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 Three characteristics generally provide means for

detecting transformer internal faults. These
characteristics include an increase in phase currents, an
increase in the differential current, and gas formation
caused by the fault arc .
 When transformer internal faults occur, immediate
action for the faulted transformer is necessary to avoid
extensive damage and/or preserve power system stability
and power quality.
 Three types of protection are normally used to detect
these faults: over current protection for phase currents,
differential protection, and gas accumulator or rate-of
pressure- rise protection for arcing faults.
 Over current protection with fuses or relays provided
the first type of transformer fault protection and it
continues to be applied in small-capacity transformers.
 The differential (Merz Price) principle for transformer
protection was introduced by connecting an OC relay in
the paralleled secondary of the current transformers.
 The percentage-differential principle, which was
applied to transformer protection, provided excellent
results in improving the security of differential
protection for external faults with CT errors.
 The analysis presented here focuses primarily on
Differential relaying for transformers because they are
prone to relay mal-operation in the presence of
transformer inrush currents and other conditions.
 Several solutions to this problem were introduced.
 Researchers quickly recognized that the harmonic
content of the differential current provided information
that helped differentiate faults from inrush conditions.
 The idea of harmonic blocking instead of restraining
was also proposed with a relay that used only a particular
harmonic to block the operation of relay.
 Many modern transformer differential relays now a
days use either harmonic restraint or blocking methods.
These methods ensure relay security for a very high
percentage of inrush cases.
 Transformer over excitation is another possible cause
of differential-relay mal-operation.
 Several improved approaches for transformer
differential protection using current only inputs exists
with ensured security for external faults, inrush, and over
excitation conditions, and dependability for internal
 Apart from harmonic restraint and blocking methods
a wave shape recognition technique can also be used .
 Differential relays perform well for external faults as
long as the CTs reproduce the primary currents correctly.
 When one of the CTs saturates, or if both CTs saturate
at different levels, false operating current appears in the
differential relay and could cause relay mal-operation.
 Some differential relays use the harmonics caused by
CT saturation for added restraint and to avoid mal-
 In addition, the slope characteristic of the percentage-
differential relay provides further security for external
faults with CT saturation.
Therefore, In case of power transformer applications, possible
sources of error in differential relaying, include the following:
 CT saturation is only one of the causes of false operating
current in differential relays
 Mismatch between the CT ratios and the power
transformer ratio (e.g. Variable ratio of transformer caused by
a tap changer)
 Phase shift between the power transformer primary and
secondary currents for delta–Y connections
 Magnetizing inrush currents created by transformer
transients because of energization
 High excitation currents caused by transformer over
 The relay percentage-restraint characteristic typically
solves the first two problems.
 A proper connection of the CTs or emulation of such a
connection in a digital relay (auxiliary CTs historically
provided this function) addresses the phase-shift
 A very complex problem is that of discriminating
internal fault currents from the false differential currents
caused by magnetizing inrush and transformer over
Magnetizing Inrush, Over excitation, and CT
 Inrush, over excitation or CT saturation conditions in
a power transformer produce false differential currents
because they produce distorted currents as they are
related to transformer core saturation.
 The distorted waveforms provide information that
helps to discriminate inrush and over excitation
conditions from internal faults.
 However, this discrimination can be complicated by
other sources of distortion such as CT saturation.
Magnetizing Inrush Currents
 The study of transformer excitation inrush
phenomena has been of interest to early researchers.
 Magnetizing inrush occurs in a transformer whenever
the polarity and magnitude of the residual flux do not
agree with the polarity and magnitude of the ideal
instantaneous value of steady-state flux.
 The magnitudes, duration and waveforms of inrush
currents depend on a multitude of factors and are almost
impossible to exactly predict. Some of these factors are:
 The instantaneous value of the voltage waveform at
the moment of closing CB
 The value of the residual (remnant) magnetizing flux
 The sign of the residual magnetizing flux
 The type of the iron laminations used in the
transformer core and the saturation flux density of the
transformer core
 The physical size of the transformer
 The input supply voltage level
The following list
summarizes the main
characteristics of inrush
 Generally contain dc
offset, odd harmonics, and
even harmonics.
 Typically composed of
unipolar or bipolar pulses,
separated by intervals of
very low current values.
 Second-harmonic content starts with a low value and
increases as the inrush current decreases.
 Relay currents are delta currents (a delta winding is
encountered in either the power- or current transformer
connections, or is simulated in the relay), which means
that currents of adjacent windings are subtracted, and
the following occur:
 DC components are subtracted.
 Fundamental components are added at 60.
 Second harmonics are added at 120. (Most suitable)
 Third harmonics are added at 180(they cancel out), etc.
Over excitation of a Power Transformer
 As compared to this, Over excitation of a power
transformer is a typical case of ac saturation of the core
that produces odd harmonics in the exciting current.
 Figure shows the exciting current recorded during a
real test of a 5-kVA, 230/115-V, single-phase laboratory
transformer . The current corresponds to an overvoltage
condition of 150% at nominal frequency.
 For comparison purposes, the peak value of the
transformer nominal current is 61.5 A, and the peak value
of the exciting current is 57.3 A.
 Table shows the
most significant
harmonics of the
current signal
depicted in Figure.
 Harmonics are
expressed as a
percentage of the
 The third
harmonic is the
most suitable for
detecting over
 However, either the ∆ connection of the CTs or the ∆
connection compensation of the differential relay filters
out this harmonic. The fifth harmonic, however, is still a
reliable quantity for detecting over excitation conditions.
 Therefore it was proposed to use the fifth harmonic to
restrain the transformer differential relay. The
recommended setting of this restraint function is at 35%
of fifth harmonic with respect to the fundamental.
 Figure emphasizes the harmonic content of the
excitation current of a power transformer as a function of
the applied voltage.
 As the voltage increases, saturation and exciting
current increase. The odd harmonics, expressed as a
percentage of the fundamental, first increase and then
begin to decrease at over voltages on the order of 115 to
 Setting the differential-relay fifth harmonic restraint
to 35% ensures security for overvoltage conditions less
than 140%.
 For greater Over voltages, which could quickly destroy
the transformer in a few seconds, it is desirable to have
the fast tripping added to that of the transformer over
excitation relay.
CT Saturation
 In the case of transformer-differential protection, the
effect of CT saturation is double-edged.
 For external faults, the resulting false differential
current can produce relay mal-operation. In some cases,
the percentage restraint in the relay addresses this false
differential current.
 For internal faults, the harmonics resulting from CT
saturation could delay the operation of differential relays
having harmonic restraint or blocking.
 The main characteristics of CT saturation are
 The worst CT saturation is produced by the dc
component of the primary current. During this dc
saturation period, the secondary current can contain
odd and even harmonics .
 When the dc offset dies out, the CT has only ac
saturation, characterized by the presence of odd
harmonics in the secondary current.
 Figure shows a typical secondary current waveform for
computer-simulated ac symmetrical CT saturation.
 This figure also
depicts the harmonic
content of this
current. The figure
confirms the
presence of odd
harmonics and the
absence of even
harmonics in the
secondary current.
Methods for Discriminating Internal
Faults from Inrush & Over excitation
 Early transformer differential-relay designs used
time delay to override the inrush current.
 However, Current Based Harmonic restraint is the
classical way to restrain tripping on Inrush.
 There are many variations on this method. All of
these methods work on the assumption that the
magnetizing inrush current contains high levels of
second harmonic current.
 The current for an internal transformer fault typically
has very low levels of second harmonic current.
 The simplest method of harmonic restraint uses the
magnitude of the second harmonic in the differential
current compared to the magnitude of the fundamental
frequency component in the differential current.
 Tripping of the differential
element is blocked when this ratio
exceeds an adjustable threshold.
 The harmonic restraint is
typically calculated on a per-phase
basis. Variations include using the
RMS current as opposed to the
fundamental frequency
component, and using a
cumulative three-phase
 The historical setting for harmonic restraint is a
second harmonic ratio of 20%, with an available setting
range of 1% to 40%.
 Set too high, and the differential element may trip
during transformer energizing. Set too low, and inrush
restraint may block tripping during some internal fault
Restraint Modes:
 Per-phase. In per-phase mode the relay performs
inrush restraint individually in each phase.
 2-out-of-3. In 2-out-of-3 mode, the relay checks
second harmonic level in all three phases individually. If
any two phases establish a blocking condition, the
remaining phase is restrained automatically.

 Averaging. In averaging mode, the relay first

calculates the average second harmonic ratio, and then
applies the inrush threshold to the calculated average.

 1-out-of-3. In 1-out-of-3 mode, all three phases are

restrained when a blocking condition exists on any one
Incipient Faults in Transformers
 Faults which are not significant in the beginning but
which slowly develop into serious faults are known as
incipient faults.
 Buchholz relay provides protection against such
incipient faults. A Buchholz relay is a standard
protection fitted to all oil-immersed transformers which
detects all insulation breakdowns inside the transformer
tank causing either the formation of gas or surges of oil
flow from the tank to the expansion vessel.
 This applies to all phase and ground faults on the
windings and to inter-turn faults. The relay also detects
loss of oil caused by leaks.
 Figure shows
the position of
the Buchholz
relay with
respect to the
tank and the
 The conceptual diagram of the inner working of the
Buchholz relay is shown in Figure.
 When an incipient fault such as a winding-to-core fault
or an inter-turn fault occurs on the transformer winding,
there is severe heating of the oil. This causes gases to be
liberated from the oil.
 There is a build-up
of oil pressure causing
oil to rush into the
 A vane is placed in the path of surge of oil between the
transformer and the conservator.
 A set of contacts, operated by this vane, is used as trip
contacts of the Buchholz relay . This output of Buchholz
relay may be used to trip the transformer.
 The Buchholz relay also has another set of contacts
operated by a float. These contacts stay open when the
transformer tank is filled with oil. However, in case of
leakage of oil or decomposition of oil, the float sinks
causing the contacts to close.
 Loss of oil will no doubt cause the
transformer temperature to rise but
does not require immediate tripping.
Hence, normally these contacts are
wired to an alarm which alerts the
Analysis of Trapped Gases
 The trapped gases in the relay can give valuable clue
to the type of damage that takes place inside the
 This is because the insulation between the winding
turns, the insulation between the stampings of the core
and the oil, all liberate specific gases when they get
heated up due to a fault.
 The presence of these gases can be used as a
signature of a particular type of damage that may have
taken place inside the transformer.
 Table lists this information.