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Dissolved gas analysis and the Duval Triangle by Michel Duval
Dissolved gas analysis
and the Duval Triangle
by Michel Duval
-DGA is for Dissolved Gas Analysis. -Still today, DGA is probably the most powerful tool
-DGA is for Dissolved Gas Analysis.
-Still today, DGA is probably the most powerful tool
for detecting faults in electrical equipment in
service.
-Over one million DGA analyses are performed
each year by more than 400 laboratories
worldwide.
-Gases in oil always result from the decomposition of electrical insulation materials (oil or paper),
-Gases in oil always result from the decomposition
of electrical insulation materials (oil or paper), as a
result of faults or chemical reactions in the
equipment.
-for example, oil is a molecule of hydrocarbons,
i.e., containing hydrogen and carbon atoms,
linked by chemical bonds (C-H, C-C).
-some of these bonds may break and form H*,
CH 3 *, CH 2 * and CH* radicals.
All these radicals then recombine to form the fault gases observed in oil:
All these radicals then recombine to form the fault
gases observed in oil:
-in addition to these gases, the decomposition of paper produces CO 2 , CO and
-in addition to these gases, the decomposition of
paper produces CO 2 , CO and H 2 O, because of the
presence of oxygen atoms in the molecule of
cellulose:
The main gases analyzed by DGA Hydrogen H 2 Methane CH 4 Ethane C 2
The main gases analyzed by DGA
Hydrogen
H 2
Methane
CH 4
Ethane
C
2 H 6
Ethylene
C
2 H 4
Acetylene
C
2 H 2
Carbon monoxide
CO
Carbon dioxide
CO 2
Oxygen
O
2
Nitrogen
N
2
-some of these gases will be formed in larger or smaller quantities depending on the
-some of these gases will be formed in larger or
smaller quantities depending on the energy content
of the fault.
-for example, low energy faults such as corona
partial discharges in gas bubbles, or low
temperature hot spots, will form mainly H 2 and
CH 4 .
-faults of higher temperatures are necessary to form large quantities of C 2 H 4
-faults of higher temperatures are necessary to
form large quantities of C 2 H 4 .
-and finally, it takes faults with a very high energy
content, such as in electrical arcs, to form large
amounts of C 2 H 2 .
-by looking at the relative proportion of gases
in the DGA results it is possible to identify the
type of fault occurring in a transformer in
service.
6 basic types of faults detectable by DGA have thus been defined by the IEC
6 basic types of faults detectable by DGA have
thus been defined by the IEC and other
organizations.
1.Partial discharges of the corona-type (PD).
-typical examples are discharges in gas
bubbles or voids trapped in paper, as a result
of poor drying or poor oil-impregnation.
2.Discharges of low energy (D1) -typical examples are partial discharges of the sparking-type, inducing pinholes
2.Discharges of low energy (D1)
-typical examples are partial discharges of the
sparking-type, inducing pinholes or carbonized
punctures in paper.
-or low-energy arcing, inducing carbonized
perforations or surface tracking of paper, or
carbon particles in oil.
3.Discharges of high energy (D2) -typical examples are high energy arcing, flashovers and short circuits,
3.Discharges of high energy (D2)
-typical examples are high energy arcing,
flashovers and short circuits, with power follow-
through, resulting in extensive damage to paper,
large formation of carbon particles in oil, metal
fusion, tripping of the equipment or gas alarms .
4.Thermal faults of temperatures < 300 °C (T1) Faults T1 are evidenced by paper turning:
4.Thermal faults of temperatures < 300 °C (T1)
Faults T1 are evidenced by paper turning:
-brown (> 200 °C).
-black or carbonized (> 300 °C).
Typical examples are overloading, blocked oil
ducts, stray flux in beams
5.Thermal faults of temperatures between 300 and 700°C (T2) Faults T2 are evidenced by :
5.Thermal faults of temperatures between 300 and
700°C (T2)
Faults T2 are evidenced by :
-carbonization of paper.
-formation of carbon particles in oil.
Typical examples are defective contacts or welds,
circulating currents.
6.Thermal faults of temperatures > 700°C (T3) Faults T3 are evidenced by : -extensive formation
6.Thermal faults of temperatures > 700°C (T3)
Faults T3 are evidenced by :
-extensive formation of carbon particles in oil.
-metal coloration (800 °C) or metal fusion
(> 1000 °C).
Typical examples are large circulating currents
in tank and core, short circuits in laminations.
Several diagnosis methods have been proposed to identify these faults in service. The first one
Several diagnosis methods have been proposed
to identify these faults in service.
The first one was the Dornenburg method in
Switzerland in the late 1960s, then the Rogers
method in UK in the mid 1970s.
Variations on these methods have later been
proposed by the IEC (60599) and IEEE.
All these methods use 3 basic gas ratios: (CH 4 /H 2 , C 2
All these methods use 3 basic gas ratios: (CH 4 /H 2 ,
C 2 H 2 /C 2 H 4 and C 2 H 6 /C 2 H 4 ).
Depending on the values of these gas ratios, codes
or zones are defined for each type of fault.
One drawback of these methods is that no
diagnosis can be given in a significant number of
cases, because they fall outside the defined zones.
Another method used by IEEE is the so-called key- gas method, which looks at the
Another method used by IEEE is the so-called key-
gas method, which looks at the main gas formed
for each fault, e.g, C 2 H 2 for arcing.
One drawback of this method is that it often
provides wrong diagnoses.
Finally, there is the Triangle method, which was developed empirically in the early 1970s, and
Finally, there is the Triangle method, which was
developed empirically in the early 1970s, and is
based on the use of 3 gases (CH 4 , C 2 H 4 and C 2 H 2 )
corresponding to the increasing energy levels of gas
formation.
One advantage of this method is that it always
provides a diagnosis, with a low percentage of
wrong diagnoses.
Comparison of diagnosis methods. % Unresolved diagnoses % Wrong diagnoses % Total Key gases 0
Comparison of diagnosis methods.
% Unresolved
diagnoses
% Wrong
diagnoses
% Total
Key gases
0
58
58
Rogers
33
5
38
Dornenburg
26
3
29
IEC
15
8
23
Triangle
0
4
4
The triangle representation also allows to easily follow graphically and visually the evolution of faults
The triangle representation also allows to easily
follow graphically and visually the evolution of faults
with time.
However, many people are not quite familiar with
the use of triangular coordinates, so I will try to
explain that in more detail today.
The triangle method.
The triangle method.
The triangle method plots the relative % of CH 4 , C 2 H 4
The triangle method plots the relative % of CH 4 ,
C 2 H 4 and C 2 H 2 on each side of the triangle, from
0% to 100%.
The 6 main zones of faults are indicated in the
triangle, plus a DT zone (mixture of thermal and
electrical faults).
Question: how corona PDs, which form a lot of H 2 , can be identified
Question: how corona PDs, which form a lot of H 2 ,
can be identified in the Triangle without using this
gas ?
Answer: in such faults, CH 4 is formed in smaller
amounts than H 2 (typically 10 to 20 times less),
but it can still be measured easily by DGA.
Another question: in the Triangle, why not use H 2 rather than CH 4 to
Another question: in the Triangle, why not use
H 2 rather than CH 4 to represent low energy
faults ?
Answer: because CH 4 provides better overall
diagnoses for all types of faults.
A possible explanation (?): H 2 diffuses much
more rapidly than hydrocarbon gases from
transformer oil. This will affect gas ratios using H 2
but not those using hydrocarbon gases.
So, how to use the triangle ? If for example the DGA lab results are:
So, how to use the triangle ?
If for example the DGA lab results are:
CH4 =
100 ppm
C2H4 = 100 ppm
C2H2 = 100 ppm
First calculate: CH4 + C2H4 + C2H2 = 300 ppm.
Then calculate the relative % of each gas: relative % of CH4 = 100 /
Then calculate the relative % of each gas:
relative % of CH4 = 100 / 300 = 33,3 %
relative % of C2H4 = 100 / 300 = 33,3 %
relative % of C2H4 = 100 / 300 = 33,3 %
These values are the triangular coordinates to
be used on each side of the triangle.
To verify that the calculation was done correctly,
the sum of these 3 values should always give
100%, and should correspond to only one point
in the triangle.
Each DGA analysis received from the lab will always give only one point in the
Each DGA analysis received from the lab will
always give only one point in the triangle.
The zone in which the point falls in the Triangle will
identify the fault responsible for the DGA results.
The calculation of triangular coordinates can easily be done manually, or with the help of
The calculation of triangular coordinates can easily
be done manually, or with the help of a small
algorithm or software.
Errors are often made when developing such an
algorithm, so check it first with the free software
available from duvalm@ireq.ca.
For those familiar with computer graphics, it is also possible to develop a software displaying
For those familiar with computer graphics, it is also
possible to develop a software displaying the point
and the fault zones graphically in the triangle.
Several commercial software are available for that
purpose, e.g., from Serveron, Kelman or Delta-X
Research in Canada.
. The Triangle, being a graphical method, allows to easily follow the evolution of faults
.
The Triangle, being a graphical method, allows
to easily follow the evolution of faults with time,
for instance from a thermal fault to a potentially
much more severe fault such as D2.
.
.
Fault zones in the triangle have been defined by using a large number of cases
Fault zones in the triangle have been defined by
using a large number of cases of faulty
transformers in service which had been inspected
visually.
Cases of faults PD and D1 tracking; sparking; small arcing.
Cases of faults PD and D1
tracking; sparking; small arcing.
Cases of faults D2
Cases of faults D2
Cases of thermal faults in oil only circulating currents ; laminations ; bad contacts
Cases of thermal faults in oil only
circulating currents ; laminations ;
bad contacts
Cases of thermal faults in paper brownish paper ; carbonized paper ; not mentioned
Cases of thermal faults in paper
brownish paper ; carbonized paper ;
not mentioned
A fault in paper is generally considered as more serious than a fault in oil
A fault in paper is generally considered as more
serious than a fault in oil only, because paper is
often placed in a HV area (windings, barriers).
A popular ratio used for that purpose is the CO 2 /
CO ratio.
If the CO 2 / CO ratio is < 3, this is a strong
indication of a fault in paper, either a hot spot
or electrical arcing.
The CO 2 / CO ratio, however, is not very accurate, because it is also
The CO 2 / CO ratio, however, is not very accurate,
because it is also affected by the background of
CO 2 and CO coming from oil oxidation.
The amounts of furans in oil may also be used in
some cases to confirm paper involvement,
however, the interpretation of results is often
difficult.
. Other useful gas ratios: -O 2 / N 2 : a decrease of this
. Other useful gas ratios:
-O 2 / N 2 : a decrease of this ratio indicates excessive
heating (< 0.3 in breathing transformers).
-C 2 H 2 / H 2 : a ratio > 3 in the main tank indicates
contamination by the LTC compartment
Gassing not related to faults in service: . -Catalytic reactions on metal surfaces: formation of
Gassing not related to faults in service:
.
-Catalytic reactions on metal surfaces: formation
of H 2 only.
-“Stray” gassing of oil: the “unexpected gassing of
oil at relatively low temperatures (80 to 200 °C)”.
Stray gassing after 16hours of test at 120°C, in ppm : Oil H CH 4
Stray gassing after 16hours of test at 120°C,
in ppm :
Oil
H
CH 4
C
C
C
CO
CO 2
2
2 H 4
2 H 6
2 H 2
.
Non-stray gassing
3
1
-
-
-
3
43
Strongly stray gassing
1088
172
11
27
-
500
1880
in ppm
It has been found at CIGRE that stray gassing: . -may interfere with DGA diagnoses
It has been found at CIGRE that stray gassing:
. -may interfere with DGA diagnoses in service
only in the case of the most stray gassing oils,
or under overloading conditions.
- will not interfere with diagnoses during factory
tests.
.
.
Now, a critical look at DGA results coming from the laboratory. DGA labs are not
Now, a critical look at DGA results coming from
the laboratory.
DGA labs are not perfect. Like everyone else
they will sometimes make mistakes, and some
are not as accurate as we expect them to be.
Laboratory accuracy, however, has a direct
effect on diagnosis accuracy and on diagnosis
uncertainty.
The accuracy of the “average” lab has been found by CIGRE to be ± 15%
The accuracy of the “average” lab has been found
by CIGRE to be ± 15% at medium (routine) gas
concentration levels (> 10 ppm for hydrocarbons).
Accuracy decreases rapidly as gas concentration
decreases, following approximately the equation:
±15% ± 2 ppm (detection limit).
Accuracy will thus fall to ~ ± 30% at 6 ppm, and
± 100% near the detection limit.
Effect of laboratory accuracy (±15% and ±30%, respectively) on DGA diagnosis uncertainty.
Effect of laboratory accuracy (±15% and ±30%,
respectively) on DGA diagnosis uncertainty.
When an area of uncertainty crosses several fault zones in the triangle, a reliable diagnosis
When an area of uncertainty crosses several fault
zones in the triangle, a reliable diagnosis cannot
be given.
Lab accuracies worse than 30% in general will
provide unreliable or totally wrong diagnoses.
Diagnosis uncertainty corresponding to lab accuracies of ± 15, 30, 50 and 75 %:
Diagnosis uncertainty corresponding to lab
accuracies of ± 15, 30, 50 and 75 %:
Accuracy of laboratories at medium gas concentrations
Accuracy of laboratories at medium gas concentrations
Accuracy of laboratories at low gas concentrations
Accuracy of laboratories at low gas concentrations
Users should ask their DGA labs to indicate the accuracy of their DGA results, to
Users should ask their DGA labs to indicate the
accuracy of their DGA results, to be able to
calculate the uncertainty on the diagnoses.
To verify the accuracy of routine DGA analyses,
users should also from time to time send to the
lab a “blind” sample of gas-in-oil standard.
Such gas-in-oil standards are now available commercially, e.g., from Morgan Schaffer in Canada They can
Such gas-in-oil standards are now available
commercially, e.g., from Morgan Schaffer in
Canada
They can also be prepared by the laboratory,
following procedures or concepts described in
IEC 60567 or ASTM D3612.
Inaccurate DGA results, whatever their cost, low or high, are a waste of money since
Inaccurate DGA results, whatever their cost, low
or high, are a waste of money since they cannot
be used reliably.
Furthermore, they may lead to wrong diagnoses,
with possibly serious consequences for the
equipment.
A similar investigation is presently underway at CIGRE TF15 to evaluate the accuracy of on-line
A similar investigation is presently underway at
CIGRE TF15 to evaluate the accuracy of on-line
and portable gas monitors.
Gas levels in service A recommendation of CIGRE and the IEC is that DGA diagnosis
Gas levels in service
A recommendation of CIGRE and the IEC is that
DGA diagnosis should be attempted only if gas
concentrations or rates of gas increase in oil are
high enough to be considered significant.
Low gas levels may be due to contamination or
aging of insulation, not necessarily to an actual
fault.
Also, there is always a small level of gases in service, and it would not
Also, there is always a small level of gases in
service, and it would not be economically viable
to suspect all pieces of equipment.
It is better to concentrate on the upper percentile
of the transformer population with the highest
gas levels.
This is the philosophy behind the use of 90% typical concentrations and 90% typical rates
This is the philosophy behind the use of 90%
typical concentrations and 90% typical rates of
increase, in order to concentrate maintenance
efforts on the 10% of the population most at risk.
A lot of work has been done recently at CIGRE
and the IEC in these areas, and a consensus
reached on typical values observed in service
worldwide.
Ranges of 90 % typical concentration values for power transformers, in ppm: C2H2 H2 CH4
Ranges of 90 % typical concentration values
for power transformers, in ppm:
C2H2
H2
CH4
C2H4
C2H6
CO
CO2
All transformers
50-
30-
60-
20-
400-
3800-
150
130
280
90
600
14000
No OLTC
2-20
Communicating
60-280
OLTC
Ranges of 90 % typical rates of gas increase for power transformers, in ppm/year: C2H2
Ranges of 90 % typical rates of gas increase
for power transformers, in ppm/year:
C2H2
H2
CH4
C2H4
C2H6
CO
CO2
All transformers
35-
10-
32-
5-
260-
1700-
132
120
146
90
1060
10,000
No OLTC
0-4
Communicating
21-37
OLTC
90% typical values are within the same range on all networks, with some differences related
90% typical values are within the same range on
all networks, with some differences related to
the individual loading conditions, equipment
used, weather, etc.
Influence of some parameters on typical values: -Typical values are significantly higher in young equipment
Influence of some parameters on typical values:
-Typical values are significantly higher in young
equipment (suggesting there are some unstable
chemical bonds in new oil and paper ?).
-A bit higher in very old equipment.
-Significantly lower in instrument transformers.
-Higher in shell-type and shunt reactors
(operating at higher temperatures ?).
-Not affected by oil volume (suggests that larger
faults are formed in larger transformers ?).
When DGA results are above typical values: -a diagnosis may be attempted to identify the
When DGA results are above typical values:
-a diagnosis may be attempted to identify the
fault producing these gases.
-the equipment should not be considered at risk.
-however, the equipment should be monitored
more frequently by DGA.
The typical values surveyed by CIGRE are ranges of values observed worldwide on a large
The typical values surveyed by CIGRE are ranges
of values observed worldwide on a large number
of networks.
Each individual network should preferably
calculate its own specific typical values.
To calculate typical concentration values, the
cumulative number of analyses should be drawn
as a function of concentration, for each gas.
Cumulative number of DGA analyses, in % vs. gas concentration, in ppm T = the
Cumulative number of DGA analyses, in %
vs. gas concentration, in ppm
T = the 90% typical
concentration value
As long as DGA values in service remain relatively close to typical values, there is
As long as DGA values in service remain relatively
close to typical values, there is no reason to be
concerned by the condition of the transformer.
To evaluate how much at risk a transformer may
become above typical values, the probability of
failure in service (PFS) has to be examined.
PFS has been defined as the number of DGA
analyses followed by a failure-related event
(e.g., tripping, fault gas alarm, fire, etc), divided
by the total number of analyses, at a given gas
concentration.
Probability of having a failure-related event ( PFS, % ) vs. the concentration of C2H2
Probability of having a failure-related event ( PFS, % )
vs. the concentration of C2H2 in ppm
90
98
99
Norm, in %
PFS, in %
100
300
400
ppm
The PFS remains almost constant below and above the 90% typical value, until it reaches
The PFS remains almost constant below and
above the 90% typical value, until it reaches an
inflexion point on the curve (pre-failure value).
DGA monitoring should be done more and more
frequently as gas concentrations increase from
typical to pre-failure value.
Pre-failure values were found by CIGRE to be surprisingly close on different networks, H2 CH4
Pre-failure values were found by CIGRE to be
surprisingly close on different networks,
H2
CH4
C2H4
C2H6
C2H2
CO
240-
270-
700-
750-
310-
984-
1320
460
990
1800
600
3000
(in ppm)
This suggests that failure occurs when a critical
amount of insulation is destroyed.
In-between typical and pre-failure values, specific alarm values can be defined, depending on the tolerance
In-between typical and pre-failure values, specific
alarm values can be defined, depending on the
tolerance to risk of the maintenance personnel,
also on the maintenance budget available.
For example, higher alarm values may be used
when the maintenance budget is low, and lower
alarm values in the case of strategic equipment.
Summary of typical, alarm and pre-failure values: Concentration Time
Summary of typical, alarm and pre-failure values:
Concentration
Time