a modeled curve


Figure 6. Representation of a cylindrical multi-layer-insulation
by the X-Y model as used for power transformers
The used XY-model is developed to model the
properties of oil-paper insulations, initially for
power transformers. The model takes into account
the amount of barriers and spacers of the
insulation. Instrument transformers consist as well
of a cylindrical insulation, similar to power
transformers. The main part of the insulation (70%
- 90%) is consisting of paper, enwrapping the inner
conductor and therefore having similar behavior as
barriers. Also oil gaps exist, as between spacers of
power transformer insulations. Therefore it is
assumed, that the XY-model can be applied to
instrument transformers as well. However, the
insulation of instrument transformers is not as ideal
cylindrical as power transformers. Therefore the
uncertainty of the assessment of the water content
will be higher compared to power transformers.
Several measurements on instrument transformers
were done and the analysis algorithm was able to
get a proper fitting and reasonable results, leading
to the presumption that this approach is adequate
for the dielectric response analysis on instrument
transformers.

Figure 7. Dissipation factor for new and aged pressboard
samples at 20C, having similar water contents
Aging of cellulose and oil causes conductive
byproducts as carboxylic acids. These acids are
deposited in the insulation and influence the
resulting dielectric response. Figure 7 compares
the dissipation factor of aged material to that of
new material at similar water contents. The
conductive ageing products have a similar effect as
higher water contents. Accordingly, this might lead
to an overestimation of the water content. To avoid
such an overestimation, the analysis algorithm
compensates for the influence of conductive aging
byproducts (like described in [3]), resulting in a
more reliable result for aged insulations.
Analysis of Dissipation Factor at
Different Frequencies
Besides the water content the dielectric response
delivers more valuable data. If single values are
needed, e.g. for an asset management software,
information about the dissipation factor or
capacitance trend might be used. To visualize the
general influence of water content and ageing, the
results of more than 30 instrument transformers of
different types and designs were analyzed. The
condition varies from newly manufactured, medium
aged in service, to heavily aged and out of service.
Unfortunately no direct quantification for ageing is
possible without dismantling. For measuring the
degree of polymerization a paper sampling would
Measurement
Temperature
Insulation geometry
XY-model
moisture content,
(oil conductivity)
Comparison
(Oil)
Data base

Presentation 17.4
OMICRON electronics Asia Limited 2013 Conference on Electrical Power Equipment Diagnostics
be necessary. Since the water content in paper is
increased during lifetime due to the hydrolysis, it is
used as an indicator for the insulation condition.
A typical measurement providing information about
the insulation condition of high voltage assets is
the dissipation factor measurement at mains
frequency. For all investigated instrument
transformers, the dissipation factor at 50 Hz is
shown in Figure 8. This value tends to increase for
higher moisture contents in the solid insulation and
is strongly influenced by the insulation
temperature. However, the dissipation factor at 50
Hz is having very similar values (0.002 0.004) for
dry insulations and insulations with a water content
up to about 3%. This is reasonable, since the slope
of the dissipation factor has the smallest steepness
and its minimum around mains frequencies. A high
measured dissipation factor of more than 0.01
would therefore indicate a high water content, what
is usually a sign for bad insulation condition.

Figure 8. DF at 50 Hz and water content for various instrument
transformers of different condition (temperature: 25C..30C)

Figure 9. DF at 10 mHz and water content for various
instrument transformers of different condition (temperature:
25C..30C)
The dielectric response enables to analyze also
lower frequencies, e.g. the dissipation factor at 10
mHz. This value also tends to increase with
increasing water content in the solid insulation
(Figure 9). As it can be seen in Figure 4 as well,
water content and ageing is increasing the slope of
the dissipation factor curve leading to wider range
of the values at 10 mHz.
Analysis of Capacitance Trend
An ideal insulation has a frequency independent
capacitance. However, the capacitance of a real
insulation is slightly increasing towards low
frequencies (Figure 10). This trend is more
pronounced for aged insulations compared to new
ones. The capacitance trend can be visualized in
the ratio of the capacitances, e.g. at 10 mHz and
50 Hz. This value is independent of capacitance
and insulation temperature. A clear tendency can
be observed, that the ratio is increasing with
increasing water content (wc). This finding
suggests the capacitance ratio as a good value,
which can be used for assessment decisions.

Figure 10. Frequency dependent capacitances of various
instrument transformers depending on frequency
TABLE II. RATIO OF CAPACITANCES AT 10 MHZ AND 50 HZ
FOR FOUR EXAMPLES MENTIONED IN FIGURE 4 AND FIGURE 10
Condi tion Wat er

C10mHz/C50Hz
new 0.6 1.01
medium 2.1 1.08
old 3.0 1.35
old 3.5 1.55
CONCLUSION
The dielectric response analysis, typically used for
power transformer can also be applied to oil-paper
insulated instrument transformers. The
measurement of the dielectric properties over a
wide frequency range enables a detailed analysis
of the insulation condition, amongst others
delivering information about ageing and water
content:
A qualitative comparison between instrument
transformers of the same type can easily be
used for identifying defect units.
Using the described algorithm it is possible to
estimate the water content from the dielectric
response curve. The water content is typically a
good indicator for ageing, since the dominant
ageing mechanism in the solid insulation is
hydrolysis.
The dissipation factor at 50 Hz is typically
increasing with increasing water content. Also
the dissipation factor at low frequencies, for
example 10 mHz can be used. It is also
increasing with increasing water content.
0,001
0,010
0,100
0 1 2 3 4 5
D
F

a
t

5
0

H
z
water content i n %
0,01
0,10
1,00
10,00
0 1 2 3 4 5
D
F

a
t

1
0

m
H
z
water content i n %
0,1
1,0
0,001 0,1 10 1000
C

i
n

n
F
Frequency / Hz




Presentation 17.5
OMICRON electronics Asia Limited 2013 Conference on Electrical Power Equipment Diagnostics
There is a trend of an increasing capacitance at
low frequencies. This trend is stronger with
increasing age and/or water content. A ratio,
formed of capacitances between 10 mHz and 50
Hz, can visualize the increase.
References
[1] Cigr WG A3-06. "Tutorial on Reliability of High Voltage
Equipment" (held during the SC A3 High Voltage
Equipment Symposium, Vienna, Austria, September 7,
2011)
[2] Sokolov et al. Moisture Equilibrium and Moisture
Migration within Transformer Insulation Systems (Cigr
Working Group A2.30, Technical Brochure 359, Paris
2008)
[3] M. Koch, M. Krueger. A Fast and Reliable Dielectric
Diagnostic Method to Determine Moisture in Power
Transformers (International Conference on Condition
Monitoring and Diagnosis CMD, Peking, China, 21 - 24
April 2008)
[4] CIGR Study Committee A3. "State of the Art of
Instrument Transformers" (Technical Brochure 394, Paris,
2009)
[5] S. M. Gubanski, et al. Dielectric Response Diagnoses for
Transformer Windings (CIGR Task Force D1.1.14,
Technical Brochure 414, Paris, 2010)
[6] M. Koch, M. Krueger, M. Puetter. "Advanced Insulation
Diagnostic by Dielectric Spectroscopy" (TechCon Asia
Pacific, Sydney, Australia, May 2009)
[7] M. Koch. "Reliable Moisture Determination in Power
Transformers (PhD thesis, Institute of Energy
Transmission and High Voltage Engineering, University of
Stuttgart, Sierke Verlag Gttingen, Germany, 2008)
About the Author
Maik Koch leads the Insulation
Material Laboratory at the FKH
(Expert Commission for HV
engineering and testing) in
Switzerland. He studied electrical
power engineering at various
German universities and
graduated as a Ph.D. at the
University of Stuttgart in Germany in 2008. In
2007, he joined Omicron electronics, Austria,
where he lead the Product Management. He joined
FKH in 2013. His field of expertise is condition
assessment of HV assets by electrical, chemical
and dielectric analysis methods. He wrote more
than 70 scientific papers and contributes to
working groups of VDE, CIGRE, IEC and IEEE
dealing with subjects such as HV testing and
diagnostics, insulation ageing and on-line
monitoring.