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Ivanka Atanasova-Hoehlein

Siemens Transformers, Nuremberg, Germany

Materials used for the manufacturing of
transformers are considered „the same“ as 40
years ago, but actually they have been
developing according to the requirements of
users and manufacturers and reflect the „state of
art“ in the industry.


The application of CTC brings a great advantage

in reduction of eddy current losses, as well as Fig. 1. Winding tilting due to axial stresses
improvement of the space factor of the winding.
The epoxy bonded CTC bring additionally an There are a lot of manufacturers of epoxy
increase in the short circuit resistance in bonded CTC, who are using different epoxy
comparison to the normal CTC, due to the resins with different glas transition temperature
interconnection of the single conductors with an and different properties. Furthermore it is
epoxy glue. The right choice of the epoxy bonded important to guarantee the short circuit
material and the knowledge of its properties allow improvement not only at room temperature, but
the choice of the right process for winding drying mainly at transformer service temperatures.
and pressing for the achievement of a high short
circuit resistance at high temperatures. A short TEST METHODS PRACTICED BY THE
overview of the hardening properties of the epoxy MANUFACTURERS OF EPOXY BONDED CTC
bonded CTC, as well as testing methods are
presented. The methods consist mainly of determination of
the shear strength at room temperature, after
EPOXYBONDED CONTINUOUSLY overlapping and curing (Fig. 2) of two single
TRANSPOSED CONDUCTORS epoxy treated enameled wires. This method
gives an idea of adhesion and cohesion strength
Epoxy bonded CTC are made covering the of the resin itself, but no information about the
enamelled flat wire with thermosetting epoxy behaviour of the winding.
resins in B-stage . The aim is to bond the
conductors together using the thermal treatment
for drying the paper insulation of the windings.
Such a bonding is intended to improve the
reistance of the winding in case of a short circuit.

Epoxybonded conductors can effectively prevent

the tilting (Fig. 1) of axially stressed windings. Fig. 2 : Test of shear strength of overlapped
Through increasing the conductor stiffness they epoxy bonded conductors.
make the winding self supporting.

Stiffness Factor
The radial flexural strength represents a good 10 A

model for the winding strain in a transformer in

8 D

the case of a short circuit (Fig. 3). 6

RT 80 105 120

Fig. 4: Degree of stiffness of epoxy bonded CTC

from 4 different suppliers at different

The degree of stiffness describes the extent of

winding solidification at room and higher
temperatures in comparison to a not epoxy
bonded winding at room temperature and
compensates to a high extent the conductor
geometry. This testing method allows the choice
of epoxy bonded CTC (Fig. 4), which guarantees
the reliability of a transformer to short circuits
under real service conditions.

A user of an electrical equipment does not have
an access to further transformer materials except
Fig. 3: Test of radial flexural strength for epoxy
the insulating oil., therefore it is historically
bonded CTC
regarded as a major carrier of diagnostic
As a measure for the increase of the flexural
strength is the product of E-Modul and axial
Gassing of insulating liquids is considered to
angular impulse second derivation, called flexural
happen under thermal and electrical stress and
rigidity, because this product is not dependent
the diagnostic instrument – DGA (dissolved gas
on the geometry of the conductor. The degree of
analysis) is believed to reveal the condition of the
stiffness is the ratio between the flexural rigidity
electrical equipment. Different insulation
of the bonded CTC at 25°C, respectively at
characteristics like breakdown voltage, lossfactor
105°C in comparison to the flexural rigidity of the
or physical-chemical characteristics like
unbonded CTC at 25°C.
neutralisation value, colour etc are considered to
reflect (at least partially) the condition of the
The results of shear test (Fig. 2) and flexural
insulating fluid.
bending test (Fig. 3) are different and not
comparable. Not only the value of the glas
These two groups of diagnostic tools are not
transition temperature itself, but also the
always interconnected and their integrity is not
properties of the epoxy resin, e.g. behaviour
always obvious. For example a transformer may
during smelting and curing plays an important
have a severe failure according to the DGA, but
role for the end properties of the winding, i. e.
the state of the insulating fluid may be good and
resistance against short circuit strain.
vice versa. Thereby it should be considered that
the measured disgnostic parameters represent
only the tipp of the iceberg, since the degradation
mechanisms are very complex.
The usual used criteria of the ratio carbon
dioxide/carbon oxide lower than 3 and higher
Diagnostics based on gassing – DGA than 10 should be further specified and in many
cases revised.
Gassing in case of a serious problem, whether
thermal or electrical is not difficult to recognize. For free breathing systems where an excess of
Different liquids, however, can develop different oxygen can be present and oxidation accelerated
amount of fault gases under normal thermal a value of 10 has be proven to be indicative.
stress, e. g. temperatures up to 150°C. The
evaluation of these fault gases in terms of For closed type systems or transformers working
amount and distribution is not unambigious. on a steady high load ratios carbon
Existing limits in some standards may lead to dioxide/carbon oxide of 1 – 5 have been often
erronious interpretation, concerning the type and observed in reality without any indication of fault.
seriousness of event.
Carbon Oxides in Natural and Synthetic Esters
Carbon Oxides
Natural esters show a lower tendency than
Carbon oxides in the classical DGA-scheme mineral oils concerning the evolution of carbon
evaluation are usually considered to be monoxide. Carbon dioxide may evolve as well as
degradation products of solid insulation – mainly from the degradation of the fluid under the
Kraft paper and pressboard. It is often, however, influence of copper and from paper degradation
forgotten, that carbon- containing insulating fluids and is comparable to the amounts evolving from
like mineral oil or ester fluids can be another mineral oil. This leads to much higher ratios of
significant source. For evaluation in the field it is carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide than usual for
important to have in mind, that the partition mineral oils.
coefficients of carbon monoxide and carbon
dioxide in mineral oil are quite different. Synthetic esters show a much higher evolution of
carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from the
Accordingly the concentration of carbon liquid itself than mineral oils do. The ratio of
monoxide will be quite different in a free- carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide is in between
breathing transformer (likely to escape through this of mineral oils and natural esters.
atmosphere exchange over the conservator) and
in a transformer, which is hermetically sealed or Stray Gassing
with a rubber bag (likely to accumulate).
Stray Gassing is considered to be a phenomenon
Carbon Oxides in Mineral Oils where insulating oils develop at moderate
temperatures hydrogen as well as hydrocarbon
Although mineral oils themselves form a certain gases without a fault.
amount of carbon dioxide, the presence of paper
increases this amount significantly. In Typical for these cases is the production of
comparison carbon monoxide levels seem not to ethane, propane and methane in high amounts.
be very different in the presence of paper. The ratio ethane/ethylene, resp.
propane/propylene may be higher than 10.
Generally the formation of carbon monoxide Ethane, propane and methane increase steadily
shows a temperature dependence and in case of in the first years after commissioning. The
absence of a severe fault (no acetylene) is amounts of hydrogen and ethylene stay constant
mainly deriving from the insulating fluid. The and very low. From 30 typical examples (different
carbon dioxide content is indicative for the manufactureres, different oil) 15 were over 40
degradation of the solid insulation. As a years old, the rest between 5 and 15 years old.
consequence a growing trend ratio of carbon
dioxide/carbon monoxide quotient seems to be a In any case there is a relative quick increase of
better indication of degradation of the solid saturated hydrocarbons at the beginning (the gas
insulation than the carbon oxides alone. increase rates for ethane and methane are 1,5 –
3 ppm/day against gas increase rates of ethylene
nearly zero), reaching a plateau later on. The gas
increase rates slow down to near zero later.
- Catalytic phenomena and stray gassing can be
Such behaviour has been observed in new distinguished from a transformer fault through
transformers, as well as in old ones. The regular check not only of the absolute DGA
interpretation of DGA evaluates usually hot spot values, but of the gas increase rates as well.
below 150°C. Actually the transformers are
failure-free. DGA of spare transformers, never Thermal and oxidative stability of mineral oil
been in service are additionally an evidence of
such a behaviour. The expectations of a customer of an electrical
equipment is that the insulating fluid will last the
All these phenomena (possibly on a catalytic whole transformer life. In case of free breathing
base) consume oxygen, therefore the oxygen transformers the mineral oil comes in contact
content is lower than expected in these with air, inducing the formation of peroxides,
transformers, although they are free breathing. which decompose furtheron, initiating further
We have observed this kind of stray gassing only oxidation chains. Even in the case of sealed
with non-inhibited oils. It is possibly related to transformers there is rest of air in the transformer
oxidation processes. This explains also why the insulation and in the insulation fluid. However,
stray gassing can be seldom seen during the not all applications need ultimatively the highest
factory tests and only later in service. Catalytic requirement for oxidation stability. The existing
influences of transformer materials may be practices and experience using either free-
important, since it is known that metal surfaces breathing equipment or, alternatively, equipment
accelerate the peroxide formation. with a reduced oxygen content need to be
An increase of the lossfactor is also sometimes
observed. An oil change against an inhibited oil Progress of the oxidation in a mineral oil
removes the source of stray gassing. It has also
been observed, that oil from the same batch in a The oxidation process of a mineral oil comprises
different transformer acts as a stray gassing oil . four main stages: initiation, propagation,
branching and termination. Heavy metals are well
The observed phenomena can be summarized known to catalyze the peroxide formation and
as follows: oxidation of oils.

- Hydrogen production due to stray gassing is Early investigations showed that heavy metals
maybe due to strongly hydrotreated oils, but is as like Al, Sn, Fe, Cu catalyze the oil oxidation in a
well very strongly influenced by transformer ratio: 1:1:4:13 in respect to oil ageing
materials, e.g. grain oriented steel, zinc plated products.The addition of copper blocking
steel, varnishes. The production of hydrogen is substances, called passivators, slow down this
temperature dependent. process (influence mainly the initiation step).
Combination of oxidation inhibitors from the
- Stray gassing with overproduction of saturated group of hindered phenols (e.g. DBPC (Fig. 5), a
hydrocarbons (e.g. ratio ethane/ethylene ≥10) primary antioxidant influencing the propagation
with no production of hydrogen and no increase step) and passivators are well-known
rates of hydrogen, ethylene and further fault synergistically acting oxidation inhibitors. Some
gases has probably always existed and is sulfides and disulfides are naturally abundant
possibly related to oxidation. The compounds in mineral oils and contribute to the
overproportional development of methane and oxidation stability. Sulfur compounds are
especially ethane (propane) proceeds in the first important oxidation inhibitors, mainly secondary
years of service and reaches a plateau after a antioxidants and influence the propagation step.
considerable consumption of oxygen. Possibly
this process is also catalytically triggered by The antioxidant additives in oil influence each
transformer materials. It concerns different other. The same organosulfur compounds which
transformer types, different oils (all non- act as inhibitors are also responsible for the
inhibited), different manufacturers. corrosivity. Corrosivity and oxidation stability are
The phenomenon “stray gassing” seems to be
closely related to non-inhibited mineral oils. The
Inhibited versus non-inhibited oils addition of passivators may also influence the
gas-in-oil analysis.
In all specifications there is a differentiation
between non-inhibited and inhibited oils. There is Paraffinic versus naphthenic oils
much more consensus on the definition of an
inhibited oil – this is a transformer oil, containing Often there are specification, where a certain
0,25 – 0,40% of DBPC – these are e.g. Type II type of mineral oil – naphthenic or paraffinic is
oils according D3487 or standard and high-grade specified.
inhibited oils according IEC 60296.
The definition naphthenic/paraffinic is very
The definition of non-inhibited oils is not so course:
unambigious. According IEC 60296 the amount
of DBPC should not be detectable, according to Paraffinic C below 50% naphthenic oils
ASTM D3487 or e.g. IS 335 amounts of DBPC
up to 0,08% are acceptable. On the other hand Paraffinic C 50-56% intermediate oils
such oils are considered by IEC 60296 as trace
inhibited. Paraffinic C 56% and above paraffinic oils

Inhibited insulating oils exhibit a higher oxidation Some hydrocracked oils have higher than 65%
stability in comparison to non-inhibited oils. The paraffinic C which is more than naturally
reason for this is comparatively simple - occurring in feedstocks.

The oxidation inhibitor present in the inhibited oils Paraffinic mineral oils may have long paraffinic
can capture radicals and so protects the chains, which lead to high pour points. Dewaxed
insulating fluid from oxidation. paraffinics and isoparaffinics can overcome this.

Through this protective influence less acids and The existing practice all over the world shows
degradation products than in non-inhibited oils that both types naphthenics and paraffinics can
are formed. perform well.

Corrosivity has been adressed in Cigre WG A2-
32 in detail. Sulfur compounds which contribute
to the oxidation stability are definitevely involved
in the corrosivity as well. There is no one single
mechanism of corrosivity appearance – it can be
the increased mobilisation of copper into paper,
Fig. 5. DBPC ist the most widely used primary which subsequently leads to degradation of sulfur
antioxidant compound or it can be degradation to elemental
sulfur, formation of coppersulfide and its diffusion
Inhibited mineral oils protect indirectly also the through insulating paper. Diminishment of the
solid insulation preventing the formation of acids, dielectric safety margin and breakdown withstand
which will attack insulating paper. of insulating paper is the major cause of failures
(Fig. 6).
Important characteristics of inhibited oils is the
inhibitor content, as well as the refining grade of
the base oil.

Influence on the gas-in-oil analysis

Differently inhibited mineral oils may show

differences in the gassing behaviour and thus
differences in the gas-in-oil pattern.
inhibitors in case transformer oil is in a good



Fig. 6. Copper and insulating paper contaminated

Fig. 7. Irgamet 39 is a widely used passivator
with copper sulfide.
for mineral oils because of its oil solubility
Risk factors for an electrical equipment
Passivators deminishes, however, very quickly its
From a practical point of view it is important to concentration when added to acidic and strongly
carry out a risk assessment of an electrical oxidated oils.
equipment considering not only the oil corrosivity,
Passivation can not reverse an already
but also the design and the service conditions.
deteriorated state of the winding. An oil change
Equipment at risk may be an equipment can not do this as well.
combining two or more of the following factors:

Transformer reliability as design and in service is

highly dependent on a good knowledge of used
materials . Their properties, as well as the
customer`s requirements determine the right
combination of materials and allow the
interpretation of ageing data with condition
evaluation and life assessment later in service.

Mitigation Techniques

The most widely applied mitigation technique in

case of an equipment on risk is the passivation.
Passivators (Fig. 7) are chemical compounds,
which deactivate and protect the copper surface.
The bonding to copper is, however, not of
permanent nature, especially in the presence of
oxidation products.

The historical experience, available up to now,

shows that passivators can be efficient corrosion