TXpand – protecting the power grid
Switzerland, Zurich: Hitachi ABB Power Grids has developed a rupture resistant transformer solution for avoiding potential explosions.
Transformers are the muscles of the power grid, enabling electricity to be utilized efficiently and effectively, 24/7 for decades. They are incredibly reliable and robust, yet studies show that even these most dependable components can fail. These failures can be dangerous and have a huge impact on the supply of power – so it is vital to mitigate even this unlikely risk. This challenge is amplified further in HVDC bulk transmission systems, in which several gigawatts of power capacity could be lost in the event of a failure.
In a collaboration with Canadian transmission system operator Hydro-Quebec, Hitachi ABB Power Grids developed a rupture-resistant transformer tank solution, TXpand.
Combining their knowledge, the two companies developed sophisticated computer models allowing vulnerable areas to be strengthened while simultaneously making previously rigid areas flexible. This allows the transformer to literally expand during a major internal failure, absorbing the energy and preventing or controlling a potential rupture.
This technology has been deployed in Canada for several years and verified with a full-scale test in 2018, demonstrating TXpand’s capability to resist an internal failure of 20 MJ – 20 times the energy contained in a stick of dynamite.
“This rupture-resistant transformer solution concept is simple, but implementing it on complex transformers, of up to hundreds of cubic meters in volume, requires detailed engineering,” said Markus Pettersson, Global Product Manager for HVDC Converter Transformers, Hitachi ABB Power Grids.
A hypothetical failure in the largest transmission systems, could mean the loss of several gigawatts of power – worth millions of dollars per day – and this would be only the beginning of the cost to society. Finally, and most importantly, avoiding a rupture could save lives.
Source: Hitachi ABB Power Grids