National Grid Electricity System Operator
National Grid TO Innovation Team
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Innovation Funding Incentive
Gas Distribution Networks
During periods of high solar activity, millions of tonnes of highly charged particles
are ejected away from the sun during solar flares. As these particles approach
earth, depending on the polarity of the particles, the earths magnetic field will
either deflect them or draw them into the upper atmosphere down the lines of
As the particles stream through the atmosphere, then induce ground level
charge of the opposite charge (much like lightning only of several orders of
magnitude higher current). This induced ground current (under earth rotation)
travels across the surface of countries, passing along the easiest (or most
conductive) route. Unfortunately this often means overhead lines and cables. On
the whole, the lines and cables are able to cope with this, but the transformers at
the end of each circuit are at significant risk of over-fluxing and consequently the
AC power component spills out of the core windings and flows around sections
incapable of supporting it.
Overheating and damage to internal components can be disastrous, causing
potentially catastrophic damage to windings. In these cases, it is not enough to
simply detect the presence of the DC current, but it is absolutely necessary to
have in place the ability to detect the early signatures of gas being produced
from early failure modes.
This project will deliver the ability for National Grid to not only quickly access
whether significant DC current (induced from charged particles streaming into
the atmosphere from solar events) are passing through power transformers,
thereby allowing instant notification of potential over-flux and failure, but also for
the first time, an integrated system of on-line dissolved gas analysis systems
which will produce the evidence of any fault activity caused by the DC current
within minutes of the event. All data captured will be high resolution (second by
second) and be handled, viewed and automatically alarmed through the
condition monitoring SAM platform.