ATP modeling of internal transformer faults for relay performance testing

Elizaveta O. Egorova



Transformers are very important elements of any power system. Unfortunately, they are subjected to through-faults and abnormal operating conditions which can affect not only the transformer itself but also other equipment connected to the transformer. Thus, it is essential to provide sufficient protection for transformers as well as the best possible selectivity and sensitivity of the protection. Nowadays microprocessor-based relays are widely used to protect power equipment. Current differential and voltage protection strategies are used in transformer protection applications and provide fast and sensitive multi-level protection and monitoring.

The elements responsible for detecting turn-to-turn and turn-to-ground faults are the negative-sequence percentage differential element and restricted earth-fault (REF) element, respectively. During severe internal faults current transformers can saturate and slow down the speed of relay operation which affects the degree of equipment damage.

The scope of this work is to develop a modeling methodology to perform simulations and laboratory tests for internal faults such as turn-to-turn and turn-to-ground for two step-down power transformers with capacity ratings of 11.2 MVA and 290 MVA. The simulated current waveforms are injected to a microprocessor relay to check its sensitivity for these internal faults. Saturation of current transformers is also studied in this work.

All simulations are performed with the Alternative Transients Program (ATP) utilizing the internal fault model for three-phase two-winding transformers. The tested microprocessor relay is the SEL-487E current differential and voltage protection relay.

The results showed that the ATP internal fault model can be used for testing microprocessor relays for any percentage of turns involved in an internal fault. An interesting observation from the experiments was that the SEL-487E relay is more sensitive to turn-to-turn faults than advertized for the transformers studied. The sensitivity of the restricted earth-fault element was confirmed. CT saturation cases showed that low accuracy CTs can be saturated with a high percentage of turn-to-turn faults, where the CT burden will affect the extent of saturation.

Recommendations for future work include more accurate simulation of internal faults, transformer energization inrush, and other scenarios involving core saturation, using the newest version of the internal fault model. The SEL-487E relay or other microprocessor relays should again be tested for performance. Also, application of a grounding bank to the delta-connected side of a transformer will increase the zone of protection and relay performance can be tested for internal ground faults on both sides of a transformer.