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

Paper 0686



Tenaga Nasional Berhad – Malaysia TNB Research Sdn. Bhd. – Malaysia Tenaga Nasional Berhad - Malaysia
young@tnb.com.my mohdaizam@tnbr.com.my hannaha@tnb.com.my

measurement. Partial discharge (PD) activities in the

ABSTRACT transformer winding, core and other active parts can be
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), an electric utility company detected directly by on-line PD testing either by means of
in Malaysia has embarked on condition assessment and life acoustic signals detection or measurement of the electrical
management program for 707 units of in-service oil signals. The mechanical integrity of the core and winding
immersed free breathing distribution power transformers assembly structure can be confirmed by Frequency
with on-load tap changer. The program consists of three- Response Analysis (FRA). Problems in insulation system
tiered approach. The first tier involved transformer can be detected by dielectric dissipation factor or tan delta,
population screening by means of on-line diagnostic Recovery Voltage Measurement (RVM) and Frequency
techniques through assessment of the insulating oil, Dielectric Spectroscopy (FDS) techniques. Finally, thermal
physical, thermal and operating performance. The second condition of the external surface temperature and problems
tier focused on off-line diagnostic testing on few identified such as cooling system blockages, loose electrical
transformers from the fleet using basic electrical testing connection, unbalance loading effect and hotspots can be
techniques. The third tier involved more advanced detected by infrared emission testing.
diagnostic techniques namely frequency response analysis
and partial discharge test. Results of the condition This paper presents TNB experience in conducting
assessment on individual transformer were analyzed and condition assessment and life management program on
transformer health index was formulated to provide distribution power transformers through diagnostic
engineering solutions and asset management direction. approach and formulation of transformer health index.

With the restructuring of the electricity sector into profit Condition assessment program on power transformers in
oriented business entity, condition based maintenance TNB distribution system involved 707 units of in-service oil
(CBM) strategies are now gaining importance. The main immersed 3-phase free breathing power transformers with
goal is to reach a cost effective solution through effective on-load tap changer (OLTC). The voltage and capacity
asset management. In the case for power transformers, an rating of the transformers and the age distribution are shown
effective CBM program is crucial as more transformers in Table 1 and Fig. 1 respectively. The program applied a
have reached their service life. Diagnostic techniques able CBM methodology proposed by CIGRE Transformer
to reveal their degradation state are a prerequisite to an Committee (SC 12) [2]. The three main stages of the
effective transformer life management program [1]. program involved 1) transformer population screening
Diagnostic techniques such as Oil Quality Analysis (OQA), through assessment of the insulating oil, physical, thermal
Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) and Furfural Analysis and operating performance, 2) electrical diagnosis on few
(FFA) are widely used to assess the insulation condition of transformers from the fleet which could not definitively be
transformers. The Degree of Polymerization (DP) classified as normal, and 3) evaluation on the remaining life
measurement is also applied to predict the end-of-life of and ranking of the transformers to provide asset
transformers. However, direct DP measurement is not management direction and engineering solutions.
always possible and diagnostic testing on insulating oil only
provides partial information about condition of the CBM DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES
The selection on the diagnostic techniques adopted for the
CBM program used a Failure Mode Effect and Criticality
Various basic to more advanced on-site electrical diagnostic
Analysis (FMECA) and is discussed elsewhere [3]. These
techniques are also available. The combination of chemical
techniques are divided into three practical levels or tiers as
and electrical diagnostic testing can provide a better
described below. Even though various diagnostic techniques
assessment on the condition of the transformers. Any fault
are available, the ones selected were also subjected to
in the transformer core, winding and tap changer for
availability of the instruments and financial constraint.
example, can be diagnosed by excitation current, turns
ratios, winding resistance and insulation resistance

CIRED2009 Session 3 Paper No 0686

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

Paper 0686

Table 1: Voltage and capacity ratings of power transformers oil or FFA was performed. By measuring the quantity and
Voltage Capacity No. of Units types of furans present in a transformer oil sample, the
30 MVA 474 insulation’s overall DP and remaining life estimation can
33/11 kV 15 MVA 138 also be inferred with a high degree of confidence since it is
7.5 MVA 23 not practical to obtain a paper sample from de-energized
22/11 kV 12.5 MVA 24
12.5 MVA 39 distribution power transformers [7].
7.5 MVA 3
22/6.6 kV
5 MVA 3 Inspection on Physical Conditions and Operating
3.5 MVA 2 Performance
11/6.6 kV 3 MVA 1
Transformer life is affected by electrical loading profiles
and thermal effect. Other factors such as mechanical
damage, corrosion, oil leaks also have strong effects. In
addition, the transformer maintenance and performance
250 historical records such as OLTC maintenance records and
No. of Transformers

records of transformer internal and external tripping are also
essential in assessing the condition of the transformers.

100 91 Thermography
60 62 Infrared thermography is a technique that can provide the
16 11
first indication of thermal problems due to overheating of
7 2
conductor or between bad contacts. Infrared scanning is
≤5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 ≥ 46 applied on the external components such as tanks, bushings,
Age (Year)
radiators and cooling systems. The hotspot temperature
Fig. 1: Age distribution of distribution power transformers difference was used as main criterion for the assessment.

Tier 1 Diagnostic Techniques

Tier 2 Diagnostic Techniques
Tier 1 diagnostic techniques were applied on all 707
energised units as baseline audit to assess for presence of Tier 2 diagnostic techniques were applied on few
faults, quality of the insulating oil, degradation level of problematic transformers from the fleet which Tier 1
insulating paper as well as physical, thermal and operating diagnosis could not definitively classify these transformers
performance of the transformers. as normal.

Dissolved Gas Analysis (DGA) Transformer Turns-Ratio Measurement

DGA is an establised technique to detect presence of fault in Transformer turns-ratio was measured at every tap position
the transformers. DGA results for transformer main tank of each phase against calculated nameplate values [1]. The
were analysed for key gases and total dissolved combustable deviation between the measured and calculated ratios at
gases (TDCG) concentrations as well as key gases and each tap position was captured to detect shorted turns or
TDCG rate of generation in accordance with IEEE Std open circuit in the transformer main and tapping windings.
C57.104 [4] and IEC 60599 [5] limits and interpretation. To
enable the assessment of rate of gas generation, diagnosis Winding Resistance Measurement
was performed based on minimum two oil samples at Winding resistance test is a dc test performed at every tap
different time intervals. Results were also analysed and position to detect broken conductor strands, loose
interpreted for presence and type of faults using IEC ratio connections, and bad contacts in the tap changer. Test
and Duval’s Triangle methods. results were compared between phases or with factory
results at corrected temperature and deviations were
measured at all tap positions for primary and secondary
Oil Quality Analysis (OQA)
windings [1]. Assessment was carried out by considering the
In OQA, oil samples were tested for breakdown voltage,
water content, acidity and power factor. These tests are the maximum deviation between any phases at each tap.
basic routine tests for mineral insulating oil in accordance
with IEC 60422:2005 [6], and are sufficient to indicate the Dielectric Dissipation Factor/Tan Delta Measurement
Paper insulation in transformer winding forms an effective
condition of the insulating oil. Limits and interpretation of
capacitance network and it has a measurable amount of
test results in accordance with IEC 60422:2005 were used.
dielectric power loss regardless of age [8]. The dielectric
loss will develop heat in the insulation during transformer
Furfural Analysis (FFA)
As the life of the cellulosic material is directly related to the operation that can cause deterioration of the insulation. In
life of the transformer, analysis of the furanic compound in this test, the tangent of the insulation dielectric loss angle is

CIRED2009 Session 3 Paper No 0686

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

Paper 0686

measured between primary and secondary windings (CHL), Start

primary winding and ground (CH), as well as secondary

winding and ground (CL) at different test voltages Tier 1 Tests

depending on the rated operating voltages of the winding. Poor/Very Poor

Oil Oil Quality All Good/Fair
The tangent delta measured for each CHL, CH and CL was reconditioning
taken from the mean values at different test voltages. or regeneration.
Poor/Very Poor

Excitation Current Measurement Minor repair/calibration

of external components
The purpose of this test is to detect short-circuited turns,
core and winding problems and poor tap changer contacts Tier 2 Tests
[8]. On a 3-phase core type delta-star or star-delta
connection, the excitation current pattern will have two Health
Good/Fair Maintain/Revise

phases on the outer limbs of a 3-legged core, higher than the Index Frequency of
Tier 1 Tests
phase on the center limb. Test results of the two higher Poor/Very Poor

currents at each tap were compared between phases. Tier 3 Tests

Insulation Resistance and Polarization Index (PI) Health

The insulation resistance measurement can be of value in Index Good/Fair

Poor/Very Poor
determining the presence or absence of harmful
Reduce Loading and prepare
contamination, degradation as well as failure of the for major repair, upgrade or
insulation. Since insulation varies inversely with replacement/relocation

temperature for most insulating materials, PI was applied as

a method to assess the transformer insulation condition [8]. End

Tier 3 Diagnostic Techniques Fig. 2: CBM workflow for in-service power transformers

Tier 3 diagnostic techniques are advanced techniques

applied on few problematic transformers after Tier 2 and
Tier 1 diagnosis could not definitively classify these With so much data provided by various diagnostic
transformers as normal. techniques, asset managers are having difficulties in
evaluating the risks and prioritizing the corrective solutions
Frequency Response Analysis (FRA) on problematic transformers in a consistent manner. Hence,
This test is used to detect faults such as short-circuited health index is formulated for capturing and quantifying the
turns, movement, mechanical deformation or displacement test results to provide a qualitative indication of the
to windings or core and loose turns. It provides a picture of condition of individual transformer. In order to provide the
the frequency transfer function of the transformer. Results in overall health condition, the transformer age was also taken
the form of the cross correlation index (CCI) were assessed into account. The process for arriving at the Transformer
either by comparison to previous measurements, or Health Index (THI) is as shown in Table 3. The transformer
comparison to transformers of similar design and health index is ranked based on the Transformer Condition-
construction, or between phases. The CCI limits Based Ranking in Table 2, to determine the next
recommended mitigating actions.
recommended by the instrument manufacturer were used.
Table 2: Transformer condition based ranking
Partial Discharge (PD) Measurement
Insulation failure inside transformers is preceded by PD THI Indication Recommended Mitigating Action
Maintain normal frequency of current tier
activity which is commonly related to moisture in the 85 ≤ THI ≤ 100 Good
insulation, cavities in solid insulation, metallic particles, and Revise frequency of current tier tests to 6
gas bubbles generated due to some fault condition. A 55 ≤ THI < 85 Fair months interval or as recommended by
significant increase in the PD level can provide an early the expert
indication of a failure. PD measurement with acoustic 10 ≤ THI < 55 Poor Perform next tier tests (2nd priority)
THI < 10 Very Poor Perform next tier tests (1st priority)
signals detection method was applied in the assessment.


From the assessment, 63 units out of 707 power
The workflow practised by TNB for implementing CBM for
transformers from the fleet required Tier 2 tests and out 63,
in-service free breathing power transformers is as illustrated
50 units identified for Tier 3 tests. The Final THI was then
in Fig. 2.
determined for all the 707 power transformers. Based on the

CIRED2009 Session 3 Paper No 0686

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

Paper 0686

final THI, the transformer condition were ranked as Fig. 3 shows that, as the transformer aged, the condition of
“Good”, “Fair”, “Poor” and “Very Poor”. The conditions of the transformers deteriorated. However, a number of in-
the transformers according to age and the entire population service transformers aged 5 years and below, were also
are illustrated in Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 respectively. diagnosed as in “Poor” conditions. Most of these
transformers were found to have considerably high
Table 3: Transformer health index calculation concentration of gases that relate to overheating. On the
contrary, most common problem found for transformers
Amplified Total aged above 30 years were paper degradation and
Condition Indicator
Weighting Ranking ranking Ranking deterioration in physical conditions. Based on the problems
factor number Score found from the assessment, the corrective actions that were
(a) (b) (c) (d)
DGA 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)
recommended and carried out are as shown in Fig. 5.
OQA 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)
FFA 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c) 140

Thermography 0.6 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)

Physical & operating 102
0.4 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)
condition 100
Age 0.4 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)

No. of Cases
Tier 1 THI (Sum of individual ranking score) THI 1 80 66
Subtract % estimated life used above 100% (-10,-15,-20,-30) A
Final Tier 1 Transformer Health Index THI 1-A 60

Tier 1 Weighting Factor 0.5 36

TIER 2 19
Turns-ratio 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c) 20 11
Winding resistance 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c)
Tangent delta 1.2 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c) 0
Replace Refurbish Monitor Monitor gas Monitor Recondition
Excitation current 0.6 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c) transformer transformer furanic generation thermal & oil
content loading
I. Resistance & PI 0.8 3,2,1,0 20,12,-18, -20 (a) x (c) conditions
Final Tier 2 THI (Sum of individual ranking score) THI 2 Mitigating Actions
Tier 2 Weighting Factor 0.5
Total THI (Sum of individual indices) {(THI 1-A) x 0.5} +{THI 2 x 0.5}
Fig. 5: Mitigating actions on problematic transformers
Frequency Response Analysis (FRA) 0,-5,-10,-15 X CONCLUSION
Partial Discharge (PD) 0,-5,-10,-15 Y
Final Transformer Health Index Total THI – X – Y Through condition assessment based on CBM methodology,
TNB was able to plan and implement a life management
100% 1 5 2 3 program for its distribution power transformers. With the
22 9
5 3 use of transformer health index (THI), TNB was also able to
80% 8 33 22 perform a more effective and consistent assessment on the
Relative Proportions

19 4
entire transformer population. THI has become a tool not
60% 53
9 4
3 only in determining the correct remedial actions but also in
12 prioritizing the most appropriate engineering solutions.
152 47
5 7 5
20% 25
[1] M. Wang, A.J Vandermaar, K.D Srivastava, 2002, “Review of
7 1 Condition Assessment of Power Transformers in Service”, IEEE
0% Electrical Insulation Magazine, Vol. 18, No. 6
≤5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-45 ≥ 46 [2] CIGRE W.G 12.18 “Life Management Techniques for Power
Age (Year) Transformers”, CIGRE SC 12
[3] Y.Z Yang Ghazali, M.A Talib, H.A Rosli, 2008, “Condition
Good Fair Poor Very Poor
Assessment of Power Transformers in TNB Distribution System and
Fig. 3: Transformer health index according to age Determination of Transformer Condition Index” CEPSI
[4] IEEE Std. C57.104, 1991, “IEEE Guide for the Interpretation of
Gases Generated in Oil-Immersed Transformers”
Very Poor (33) [5] IEC 60599:1999, “Guide to The Interpretation of Dissolved and Free
Poor (206) Gases Analysis”, 2nd Ed.
29% Good (349) [6] IEC 60422:2005, “Mineral Insulating Oil in Electrical Equipment –
49% Supervision and Maintenance Guidance”, 3rd Ed.
[7] R.D Stebbins, D.S Myres, A.B Shkolnik, 2003, “Furanic
Compounds in Dielectric Liquid Samples: Review & Update of
Diagnostic Interpretation & Estimation of Insulation Ageing”, IEEE
Proceeding on Properties and Applications of Dielectric Materials
Fair (119)
17% [8] M. Horning, J. Kelly, S. Myers, 2001, ”Transformer Maintenance
Guide”, 2nd Ed.
Fig. 4: Condition of transformers population based on THI

CIRED2009 Session 3 Paper No 0686