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Preventing Failures in Isolated Phase Bus
2021 Virtual IRMC
June 22, 23, 24, 2021
James E Timperley
J E Timperley Consulting.LLC
j.e.timperley2@gmail.com
2
The isolated phase bus (IPB) is a high energy system used
to connect large electric generators to the power grid
through the GSU transformer. A typical bus operates for
decades with minimum care. How it works and how it is
built is not common knowledge.
Because of inherent high reliability, these high energy
systems are often ignored until there is a failure. Repair
costs and lost sales revenue can run into millions of dollars.
Collateral damage to a generator or GSU transformer can
result in outage lasting up to a year.
3
This presentation will discuss the more common IPB design
features and a brief theory of operation. Typical failures and
deterioration modes are discussed. Most failures can be
prevented with proper inspection, maintenance and testing.
The following design improvements and successful
remediation measures are a combination of over 40 years
following IPB at hundreds of sites in many countries.
The following are suggestions used by others to solve their
specific problems, they may or may not work for you as well.
If you have developed a unique solution please let me know.
4
Isolated Phase Bus
Typical modern isolated phase bus connecting a generator
to the system. Perhaps 1000 like this have been installed.
5
Isolated Phase Bus
There are several types of bus
designs in use today. The non-
segregated design remains
popular for auxiliary systems
with voltages below 15 kV and
currents below 5,000 amps.
Phase to phase faults will
develop. The segregated phase
bus helps but a fault arc often
burns through the enclosure. The
isolated phase bus design, with
an air gap between enclosures
eliminates this burn through and
the incidents of a phase to phase
faults greatly reduced.
6
Isolated Phase Bus
There are two types of isolated phase bus depending on enclosure
construction. The first, had non-continuous enclosures. The non-
continuous bus enclosures consist of several insulated tubes.
Each tube has a single ground location. This reduces the chance
of a phase to phase fault, reduces stress on insulators during a
fault and reduces external magnetic fields. The enclosure
insulation will age and fail. Many remain in service today.
7
Isolated Phase Bus
The non-continuous bus
enclosures are insulated
from each other and then
grounded at one location.
A large strap bonding
adjacent enclosures is a
feature of this design.
Note the straps connecting
penetrations at the floor.
8
Isolated Phase Bus
Circulating currents are
induced into the enclosures
reducing the external
magnetic field by 30%.
The remaining 70% flux
induces circulating
currents in adjacent metal.
This became a serious
problem when bus currents
exceeded 15,000 amps.
9
Isolated Phase Bus
The continuous enclosure
isolated phase bus design
solves this stray flux
induced current problem.
A key feature are massive
enclosure shorting plates
at both ends of the bus.
Modern designs carry over
36,000 amps.
10
Isolated Phase Bus
With a continuous
enclosure design the
external magnetic field
is reduced by 95%.
The shorting plates located
at both ends, tie all three
enclosures together.
Insulator stress during a
fault is greatly reduced.
11
Isolated Phase Bus
There may be deficiencies in the original design. Below is a
30,000 amp neutral bus that needed more cooling. Note the
severe paint oxidation. This extra heat will severely age the
generator bushing current transformers.
12
Isolated Phase Bus
The solution was to add new top ventilation holes. At some
locations a fan to move air was found necessary. Free air
movement under the generator is often restricted. A small
increase in air movement can greatly reduce temperatures.
13
Isolated Phase Bus
The center enclosure
develops 50% of the total
bus loss. Forced cooling is
often required. Sometimes a
flux shield is required.
14
Isolated Phase Bus
Measuring the flux
direction will
determine the
source of heating
and point to a
solution.
At this neutral
cabinet, flux is
perpendicular to
the metal. A flux
shield is needed,
thicker metal, or
improved cooling.
15
Isolated Phase Bus
A visual inspection is critical for continued failure free operation.
Infrared, (IR), confirmed one jumper was carrying most of the
enclosure current, the cold ones were floating. To solve the
problem on the right a new jumper design was developed. Note
the ones working had melted.
16
Isolated Phase Bus
An IR scan of the IPB should be conducted every few months to
locate hot spots and deterioration. This cracked enclosure was
first spotted by IR. After 30 years of temperature cycling these
cracks can be expected. Rubber expansion joints also fail.
17
Isolated Phase Bus
Some enclosure designs are difficult to maintain. Here the owner
had to weld the enclosure shunts. The bolted surfaces were
inadequate for both. Proper bolting will be discussed later.
It is amazing how few understand how to design a bolted joint.
18
Isolated Phase Bus
Enclosure gaskets will harden and leak air or allow water to
enter. The materials available to designers 30 years ago were
limited. Replacement with new materials is necessary. Closed
cell silicone rubber sponge is a lifetime replacement material.
19
Isolated Phase Bus
IPB Standards include:
ANSI C37.20 or IEC (International
Electrotechnical Commission)
Publication 694
Isolated Phase Bus
Temperature Limits
Enclosure 80°C
Conductor 105°C
Split Covers 110°C
Isolated Phase Bus
Failure Temperatures
Aluminum to Aluminum Joints 70°C
Silver Plated Joints 105°C
Porcelain Insulators 125°C
Some designs can have higher
temperature limits.
20
Isolated Phase Bus
Detecting problems inside the
enclosures is difficult. Infrared
has very limited application in
detecting center conductor
problems. Partial Discharges,
(PD) and electromagnetic
(EMSA), techniques do have
the ability to detect internal
problems with both the
insulators and the center
conductor. Here a bus is
scanned for radiated EMI.
21
Isolated Phase Bus
Ultrasound can be used but internal reflections and attenuation
with distance, from the source, can be serious limitations.
Visual inspection remains the best method.
22
Isolated Phase Bus
Insulators do collect dirt
over time. Cleaning is
necessary to prevent
flashover. Many insulators
are difficult to reach
making this a multi-outage
or continuous project.
Some designs make
removal for cleaning
simple, others do not.
Failure is more common
when moisture is present
and/or the dirty surface.
23
Isolated Phase Bus
An insulation resistance test @ 5,000
or 10,000 volts DC will detect wet
or contaminated insulators.
A minimum of 1 meg ohm/ kV can
be used. Much higher can be
expected on short, dry bus. A DC
or AC over-potential test is the only
suitable test to confirm continued
insulation operation. Values
should be higher than rated operating voltage. Most prefer the DC
test due to the smaller test equipment size. A variety of values are
used (75%) of the 100% test of twice rated voltage + 1000 volts, AC.
24
Isolated Phase Bus
I define a “sealed system” as one that water enters but can not
escape. IPB must be kept dry. Ozone and moisture form nitric acid
which attacks all metal. Some systems are sealed and have a
slight positive pressure of dry air. If maintained this works fine.
25
Isolated Phase Bus
In very wet environments a roof over the bus or various
components has been necessary to keep out rain. This also
lowers operating temperatures by blocking direct solar heating.
The examples below are from Malaysia, left and Texas, right.
26
Isolated Phase Bus
Non forced cooled IPB must have vents to reduce accumulation
of fog and free standing water. Simple to install, and very
effective in clearing moisture. Most bus have only water drains
which will plug. The examples below are in Virginia and
Malaysia. A screen to keep out birds and insects is mandatory.
27
Isolated Phase Bus
Metal shunts to accommodate
center conductor expansion are
common. These may be copper
or aluminum depending on the
design. These thin leaves all
work harden, from vibration or
when flexed and crack.
28
Isolated Phase Bus
Thin metal shunts should be replaced with copper braids or
ropes when possible. They are more resistant to vibration
and flexing damage.
29
Isolated Phase Bus
Broken and cracked insulators generate
high levels of PD that is easily detected.
Several designs are prone to this
deterioration. Try a different design.
30
Isolated Phase Bus
Insulators that are not in good contact with the center
conductor generate high levels of PD. Many designs are
prone to this condition. High PD results in high ozone levels.
31
Isolated Phase Bus
Insulator bolts can vibrate loose. Here is an example of the
frequency domain EMI signature for this condition, the time
domain PD pattern and the condition found.
32
Isolated Phase Bus
Lack of proper center conductor bolting is the #1 reason for
bus failures. There is no excuse for not torqueing bolts
correctly. There must be a written procedure to follow.
33
Isolated Phase Bus
The procedure for torqueing should include torque
specifications for the bolts and washers used, visual inspection
of hardware, replacing Belleville washers after each use, second
checking of these torques and hardware makeup by
independent person (not on the job site when the first crew was
doing their checks/torques).
34
Isolated Phase Bus
Be very careful when there is a change in the bus. Some
mistakes are obvious. In the cases below too few jumpers
were installed. The number of bolt pairs should be the same.
35
Isolated Phase Bus
In most cases this poor bolting will result in very high levels of
radiated radio noise or EMI. Metal objects left inside a bus will
also result in high EMI levels. A scan for radiated EMI located the
Foreign Materials problems shown below.
36
Isolated Phase Bus
Poor contact will result in a cascade of increased
temperatures, higher resistance and more heating until the
joints melt. This is difficult to detect with IR, easy to detect
with radiated EMI. IR will not see through the enclosure.
37
Isolated Phase Bus
After almost 150 years it is amazing how few understand bolted
electrical connections. The example below, left, shows damage to
a copper conductor when incorrect bolting was used. Often lock
washers and iron bolts are used to save money. Note the rusting
below, right. The author has disassembled copper to copper joints
with phosphor bronze bolts, still tight after 50 years service.
38
Isolated Phase Bus
An excellent
reference is, “Using
Belleville Springs
To Maintain Bolt
Preload”, by
George P. Davet,
B.S.M.E. Solon Mfg.
Co. This
comprehensive
paper describes the
how and why of
preload bolted
electrical
connections.
39
Isolated Phase Bus
Electrical grade aluminum, EC, (1350) is very soft and will cold
flow away from the pressure under a bolt if the correct washers
and bolt torque are not used. Correct bolting of different metals
will compensate for the differences in thermal expansion. Do not
use split washers and iron bolts!
40
Isolated Phase Bus
A location prone to deterioration is the potential transformer
cabinets. Several problems are common to most systems. A
scan for radiated EMI is an efficient method to determine if an
inspection is warranted.
41
Isolated Phase Bus
The design of potential transformer connections may not follow
good practice. This one has no self cleaning wiping action. A high
resistance contact results and arcing develops.
42
Isolated Phase Bus
Deterioration of fuse links and connections is a frequent
source of strong radiated EMI. Links open, clips break.
43
Isolated Phase Bus
To prevent failures
1. Keep it clean
2. Keep it dry
3. Schedule visual internal and external inspections
4. Schedule IR and radiated EMI scans
5. Design out original defects and compromises
6. Always follow written procedures to bolt connections
7. Do not ignore minor problems, they tend to grow
44
Isolated Phase Bus Common Problems
1. Loose & broken support insulators
2. Contaminated insulators (dirt, cement dust, water, oil)
3. Loose and corroded bus hardware
4. Stray circulating currents outside bus enclosures
5. Defective isolated phase bus enclosure insulation
6. Foreign metal objects inside bus enclosure
7. Defective bus potential transformer connections
8. Open PT high voltage fuses
9. Loose AUX transformer connections
10. Loose GSU transformer connections
11. Defective surge capacitor connections
12. Loose disconnect switch components
13. Loose breaker connections
45
Isolated Phase Bus
Summary
The isolated phase bus has come in many designs over the
past 60 years. There are several major failures every year.
Most designs require little maintenance for decades of
reliable service. Routine inspections will correct most types
of deterioration. Some modest design changes can be
implemented to increase service life.
46
Isolated Phase Bus
A valuable resource is the
EPRI Isolated Phase Bus
Maintenance Guide
TR-112784
Final Report, May 1999
It is now available to the
general public.
47
Isolated Phase Bus
Your bus deserves a better fate than this one in Ohio.
Thank you for your time
Questions ?
James E. Timperley
J E Timperley Consulting.LLC
j.e.timperley2@gmail.com
M: +1 614 519 7469
48

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IPBD-Timperley.pdf

  • 1. 1 Preventing Failures in Isolated Phase Bus 2021 Virtual IRMC June 22, 23, 24, 2021 James E Timperley J E Timperley Consulting.LLC j.e.timperley2@gmail.com
  • 2. 2 The isolated phase bus (IPB) is a high energy system used to connect large electric generators to the power grid through the GSU transformer. A typical bus operates for decades with minimum care. How it works and how it is built is not common knowledge. Because of inherent high reliability, these high energy systems are often ignored until there is a failure. Repair costs and lost sales revenue can run into millions of dollars. Collateral damage to a generator or GSU transformer can result in outage lasting up to a year.
  • 3. 3 This presentation will discuss the more common IPB design features and a brief theory of operation. Typical failures and deterioration modes are discussed. Most failures can be prevented with proper inspection, maintenance and testing. The following design improvements and successful remediation measures are a combination of over 40 years following IPB at hundreds of sites in many countries. The following are suggestions used by others to solve their specific problems, they may or may not work for you as well. If you have developed a unique solution please let me know.
  • 4. 4 Isolated Phase Bus Typical modern isolated phase bus connecting a generator to the system. Perhaps 1000 like this have been installed.
  • 5. 5 Isolated Phase Bus There are several types of bus designs in use today. The non- segregated design remains popular for auxiliary systems with voltages below 15 kV and currents below 5,000 amps. Phase to phase faults will develop. The segregated phase bus helps but a fault arc often burns through the enclosure. The isolated phase bus design, with an air gap between enclosures eliminates this burn through and the incidents of a phase to phase faults greatly reduced.
  • 6. 6 Isolated Phase Bus There are two types of isolated phase bus depending on enclosure construction. The first, had non-continuous enclosures. The non- continuous bus enclosures consist of several insulated tubes. Each tube has a single ground location. This reduces the chance of a phase to phase fault, reduces stress on insulators during a fault and reduces external magnetic fields. The enclosure insulation will age and fail. Many remain in service today.
  • 7. 7 Isolated Phase Bus The non-continuous bus enclosures are insulated from each other and then grounded at one location. A large strap bonding adjacent enclosures is a feature of this design. Note the straps connecting penetrations at the floor.
  • 8. 8 Isolated Phase Bus Circulating currents are induced into the enclosures reducing the external magnetic field by 30%. The remaining 70% flux induces circulating currents in adjacent metal. This became a serious problem when bus currents exceeded 15,000 amps.
  • 9. 9 Isolated Phase Bus The continuous enclosure isolated phase bus design solves this stray flux induced current problem. A key feature are massive enclosure shorting plates at both ends of the bus. Modern designs carry over 36,000 amps.
  • 10. 10 Isolated Phase Bus With a continuous enclosure design the external magnetic field is reduced by 95%. The shorting plates located at both ends, tie all three enclosures together. Insulator stress during a fault is greatly reduced.
  • 11. 11 Isolated Phase Bus There may be deficiencies in the original design. Below is a 30,000 amp neutral bus that needed more cooling. Note the severe paint oxidation. This extra heat will severely age the generator bushing current transformers.
  • 12. 12 Isolated Phase Bus The solution was to add new top ventilation holes. At some locations a fan to move air was found necessary. Free air movement under the generator is often restricted. A small increase in air movement can greatly reduce temperatures.
  • 13. 13 Isolated Phase Bus The center enclosure develops 50% of the total bus loss. Forced cooling is often required. Sometimes a flux shield is required.
  • 14. 14 Isolated Phase Bus Measuring the flux direction will determine the source of heating and point to a solution. At this neutral cabinet, flux is perpendicular to the metal. A flux shield is needed, thicker metal, or improved cooling.
  • 15. 15 Isolated Phase Bus A visual inspection is critical for continued failure free operation. Infrared, (IR), confirmed one jumper was carrying most of the enclosure current, the cold ones were floating. To solve the problem on the right a new jumper design was developed. Note the ones working had melted.
  • 16. 16 Isolated Phase Bus An IR scan of the IPB should be conducted every few months to locate hot spots and deterioration. This cracked enclosure was first spotted by IR. After 30 years of temperature cycling these cracks can be expected. Rubber expansion joints also fail.
  • 17. 17 Isolated Phase Bus Some enclosure designs are difficult to maintain. Here the owner had to weld the enclosure shunts. The bolted surfaces were inadequate for both. Proper bolting will be discussed later. It is amazing how few understand how to design a bolted joint.
  • 18. 18 Isolated Phase Bus Enclosure gaskets will harden and leak air or allow water to enter. The materials available to designers 30 years ago were limited. Replacement with new materials is necessary. Closed cell silicone rubber sponge is a lifetime replacement material.
  • 19. 19 Isolated Phase Bus IPB Standards include: ANSI C37.20 or IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) Publication 694 Isolated Phase Bus Temperature Limits Enclosure 80°C Conductor 105°C Split Covers 110°C Isolated Phase Bus Failure Temperatures Aluminum to Aluminum Joints 70°C Silver Plated Joints 105°C Porcelain Insulators 125°C Some designs can have higher temperature limits.
  • 20. 20 Isolated Phase Bus Detecting problems inside the enclosures is difficult. Infrared has very limited application in detecting center conductor problems. Partial Discharges, (PD) and electromagnetic (EMSA), techniques do have the ability to detect internal problems with both the insulators and the center conductor. Here a bus is scanned for radiated EMI.
  • 21. 21 Isolated Phase Bus Ultrasound can be used but internal reflections and attenuation with distance, from the source, can be serious limitations. Visual inspection remains the best method.
  • 22. 22 Isolated Phase Bus Insulators do collect dirt over time. Cleaning is necessary to prevent flashover. Many insulators are difficult to reach making this a multi-outage or continuous project. Some designs make removal for cleaning simple, others do not. Failure is more common when moisture is present and/or the dirty surface.
  • 23. 23 Isolated Phase Bus An insulation resistance test @ 5,000 or 10,000 volts DC will detect wet or contaminated insulators. A minimum of 1 meg ohm/ kV can be used. Much higher can be expected on short, dry bus. A DC or AC over-potential test is the only suitable test to confirm continued insulation operation. Values should be higher than rated operating voltage. Most prefer the DC test due to the smaller test equipment size. A variety of values are used (75%) of the 100% test of twice rated voltage + 1000 volts, AC.
  • 24. 24 Isolated Phase Bus I define a “sealed system” as one that water enters but can not escape. IPB must be kept dry. Ozone and moisture form nitric acid which attacks all metal. Some systems are sealed and have a slight positive pressure of dry air. If maintained this works fine.
  • 25. 25 Isolated Phase Bus In very wet environments a roof over the bus or various components has been necessary to keep out rain. This also lowers operating temperatures by blocking direct solar heating. The examples below are from Malaysia, left and Texas, right.
  • 26. 26 Isolated Phase Bus Non forced cooled IPB must have vents to reduce accumulation of fog and free standing water. Simple to install, and very effective in clearing moisture. Most bus have only water drains which will plug. The examples below are in Virginia and Malaysia. A screen to keep out birds and insects is mandatory.
  • 27. 27 Isolated Phase Bus Metal shunts to accommodate center conductor expansion are common. These may be copper or aluminum depending on the design. These thin leaves all work harden, from vibration or when flexed and crack.
  • 28. 28 Isolated Phase Bus Thin metal shunts should be replaced with copper braids or ropes when possible. They are more resistant to vibration and flexing damage.
  • 29. 29 Isolated Phase Bus Broken and cracked insulators generate high levels of PD that is easily detected. Several designs are prone to this deterioration. Try a different design.
  • 30. 30 Isolated Phase Bus Insulators that are not in good contact with the center conductor generate high levels of PD. Many designs are prone to this condition. High PD results in high ozone levels.
  • 31. 31 Isolated Phase Bus Insulator bolts can vibrate loose. Here is an example of the frequency domain EMI signature for this condition, the time domain PD pattern and the condition found.
  • 32. 32 Isolated Phase Bus Lack of proper center conductor bolting is the #1 reason for bus failures. There is no excuse for not torqueing bolts correctly. There must be a written procedure to follow.
  • 33. 33 Isolated Phase Bus The procedure for torqueing should include torque specifications for the bolts and washers used, visual inspection of hardware, replacing Belleville washers after each use, second checking of these torques and hardware makeup by independent person (not on the job site when the first crew was doing their checks/torques).
  • 34. 34 Isolated Phase Bus Be very careful when there is a change in the bus. Some mistakes are obvious. In the cases below too few jumpers were installed. The number of bolt pairs should be the same.
  • 35. 35 Isolated Phase Bus In most cases this poor bolting will result in very high levels of radiated radio noise or EMI. Metal objects left inside a bus will also result in high EMI levels. A scan for radiated EMI located the Foreign Materials problems shown below.
  • 36. 36 Isolated Phase Bus Poor contact will result in a cascade of increased temperatures, higher resistance and more heating until the joints melt. This is difficult to detect with IR, easy to detect with radiated EMI. IR will not see through the enclosure.
  • 37. 37 Isolated Phase Bus After almost 150 years it is amazing how few understand bolted electrical connections. The example below, left, shows damage to a copper conductor when incorrect bolting was used. Often lock washers and iron bolts are used to save money. Note the rusting below, right. The author has disassembled copper to copper joints with phosphor bronze bolts, still tight after 50 years service.
  • 38. 38 Isolated Phase Bus An excellent reference is, “Using Belleville Springs To Maintain Bolt Preload”, by George P. Davet, B.S.M.E. Solon Mfg. Co. This comprehensive paper describes the how and why of preload bolted electrical connections.
  • 39. 39 Isolated Phase Bus Electrical grade aluminum, EC, (1350) is very soft and will cold flow away from the pressure under a bolt if the correct washers and bolt torque are not used. Correct bolting of different metals will compensate for the differences in thermal expansion. Do not use split washers and iron bolts!
  • 40. 40 Isolated Phase Bus A location prone to deterioration is the potential transformer cabinets. Several problems are common to most systems. A scan for radiated EMI is an efficient method to determine if an inspection is warranted.
  • 41. 41 Isolated Phase Bus The design of potential transformer connections may not follow good practice. This one has no self cleaning wiping action. A high resistance contact results and arcing develops.
  • 42. 42 Isolated Phase Bus Deterioration of fuse links and connections is a frequent source of strong radiated EMI. Links open, clips break.
  • 43. 43 Isolated Phase Bus To prevent failures 1. Keep it clean 2. Keep it dry 3. Schedule visual internal and external inspections 4. Schedule IR and radiated EMI scans 5. Design out original defects and compromises 6. Always follow written procedures to bolt connections 7. Do not ignore minor problems, they tend to grow
  • 44. 44 Isolated Phase Bus Common Problems 1. Loose & broken support insulators 2. Contaminated insulators (dirt, cement dust, water, oil) 3. Loose and corroded bus hardware 4. Stray circulating currents outside bus enclosures 5. Defective isolated phase bus enclosure insulation 6. Foreign metal objects inside bus enclosure 7. Defective bus potential transformer connections 8. Open PT high voltage fuses 9. Loose AUX transformer connections 10. Loose GSU transformer connections 11. Defective surge capacitor connections 12. Loose disconnect switch components 13. Loose breaker connections
  • 45. 45 Isolated Phase Bus Summary The isolated phase bus has come in many designs over the past 60 years. There are several major failures every year. Most designs require little maintenance for decades of reliable service. Routine inspections will correct most types of deterioration. Some modest design changes can be implemented to increase service life.
  • 46. 46 Isolated Phase Bus A valuable resource is the EPRI Isolated Phase Bus Maintenance Guide TR-112784 Final Report, May 1999 It is now available to the general public.
  • 47. 47 Isolated Phase Bus Your bus deserves a better fate than this one in Ohio.
  • 48. Thank you for your time Questions ? James E. Timperley J E Timperley Consulting.LLC j.e.timperley2@gmail.com M: +1 614 519 7469 48