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546

IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, Vol. 5, No. 3, September 1990

FLOWCHART PROCEDURE TO ASSESS THE CONDITION


OF TURBINE GENERATOR INSULATION
G.C. Stone, I. Culbert and H. Dhirani
Ontario Hydro
Toronto, Canada

KEY WORDS: Rotating machines, Winding insulation, Life


ABSTRACT Maintenance planning and life extension programs require
that the condition of the insulation in the rotor and stator windings of
generators be assessed. Unfortunately the large number of insulation
deterioration processes which can aflict windings, together with the lack
of a universal diagnostic test which is sensitive to all these deterioration
processes, makes condition assessment dincult. T h b paper presents a
method using flowcharts which indicate a step-by-step procedure to assess
insulation condition of turbine generators. Information on likely
deterioration processes which arise from the insulation system
characteristics and operating practice is first collected. Then, on-line
monitoring and off-line tests are done to determine ifproblems could be
occurring. Finally, depending on the outcome of the previous steps, more
extensive tests and detailed inspections, usually requiring a significant
outage, are performed. Although the procedure itself is stmighrfonvard, it
is best implemented by engineers with considerable experience in this
field. The flowcharts will indicate to nonexperts the complexity of reliably
assessing insulation condition.

the wide variety of insulation systems dcveloped over the years,


which often respond quite differently to various thermal,
mechanical and electrical stresses.
the differing design philosophies of the major manufacturers on
the same or different insulations which result in different design
stress levels being placed on the insulation.
the different operating (for example base-load and peaking) and
maintenance (no maintenance to proactive maintenance) policies
of the utilities.
Assessing insulation condition is further complicated because there is no
single test or simple inspection which can easily track the condition of the
insulation under all possible deterioration mechanisms [3]. When
combined, the above factors result in a large number of possible insulation
deterioration mechanisms, and the symptoms which are used to gauge the
insulation condition are often very diverse and difficult to measure.

ASSESSMENT SEQUENCE
INTRODUCTION
Planning maintenance for turbine generators requires that the condition of
the stator and rotor winding insulation systems used in these machines be
known. Recently, the desire to extend the life of generating stations has
increased the need for insulation system condition assessment procedures.
Although general assessment procedures are available from machine
manufacturer maintenance manuals and IEEE guidelines [l], many utilities
must depend on experts from machine manufacturers or other consultants
to help perform detailed insulation assessments on a particular machine.
In order to make assessment techniques more generally available to
utilities, and to indicate to maintenance engineers the complexity of the
task, flowcharts have been prepared as part of EPRI project Rp 2577-1.
These flowcharts present a logical process for assessing machine
insulation condition. Although considerable experience is still required to
interpret information collected as part of the assessment procedure, the
flowcharts will be instructive to the nonexpert in understanding the wide
variety of information required before a realistic assessment can be made.
This paper presents flowcharts for assessing the condition of the rotor and
stator winding insulation systems of large turbine generators and is largely
taken from Reference [2], which presents further details, and procedures
for other types of machines. Although space limitations preclude the
inclusion of examples of the use of these flowcharts here, four practical
examples are contained in [2].
The procedure for assessing insulation condition is not simple since
several dozen possible failure mechanisms may occur in stator and rotor
windings [21. The large number of deterioration mechanisms results from:

90 WM OQL-2 EC

A paper recommended a n d a p p r o v e d
b y t h e IEEE R o t a t i n g Machinery Committee of t h e

IEEE Power E n g i n e e r i n g S o c i e t y f o r p r e s e n t a t i o n a t
t h e IEEE/PES 1990 W i n t e r M e e t i n g , A t l a n t a , G e o r g i a ,
8 , 1990.
February 4
Manuscript s u b m i t t e d
August 30, 1989; made a v a i l a b l e f o r p r i n t i n g
December 6, 1989.

The procedun: embodied in the flowcharts is based on collecting and


assessing information in a sequence which requires increasing levels of
effort and cost. The proposed sequence is:
collect information (a) to determine likely deterioration
mechanisms and average lifetimes (b) from on-line monitoring
determine if deterioration is occurring

analyzc the above information


perform off-line tests and inspections which require only a minor
outage

do a detailed asscssment, if required, including an in-depth


inspcction and special tests. This requires a major outage.

Collecting background information is a critical step which allows the


maintenance enginecr to select the tests and inspections which will be
most sensitive to the likely failurc mechanisms. The insulation systems
and operating environment in a particular machine should be identified,
since each generic t y p and operating mode can give rise to particular
failure mechanisms [2, 41. lndustry databases compiled by the NERC
Generator Availability Data System and Edison Electric Institute
committees can warn of generic problems and reliability of particular
machine types. By carefully reviewing background information, the
relevant tests and inspcctions can be selected from those presented in the
flowcharts to identify problems specific to the machine being examined.
Oncc background information has been collected and assessed, the specific
procedurc to follow is shown in the flowcharts in Figures 1 and 2. The
assessment techniques provide two altemative results which are
"Condition Acceptable" and "Correctivc Action is Required". The latter
refers to conditions where failure has occurred, or significant aging has
been detected. No attempt has been made to indicate how quickly
correctivc action should be taken. This will be dictated by the particular
circumstances under which the assessment is being made, the degree of
detcrioration, and the future operating mode of the machine.
Thc flowcham have thrcc subscctions (On-Line Monitoring, Off-Line
Tests, and Detailcd Asscssmcnt) which are cntered by making use of the
appropriatc logic lor ;I particular typc of asscssment. The assessment

0885-8%9/90~-0546$01.000 1990 IEEE

-7

547
STARTASSESSMENT

PARTUL
DISCHAROE
TESTS

SEEFEUREllb)

Figure l ( a )

Sequence for collecting on-line monitoring and off-line test results for .stator uindings. This
process is relevant for turbine generators, as well as motors and hydrogenerators.

procedures outlined in the charts should preferably be determined by


always commencing at the START point and following the logic
appropriate for a particular situation since this will ensure that no test or
inspection technique has been ignored. Note that not all techniques may
be necessary to assess the condition of a machine and completion of all
possible tests will not necessarily result in a definitive assessment. The
general logic that determines which of the major subsections is entered
first is mainly influenced by inspection and maintenance strategies and
intcrprctations made from on-line monitoring results.
Many t a t s and inspcctions arc refcrcnced in the flowcharts. For the most
part, these tests and inspcctions can bc done with commercially available
apparatus and have bccn dcmonstrdtcd to provide useful information.
Further details on wcll-establishcd tests and inspections can be found in
Rcfcrcncc I 1 I. Descriptions of morc modem tests, as wcll as a critical

rcvicw of the usefulness and applicability of all the tests referred to in the
flowcharts, are contained in Reference [2]. The proper evaluation of
winding condition requires correct interpretation of the results of tests and
inspections. IEEE Standard 56 [ 11 and other associated standards,
machinc manufacturers data, as wcll as Reference [2] can be used to aid
intcrprctation. Only with cxpcriencc can the maximum amount of
infonnation hc extracted from visual inspections.
Note that for experienced insulation cxperts, the best information on
insulation condition comes from a careful visual inspection of the
componcnts which makc up the insulation system. Unfortunately, a good
visual inspcction is intrusive and oltcn requires significant disassembly of
thc stator or rotor winding, laking morc timc than most tests. Thus when
suikible tcsts arc avail;rblc, (hey arc usually less costly and more desirable
tlim dctailcd inspcctions.

548

UROELUCS
WNDlffi SloE
CLEARINCE
TICY(TNES.5
bND
CHECKS

ESTYATE
FEPNRS
RWRD
COSTS
bND

ESTUATE

RRPNRG
W R D
COSTS
AND

U
Figure l ( b )

Detailed assessment procedure for stator windings

ASSESSMENT OF STATOR WINDING CONDITION


The general logic for the assessment of stator winding insulation systems
is shown in Figure 1. The detailed assessment procedures cover the
following subsystems for large turbine generators:
Groundwall and Phase Insulation

Slot Wedging
Endwinding Bracing

Groundwall a n d Phase Insulation


Winding groundwall and phase insulation condition can be assessed, to
some extent, at any of the three levels indicated in the flow charts, i.e., by

On-line Monitoring, Off-line Tests and by the procedures defined in the


Detailed Assessment section. However, a Detailed Assessment is usually
required to obtain a reliable evaluation of groundwall and phase insulation
condition, since existing on-line monitoring and off-line tests are not
comprehensive enough.
Only very general assessments can be made with On-Line Monitoring, but
the collected information allows decisions to be made on the need for OffLine Tests, or Detailed Assessments. The amount of information collected
depends on the type,number, location and sophistication of the monitoring
devices fitted. Most generators are equipped only with voltage and current
relays, hydrogen leak detectors and embedded temperature sensors. More
extensive diagnostic information is available if the generator is equipped
with condition (or core) monitors (GCMs), or on-line partial discharge
testing is possible.

549

SURGE TEST
MEASURE INSULATION
RESISTANCE AND
PCiARIZITIOh INDEX

IMPEDANCE
f

ANYORALL
SEOUENCE OPTIONAL

TEST

TURN AND

DETNLED
ASSESSMENT
Sea Figure qb)

ACCEPTABLE

Figure 2(a)

Sequence for collecting on-line monitoring and off-line test results for turbine generator rotor
windings

More information on the groundwall insulation condition can be obtained


from off-line tests. Thcse tcsts will indicate eithcr that the groundwall
insulation is generally in good condition, or that significant deterioration,
or failure, has occurred and a detailed assessment is required. One or more
of thc tests indicated in Figure 1 can be performed to provide such
information. A satisfactory insulation condition may be indicated by the
following rcsults:

withstanding an ac or dc or very low frequency hipot test


high insulation resistance (100 M R or more) and, in gencral, a
polarization indcx of 2.0 or more

low partial discharge lcvels, and if prcvious partial discharge tests


wcrc performed, no significant increasc in partial discharge
activity

no significant incrcasc in dissipation factor and/or tip-up valucs


from those obtaincd in previous tests

A dctailcd asscssment may bc prudent if onc or a combination of the above


tcst results arc not achicvcd. Sincc of'[-line tests may not detect aging
during the carly svagcs or dcterioration, it is important to appreciate that
such tests cannot givc complete assurance of long term reliability. For this
reason, periodic (c.g., cvery 5 ycars) detailed assessmcnts should be made.

550

"NO

0
pq*
lNSULATION

RETNNINO "0

m*
m*

INSPECTION
VISUAL

TEST

FORAGING

MR MdMYENT
INSULATION
RESISTINCE

LOWVOLTME

INDEX TESTS

SURGE

4
AWEPTABL

SLOT WEDGE UID


P M I K FOR CRICKS

ESTIMATE
REWIRED
REPAIRS
AND COSTS

L
ASSESS ALL
REPAIRS
COSTS
AND

RREPUCE
EPURW

Figure 2(b)

Detailed assessment procedure for rotor windings

As implied in Figure 1, a detailed assessment requires that the rotor be


removed to permit a visual cxamination of the groundwall insulation
condition in the slot to dctermine if the insulation is puffy, discolored or
has been eroded. In the cndwinding area, there should be no signs of
clcctrical tracking, or insulation powdering as a result of partial
discharges. Partial discharge tests can help localize the most severe
dctcrioration sites. If partial dischagc tests can not be performed easily,
individual groups of bars can be isolatcd to permit dissipation factor tip-up
testing.

dctailcd assessment is required to determine the cxtcnt of such


deterioration and the necessary corrective action.
For a detailed assessment of the slot wedging condition, the machine must

bc disassembled and carefully examined visually for abrasion, cracking,


migration, fretting, or powdery residues from relative movement betwecn
slot components. In addition to using the visual symptoms, the following
tcsts [2]will check for coil tighincss in the slot for large machines:
stator wedge "tap" t a t to sec i f some wedges are loose
(commercial wcdgc tighincss tcstcrs could also be employed)

Slot Wedging

Where on-line partial discharge testing is fcasible, a comparison of the


output signals obtained with various loads on the machine [2] makes it
possible, with expcricncc, to identify loose slot wedging and packing.
Whcn loose slot wcdging and/or packing is detectcd by such techniques, a

a side-clcnnncc test pcrfoonncd with a fceler gauge to determinc if


the bars arc tightly hcld against the sidc of the slot
a rcsistance tcst to dcicrminc the contact resistance

thc iron.

of thc bar to

55 I

The condition of the slot wedging and packing can he considered


;icccptahlc i f thcrc arc no visual symptoms of serious looseness, and the
test rcsults arc acccptahlc. Detailed assessments are recommended every
live years, or sooner, i I on-line partial discharge monitoring indicates
cvidcncc of bar looscncss.
Endwinding Hracing
At present there are two available approaches for a
of cndwinding bracing: (1) on-line endwinding vibra
gives a general indication, (2) impact resonance tests and a visual
inspection that require the machine io be disassemhlcd.
The k s t means of cffcctivcly assessing the condition of the cndwinding
bracing in an operating machine is to install vibration sensors on the
cndwindings and monitor their outputs. The present state-of-the-art
approach is to install a few strategically located non-metallic transducers
on the cndwindings of a machine with a bracing system that is in good
condition. Significant increases in the vibration levels over time may
indicate that thcrc is substantial dctcriordtion in the bracing system,
requiring a detailed assessment lo determine ihc cause.

Thc most dclinitc indiciition o f thc prcscncc and numhcr of short circuited
turns is given by iiir gap sciii-ch coil mc;isurcmcnts. A machine fitled with
such coils allows the rotor turn insulation to he monitored to determine
whcthcr the number of tum shorts is increasing. If an air gap search coil is
not lilted or on-line search coil measurements are not conclusive, then it
may bc necessary to pcrlonn an off-line test to vcrify the prcscncc ofturnio-!urn shon circuiis. The urgency with which corrective action should be
taken depends on the number of. short-circuited turns and, to some extent,
the cause. If. only a few turns arc shoncd, it may he possible to run the
machine until the next scheduled outage, if no additional shorts develop
within this time and if the shaft and bearing vibration levels and the rotor
temperature continue to be satisfactory.
The prcscncc of rotor winding ground faults can bc detected by monitors
that arc fitted on most turbine generators. A single ground fault does not
usually result in a need for immediate shutdown unless past expcrience
indicates that this is required to reduce consequential damage. Even if
immediate shutdown is not considered nccessary, the machine should be
made available for off-line tests and a possible detailed assessment of rotor
insulation condition at the earliest opportunity. The major concern is that
;I second ground Pault, with resulting severe rotor forging or endwinding
retaining ring damage, may develop.

Access to the cndwinding area is needed to perform a detailed assessment.

Although fairly sophisticated test equipment and expertise is required,


cndwinding vibration signature analysis is an effective means of detecting
dctcrioralion in large gcncl.ators.
Signilicant changes in resonant
Ircqucncics bctwccn successive tcsts can idcntily the prcscncc of aging in
its carly stiigcs.
The endwinding bracing sysicm is c;ipablc of providing acccptable support
to the stator windings for at least the next few years if the following
critcri;i arc met.
thcrc arc no signs of broken, cracked, loose or dislodged
components.

Rotor tum-to-turn short circuits and ground faults can often be verified by
off-line tests. Some of thcsc icsts may also detect general deterioration of
ground insulaiion. Off-line tests listed below and summarized in [21, are
available:

bccn no signilicanl change in endwinding structural

rcsonani frcqucncics and nonc of llicsc f'rcqucncics is close io the


predominant forcing lrcqucncics o f 120 Hz and rotational speed.
Signs of minor deterioration arc often difficult io assess, especially in thc
case of hairline cracks at component interfaces. Therefore, some
cxpcricncc is rcquircd to dctcrminc whcthcr any corrective action is
required when minor deterioration is detected.

ASSESSMENT OF ROTOR INSULATION CONDITION


The importance of keeping turbine generator outages to a minimum has
led to the development of fairly reliable on-line and off-line techniques to
detect faults in rotor windings. Unfortunately there are no effective online or off-line assessment methods ihat will detect deterioration prior to
failure. The presence of aging in its early stages can therefore only bc
obtained by a direct visual examination of the insulation system. In most
cases this requires machine disassembly and rotor removal. Figure 2
outlines the procedure for assessing turbine generator rotor windings.
Both turn-to-turn shorts and ground insulation failures can be detected
from on-line monitoring. Rotor tum insulation failures are indicated by
the following symptoms:
variations in rotor shaft and/or bearing housing vibration levels
with varying excitation current, while holding the terminal voltage
approximately constant,

unusual magnetic flux patterns in the air gap, which can be


detected by air gap search coil measurements during normal
machine operation [2].

;I

roior winding impcdancc test with rotor installed

iimc domain rcllcctomciry (TDR) surge test for shorted tums

an air gap llux test with the stator winding open- or shortcircuited.

thcrc is no cvidcncc of dusting from abrasion or partial discharge,


or cracking 01 component intcrCnccs.

. thcrc has

an open circuit test to mciisurc generator output voltage versus


licld current

If thc rotor is llttcd with sliprings that allow the measurement of


impcdancc or surge tcsring while the rotor speed is varied, then the impcdancc and TDR tests will give more reliable resulis. Also, the use of. an
air gap search coil with the stator winding short circuited and excitation
applied to the licld winding can provide ;i more dcfiniic indication of
shorted turns. I I shorted turns arc confirmed by one or more of thcsc tests,
then a detailed assessment will be required to determine the likely cause of
the shorted turns, their localion and the condition of the remaining turn
insulation. Note that some types of tum short circuits may disappear when
the machine is shut down.

I1 the rotor winding Icads arc readily acccssihlc through sliprings, or by


disconncction, some general indicators of the ground insulation condition
can bc obtained from insulation resistance, polarization index and hipot
tests.
When one or all 01 the above tests indicate deterioration or failure of the
ground insulation, a detailed assessment of insulation condition should he
conducted. The rotor must he removed and ai least partiaUy disassembled
to allow sullicicnt access for a dchilcd assessment of turn insulation,
ground insulation, slol wcdging and cndwinding bracing condition.
If a failure o f thc tuin insulation has heen indicated hy on-line monitoring
and/or oll-line tests, then the location can he confirmed by one of the
following tests 121, and m a y also verily an unconfirmed turn fault.
*

low voltage

ilc

test

low voltagc dc tcst


surge test

552

The ac and dc tests measure the voltage drops across the various turns, and
thus permit localization of any fault. If the repair of a fault and/or a
detailed assessment of tum insulation condition is required, the rotor
endwinding retaining rings and some of the winding slot wedges must be
removed to allow a visual examination for signs of discoloration, burning,
abrasion, buckling, copper rub marks or copper dust. Removing the
retaining rings may create new problems.
The condition of the groundwall insulation can only be roughly assessed
with insulation resistance or polarization index tests. A thorough visual
examination for the signs of deterioration described above is required.

2.

Culbcrt, I.M., Dhirani, H., and Stone, G.C., "Handbook to


Assess thc Insulation Condition of Largc Rotating Machines",
EPRI EL-SO36, Volumc 16, Junc 1989.

3.

Stone, G.C., et al. "The Ability of Diagnostic Tests to Estimate


the Remaining Lifc of Stator Insulation", IEEE Trans EC, Dec
1988, p833.

4.

Culbcrt, I., et al, "A Mcthod to Estimate the Insulation Condition


of High Voltage Stator Windings", Proc 1989 IEEE Electrical
Insulation Confcrencc, Chicago, October 1989.

CONCLUSION
Flowcharts have been presented which will indicate to the nonexpert the
information, testing and cxperience required to assess the condition of the
insulation systems used in turbine generator rotor and stator windings.
This process is intuitively followed by many experts. Examples of the use
of the flowcharts are in Rcferencc [2]. Although great progress has been
madc in developing diagnostic tests to evaluate insulation condition, there
is still no substitute for a carcful visual examination by an experienced
cngineer. This is especially important for rotor windings where few tests
arc available to assess condition. The flowcharts illustrated in this paper
may aid in distinguishing between good, slightly deteriorated and severely
deterioratcd windings. The prccision of the condition assessment depends
on the expertise and expcrience of the engincer. Unfortunately, firm
cstimates of the remaining winding life are not yet possible due to the wide
range of insulation failure mechanisms which can occur, and the lack of a
diagnostic test sensitivc to all thcse mechanisms.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This work was sponsorcd by EPRI project RP2577-1, Mr. B.S. Bemstein
projcct manager. The authors would like to thank J.C. Botts, D.
Harrington, J. Kapler, L. Brdun, H. Sedding, R. Dal Mina, B. Lloyd and
many others who providcd useful comments on the flowchart procedure.

REFERENCES
1.

IEEE Standard 56-1977, "Guidc for Insulation Maintenance of


Large Allcmaling Current Roldling Machines.

BIOGRAPHIES
G.C. Stone graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.A.Sc.
and M.A.Sc. in electrical engineering in 1975 and 1978, respectively.
Since joining the Research Division of Ontario Hydro in 1975, he has been
active in developing test methods for insulation systems. Greg Stone has
participated in the creation of several IEEE Standards. He is presently
President of the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society. He is a
registered professional engineer in Ontario, Canada.
I. Culbert was bom in Perth, Scotland on February 10, 1943. He
received a B.S. Honour Degree in Electrical Engineering from Dundee
College of Technology in 1965. From 1966 to 1977 he worked as an
induction motor designer. In this time period he spent 7 years with Parson
Peebles in Edinburgh, Scotland and 4 years with Reliance Electric in
Stratford, Ontario, Canada. In 1977 he joined Ontario Hydro as a Motors
and Small Generators Specialist and his current title is Design Engineer
Specialist - Generators, Motors and Exciters. Mr. Culbert is a registered
professional engineer in Ontario, Canada.

H. Dhirani was born in Tanzania in 1945 and received his B.E. degree in
Electrical Engineering from the University of Poona, India in 1969. He
came to Ontario Hydro in 1978 after having worked in the utility,
consulting and construction fields. Mr. H. Dhirani is currently involved
with the analysis and application of large generators for hydraulic, thermal
and nuclear stations. Mr Dhirani is a registered professional engineer in
Ontario.