On-Line Transformer and Battery Monitoring

Serveron Corp. launched itself in February as the industry’s first provider of full time monitoring services for T&D equipment. Starting with the gas-in-oil sensors developed by a predecessor company, Micromonitors, Serveron offers a complete solution, from instrumentation, to on-line monitoring, to (condition-based) maintenance scheduling and asset management, to risk management. The company also has comprehensive monitoring technology for station battery systems. The complete suite of applications also covers tap changers, arresters, bushings and breakers.

Large Power Transformers:
Note some alarming facts about the T&D infrastructure, and large transformers in particular. The fleet is “graying” — the average age of units now in use is 35 years. Hartford Steam Boiler has data showing an exponential increase in serious failures: 1% of large transformers (1,000 transformers in the US alone) will fail this year, and the failure rate will rise to 2% by 2008.

The average cost of such a unit is $2-3 million and lead time for new ones can exceed a year or more, so a major failure has very significant implications. An early target — powerplant step-up transformers. Any event that could take part or all of a plant’s capacity off-line for a long time becomes even more crucial in today’s climate.

In addition, major savings can be realized with true condition-based maintenance. Since monitoring and diagnostics have not been readily available or cost-effective, utilities now perform maintenance on arbitrary schedules, but estimates are that 30% to 50% of that work is unnecessary. Finally, capital equipment replacements can be prioritized and scheduled in ways that specifically minimize physical and financial risk.

Serveron’s TrueGas™ analyzers monitor the levels of volatile dissolved gases in the insulating oil in large transformers and other oil-filled equipment. Over the life of a transformer, fault gases form due to the degradation of the insulating materials or from the presence of thermal or electrical faults. The type and concentration of these gases are primary indicators of transformer condition and types of faults.

TrueGas analyzers are the only instruments available today that detect and separately analyze trace levels of all eight fault gases. Other instruments detect only a subset of these gases or provide only combined gas data that may not accurately predict equipment failures.

Since serious problems evidence themselves only hours to days before a failure, realtime online measurements and analysis are critical. Test procedures that involve the periodic drawing of samples and sending them to a lab just can’t do the job.

Serveron’s on-site equipment and Web-based analysis software provide continuous monitoring during actual operations, and thus early identification of transformer conditions that require maintenance or that could lead to catastrophic failure of the equipment.

The company will also integrate other sensor data into the system, such as electrical, thermal and mechanical (e.g. acoustic/vibration) parameters.

Battery Systems:
All power plants and T&D substations have large banks of batteries which provide back-up power required for startup and for graceful shut down in the event of an unplanned outage or equipment failure. There can be 50 to 70 truck-battery-sized cells in each bank, for a total of tens of thousands of individual battery cells in an average utility, at hundreds of remote locations. Inspection and maintenance is a major cost, as these systems must function when called upon. (In nuclear plants, they also have to be available, or the plant may have to shut down.)

Serveron’s CellSense™ monitors provide continuous measurements of all key physical and electrical parameters needed to characterize the condition of all individual cells as well as the battery system as a whole. CellSense™ instruments monitor the batteries on-site, and graphical data can be viewed from any remote location using a common browser to access Serveron’s secure web site. With CellSense™ monitoring, battery maintenance and inspection can be reduced from a monthly to an annual activity.

I have a company powerpoint presentation (400kb) that I can send on request, and more information is available on the company’s website:


Contact: Jim Moon, CEO 541-330-2350 jim.moon@serveron.com

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply