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Online Monitoring of a transformer by means of FRA

R. Wimmer
*
, S. Tenbohlen, K. Feser
University of Stuttgart, IEH, Pfaffenwaldring 47, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
*Email: rene.wimmer@ieh.uni-stuttgart.de


Abstract: Mechanical deformation in transformer
windings can be detected with the transfer function
(TF). Normally the transformer will be disconnected
from the power supply for recording of the TF (offline
measuring). Another possibility is to calculate the TF
from the transient overvoltages generated by switching
operations or lightning strikes. These stochastic
incoming transient overvoltages can be recorded during
operation and used for calculation of the TF (online
measuring). On the basis of these online-data diverse
problems like separation of excitation- and response
signal, too low signal-to-noise ratio, etc. and their
solution will be shown in this paper. An increase of
sensitivity of online measured TF can be obtained by
using only transient overvoltages produced from the
circuit breaker of the transformer for TF calculation and
not the stochastic incoming transient overvoltages.
1 INTRODUCTION
Determination of the transfer function (TF) on
transformers is a sensitive diagnostic method to get
information about the mechanical condition of the
windings. This diagnostic method is mainly used before
and after transportation and in case of an error, if the
transformer was exposed to a too high current, by means
of an offline measuring. To do such TF measurements
the transformer has to be disconnected, the electric lines
have to be dismounted from the transformer and the
measuring setup has to be assembled. It was shown that
a worst measuring setup leads to non reproducible
measurement results [2]. However, the TF as a sensitive
diagnostic method needs a high reproducibility in
measurement results, because it is a comparative
method.
An online measurement procedure was developed to
determine the TF. The advantage of this method is, that
the transformer does not have to go out of operation and
the measuring setup is fixing. With an online
measurement procedure it is possible to record every
transient overvoltage produced by switching operations
or lightning strikes during operation of the transformer.
These overvoltages can be used for the calculation of
TFs. To investigate this adequate monitoring system
was installed on a 350-MVA-system-interconnecting-
transformer.
2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
2.1 The transformer as a two-port network
Concerning the external terminals, the transformer
can be considered as a passive, time-invariant, complex
and linear network. The linearity is based on the fact,
that most kinds of lamination do not have a noteworthy
magnetization for frequencies higher than 10 kHz [4],
[5]. For that reason the transformer can be regarded as a
two-port network (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The transformer as a two-port network
The excitation of the transformer results from a transient
signal. In principle all measurable electrical parameters
on the transformer terminal are suitable for the response
signal. According fig. 1 for each response signal one
TF can be defined:

TF of input current:
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
( ) f U
f I
t U FFT
t I FFT
f TF
in
in
in
in
in
= =
(1)
TF of output currents:
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
( ) f U
f I
t U FFT
t I FFT
f TF
in
n out
in
n out
n I out
, ,
, ,
= = (2)
TF of output voltages:
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
( ) f U
f U
t U FFT
t U FFT
f TF
in
n out
in
n out
n U out
, ,
, ,
= =

(3)
2.2 Accuracy of the measurements
The measurement signal is influenced by a series of
disturbing signals. Even with ideal measuring
conditions the quantization noise affects the
measurement signal, because of the limited number of
amplitude steps. The effect is, that measurement signals

Transformer
complex RLCM-network
I out, n
Iin
I out2
Iout1
Uin
U out, n
Uout2
Uout1

.

.

.



are faulty and the following assessment is valid ((4),
(5)):
{|X()| - |X
S
()|} < |X
N
()| < {|X()| + |X
S
()|}
{|Y()| - |Y
S
()|} < |Y
N
()| < {|Y()| + |Y
S
()|}
(4)
(5)
Thereby |X()| and |Y()| are the magnitudes of the
measurement signals, |X
S
()| and |Y
S
()| the noise levels
and |X
N
()| and |Y
N
()| the wanted in- and output
signals. As a result of this it can be observed that the
wanted signal lives within a tolerance band which can
be calculated as follows ((6), (7)):
( )
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )

S
S
N
N
X X
Y Y
X
Y
TF

+
= =
min
max
max


(6)
( )
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )

S
S
N
N
X X
Y Y
X
Y
TF
+

= =
max
min
min


(7)
3 SIMULATION OF AN 110 KV
SUBSTATION BY MEANS OF
EMTP-ATP
The transfer function of a transformer shall be
determined form transient overvoltages reaching the
transformer. Apart from the transfer behavior of the
transformer, the transient behavior of the substation,
which is primarily dominated by reflection sequences, is
measured with the transfer function, too. Different
circuit states cause different reflection behavior and this
directly influences the result of TF. The influence of the
substation on the transfer function is investigated with
EMTP-ATP simulation program.
3.1 Realization of the model
Fig. 2 graphically shows the implemented substation
of the low voltage side. Abbreviations: Dx disconnector
x, CBx circuit breaker x and BBx bus bar x. The bus bar
and the line sections for the connection of the respective
components were regarded as overhead lines. Outgoing
lines were modeled as pair wise overhead lines with
several kilometers length. A 50 Hz voltage source was
attached to the end of these overhead lines.
Disconnector and circuit breakers were simulated as
ideal switches without frequency behavior. To replicate
the transformer as simply as possible, a TACS-model
was used, which allows the usage of a rational function
up to 7. order. Such a rational function is not able to
imitate real transformer behavior. Therefore a rational
function of at least order 30 would be required.
Nevertheless, a transfer function with three resonance
frequencies is enough for principle inspection. At one
junction the EMTP-ATP-model is stressed by a signal
like a 1.2/50 impulse. The comparison between
simulated und real signals, measured at one terminal of
the transformer, is shown in fig. 3a and fig 3b.


- 0.6
- 0.4
- 0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0 20 40 60 80
time t
|
T
F
U
o
u
t
/
U
i
n
(
f
)
|
s
kV
transient signal injected on D9
transient signal injected on transformer input

Fig. 3 a): Transient signal of the simulation, injected once on
D9, once on the input of the transformer
-0.8
-0.6
-0.4
-0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
0 20 40 60 80
time t
|
T
F
U
o
u
t
/
U
i
n
(
f
)
|
s
kV
measured real signal of
transformer input

Fig. 3 b): Measured transient signal on the input of the
transformer
Fig. 2: The low voltage side of the substation as EMTP-ATP model
In reality the exciting signal will not have the pulse
form of a standard lightning impulse; it rather looks like
a VFTO (Very Fast Transient Overvoltage). This is one
reason for the differences of the signal waveforms. The
other reasons are: unknown place of the source for the
real transient signal and simplification of the model.
3.2 Results of the EMTP-ATP simulation
The simulations are done with following
configurations:
Tab. 1: Configurations of the EMTP-ATP model for the
simulation
Point size Closed circuit breaker Closed disconnector
Config. 1 CB1, CB3, CB5, CB6,
CB7
D1, D3, D7, D9, D12, D13,
D15, D17, D18, D19, D14
Config. 2 CB1, CB2, CB3, CB5,
CB6, CB7
D1, D3, D4, D6, D7, D9,
D12, D13, D15, D17, D18,
D19, D24
Config. 3 CB1, CB2, CB3, CB5,
CB6, CB7
D1, D3, D4, D5, D7, D9,
D12, D14, D15, D16, D18,
D20, D24

Fig. 4 a) fig. 4 b) show, that the transfer function
depends both on the circuit state of the substation and of
the location of the excitation. Especial in the lower
frequency range substantial changes of the transfer
function are visible. This can be explained with the fact,
that a distance of more than 60 m is existent between
the transformer and disconnector 1 (D1) and voltage
divider 1 (VD1) respectively.
The comparison with curve progressions of real
transfer functions reveals similarities (fig. 4 c)). As a
result of this it is clear that all transfer function have to
be classified according to the difference of circuit state
and location of excitation.


0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
frequency f
|
T
F
U
o
u
t
/
U
i
n
(
f
)
|
MHz
V/V
TF of the emulated transformer
TF of Config.1 and excitation on D9
TF of Config.1 and excitation on D3
Fig. 4 a): Transfer function with fixed circuit state of the
substation and different location of the injected signal

0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
frequency f
|
T
F
U
o
u
t
/
U
i
n
(
f
)
|
MHz
V/V
TF of the emulated transformer
TF of Config.1 and excitation on D9
TF of Config.2 and excitation on D9
TF of Config.3 and excitation on D9
Fig. 4 b): Transfer function with a fixed location of the
injected signal and different circuit states of the substation

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
frequency f
|
T
F
U
-
2
U
/
U
-
1
U
(
f
)
|
MHz
V/V
TF of U-U2/U-U1 on 01.08.2005
TF of U-U2/U-U1 on 16.12.2005
TF of U-U2/U-U1 on 20.12.2005
TF of U-U2/U-U1 on 16.05.2006
Fig. 4 c): Online measured transfer functions of the real
transformer
4 TF CALCULATION USING
TRANSIENT OVERVOLTAGES
FROM THE POWER GRID
4.1 Detection of dominant excitation signal
Switching operations or lightning strikes generate
transient overvoltages traveling along the lines. These
signals are completely different from those measured
offline. Capacitive coupling between the lines,
reflection and reignitions induce a sequence of partial
events with oscillating characteristics (see fig. 5). One
reason of the oscillation is the resonance circuit of the
lines, composed of inductances and earth capacitances.
This is also shown in fig. 3 a). It cannot be assumed that
all partial events of a phase are excitation signals. They
can be answer signals of the transformer, too.
Consequently these parts of the signal must be cut out
from the recorded signal.
The Signal-to-Noise-Ratio of the respective partial
event should not be too small, for a meaningful
calculation of the TF. The current signal is searched for
absolute values, which are higher than an adjustable
trigger level. The algorithm cuts out each belonging
partial event from the other recorded signals with an
adequate time period [9].
Due to the oscillation it is difficult to distinguish
between the excitation and the answer signal on the
basis of the curve progression. Another possibility could
be the time delay between excitation and answer signal
because of propagation delay of the transformer.
However, such a distinction is not possible because of
the low sample rate of 10 MS/s.


Fig. 5: Recorded transient event with zoomed peak. 50 Hz
component stronger attenuated as the peaks because of the
transfer characteristics of the sensors
A method that worked satisfactorily includes
considerations about the cut off frequencies of the
partial events. It is assumed, that the excitation signal
has the steepest rising edge and therewith the highest
cut-off frequency. The problem here is, to reliably
detect the frequency where the signal turns into noise.
Due to the fact that the spectrum of the signal falls
several times under the noise level the detection
becomes difficult (see fig. 6). This is a statistical
problem and was already investigated and solved in
other research studies [1], [6], [10]. The Hinkley
criterion used as a jump detector is offered as a solution
of the problem. Therein the Hinkley sum S is computed
recursively like (1). The Hinkley function increases as
long as a signal exists. At that point where only noise
dominates, the function decreases. The absolute
maximum of the Hinkley curve indicates the position of
the cut-off frequency, as shown in fig. 6. The Hinkley
function is calculated with the Fourier transformed
signal fta(f) as follows:
2
| ) ( | ) 1 ( ) (
2 1
+
+ = f fta f S f S (1)
Abbreviations:

1
is the initial value

2
is the jump value.

The determination of
1
and
2
is done as fallows:
First of all the frequency range from 3 MHz up to
5 MHz is divided into 10 regions. The maximum and
minimum values are searched within each region. After
that,
1
can be calculated from the averaged minimum
value and
2
from the averaged maximum value, as
described in (2), (3). Thereby it is assumed that in the
frequency range beyond 3 MHz only noise is present.

+
+ +
=
9
0
1
2 . 0 3
) 1 ( 2 . 0 3
|) ) ( min(|
10
1
i
i MHz MHz
i MHz MHz
f fta (2)

+
+ +
=
9
0
2
2 . 0 3
) 1 ( 2 . 0 3
|) ) ( max(|
10
1
i
i MHz MHz
i MHz MHz
f fta (3)


-50
-40
-30
-20
-10
0
10
0 1 2 3 4 5
2 = -26.3 dB (noise level)
1 = -45 dB
absolut maxima at fcut-off = 1.89 MHz
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.2
V
1.6
spectrum of the signal
Hinkley function
frequency f
MHz
dBVs
|
F
F
T
(
U
-
1
U
(
t
)
)
|

v
a
l
u
e

o
f

t
h
e

H
i
n
k
l
e
y

f
u
n
c
t
i
o
n

Fig. 6: Spectrum of a signal with the corresponding Hinkley
function and the thresholds
1
and
2
.
Tests with offline measured similar excitation and
answer signals have shown a high reliability of this
algorithm.
4.2 Classification of transfer functions
The FRA is a comparative diagnostic method, i.e. a
comparison and its assessment of results of an actual
and an older measurement. If the insulation- and
winding-conditions did not change the curve
characteristic should not change, too. To achieve high
reproducibility, the basic condition must be the same
[7]. It was already mentioned that different circuit states
of the substation causes different reflection behavior.
Another influencing factor is the tap changer position
[8]. One possibility is to sort the transfer functions
according to different circuit states and tap changer
positions. This could be done with an adequate data
base. Additionally it is necessary to store the location of
the transient cause, too. This was shown in the EMTP-
ADP simulation. It is obvious that such a data base
would increases with the size of the substation. Hence
this method to categorize transfer functions is not
practical for a larger substation. Another possibility is to
categorize the transfer function with respect of a certain
tolerance according to different minima and maxima,
like fig. 7. Thereby, the knowledge concerning the
circuit state of the substation and the tap changer
position is no longer necessary. The idea of this
approach is that a change of the mechanical condition of
transformer coils creates new categories of transfer
function.


TF of U-2U/U-1U on 01.08.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 04.08.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 16.12.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 20.12.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 21.12.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 13.04.2006
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 16.05.2006
MHz
frequency f
1.0 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0
0
2
4
V/V
8
|
T
F
U
-
2
U
/
U
-
1
U
(
f
)

MHz
frequency f
1.0 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0
0
1
2
V/V
5
|
T
F
U
-
2
U
/
U
-
1
U
(
f
)

TF of U-2U/U-1U on 01.08.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 27.10.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 19.12.2005
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 13.01.2006
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 16.02.2006
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 15.03.2006
TF of U-2U/U-1U on 18.04.2006
3
MHz
frequency f
1.0 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0
0
1
V/V
5
|
T
F
U
-
2
U
/
U
-
1
U
(
f
)

TF averaged in time domain
TFs of category 1
averaging
TFs of
category x
TFs of
category xy
TFs of
category xyz
Fig. 7: Categorizing and averaging of the respective TF
The difficulty of the method which sorts the transfer
function according to different minima and maxima is to
filter out the fundamental resonance frequencies from
the unimportant. The curve progression and co-domain
of the transfer function should be irrelevant for the filter
rules. The following criteria worked satisfactorily and
were consulted [3].
the area of the resonance, bounded by near-by
minima have to exceed a threshold
the frequency gap between a maxima and a minima
must have a minimum value
the distance between a maxima and a minima have
to exceed a threshold
the maxima and minima have to withstand a
smoothing algorithm
After categorizing the sensitivity of the reference TF
can be increased by using averaging. This will be done
in time domain. The advantage of averaging is not only
the increasing sensitivity of TF, but also the reducing of
the size of the data set. It is not necessary to store every
recorded data set. The storage of the time domain
signals of the averaged TFs is sufficient.
The reason for damping differences between TFs
can be explained with the virtual not-continues
spectrum of the signals. That means that the signals falls
below the noise level within a narrow frequency region
as it is shown in fig. 7 at approximately 70 kHz. It is
obvious that a division by such function values leads to
big failure in TF results. As a result of this, the
categorizing of the transfer function is done only by
means of resonance frequencies. Data sets with cut-off
frequencies of the exciting signal lower than 1.5 MHz
are rejected, because of the high uncertainty in upper the
frequency range.
5 TF CALCULATIONS USING
OVERVOLTAGES OF THE SWITCH-
ON EVENT OF THE TRANSFORMER
Using overvoltages of the switch-on event of the
transformer is advantageous because there are less
influence factors in comparison to the TF calculation
using transient overvoltages from the power grid. The
location of the excitation is always the same and one
voltage level is completely disconnected from the
transformer. Additionally the switch-on event
guarantees good reproducibility of the transient signals
and the signals do not have strong oscillations, because
of the nearby circuit breaker and disconnector
respectively. For that reason it is easier to distinguish
between excitation and answer signal (see fig.8). Due to
the good reproducibility of the transient impulses by
switch-on events, the signals can be well adjusted for a
good modulation of the analogue-digital-converter
(ADC).
Fig. 8 also shows that a significant multiphase
excitation can be excluded, because the transient event
of one phase has finished when the next transient event
of the other phase starts. Considering the tap changer
position, the transfer function can be calculated with
these data sets. Fig. 9 a) shows a good correlation
between regarded transfer functions. The difference in
damping at approximately 870 kHz can be explained
with a higher uncertainty of the time signals in that
frequency range. This is confirmed by fig. 9 b) where
the tolerance bands of the transfer functions are shown.


0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 ms 3.0
-400
-200
0
kV
200
600
phase U
phase V
phase W
firing pulse
at phase U
firing pulse
at phase V
firing pulse
of phase W
new firing pulse
at phase U
time t
v
o
l
t
a
g
e

U


Fig. 8: Firing order of the switch-on event


0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 MHz 1.0
0
3
6
15
k
-1
9
frequency f
|
T
F
I-
1
N
/U
-
1
V
(
f
)
|

TF of I-1N/U-1V measured on 04.09.2006
TF of I-1N/U-1V measured on 07.09.2006
Fig. 9 a): Comparison of two transfer function using data sets of
the switch-on event

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 MHz 1.0
0
3
6
15
k
-1
9
frequency f
|
T
F
I-
1
N
/U
-
1
V
(
f
)
|

tolerance band of TF measured on 04.09.2006
tolerance band of TF measured on 07.09.2006
overlap area of the tolerance bands

Fig. 9 b): Tolerance band of the transfer functions
6 CONCLUSION
As opposed to the offline-measurements online-
measurements allows a permanent monitoring of the
insulation- and winding-condition. Another aspect of
online-monitoring is that exceeding voltage- and current
stresses can be monitored, too.
Transfer functions, calculated from online measured
transient overvoltages of the power grid, are subjected
to uncertainty. In an EMTP-ATP model simulation it
could be shown that the circuit state of the substation
has significant influence on the transfer function.
Nevertheless, it was succeeded to categorize the TF
depending on the circuit state, location of the transient
signal excitation and tap changer position without
additional monitoring of these devices. However, this is
only possible with many calculation procedures and it
leads to a reduction of TF sensitivity. Therewith a
sensitive diagnostic of the winding condition is made
more difficult.
More sensitive transfer functions can be obtained by
using transient signals occurring during the switch-on
event of a transformer. Therewith, nearly the same
sensitivity as with an offline TF measurement can be
achieved. A new calculation of such online measured
TFs is only possible with a new switch-on event though.
A monitoring system must be run and maintained all
the time for online monitoring of the transfer function.
7 REFERNCES
Books:
[1] M. Basseville, I. V. Nikiforov: Detection of abrupt changes, A
Simon & Schuster Company, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
07632, ISBN 0-13-126780-9

Papers Presented at Conferences (Unpublished):
[2] R. Wimmer, S. Tenbohlen, K. Feser, A. Kraetge, M. Krger, J.
Christian, The influence of connection and grounding technique
on the repeatability of FRA-results, presented at the 15
th
. Int.
Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Ljubljana, Slovenia,
2007
[3] R. Wimmer, S. Tenbohlen, K. Feser, A. Kraetge, M. Krger, J.
Christian, Development of Algorithms to Assess the FRA,
presented at the 15
th
. Int. Symposium on High Voltage
Engineering, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2007

Papers from Conference Proceedings (Published):
[4] J. Bak-Jensen, B. Bak-Jensen, S. D. Mikkelsen: Detection of
Faults and Aging Phenomena in Transformers by Transfer
Functions IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 10, No.
1, Jan. 1995, pp. 308-314
[5] S. M. Islam, G. Ledwich: Locating Transformer Faults through
Sensitivity Analysis of High Frequency Modeling Using
Transfer Function Approach, IEEE Int. Symp. on Electrical
Insulation, Montral, 1996, Conference Record pp. 38-41
[6] D. Perriot-Mathonna: Improvements in the application of
stochastic estimation algorithms-Parameter jump detection,
Automatic Control, IEEE Transaction on Volume 29, Issue 11,
Nov 1984, pp. 962 969
[7] R. Wimmer, M. Krger, Erhhung der Reproduzierbarkeit von
FRA-Messungen durch Standardisierung, Stuttgarter
Hochspannungssymposium 2006, pp.45-66, Stuttgart 2006,
ISBN 3-00-018361-2
[8] R. Wimmer, K. Feser, J. Christian: Reproducibility of Transfer
Function Results, 13th International Symposium on High
Voltage Engineering, Delft, 25.-29. August, 2003-Millpress,
Rotterdam ISBN 90 77017 79 8, p.532
[9] R. Wimmer, K. Feser, Calculation of the Transfer Function of a
Power Transformer with Online Measuring Data, APTADM in
Wroclaw, Poland, 15. - 17.09.2004

Dissertations:
[10] T. Hayder: Schutz von Regeltransformatoren", dissertation,
University of Stuttgart, Sierke Verlag, 2007, ISBN 13 978-3-
933893-79-6