In Norway, 98% of the electric power are coming from renewable sources, mainly hydropower. Before the electrical power can be used, the power needs to be transported from the power plant and out to the consumer. The power transformer is an important component in this transport. It transforms the voltage between different levels, enabling power transfer over long distance, and finally distribution to the end user. Malfunctions or breakdown of a power transformer can be very expensive for the owner (power plant or industry), interrupts the power supply, and can cause large environmental impacts and even loss of life.
Most of the largest power transformers are filled with oil. The oil has two main purposes, it cools the transformer and it improves the isolation between the coils. Online monitoring of gases dissolved in the transformer oil makes it possible to identify possible faults on an early stage. Analysis of the composition, concentrations and increase over time of 7-9 different gas types can be used to identify faults like heating, sparking and problems with the insolation.
Many of the power transformers in Norway are old and they are expensive to replace. Our target is therefore to develop an online analyzer for monitoring of transformer oil, to enable identification of possible faults on an early stage where repair still is possible, to avoid fires and accidents, and to limit downtime. The project will develop a compact, robust and maintenance-free gas analyzer with high sensitivity and long lifetime. Our technology is well suited to measure many gases simultaneously, with high accuracy. Advanced micro and nano-technology permits mass production at a lower price than present technology.