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Power Transformer failures at NTPC VINDHYACHAL

Since 2001
Presented by: D.Das, SS(EMD) R.K.Aash,SS(EMD)

List of major Transformer failures


8R (200MVA,1PH), CGL MAKE ON 19/05/2001. GT 3 (250MVA, 3PH), BHEL MAKE ON 04/12/2002. GT 7B (200MVA, 1PH), TELK MAKE ON 07/02/2003 GT 7B (200MVA, 1PH), CGL MAKE ON 02/04/2003

GT 8Y (200MVA,1PH), CGL MAKE ON 19/05/2001.


19th May 2001, GT # 8Y (sl.no.T8557/6) tripped & Transformer caught fire. HV Bushing & tank bulging were observed. Oil was carbonized and DGA showed fault gases. Damaged transformer was replaced with spare available at site.

Damaged Gen Bus Duct

HV Bushing damage

View of HV Bushing shield

HV Bushing damage

Inner view of Tank at HV turret

Extent of Damage
) Tank got bulged and deformed at the bell tank flange location along with the left shorter side viewed HV side. ) Flash marks were observed inside the HV turret. ) Flash marks were observed inside the tank facing HV bushing carona shield. ) Transformer oil was heavily carbonized. GA sample of oil indicated high level of fault gases.

Extent of Damage
OBSERVATIONS ON BULSHINGS & TAP CHANGER ) Lower end of HV bushing porcelain shattered and damaged badly. ) Pieces of porcelain found inside the tank. ) LV bushings were apparently found O.K.

Extent of Damage
OBSERVATIONS ON WINDINGS & CORE ) Coil assembly did not show any movement of winding or distortion. ) All windings show large amount of soot deposits. The soot particles penetrated in all the areas of windings. ) Core is found to be normal. Nor movement of yoke

Failure analysis

transformer failed due to flashover from the corona shield of the HV bushing to tank. The most probable reason for this failure is that there was some movement of corona shield or oil end of the HV bushing On 16.5.2001, there was phase to phase fault which was converted into a 3-phase bus bar fault at vindhyachal switch yard which would have reduced the clearances between tank and corona shield. Slight arcing/tracking through oil must be taking place between 16th and 19th of May 2001 which ultimately resulted in a flashover to the tank after the path is established.

Failure analysis

flashover caused heavy arcing and pressurization of main transformer tank. The HV bushing flange also cracked during the process and this communication resulted in transformer fire. Since the oil caught fire, there was heavy carbonisation. The carbonized oil spread through entire core / coil assembly deep inside .

Action taken for repair

Transformer sent to CGL works in Aug.01 under warranty repair. All windings of transformer changed with old core of another transformer T8557/5 which failed in april 2003.This transformer core was rejected as failed heat run test due to DGA norms violation. There was enormous delay from CGL although consistent follow up from NTPC site & OS.Transformer failed once on switching impulse test & HV winding was remade. Transformer received after repair in June2004 at site & kept ready as spare at Vindhyachal.

GT # 3 Transformer Failure (04/12/2002)


OPERATIONAL STATUS AT THE TIME OF FAILURE 04-12-02, at 0607 Hrs., Unit # 3 at 205 MW and 25 MVAR System voltage - 405 KV & freq - 48.8 Hz. Transformer at Tap position 7 (409.5 KV), no tap operation is being carried out. The transformer oil & wdg temp.- 460 C & 650 C. No DR triggering during the shift that further indicates that the system voltage excursion has not taken at the time of transformer failure.


manufactured by BHEL, and first commissioned in 1989. On 26-04-97 Transformer withdrawn from service due to appearance of buchholz alarm. All windings replaced at BHEL, Bhopal due to inter turn insulation failure of HV windings & recommissioned on 27-12-97. The performance of GT-3 after repair was satisfactory, however since October'2001 a rising trend of fault gases was observed in DGA

DGA History
18-10-01 08-11-01 17-11-01 08-12-01 22-12-01 14-01-02 16-01-02 29-01-02 14-02-02 06-03-02 08-04-02 11-05-02 15-06-02 08-07-02 10-09-02 18-10-02

40 55 58 60 10 12 12 10 10 13 15 35 38 35 30 10

110 150 170 214 5 7 17 20 20 45 48 55 78 75 70 10

350 390 395 409 30 35 45 54 63 90 95 115 190 198 208 20

1850 2010 2108 2151 280 316 360 379 711 945 960 1770 1833 1860 1862 389

146 192 220 335 10 15 18 34 80 125 122 245 242 240 235 6

60 70 75 104 5 8 8 8 11 16 15 50 48 46 42 4

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

30 71 78 90 4 7 6 6 14 20 18 40 38 40 38 5

Tank found damaged extensively towards HV bushing side. Heavy carbon deposit and burning marks were seen specially

towards cooler side wall and U-phase. Heavy fire in the transformer resulted into extensive damage to coolers. Molded insulation block of R-phase HV line lead has come out from the root of insulation cylinder and has damaged completely. Carbon deposits visible on outermost pressboard insulation cylinders, top yoke, top ring washer and winding leads. The insulation was found brittle & discoloured. R-phase HV bushing porcelain damaged at air end as well as oil end & insulation paper layers burnt severely. Tan delta test tap earth connection found snapped due to jerk Y-phase HV bushing porcelain had damaged at air end.


All windings have carbon deposits as confirmed during internal inspection. Since no testing can be done in present condition and duty requirements of generator transformer are such where reliability is of prime consideration, it is recommended to replace these windings. The complete tank needs to be replaced. HV bushings of U and V phase need complete replacement. Core can be re-used after dismantling and thorough cleaning. OLTC can be re-used after cleaning and testing. All the cooler banks need replacement due to extensive damage. Fans and pumps can be re-used only after complete servicing and testing. PRVs, OTI, WTI and buchholz relays etc. are safety equipment, thus may be replaced. All control cables need replacement wherever required. Transformer oil needs replacement.

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Cooler banks

View of Damaged Tank

Tank damage

View of Oil pumps

Transformer Top view

Transformer Inner view

Transformer Inner view

Transformer Inner view

R-Phase Bushing oil end

h Bushing Tan delta test tap connect

lash mark in R-ph bushing oil en

View after tank top remova


On 04-12-98 at 06:07 Hrs., Unit # 3 tripped on following protections :

)Unit overall differential protection ) GT REF protection )GT differential protection

No disturbance in VSTPS and none reported from the Western Grid. The weather was clear. The lighting arresters reading counter and leakage current readings show no counter advancement or change in leakage current. Thus, the transformer failure is independent of external system. Observations indicate that internal earth fault has resulted between the 400 KV line lead of U-phase and tank. Under this type of fault, the REF and differential protections, as per the trip logic have operated correctly None of the two PRVs provided on transformer operated.


failure observations indicate that the fault has initiated from the failure of HV bushing of U-phase. The HV bushing in this transformer is oil impregnated paper (OIP) type in which there is separate bushing oil, which does not communicate with main transformer oil. The reason of HV bushing failure is due to its dielectric breakdown that could be initiated due to one of the following reasons:
General insulation aging of paper insulation Disconnection of tan delta test tap earth connection Cracks in the bushing porcelain Oil leakage and drainage from the sealed OIP bushing

due to gasket damage


test tap earth connection on both U and V ph HV bushings show no burning marks at soldering joint of aluminum foil & flexible earthing lead. The snapping of test tap connection to the foil observed is consequential to the oil end porcelain breakage and can not be attributed to the failure of bushing due to voltage stresses caused by breaking of test tap connection. The possibility of bushing failure due to crack in the porcelain can also be ruled out since there was no handling done. Further, if there were cracks since beginning, the bushing would have exploded much earlier.


other possibility is due to bushing gasket damage between bushing turret flange joint at air or oil end and porcelain. However, leakage from air end flange joint and porcelain shall be clearly visible. Since no external leakage was observed before failure, this possibility is also ruled out. Sealed OIP bushing failures due to oil leakage and drainage due to gasket damage between oil end flange joint and porcelain have occurred at some earlier instances also. Then bushing oil shall leak into main tank and the bushing can fail due to dielectric failure. The oil level in the bushing shall be the only indicator to know this condition. No low oil level drop has been observed at the time of last checking on 28-11-02.

Repair of GT

sent to BHEL Bhopal in Jan2003 All windings were replaced. Old core has been used. Tank replaced with new. Damaged cooler banks replaced with new. GT commissioned on November2003


The bushing is a very critical component in EHV transformers, which has often contributed to the eventual failure of the transformers. In this particular case also the bushing failure has initiated the failure of transformer. Thus, the health of HV bushing in totality including oil level, test tap connection, cleanliness etc. need to be ensured. Regular oil level checking of OIP bushing needs to be done along with logging in the area operator's log book. Possibility of use of RIP ( resin impregnated paper) bushings in place of OIP bushings can be explored for future EHV transformers.

Action Plan as per recommendation


oil level is monitored by operation in each shift. Additionally oil level monitoring is done by maintenance group once in a week. Thermovision of bushings & transformer done as per schedule ( quarterly). Local DGA of oil done once in a month.

GT # 7B Transformer Failure (07/02/2003)


OPERATIONAL STATUS AT THE TIME OF FAILURE 07-02-03, at 11: 08 Hrs., Unit # 7 at 442 MW and 84 MVAR System voltage - KV & freq 49.85 Hz. Transformer at Tap position 7 (KV), no tap operation is being carried out. The transformer oil & temp.- 550 C. No major Grid disturbances or switching had occurred on the day other than the usual Voltage & Freq variations.


manufactured by TELK, and first commissioned in Farakka. Transformer failed at Farakka & HV bushing & tap coils were damaged. HV bushing & tap coils replaced at TELK, & was kept as spare at Farakka. Due to 2 nos of CGL Xmer failure at VSTPS, this Xmer brought to VSTPS & commissioned as GT#7B on 03/10/2001. Xmer was operating normal except for LV turret bolts temp rise which was attended in Mar 02.

DGA History
Date H2 CH4 CO
0 0 2 21 29 50 52 0 8 35 97 98 260 268

CO2 C2H4 C2H6 C2H2 C3s

274 236 293 409 445 1110 1117 0 0 0 51 53 50 47 0 0 0 15 22 21 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 20 19 23 20

18/10/01 10 29/10/01 12 11/11/01 10 08/12/01 10 29/01/02 12 01/06/02 10 19/08/02 12

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

Damaged Transformer

The inspection at site observations: TANK
Tank found bulged extensively towards HV side & inner tank

shield laminations separated. The tank rupture caused the oil to come out which had drained into the oil pit.

Unit coolers had been thrown out due to explosion.



HV bushing bottom porcelain broken & separated from its

assembly. Condenser body, upper porcelain & top tank have no damage. Bushing top terminal sealing is O.K.



Supporting insulation cylinder between top &

bottom sections of Tap coil completely burnt & distorted on HV side. Tap coils displaced downwards. Tap coil insulation is burnt. Both shield rings broken. Lead connection of shield rings to tap wdg is intact. Press board insulation ring & blocks supporting the total coil assembly at bottom is intact, whereas at the top it is displaced & burnt.


HV line take-out insulation from the coil & lead

insulation to Bushing are in order except consequential displacements. However HV lead support found broken. Tap lead arrangement with its supports & connections to OLTC are found clear & undisturbed. OLTC is physically OK. Mech clamping arrangement of core assy is OK. Inner surfaces of both yokes blackened due to insulation burns.


07-02-03 at 11:06 Hrs., Unit # 7 tripped on following protections :

) GT differential protection ) GT overall Differential protection ) GT HV wdg Differential protection


disturbance in VSTPS and none reported from the Western Grid. The weather was clear. Observations indicate that due to failure of windings, the protections as per the trip logic have operated correctly.

RECOMMENDATIONS It was recommended to discard this transformer completely. The failure observations were jointly discussed with the manufacturer and M/s TELK were asked to send the details of shield ring, which has failed in this GT. Although the purpose of shield ring is to reduce the voltage stress developed because of the sharp corners of tap winding conductors near line end, the shield ring itself has failed. Increasing clearance between tapping coils and avoidance of shield ring may be reviewed for future transformers of TELK since only TELK is using such a shield ring in their tap windings. The transformer was damaged on previous occasion at FSTPP where only tap winding was replaced. Because of part replacement of winding, the testing of the transformer could be done at 75 % of full level as per IS. For GTs, in case of even one winding failure, all the windings may be replaced to have a reliable transformer.

Action taken
The extent

of damage is so extensive that it cannot be repaired as per M/s TELK, hence transformer discarded. A spare transformer for Farakka has been ordered to BHEL . LA discarded & a new LA has been installed. All protection relays were tested & found in order.


OPERATIONAL STATUS AT THE TIME OF FAILURE On 02.04.03, at 01:54 Hrs., Unit # 7 was operating at 489 MW and 58.98 MVAR load while the system voltage was 408.45 KV and frequency was 49.68 Hz. No load hunting was observed prior to failure. No system abnormality was registered during the shift prior to transformer failure at 01:54 Hrs. The transformer was operating at Tap position 7, which corresponds to 409.5 KV, and no tap operation is being carried out. The transformer winding temperature was 67 oC and oil temperature was 53 oC prior to failure.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FAILED TRANSFORMER GT-7B has S.No. T 8557/5 was 8R on 26.02.2000. This Transformer at GT # 8R had also tripped on 19th May 2001 along with GT # 8Y when GT # 8Y had failed. Fault gases were detected in both the transformers. GT # 8R was inspected at site & arc marks were there between Top Yoke frame bracket & Yoke frame in front of HV bushing bottom portion. The arcing was due to displacement of the bracket, which reduced the clearance between the frame bracket & frame. Positive connection was provided between frame bracket & frame with copper lead. This modification has been carried out on all transformers.

GT # 8R after modification was charged on 09/07/2001 and had to be shut down again on 24/07/2001 due to sudden increase in Acetylene gas formation. Transformer was opened & inspected jointly with CGL. Reason for Acetylene formation could not be established. Transformer was dried out and assembled. After assembly the transformer was dried out, tested and kept as standby from December 2001. When TELK GT failed on 07/02/03, this transformer was installed and commissioned on 21/02/03 but failed on 02/04/03.

After precommissioning checks (including SCC test) and monitoring the transformer at no load, the Unit was synchronized to the grid on 22/02/03 at 16:00 hrs.

The winding and oil temperature of the said Transformer was monitored on hourly basis and the DGA of oil was monitored at every 100 MW incremental load till the transformer was loaded fully. Subsequently, the DGA has been checked after 16 hours and 24 hours. On 23/02/03, complete IR Thermography was done on the transformer and no abnormal hotspots were observed.

Protection analysis

02.04.03 at 01:54 Hrs., Unit # 7 tripped and following protections of generator transformer appeared: GT Diff. Protection (87 T) Trip. GT Overall Diff. (87 GT) Trip. GT PRV GT # 7B Buchholtz
During this fault of GT#7B, the transformer

tank got deformed & bulged and oil started gushing out from PRV and the bottom flange of the tank. There was fire around the transformer. Mulsifier operated on auto and fire could be quenched.

Protection analysis

to fault, the unit was running at 489 MW and the grid frequency was 49.68 Hz. The bus voltage in VSTPS yard was 408.45 KV at the instance of fault. There was no disturbance in VSTPS and also no disturbance was reported from the Western Grid at the time of GT-7B failure.

Protection analysis

weather was also clear and there was no thunderstorm. The lightning arresters reading counter and leakage current readings is being taken weekly and these readings show no counter advancement. Thus, it can be concluded that the transformer failure is independent of external system. the detailed observations, it is seen that the fault has most probably started from the HV bushing and in such a case the protections have operated properly & speedily.


Extent of damage & observation


BUSHING HV bushing oil end shield showed flash marks and distortion. There were holes formed on the shield. One no. fixing screw of the bottom corona shield was missing and was probably sheared off. Bottom porcelain of bushing found cracked bur in position. The 2 remaining fixing screws of the corona shield were in their place. These were set screws, and not Allen screws as envisaged in design. They were found blackened. There was play between the setscrews and the fixing arms of the shield. The holes on these fixing arms were found to have widened, possibly due to the jerk experienced during the fault.

Extent of damage & observation

A portion of the HV bushing bottom terminal (a metallic disc on the which the bushing shield is fixed), found melted. Pitting and melting was observed on HV bushing at following points: a) The air end terminal bottom. b) The plate on the bushing conservator on which the air end terminal sits. c) The countersunk, unthreaded portion of the air end terminal, where the pin is accommodated. d) The bushing pin, both ends. e) The HV lead top terminal.

Extent of damage & observation


Tank was bulged on shorter side opposite to OLTC end & the RHS stiffener was found cracked at the bottom. During the failure, oil gushed out from the PRV & the bottom flange of the tank.

Extent of damage & observation


Marshalling Box of the transformer was damaged by the fire and control cables were burnt. The bus duct of 2.1 LV terminal was distorted, due to heat from fire. The bus duct and the LV bus bars were covered with soot.

Extent of damage & observation


The windings were removed from the core and separated for inspection & carbon deposits were found on all windings. The top yoke shield bracket was also examined and pitting marks with carbonization was seen on the metallic surface of the shield bracket. CORE Found to be healthy.

Damaged Bushing

Repair Plan

Transformer sent to CGL works in May 2003. HV & tap windings are replaced. New core has been put as core of this transformer has been used to make T8557/6 ready which failed in GT 8Y location. Tank has been repaired. Transformer presently under testing at CGL works.

Revival of unit 7 after failure


there was no more spare GT8R was shifted to this location as unit 8 was under shutdown for boiler modification. In unit 8 BHEL make Talcher stage-II new GT was erected after bus duct modification & it is still running at that location.


care needs to be taken in the mechanical strength of support structure of HV bushing corona shield. The present practice of mounting corona shield with three legs is definitely a weak link. M/s CGL has already agreed to modify the present bushing shield mounting arrangement and has agreed to study the bushing design deficiencies in totality.


The modification of HV bushing corona shield needs to be incorporated in all the 7 GTs supplied by M/s CGL. CGL has put 04 legged bushing shield with allen screw fixing in the repaired GT T8557/6 & T8557/5.


Testings performed at site during overhauling


& PI measurement. Low voltage short circuit. DC winding resistance measurement. Turns ratio test. Magnetising current measurement. Capacitance & Tan delta measurement of LV, HV, LV-HV windings, HV bushing & LV bushings

PDM techniques adopted at Vindhyachal


Thermography DGA monitoring at local lab & R&D (Periodic). Partial discharge measurement Ultrasonic measurement Sound level testing.

Example: GT#6 Vindhyachal

Hot spots observed on LV side Ultrasonic activity coinciding with above DGA revealed low thermal faults inside Considering all the above facts, transformer opened up for inspection during coming overhaul (July 2000)


65.0 60.0 55.0 50.0 45.0 40.0 35.0 *<34.7C


Hot Spot on Surface

Loose Bolts inside

*>70.4C 70.0 68.0 66.0 64.0 62.0 60.0 58.0 56.0 54.0 52.0 50.0 48.0 *<47.5C
w ph. v ph.

Hot Spot Between V & W phase

Loose Bolts inside


*>44.6C 44.0 42.0 40.0 38.0 36.0 34.0 32.0



Bay 4-VJ#3 Reactor Y phase Bushing Oil Level Low

*>71.4C 70.0 65.0 60.0 55.0 50.0 45.0 40.0 35.0
Level OK Bushing oil level low


Oil level low in bushing. Bushing replaced by PGCIL.

GT1- Y phase Bushing Top Connection 23/09/1999

*>104.0C 100.0 90.0 80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0
Ambient 38.5 Y ph. Max 150.0

Thermal image

B ph. Max 51.9


Real image Connection bolt found partially melted; bolt replaced


GT1 Bus duct Double earthing

Busduct earth strips- 150 deg C

70.0 65.0 60.0 55.0 50.0 45.0 40.0 35.0 30.0 25.0 20.0 *<19.6C

Deg C 59.0

68 deg C

2nd Earthing found at GT end. Normalised after removal

GT4 Y ph. Bushing top connection



55.0 50.0 45.0 40.0 35.0 30.0 25.0 20.0

137 deg C Temp C 36.3


Connection Bolt found sheared, when shutdown taken to attend


V-J#4 R ph. CT
*>70.0C 70.0 65.0 60.0 55.0 50.0 45.0 40.0 35.0 30.0 25.0 20.0 *<20.0C
Spot 4 33.1 Max 108.1 Spot 3 25.6

Absence of bimetallic shim:-led to poor connection

Other Problems in CGL GTs


leakage from tank bell gasket (Pronounced while transformer is shut down). Suggested to provide lifting pads on tank so that gasket can be replaced at the foundation without requirement of shifting. Thermography shows hotspot at LV side tank between LV terminals 2.1 & 2.2.(1100C 1200C) LV side connection area of tank is hot compared to other portions of tank.

*>120.3C 120.0 110.0 100.0 90.0 80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0 30.0 *<26.0C
Area2 Max 68.9 Area1 Max 120.8

*>122.1C 120.0 110.0 100.0 90.0 80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0 30.0 *<24.2C
Area2 Max 64.4 Area1 Max 110.6

Action plan to reduce outages

Change all CGL Transformer HV bushing in phased manner with new 04 legged corona shield to give adequate mechanical strength to that portion as two of the transformer failed due to this probable reason. Spare transformers of stage-I & stage-II. Stage I spare transformer ordered to BHEL in 2000 yet to be supplied (it has twice failed short circuit at KEEMA). Stage-II spare transformer is available at site.

Action plan to reduce outages

Full testing of protection relays & presynchronizing testing is being done during overhauling. CT & control wire checking done during O/H. Sealing of all JBs & outdoor JBs by sealing compounds (RTV silicone). Increased monitoring of oil levels, LA currents, Silica gel condition etc. Predictive Diagnostic maintenance (IRT, DGA, Oil moisture ppm., PD etc.) as per schedule.

New technologies

technologies may be adopted to increase monitoring on transformers: On Line DGA On line Capacitance measurement. On line partial discharge measrurement. Frequency response analysis (Yearly basis)

Thank You.