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Combining dry type Resin Impregnated Fiberglass Paperless Transformer Bushings With Built-in Novel Insulation Monitoring Function

Z. Liu, T. Tu, E. Euvrard

RHM International Brookline, MA – USA -

AbstractBy comparing the existing types of transformer bushings, this paper reviews distinctive features of RIF™ (Resin Impregnated Fiberglass) paperless condenser bushings; and, in more detail, it introduces principles, construction, characteristics and applications of this type of bushing when used with a new, safer and reliable built-in insulation monitoring function. As the construction of RIF™ insulation would delay the propagation of a core insulation breakdown after the onset of an initial insulation defect, this type of real time monitoring of core insulation condition provides a novel tool to manage bushing defects without any sense of urgency. It offers, for the first time, a very early field detection tool for transformer bushing insulation faults and by way of consequence, a much improved protection of power transformers over their operating life.

Index Terms-- High Voltage Condenser Bushing, Insulation Monitoring, RIF™, Transformer Bushing



As a safe way for transformer’s power in and out, transformer bushings are considered one of the key components of transformers. Currently there are three major types of high- voltage transformer bushings commonly used, i.e. condenser oil-impregnated paper insulation transformer bushings (OIP bushings), condenser resin-impregnated paper insulation transformer bushings (RIP bushings) and condenser resin- impregnated fiberglass insulation transformer bushings (RIF™ bushings). Resin Impregnated Fiberglass bushings are innovative products that have been operating in the field for 10 years from 15kV to 245kV according to IEC60137 and IEEE 57.19 Standards requirements. Further, their distinctive characteristics allow them to be customized along specification or feature lines. In recent years, an evolution of RIF™ bushings, N-RIF bushings, with built-in insulation monitoring function, are able to conduct in real time, on-line monitoring of their own insulation conditions.

978-1-4799-3656-4/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE













A. OIP Bushings

As a well-established (nearly centennial) product, OIP bushings have the largest share among all installed condenser graded transformer bushings. Their insulation body is produced by winding alternate layers of insulation paper and conducting layers impregnated with oil. Porcelain insulators are usually fitted as outer insulation. The manufacturing of this type of bushing, while representing the lowest cost of the three types, requires a number of sealing procedures; therefore the operation of those bushings demands specific regular maintenance to assure constant oil tightness. Besides, if an insulation fault initiates there is a risk of rapid and undetected propagation to dramatic failure, sometimes ending in explosion.


RIP bushings are more recent dry type paper based transformer bushings. Their condenser cores are made by winding insulating paper and conducting layers. They are subsequently impregnated with epoxy resin before curing, thus eliminating the need for insulating oil. Though more complex and delicate to manufacture, this type of bushings has shown good performance; but as their condenser bodies have weaker mechanical strength, hollow porcelain insulators or composite insulators must be used outside the bodies as outer insulators. Therefore, another type of filling medium has to be added between the hollow insulators and the insulating bodies to ensure the insulating performance of the interface, and some sealing procedures have to be included in the design. Like OIP, reliability then may rest on sealing robustness and the stable condition of insulating paper. Insulating paper is sensitive to moisture, and even more so if phenolic resin is used. As a result, the oil side of RIP bushings (i.e. fitting inside the transformer) must be protected during transportation and storage with a protective sleeve filled with dry nitrogen.

RIP Bushings

C. RIF™ Bushings

RIF™ bushings, introduced in 2002, are in comparison new dry-type transformer bushings. Their paperless condenser bodies are wrapped with fiberglass-based composite and conducting layers before curing. The outer insulation is made of silicone rubber directly fitted to the condenser structure’s core, without any gap between the two components. This type of bushings has very high mechanical characteristics, along with a simple construction, requiring a very limited number of sealing procedures; hence field operation has shown so far a distinctive robustness and repeatable reliability while requiring only discretionary maintenance from the end user. Simpler manufacturing processes also shorten lead times while pricing remains similar to RIP bushings. Figure 1 shows the construction of RIF™ bushings.


terminal Fiberglass Draw lead Silicone Coupler condenser cable rubber core
Draw lead



Figure 1: RIF™ Bushing Construction


A. A Solid Material System

The main insulating materials are an epoxy resin-fiberglass composite system, which is significantly more resilient at resisting moisture absorption than paper-based ones. During transportation and storage, the oil side of the bushing doesn’t need to be protected by nitrogen-filled sheaths. Further, since epoxy resin and fiberglass are stable at higher temperature, the bushings’ thermal class matches Class B (130C) levels.


needed, eliminating any concern about leakages.

B. High Mechanical Strength and Seismic Capability

The epoxy resin/fiberglass core composite system scores very high in mechanical characteristics; for instance, the 252 kV bushing has passed cantilever load test with load of 5000N, although the required load by the IEC standard is










insulation, the bushings have higher seismic resistance capabilities, while eliminating any hazardous deflagration.

C. High Pollution Capability with Uniform Electrical Field

As the industry has long been witnessing with many other equipment, the use of silicone rubber as an outer insulation










confers superior pollution flashover resistance capability, due to silicone rubber’s hydrophobic properties. But more importantly, this generic characteristic is leveraged by RIF™ insulation’s uniform electrical field gradient, resulting from the solid and very finely graded condenser core. The silicone rubber sheds are directly fitted to the core’s surface leaving no gap between the core and the rubber. This tight and relatively thin layer of silicone rubber introduces a very limited distortion of core’s surface gradients, conferring a comparable voltage gradient along the surface of the bushing, that is to say, uniform. As a side effect, it prevents premature aging of the silicone rubber under high electrical field.

D. Maintenance is optional

RIF™ bushings are oil-free, lighter-weight, and their sheds are less susceptible to shock damage, hence straightforward to install. During operation, neither oil levels or internal stress measurement, nor chromatographic analysis are needed; detection of water ingress is not necessary either as for other types of maintenance. This leaves the choice of maintenance programs for those bushings to users as a company discretionary monitoring option. And this introduces the following feature.

E. Track Record and monitoring

From 2002 to 2013, over 10,000 units of 15 to 252 kV RIF™ bushings have been operating safely in the grid. No failure has been reported to date. They have delivered a

reliability that many users in the industry expect from a high voltage dry type bushing. Still, efficient asset management of power transformers demands a continuous access to bushings’ condition throughout their life. This means, continuous and accurate monitoring of core insulations.



A. Necessity of developing new monitoring approaches

Bushings are one of the leading causes of failures in transformers. Users have long been expecting on-line monitoring of transformer bushing’s insulation conditions. The insulation condition can be assessed with sensitivity and accuracy by reporting changes of capacitive current of the condenser structure. If we can spot insulation faults early, as they appear, and manage them in time, catastrophic failures such as fire and explosions can be prevented. Therefore, safe operation of the grid can be greatly improved when bushing insulation monitoring can be conducted continuously and reliably.

Currently there are two approaches to on-line monitoring of the ground layer’s capacitive current of condenser transformer bushings:

Earth Lead: The first one is through the earth lead

which is connected from the ground layer terminal, and a micro window-type current transformer installed externally.


Since the capacitive current flowing through the ground layer


small, the grounded lead needs to be wound a large number


times around the CT, while connecting the CT’s secondary


the insulation monitoring equipment. The current flowing

from the ground layer is usually of milliamp class, and after transformation through the CT, that current degrades to microamp levels. It just means that the current reaching the

monitoring equipment can easily be masked or distorted by

environmental interferences. Furthermore, connecting the lead

to the ground layer terminal may cause latent problems for

reliable grounding; if the lead is accidentally disconnected, the

ground layer of the bushing condenser core will discharge to the ground, and this discharge is very likely to develop until a breakdown of the condenser core happens with potential serious consequences.

2) C2 Capacitance: Another method is to connect a low- voltage capacitor C2 in series outside the bushing, forming a voltage grader with C1. This way the capacitive current of the ground layer can also be measured. Although the Signal to Noise Ratio is increased, this method changes the direct and reliable grounding of the bushing’s ground layer and may cause display errors due to the added capacitor. More importantly, the failure of the ground layer may lead to the condenser core breakdown. And since the medium and construction of the added capacitor and the condenser core are different, capacitive current error will be introduced when temperature and frequency change.

Listening to customers feedback, it was deemed necessary to develop a special terminal for insulation monitoring of RIF™ bushings, with the capability to monitor the insulation condition accurately while avoiding the above-mentioned limitations.

B. Feasibility of Developing N-RIF Bushings

An N-RIF bushing monitors insulation conditions by means of capacitive current measurement. Still, generally

speaking, if a bushing capacitance is strongly affected by temperature, measurement errors of capacitive currents will occur as well, and the bushing’s insulation condition cannot be precisely assessed. RIF™ bushing’s capacitance however, has

a weak sensitivity to temperature variation. From “deep-

freeze” cycle test results (cycling 20 times from ambient to -

50C) it was recorded that from -50 to +20 RIF™ bushing’s capacitance values remain within 3 pF; from the high temperature thermal stability test we can see that, when the bushing reaches thermal stability between 20 to 90 , the capacitance variations are within 7 pF. It means RIF™ bushing’s capacitance, under large changes of temperature, varies within a short range, and progressively.

Also, the exercise would be pointless if one observed a rapid propagation from initial bushing insulation fault to full breakdown, as it would not allow any time to plan for scheduled corrective actions when fault signals are first

detected. When insulation margin tests of RIF™ bushings of different voltage class were performed, an interesting phenomenon was uncovered: every time breakdown happens, it always happens to one or two capacitive layers only. If the applied voltage is maintained, the further developing faults are still limited to capacitive layers one or two. A large number of tests demonstrate that RIF™ bushing breakdown happens layer by layer, i.e., the breakdown process is very gradual; practically it says there is sufficient time from early insulation defect detection to scheduled repair without interrupting normal transformer operation.

Therefore, it was worthwhile to develop versions of RIF™ bushings featuring reliable insulation monitoring functions to leverage this “lead time” to breakdown.

C. Principles and Construction of N-RIF Bushings

The core technology of the on-line insulation monitoring device is the design and fabrication of voltage-grading capacitors (capacitive layers) in the bushings.

Principle of N-RIF bushings is shown in Figure 2:


Figure 2: N-RIF Bushing Principle

HV is the high-voltage terminal that is connected to the grid, C1 is the capacitance of the bushing’s main insulation and C2 the capacitance of the added grading layer; C2 has a much larger value than C1. Parts a and b are monitoring terminals connected to the two layers of C2, and to intelligent equipment that conduct insulation monitoring. After the grading layer terminals of the bushings are connected, the ground layer lead can still be grounded reliably; users can conveniently conduct on-line monitoring of insulation condition using appropriate equipment.

When the bushing’s condenser core is produced, capacitors C1 and C2 are created simultaneously as part of the core structure; the C2 layer and earth lead for C2 are wound in the continuity of main insulation C1. Capacitors C1 and C2 are connected in series to withstand the voltage applied to the bushing. As capacitance C2 is much larger than C1, the

externally connected monitoring equipment will under no circumstances affect the bushing’s main insulation, even in case of short-circuit and open-circuit. At the same time, determination of C2 takes into account the impedance of the external monitoring equipment so as to ensure that almost all of the capacitive current passing through C1 also reaches the monitoring equipment.

Thus, in the case of a core insulation fault (with breakdown happening to the first layers), the C1 capacitance increases, the capacitive current increases, and the monitoring equipment detects the increased capacitive current to trigger an early warning.

The built-in construction of N-RIF bushings and that of RIF™ bushings are the same, with the difference being that the measurement terminal is changed into a monitoring terminal.

Figure 3 shows the case in which the monitoring terminal is externally connected to an indicator light. No external power source is needed for the indicator. The light remains off when the bushing is in normal operation and will come off only when a breakdown happens to a predetermined number of capacitive layers (see Figure 4). The maintenance crew can then conduct testing and investigate the cause without a sense of urgency


and investigate the cause without a sense of urgency . Indicator light yy Bell cover Nut
Indicator light yy Bell cover Nut Terminal Outer nut Equipotential plate Figure 3: Construction of
Indicator light
Bell cover
Outer nut
Figure 3: Construction of Monitoring Terminal with
Indicator Light

Figure 5 shows a comparison of the bushings with and without monitoring terminals (The forefront bushing is showing the monitoring terminal; the others on the picture are RIF™ with taps). As can be seen the monitoring system is well integrated into the bushing and very compact. The connection interface is simple with a pluggable indicator located on the flange (Figure 6).

with a pluggable indicator located on the flange (Figure 6). Figure 4 Insulation Monitor LED Light

Figure 4 Insulation Monitor LED Light on

flange (Figure 6). Figure 4 Insulation Monitor LED Light on Figure 5: N-RIF Bushing (front) and

Figure 5: N-RIF Bushing (front) and RIF™ Bushing

Light on Figure 5: N-RIF Bushing (front) and RIF™ Bushing Figure 6: Pluggable Base for Indicator

Figure 6: Pluggable Base for Indicator Light

But some users may prefer to get the signal collected by a central-monitoring equipment; in this case a special connector can be fitted in place of the light indicator (shown in Figure 7).

Bell cover X terminal Y terminal Terminal module Nut Equipotential plate E terminal
Bell cover
Y terminal

Figure 7: Construction of Monitoring Terminal with Special Connector

D. Characteristics of N-RIF Bushings 1) High Safety and accuracy:

Generally, when operating condenser insulated based products the ground layer lead must be reliably grounded or serious accidents may occur - no intervention is allowed on the ground layer lead of condenser insulation products. But N-RIF bushings’ insulation monitoring device collects a signal from an additional grading layer of the bushing’s core, which doesn’t need to use the ground layer lead. The material and workmanship of the additional layers are identical to that of the main insulation, so reliability and safety remain unchanged. The insulation monitoring device is connected in parallel with the additional layer. The layer also has a much larger capacitance than the main capacitance of the bushing. This means then that the voltage across that additional layer is very low during operation. So the bushing’s safe operation will not be affected even if open-circuit, short-circuit fault or more serious damage happens to the insulation monitoring system.

2) Greatly Improved Interference Resistance:

Conventional ways use current transformers and sensors to receive signals from ground layer lead, and the capacitive current is usually of milliamp class. Since the current is weak, the signal received by window-type current transformers can be degraded to microampere levels and can easily suffer from interferences. Monitoring devices on

N-RIF bushings, however, have very good anti-interference

capability as they receive milliamp class capacitive current directly from the additional layer.

3) Easy Connection with Insulation Monitoring Systems:

As N-RIF bushings can use the insulation monitoring terminal as the output interface, users can simply connect the on-line bushing monitoring system to their IT platform

to get direct true real-time condition tracking, from any point on their network.

4) Experience

Since N-RIF bushings have been in use starting in 2011, 20

transformer manufacturers have been using them. Currently

there are 200 products ranging from 72.5 to 252kV are in

operation in demanding environment without any issues being reported.

E. Application prospects of N-RIF Bushings In view of this 10-year track record for RIF™ bushings, with over 10,000 products installed at such high voltages, it is foreseeable that N-RIF bushings will progressively inspire users and suppliers to consider new approaches to safe operation of transformer bushings. Although they are mostly installed on transformers at present, they can also be fitted on other power equipment such as circuit breakers and gas insulated switchgears (GIS). The technology is bound to develop then into further applications, with variations around the core technology for smart grid applications.



Dry-type RIF™ resin impregnated fiberglass condenser bushings have distinctive advantages over conventional OIP and RIP bushings, and their mature track record over 10 years and 10,000 units show a solid reliability. To further leverage this reliability, N-RIF bushings have been developed to provide a new, safe and reliable on-line insulation monitoring of its core structure. It provides high performance condenser insulation with full continuous visibility of its condition. As breakdown of RIF™ insulation would not happen instantaneously after the onset of an initial condenser grading fault, it provides ample time to deal with any fault detection on a scheduled basis. This makes installation and operation of bushings easier, and most importantly protects the critical investment that is a power transformer by providing a robust tool to avoid bushing generated transformer failures.