A Markovian model for power transformer maintenance

12 Mar 2018

The condition of the insulation paper is one of the key determinants of the lifetime of a power transformer. The winding insulation paper may deteriorate aggressively and result in the unexpected failure of power transformers, especially under the presence of high moisture, oxygen, and metal contaminants. Such types of scenarios can be prevented if the deterioration is detected on time. Various types of condition monitoring techniques have been developed to detect transformer condition such as dissolved gas analysis and frequency response analysis. They are non-intrusive and provide early warning of accelerated deterioration both chemically and mechanically. However, the accuracy of those techniques is imperfect, which means periodic inspection is still indispensable. In this paper, we discuss the value of continuous condition monitoring for power transformers and present a way to estimate this value. Towards this, a continuous-time Markov decision model is presented to optimize periodic inspections, so that the cost is minimized and the availability is maximized. We also analyze the performance based on the information from both discrete inspection and continuous condition monitoring. The result shows the dissolved gas analysis can improve the availability and operation cost, while frequency response analysis can only improve the availability of power transformers.