Assessing the use of natural esters for transformer field drying

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In recent years, great attention has been paid to ester fluids as an alternative to mineral oil. Since the present use of these liquids is becoming a common practice in distribution transformers, even some experiences have been published reporting their application to power transformers. One of the main differences between ester fluid and mineral oil is the much greater capability of absorbing water by esters. In this paper, the possibility of using this kind of liquid in transformer field drying is assessed. Hot oil (HO) drying with mineral oil is one of the most widely used methods to dry transformers in the field, since it is a relatively simple and well-known process and it is less aggressive for the insulation than other drying methods. Moreover, drying the oil, while it is preferably hot, is the only method available to dry transformers online. However, the water extraction rate of the process is very poor because of the highly hydrophobic character of mineral oil and, in consequence, large drying times are needed to achieve a significant reduction in the water content of the insulation. A first theoretical analysis seems to indicate that the use of a less hydrophobic liquid would significantly reduce the drying times involved in the process. This paper aims to quantify the improvement of the HO drying process that is achieved by using ester fluids instead of mineral oil. Both drying agents were compared by means of theoretical simulations as well as laboratory tests.
Diffusion coefficient, Moisture dynamics, Natural esters, Transformer load
Bibliographic citation
IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, (2014), 29(4), pp.: 1894-1900.