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HVPD Ltd

Empress Business Centre


380 Chester Road, Manchester
M16 9EA, United Kingdom
www.hvpd.co.uk
Tel: + 44 161 877 6142
Fax: + 44 161 877 6139

Application Notes for On-Line Partial


Discharge (PD) Testing & PD Site Location
(Mapping) of Medium Voltage (MV) & High
Voltage (HV) Cables

Issue 4 - May 2009


Prepared by:
HVPD Ltd
www.hvpd.co.uk

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

On-Line Partial Discharge Detection within MV and HV Cables


Background
The On-Line Partial Discharge (PD) testing of Medium Voltage cables (6.6kV to 36kV)
and High Voltage Cables (66kV to 400kV) originated in the UK in the late 1990s through
the use of split-core High Frequency Current Transformer (HFCT) and TEV sensors
which are attached around the earth strap or cable core of the cable at the switchgear/
transformer with the equipment live.
The techniques employed in the new On-Line PD test techniques have evolved from Offline PD testing of cables (with a VLF or other external HV Power Supply) which was
pioneered in the UK, Germany and Netherlands in the 1980s. The move across to online pd testing over the past few years has been led by customer requests to avoid cable
outages for insulation condition testing (because Off-line tests need the cable to be
isolated at both ends and a portable HV power supply applied).
The test set-up is inherently safe as the HFCT sensor is connected either around the
earth strap after it is brought-off the cable (as is illustrated in Figure 1 below) or around
the core of the cable (after the earth screen has been taken-off).
Switchgear

Cable Box

Split-Core HFCT Sensor

Insulated Gland
Cable Earth Strap

Figure 1: HFCT Sensor Connection for On-Line PD Testing of HV Cables


The earthing requirements for On-line PD Testing include access to cable earth strap
and insulation between the cable earth and the switchgear earth (sometimes referred to
as zonal isolation) as shown in Figure 1 above. With XLPE cable installations it is
normally possible to gain access with the split-core HFCT sensor to either a cable earth
strap which has isolation from the switchgear or on the core of the cable, after the earth
strap has been taken off.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

There can be some restrictions in attaching the HFCT sensor to a suitable point in some
cases (particularly with older Paper Insulated Lead Covered cables with compound-filled
(solid insulation) cable boxes). In these instances the cable earth and the switchgear
earths are bonded together. Figure 2 below shows an example of a PILC terminations
with insulated glands where it is possible to make On-line PD Measurements (Fig 2a)
and two examples where it is not due to solidly bonded earths (Fig 2b).
TEV SENSOR

HFCT SENSOR

Insulated Glands to
between cable and
switchgear (required)

2a) PILC Termination suitable for On-line PD Testing

2b) PILC Terminations not suitable for On-line PD Testing


(Left: solid bonding between cable earth and switchgear, right: lead plumbed gland)
Figure 2: Some Examples of PILC Terminations for On-line PD Testing

Whilst access to insulated earth straps can be an issue with some older cable
installations (as shown in Fig 2b) it should be noted that it is possible to modify the earth
connections on cable installations relatively simply and quickly to allow for on-line PD

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

testing to be carried out (this is particularly so with XLPE cable terminations when the
earth strap can be looped out of the termination box).

PD Testing with HFCT Connection around the Cable Core


In many cases, particularly for XLPE cables, the conductor PD currents (i+) are
measurable by attaching an HFCT sensor around the cable core, over the insulation,
after the earth screen has been taken off. Examples of this for 33kV XLPE cables are
given below in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Examples of Split-Core HFCT Sensor Connections to XLPE Cable Core

With cable installations in metal-clad switchgear it is sometimes necessary to gain


access to inside the cable box to attach the split-core HFCT sensors. In this case the
switchgear must be de-energised and made safe before attaching the sensors. Once
the sensors are safely attached the equipment can be re-energised and a measurement
can be made. Under no circumstances should the an attempt be made to attach
sensors to cable cores live and the plant owners rules should be followed at all
times. Figure 4 below shows 3xHFCT sensors connected around each core of an 11kV
XLPE cable after the screen has been taken off, inside the switchgear housing.

Figure 4: Attachment of 3x HFCT Sensors connected around each phase of an 11kV XLPE Cable
after the switchgear has been de-energised and made safe

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Technical Discussion
Earthing through the earth strap is important for the collection of on-line PD data as the
power cables can be viewed as essentially (very big!) co-axial cables. When a PD event
occurs within the bulk of the insulation (between the conductor and the earth screen) a
PD pulse is generated on both the conductor (PD conductor current = i+) and the earth
screen PD conductor current = i-). These PD pulse signals are of the same
magnitude but have opposite polarity. As a result of this, if a split-core, High
Frequency Current Transformer (HFCT) sensor is placed around the whole cable
(containing both the conductor and the earth screen), the net current from the PD pulses
is zero. Thus, in order to measure the PD signal one of either the conductor PD current
(i+) or the earth screen PD current (i-) has to be intercepted separately. This is why the
earth straps play such an important part in PD detection, as they allow the earth (screen)
currents to be measured separately from the conductor currents. This is illustrated in
Figure 5 below.

PD conductor current = i+

PD earth current = i-

i+

i+

iOK

i(insulated gland)

iOK

i+ + i - = 0

i+

i(insulated gland)

iOK

i+

i(insulated gland)

i-

i-

No Signal
(plumbed gland)

Figure 5: Options for attaching Split-Core HFCT Sensor to Earth Strap or Core
3-Phase Belted Cable PD Testing
In the case of 6.6kV to 11kV belted (3x cores, 1x earth screen around all 3 cores)
cables (see Figure 6 below) the construction of the cables does not have each core
screened separately. Hence each phase can see the voltage of the other phase (i.e. the
insulation between phases is common). For the belted case, if there are phase/phase
PD events, then these events will not produce any signal on the earth strap. The normal
and inverted pulses lie on two (or more) conductors depending on the position of the
discharging void.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

Figure 6:

HVPD Ltd 2009

Left: 11kV PILC Belted cable, Right: 33kV PILC 3-core cable

The construction of belted cables has large implication for carrying out PD testing Online. If earth straps are the only detection method available, then only phase/ground
events are detectable for belted cables, and phase/phase events are not recorded. It is
clear that for belted cables measured in this way, at a stroke, this rules out a whole class
of PD events from the measurements. In order to include the phase/phase events in the
measurements, some way of measuring the currents in each conductor must be
proposed. Whilst this is very difficult in conventional, PILC cable compound filled boxes,
for dry type, XLPE terminations, this is generally much easier, as access to the cores
below an earth point is usually possible (depending on the plant owners Safety Rules).
In such a case the best option is to get access to the individual cores of the cables by
attaching an HFCT sensor around the core of each phase. With this sensor connection
both phase-to-phase and phase-to-earth PD activity can be detected.

On-Line Partial Discharge Testing of Cables with the HVPD LongshotTM


On-line Partial Discharge testing is carried out using the HVPD Longshot PD Test Unit
and the following exclusive software packages:
PD Gold - This is the software used to measure and record the PD activity over a 2-5
minute period where highly detailed data from around 10x 50/60Hz power cycles with
30x digitised segment waveforms collected per cycle, for each sensor connected (240 750 segments per sensor).

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

PD Reader - This is the analysis software which utilises the unique Event Recogniser
software module to analyse and characterise the collected pulses into cable PD,
switchgear / local PD and noise. A screenshot of the PD Reader Segment Analysis
page is shown below in Figure 7.

Figure 7: PDGold Software Event Recogniser Page showing Cable PD and Noise

The ScopeControl Software is used in conjunction with PDGold to measure the PD


activity over 1x 50Hz power cycle with a total of 200x digitised segment waveforms
collected per power cycle (total = 200 segments). This software can also utilise the same
Event Recogniser software module to automatically analyse and characterise the
collected pulses into Cable PD, Switchgear/Local PD and Noise.

HVPD LongshotTM PD Testing of MV and HV Cables PD Levels for Diagnostics


Through work carried out by HVPD over the past 10 years with Electricity Utility
Customers in the UK, Europe and the Rest of the World a large database of results has
been generated. From this database it has been possible to produce Cable Insulation
Condition Knowledge Rules which allow the plant owner to assess the condition of their
MV Cables and Cable Accessories through the on-line PD Test results.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

The Maintenance/Asset Management activity required vs. level of PD activity guidelines


from this work are provided in Appendix 1.
The Knowledge Rules given in Appendix 1 can be used in conjunction with the HVPD
Longshot PD Spot Tester to provide quick and simple on-line PD Spot Testing and
condition assessment of both paper-insulated and polymeric-insulated MV cables of
operating voltage from 6.6kV up to 66kV.
The On-Line Partial Discharge (PD) testing of high voltage (132kV to 400kV) cables,
cable accessories and cable sealing ends is a relatively new application and has been
developed by HVPD through the application of our HVPD LongshotTM PD Test
Technology over the past 4 years. Whilst the techniques employed are similar to those
developed for medium voltage cables and their accessories there are a number of
important differences between the testing of HV cables and MV cables, which are
explained in this document.

What is the Role of PD within Cable Systems?


The answer to the simple question what is the role of PD in cable systems? is easy to
summarise Bad!
Perhaps with the exception of surface-type PD occurring on the outside of outdoor cable
sealing ends (where this type of PD is expected and catered for by sealing end creepage
design), virtually all PD in cable systems will damage the insulation to some degree or
other. The effect of PD can be considered as similar to the effects of ionising radiation
on living tissue. One may ask the question what is the dangerous level for radiation? in
exactly the same way as one can about PD levels in high voltage systems. The answer
is really that there is no safe level. In both cases, for lower levels of exposure, the
failures simply take longer to manifest themselves.
It is feasible to suggest a total lifetime for the particular piece of plant, and then say that
if the failure mechanism took longer than the plant lifetime, then this level could be
regarded as safe. However, as the present information about the PD levels and
corresponding lifetime for HV plant in general, and HV cables in particular, is not readily
available we are some way away from being able to make such statements.
HVPD is often asked the same question time and again by our HV cable owner
customers, what is the dangerous level for PD activity in my cables?
The answer to this can only be, there is no safe level for internal discharges in cable
systems. All internal discharges will be damaging and will result in slow damage to the
insulating medium, which in turn will lead to failure. Perhaps the only exception to this
rule is for outdoor HV insulation, where porcelain sealing ends do not degrade in general
under surface PD activity (they can however flashover due to tracking over accumulated
dirt, which is why they tend to be replaced by silicone materials such as EPDM in high
pollution areas).
Hence in the case of HV XLPE cables, terminations, joints and connectors it would be
expected that they should be discharge-free in service. The levels of PD activity in the

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

case where the terminations/sealing ends are not correctly constructed, are difficult to
assess, as such occasions are uncommon. However, in general, at transmission
voltages, internal PD activity even at very low levels (e.g. a few tens of pico Coulombs)
will probably be fatal in service with the only question being the time to failure. Hence it
is essential to ensure that these installations are tested to be PD free on commissioning
and then tested further at regular intervals in the service life.
Historically, PD tests have been found to be difficult to achieve on site, mainly due to the
low levels of PD which would be significant and also due to extraneous interference and
noise. As XLPE single core cables are all PD tested in the factory before dispatch they
themselves are very unlikely to be the source of any PD activity. With XLPE systems,
the difficult components to ensure PD free operation are most commonly the joints and
terminations/sealing ends which are made up on site. These accessories are thus the
focus for the On-line PD Testing of HV cable systems as described herein.
The testing method which has been devised by HVPD is based on our accumulated
knowledge of testing HV cables and employs the use of three types of PD sensors as
described below.
In order to carry out On-line PD measurements it is necessary to achieve suitable and
safe access to the HV plant to be tested for the connection of the PD sensors. A variety
of sensors are suitable for on-line PD testing of High Voltage Cables equipment, these
are the Transient Earth Voltage (TEV), the High Frequency Current Transformer
(HFCT), and RF Antennae Sensors or Probes.
The TEV and HFCT are seen as most advantageous as they allow direct coupling onto
the equipment under test for detection of internal discharges. The RF Antennae and
probes are used in conjunction with the TEV/HFCT sensors for detecting and eliminating
external signals that can confuse measurements.

Figure 8: HFCT and TEV Sensor connections inside switchgear housing

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Connection of On-line PD Sensors to HV Cables


Whilst the HFCT connection around the earth strap of the cable is inherently safe and
can be employed in almost all installations of HV cables, the TEV connection on the side
panel will be dependent on the asset owners safety rules. The TEV sensor can be
placed on the outside of the switchgear housing if necessary. Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) should always be worn when working in or near high voltage
equipment.

TEV Transient Earth Voltage Sensor


The most effective sensor to use to measure local PD in cable sealing ends, cable
terminations and cable joints is the TEV (Transient Earth Voltage) sensor which is an
externally mounted capacitive coupler device. The sensor acts as a capacitive coupler to
detect PD pulses flowing out of the sealing end onto the earthed metal surfaces. The
bandwidth of the TEV sensor is >100MHz. In order to measure any PD within the
switchgear the TEV sensor must be attached to an earthed metallic surface; magnetic
studs are located in the housing to make this easy. The TEV can also be attached to
non magnetic surfaces using electrical tape.

Figure 9: Sensor attachment inside some PAD mounted Switchgear


HFCT High Frequency Current Transformer.
The ideal test set-up is to use calibrated HFCT sensors in conjunction with the TEV
sensor (a schematic of this connection is shown in Figure 8 on the previous page). The
HFCT uses inductive coupling to detect PD pulses flowing to earth, converting the high
frequency (HF) current pulses from the discharges into HF voltage pulses.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

The split-core HFCT is clipped around the cable earth strap at the bottom of the sealing
end. The HFCT sensor (bandwidth >50MHz) is capable of picking-up both local
discharge in the sealing end (as per the TEV sensor) and also lower frequency PD
pulses coming from down the cable. Some photographs of portable sensor installations
at cable terminations are shown below in Figure 10.

HFCT around HV Cable Earth Straps at 132kV GIS

HFCT Connections at outdoor cable sealing ends


Figure 10: Photographs of HFCT Sensor Connections on HV Cables
For longer HV cables which have earth cross-bonding points on them it is possible to
attach the HFCT sensors around the cross-bond links to detect the PD signals. A
photograph of the portable HFCT sensor installations at a HV cable cross-bonding point
is shown overleaf in Figure 11.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Figure 11: Photograph of HFCT Sensor Connections at the Cross-Bond


Point on a 132kV Cable

What do the Partial Discharge Pulses look like from an HV Cable Test?
The shape of a partial discharge pulses will depend on the origin of the PD pulse. If, for
example, the PD signal is from within the termination then the PD pulse will be of high
frequency (>4MHz) and will be typically oscillatory in nature. Figure 12 shows an
example of a typical, internal PD pulse as measured by the HFCT and TEV sensors on
an HV cable termination. There is good correlation between the pulses, with the higher
frequencies being detected by the TEV sensor (green plot) and the lower frequencies by
the HFCT (red plot). The distinct shape and correlation of the pulses from the two
sensors indicates internal partial discharge activity in the HV termination.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Available Wavef orm Display


0.3

0.1

Chan 1

Chan 2

0.2

0
-0.1

-0.2
-0.3
0

Time (uSec)
Chan 1

Chan 2

Curs 1

Curs 2

Figure 12: PD Pulses from Internal Discharge in an HV cable sealing end.


HFCT (Chan1, red) and TEV (Chan2, green)

For PD sites along the length of a cable (the PD sites will typically be at cable joints
along the cable length as the cable sections themselves very rarely discharge) the
frequency and shape of the PD pulses will be significantly different to those seen at the
cable terminations. As these PD pulses are launched onto a transmission line of known
characteristics this means that the mono polar nature of the PD is largely preserved as
the PD pulse passes along the cable. Typical frequencies for these type of pulses are
from a hundred kHz (from PD sites a long way down the cable) up to 4MHz (for PD sites
nearby). An example of a PD pulse measured on an HV cable using the HFCT sensor
connected around the earth strap is given below in Figure 13. It can be noted that the
cable pulse in Figure 13 is mono polar and of a very different shape to the oscillatory
pulse from a cable sealing end as shown above in Figure 12.
Segment Waveforms

Main segment

0.07
0.06
0.05
0.04
0.03
0.02
0.01
0
-0.01
-0.02
65

70

75
Time (uSec)

80

85

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Figure 13: Waveform of a PD pulse from a HV XLPE cable


The nature of the transmission medium in HV cables means that if the high frequency
current pulse which flows out of the cable is integrated, a charge can be measured, and
the PD size (in pico Coulombs pCs) can be calculated directly without any calibration
needed. This can be characterised by:

Ch arg e current * dt
Where the current is measured with a calibrated High Frequency Current Transformer as
per the HVPD method, this calculation can be applied to give the charge in Coulombs
directly from a measurement of the PD pulse waveform in milliVolts. If output of the
HFCT is Vhf, and the transfer impedance of the HFCT is Zhf, then the charge of a PD
pulse measured at the cable termination (in pCs) is:-

Ch arg e

1
Z hf

hf

* dt

This is a measurement of the area under the monopolar cable PD pulse shown in Figure
11 on the previous page.
These PD pulses can occur more than once per power cycle, depending on how active
the discharging site is. Figure 14 overleaf shows the PD activity across a 50Hz power
cycle (20ms long). It can be noted that the PD pulses are larger in the first half of the
cycle compared to the second half. This can be typical if the pulses originate from
metalwork in contact with either the high voltage or earth. These pulse patterns across
the power cycle have been used for many years in laboratory testing to tell something
about the origins of the PD source. For example, if the PDs are all from a corona
discharge, then all the PDs would be the same height, and they would all start at the
peak of the 50Hz power cycle.
Measurement of the PD values such as those in Figure 14 can be made simply by
measuring the peaks of the pulses and counting the number of pulses above a
threshold. This simple method is referred to peak and count measurements and it has
been used for a number of years now to characterise PD activity in medium voltage
cable and switchgear installations which have low noise levels. However for HV cables
and HV cable sealing ends in outdoor switchyards this method is not sufficiently robust
due to the effect of noise (RF & switching noise) on the measurements, as described
overleaf.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

0.06

Chan 1

0.04
0.02
0
-0.02
-0.04
-0.06
-0.08
0

10
12
Time (mSec)

14

16

18

Figure 14: PD waveforms across the power cycle.


Factors affecting On-line HV Cable PD Testing
In the case of testing HV cables there can be a large amount of external Radio
Frequency (RF) noise interference which is picked up by the PD sensor. These noise
levels are particularly high when the PD measurements are made in outdoor switching
yards where the pylons and overhead HV connections act as antennae for radio signals
in the air. In these instances any PD activity tends to be mixed together with a lot of
noise pulses and thus when making a traditional peak and count measurement , the
noise will be counted as PD and a false reading can lead to erroneous conclusions from
the testing.
Therefore, one of the main challenges to carrying out On-line PD testing of HV cables
and in outdoor environments is the identification and location of any internal PD pulses
(these being potentially fatal), whilst simultaneously rejecting RF noise.

Corona & Surface Discharge Interference


When PD-like discharge signals are measured in an outdoor, open environment the
source of the discharge is not always from within the HV plant item under test. The
sources of such external signals can be non-critical corona or surface discharges on the
cable sealing end under test or other HV equipment in vicinity; and discharges on
insulator surfaces when they are wet.

RF Interference
RF interference is a particular problem when the PD measurements are made in outdoor
switching yards where the pylons and overhead connections act as antennae for radio
signals in the air. In these instances any PD activity tends to be mixed together with a
lot of noise pulses and thus the traditional peak and count measurements are not
sufficient.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Analysis of Interfering Discharge Signals


When discharge signals are detected it is crucial to establish whether the source is local
or from afar. One useful criterion is to use multiple sensors and use time-of-flight
analysis. It has been found with the TEV sensors that signals that have travelled a
significant distance have a greater preamble and a longer pulse risetime before the
peak than those close by to the sensor. The effect is similar to the sound of thunder in a
lightning strike. The further away the thunder, the more the waveshape is spread out
and the less like an impulse it then becomes which leads to a rumbling, lowerfrequency sound. Conversely, if the lightning strike is nearby, then the sound of the
thunder is much more like an impulse and is of short duration, louder and of higher
frequency.
Also noteworthy is that the wave shapes can be different for different origins. This can
be for several reasons:

Pulses are close to the sensor, and produce the largest amplitude signal at the
start of the pulse.
PD signals which have travelled some distance, often have a peak amplitude in
their middle
PD sites which originate in cables often have a monopolar pulse shapes.
Signals which have travelled down cables lose some of their HF components and
have longer risetimes and lower frequency content.
PDs which originate on the surfaces of insulators often exhibit slower pulses than
internal PDs.
Pulse shapes can often be fixed by the geometry of the HV plant which causes
them. Hence large outdoor sealing ends represent different circuits than small
components in confined enclosures, and thus produce different pulse types.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

On-Line Partial Discharge Cable Mapping (PD Site Location)


The HVPD LongshotTM PD Spot Tester, when combined with the PD Map Software,
Portable Transponder and HFCT Sensors can be successfully applied to the accurate
location of PD sites along the length of high voltage cables. The technique utilises the
principle of Time-Of-Flight (TOF) measurement of the PD pulses, in power-line carrier
mode, along the cable. The PD pulse emanating from within the cable insulation passes
along both the earth screen and the core of the cable in this way. By measuring the time
difference between a directly received pulse and a reflected pulse (which has been
reflected from the far end of the cable) it is possible to locate the position of the PD site
on the cable to less than 1% of the cable length.
HVPD have successfully located PD sites within cables with this method to an accuracy
of less than 0.5% of the cable length in cables up to 5km in length (refer to Appendix 2
for Case Study of this application). The PD location method is based on the concept
illustrated below in Figure 15. With reference to Figure 15, when a PD event occurs, the
PD pulses travel outwards in both directions along the cable earth screen (and cable
core) from the originating PD site. The first pulse (Direct Pulse) to arrive at the
measurement end of the cable is the pulse which has travelled directly to that end. The
pulse which then allows the PD site to be located is the Reflected Pulse which originally
sets off in the opposite direction, and is then reflected back from the remote end back to
the measurement end. This technique is called Single-Ended PD Location and is,
when possible, the simplest and quickest way to provide on-line PD mapping.

Direct
Reflected
PD

Measurement

Remote

Figure 15: Single-Ended PD Site Location Method


If both the Direct Pulse and the Reflected Pulse are identifiable, then location of the
site of the PD event is relatively easy with the Single-Ended Location Method. Results
would look like:-

Direct
Reflected
T

L
Figure 16: PD Pulse Trains as seen from the Measurement End

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

With reference to Figure 16, the time difference between the first two pulses (the direct
pulse and the reflected pulse) T, locates the site of the PD event. It can also be noted
from Figure 16 that the two pulses will continue to travel up and down the cable, until
they become too small to be seen above the noise level. During this time, the pulses are
reflected at exactly a Cable Return Time = L away from the previous arrival at the
measurement end. This gives rise to sets of pulses of diminishing size, each spaced at
the cable return time, L. If L is the return time of the cable length (this can be easily
measured with the HVPD LongshotTM Unit with PDMap Cable Mapping Software) then
the location of the PD event is:

Location from Measurement End (in % Cable Length) = 100*(1-T/L)


Or alternatively:

Location from Remote End (in %) = 100*T/L

Requirements for Portable Transponder (Trigger and Pulse Booster)


Whilst the single-ended location method is possible in an ideal environment, it has been
shown through practical testing (both on-line and off-line) using PD location methods on
high voltage cables, that the Single-Ended mapping methods can be made more difficult
if the cables are long or other circuit constraints apply. Difficulties can be encountered in
the following cases:
Signal Attenuation is high - long cables with high attenuation can reduce the
magnitude of the reflected pulse so that it is lost in the background noise.
PD Waveforms are difficult to interpret due to interference such as switching noise
from motors attached to the feeder.
Teed or jointed cables producing attenuation and reflections.
Cables with many Ring Main Units (RMUs) producing attenuation and (part)
reflections of pulses.
Cables with no change in impedance at the far end.
The solution to this problem is to apply the Portable Transponder Type: PTT 2000-CT
(refer to Figure 17) which has been designed for use in PD location in the above cases.

Figure 17: Portable Transponder Unit Type PTT 2000-CT


Left -Pulse Generator Unit, Right Discharge Trigger Unit

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

The concept of operation is that if a pulse is received by the Signal HFCT connected to
the Transponder Trigger Unit which exceeds the Transponders adjustable trigger level,
then the Trigger Unit will emit a signal to the Pulse Generator Unit which outputs a large,
100V pulse (into 50 Ohms) to a Pulse-Injection HFCT which sends a large pulse back
down the cable via a pulse injection HFCT. This process essentially converts the SingleEnded location system into a Double-Ended location system.
The Test Set-Up for a Double-Ended PD Mapping Test (with the Portable Transponder)
is shown below in Figure 18.

SUBSTATION A

SUBSTATION
Earth Straps

Detection
HFCTs
Pulse Injection
HFCT
DISCHARGE TRIGGER UNIT
6

POWER

50 Ohms
OUT

TRIGGERED
ON
2

HVPD
Longshot
Unit

10

Min

IN
INPUT GAIN
INPUT
DISCHARGE TRIGGER UNIT
6
4

Max

HV Cable up to 5km

IN

PULSE OUT

TRIGGERED
ON
2

INPUT

POWER

50 Ohms
OUT
10

Min

Max

INPUT GAIN

PULSE OUT

Portable
Transponder

Figure 18: Double-ended PD Mapping Test with Transponder


As can be seen in Fig 18, the cable earth strap must be accessible at both ends of the
cable in order to perform double-ended mapping. The major advantage which the
Double-Ended location system has over the Single-Ended system is that no waveform
interpretation is required by the user as this is done by the Transponders Discharge
Trigger Unit. Hence if the second pulse can be made to stand out, then location is much
simpler and more efficient. This is the primary task of the Transponder, which boosts
the size of the reflected pulse so that it can easily be distinguished, as illustrated in
Figure 19.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Without transponder

With transponder

Figure 19: PD pulses as seen by a detection HFCT with and without the used
of the transponder T = time difference between direct and reflected pulses

PDMap - On-line Cable Mapping Software


A typical waveform display from the PDMap software from a double-ended mapping
test (using the Portable Transponder) is shown below in Figure 20. This shows the direct
pd pulse (marked by the green and yellow cursors) and the reflected and transponded
pulse (marked by the left hand blue cursor).

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Figure 20: Example of PDMap Software Main Page (with Transponder)


A case study of double ended PD mapping carried out for a UK electricity utility is
included in Appendix 2 which gives a good illustration of what can be achieved with the
technology. For further information on HVPDs On-Line PD Test and Mapping
Technology please e-mail info@hvpd.co.uk.

***End of Main Body of Document***

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Appendix 1: PD Testing of MV Cables Threshold Levels for Diagnostics


In order to place PD Test results obtained from PD testing of HV Cables through a
combination of the HVPD Longshot unit with the split-core High Frequency Current
Transformers (HFCTs) into context the following guideline, PD threshold levels for
6.6kV to 33kV Medium Voltage Cables can be considered by the user (levels pCs).
N.B. It should be noted that these PD levels are based on HVPDs own experience of
PD testing (mainly in the UK) and are not definitive figures. The levels given are meant
as a guideline only and could be considered in some cases to be conservative. They do
nevertheless provide a basis for developing a League Table of In-service MV Cable
Insulation Asset Condition from which to make Asset Management Decisions.
It is recommended that the user/customer develop their own at risk HV Cable PD levels
as part of HVPDs Diagnostic Consultancy and Training course on PD Diagnostics. In
this way the PD levels for different levels of concern or action can be developed in line
with the general condition of the plant owners equipment and their maintenance
schedules and budgets.

Insulation
Condition
Assessment
Discharge within
acceptable limits
Some Concern
Monitoring
recommended
Some Concern,
regular monitoring
recommended
Major Concern,
Locate PD and then
repair or replace
Figure A1:

Colour
Code

PD in XLPE

PD in PILC

0pC 250pC

0pC 2500pC

250pC 350pC

2500pC 5000pC

350pC- 500pC

5000pC 7000pC

> 500pC

>7000pC

Indicative PD Levels in 11kV PILC & XLPE Cables & Joints

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Discussion
The indicative figures for PD Levels vs. Condition given in Figure A1 show that for Paper
Insulated Lead Sheathed Cables (PILC), discharge below 3000pC is acceptable (green),
between 3000pC and 10000pC is a cause for concern (amber) and anything above
10000pC (red) could be considered to be potentially on a trend to failure and the
problem should be investigated further (possibly with cable mapping testing and then
repair).
The indicative figures are much less for XLPE cables at less than 250pC (Green),
between 250 and 500pC (Amber) and above 500pC (Red - large cause for concern).
For mixed cables (a mixture of XLPE, PILC, EPR or other cable types) it is necessary to
find where the source of the discharge is (position on the cable) before making any
diagnostic decision. To achieve this it is necessary to apply Cable Mapping Technology
(refer to HVPD for further information on HVPDs On-Line Cable PD Mapping
Technology).
The respective PD Levels vs Condition for PILC and XLPE Joints and Terminations
given at the bottom of Figure A1 are slightly higher than for the cables as accessories
have more insulation in them than the cables and are generally more resistant
degradation from PD activity.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

Appendix 2:

HVPD Ltd 2009

Case Study: Pre-Fault (Incipient Fault) Location using an


On-Line PD Mapping System

Introduction
The UK Electricity Distribution Companys Grid/Primary (132kV/33kV) substation had an
HVPDOSM-F64 Partial Discharge Permanent Monitor installed in July 2002. Fourteen
switchgear panels and their feeder cables were being continuously monitored due to
their critical location in the system, supplying power for the Manchester Commonwealth
Games complex.
On 29th April 2003 the HVPD monitor sent out a warning alarm to the Customer and
HVPD that there were excessive PD activity levels in the Queens Park/Eastlands circuit.
A site visit was made by Dr Lee Renforth and Dr Ross Mackinlay of HVPD who used the
HVPD LongshotTM PD Spot Tester. High levels of discharge in the circuit in question
were confirmed with this testing and the customer was alerted. Further to discussions
between the customer and engineers from HVPD, tests were carried out using the
PDMap software and Portable Transponder on 23rd May 2003 in order to locate the
source of the discharge activity.
From the panel where the discharges were detected, a cable tee led to two transformers
at Queens Park and Eastlands substations. Using the HVPD On-Line Cable Mapping
technology, two discharge sites were detected in the Queens Park cable at
approximately 1564m and 1681m from Stuart St substation. The discharges were
approximately 6,000pC and 9,000pC in magnitude respectively and both were on the red
phase.

Figure A2 Discharge sites on Queens Park cable

The joints and the cable between them were replaced on 26th June 2003. Further PD
tests were carried out at Stuart St. on 4th July, showing that the discharge activity had
been eliminated. This Case Study briefly presents the use of the HVPD Longshot unit
and PDMap software used to locate the partial discharge sites.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

PD Site Location: HVPD Longshot PD Spot Tester, Portable Transponder


and PD Map Software
In order to locate the source of the discharges the PD Map On-Line Mapping System
was used. A Potable Transponder with HFCTs was fitted to the earth of the Queens
Park cable, at the Stuart St site. The mapping system was set up to inject a large (100V)
high frequency impulse onto the earth when a discharge signal was detected. By
measuring the time difference between the transponder signal and its reflection from the
end of the cable, the cable length was verified and cross-checked with the customers
cable route map.
Measurements were then made at the remote transformers, Queens Park and
Eastlands, again using an HFCT sensor to measure the time interval between the
discharge and transponder signals in the earth.

Results
The mapping results are shown in Figure A3. The measured magnitudes are large at
around 6,000pC and 9,000pC peak value. It should be noted that the discharges are
attenuated by their travel along the cable due to the cables surge impedance.
PD Map of Circuit

Stuart St - Queens Park (tee Eastlands)

9,000

All

8,000

All Phases PD

7,000
6,000
5,000
4,000
3,000
2,000
1,000
0
0

10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105
Location (% along cable)

Figure A3 PD Mapping at Stuart St

The results showed two sites of PD activity on the feeder. The PD Map waveforms for
these sites are shown in Figures A4 and A5 overleaf.
The map shows locations for these positions are as follows:First Site at 58.4% from Stuart St (1564m from Stuart St)
Second Site at 62.8% from Stuart St (1681m from Stuart St)

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Waveform data in Time


Chan 1 (mV)
Cur 1
Cur 2
Cur 3
Cur 5

30

Voltage (mV)

20
10
0
-10
-20
-30

10

15

20

25
Time (uSec)

30

35

40

45

50

Figure A4 Waveform of on-line PD (location 58.4% from Stuart St End)

Waveform data in Time


Chan 1 (mV)
Cur 1
Cur 2
Cur 3
Cur 5

30

Voltage (mV)

20
10
0
-10
-20
-30

10

15

20

25
Time (uSec)

30

35

40

45

50

Figure A5 Waveform of on-line PD (location 62.8% from Stuart St End)

These results were compared to the cable route map and locations corresponded to
trifurcating joints at 1575m (SJ8699/27) from Stuart St and a further trifurcating joint at
1695m from Stuart St (SJ8699/18).
The locations using this technique will result in measurements that are about 1%
accurate over the cable length. The measurements in this case are better than 1%, as
data was obtained from both ends of the circuit.
Although the measurements were made on the earth straps of the cables at Stuart St,
the largest signals were obtained on the red phase.

Introduction to On-Line PD Testing of MV & HV Cables

HVPD Ltd 2009

Summary and Conclusions


The installed HVPD Longshot at Stuart St detected partial discharge on the Queens
Park circuit through remote analysis of data acquired. This PD exceeded activity level
thresholds and an alarm was raised. High resolution data from the circuit was
downloaded to the HVPD server and analysis of the data confirmed the presence of
partial discharge activity.
The Customer was alerted and a series of tests on the circuit were set up.
Tests were carried out at Stuart St and Queens Park substations. Using the HVPD Spot
Tester Unit with PD Gold and PD Map Software the PD activity was established to be
from two sources of similar magnitude on the red phase of the cable. They were
calculated to be respectively 1564m and 1681m from Stuart St.
Three trifurcating joints were excavated at the location sites and using TEV signal
measurement was successfully identified as the discharging joints. The accuracy of the
location was approximately 0.4% and 0.7% of the cable length for the respective joints.
As the PD activity was sufficiently large to put the security of the circuit at risk the joints
and the cable between the joints were replaced.
Further tests were carried out at Stuart St after the joint and cable replacement and
these showed that all discharge activity had completely disappeared and that the
identification and replacement of the active joints had been successful. This is illustrated
below in Figure A6.

Figure A6: PD Activity Before and After Defective Joint Replacement


A: PD signals detected from the cable feeder by HVPD-P32 over a
one hour period before the 2x defective joints were replaced.
B: Signals recorded from same cable feeder by HVPD-P32 over a
one-hour period after the 2x defective joints were replaced.