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The impact of harmonic distortion on power transformers operating near the thermal limit

M.Ing. / The study looks into the impact of harmonic distortion on power-plant equipment in general, and then focuses on the impact it has on power transformers operating near the thermal limit. The feasibility of the study is firstly evaluated and then the theory on harmonics and transformer losses is analysed. The study had been narrowed down to power transformers due to the high numbers of failures nationally and internationally attributed to unknown causes. A transformer model is then developed through theoretical considerations. Finally, a case study is done on the capability of a fully loaded transformer under harmonics conditions evaluated through transformer capability calculations and the proposed transformer model. Thereafter the transformer model developed is verified with measured results. The main impact of harmonic current distortion on power transformers is an increase in the rated power losses that results in a temperature rise inside the power transformer. The heat build-up can lead to degradation of insulation, which can shorten the transformer’s life and lead to eventual breakdown. The harmonic current distortion impacts transformer losses – namely, ohmic losses, the winding eddy current losses and other stray losses. All of these harmonic effects on transformer losses are verified theoretically, mathematically and practically. The harmonic impact on the transformer capability is then evaluated through a numerical example of a transformer feeding a harmonic load. The transformer capability is determined via two methods – namely, harmonic capability calculations in the standard “IEEE Recommended Practice for Establishing Transformer Capability when Supplying Nonsinusoidal Load Currents”, [11] and a proposed transformer model derived from theoretical and mathematical analysis. The results show that an increase in the winding eddy current losses can decrease the maximum permissible nonsinusoidal load current substantially. If the load current of the transformer is derated accordingly it translates into a loss of the output power capacity of the power transformer. The standard recommended capability calculations for winding eddy current losses are conservative and not satisfactorily accurate. This results in a large loss of power capacity. The proposed transformer model includes a parameter that estimates the winding eddy current loss in the transformer that results in a smaller loss in power capacity. Furthermore, it was shown that the harmonic current distortion levels could exceed the permissible levels although the harmonic voltage distortion levels are within acceptable levels. The proposed transformer equivalent model is thereafter practically verified with experimental results of papers published by M.A.S. Masoum, E.F. Fuchs and D.J. Roesler, [19], [20] and [29].
Date26 February 2009
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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