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Vasanth Vailoor, Tranter Radiator Products, Inc.

Introduction

Electrical transformers are a widely used piece of equipment in the utility

industry. There is a need to cool the transformers due to rapid electrical performance

degradation especially at elevated temperatures in large transformers. So the

transformers are cooled in an oil bath, which in turn is cooled using various

equipment and mechanisms that go through different names radiators, tube coolers,

flexoplates, fins, plate coolers, etc. Thus the transformer cooler is a critical link in the

overall optimum usage of the transformer. The performance of this transformer

radiator is a term used to denote the heat dissipation characteristics of the cooling

mechanism.

Background

Radiator performance is usually associated to heat transfer area. This is an easy

association the more the heat transfer area, obviously greater is the heat dissipated.

However, the basic heat transfer equation that governs the heat dissipated from the

transformer radiator is given as

Q = U*A* T -

(1)

U is the overall heat transfer coefficient

A is the heat transfer area and

T is the effective temperature difference between the oil and the air.

So it is easy to see the dependence of Q on A.

Different manufactures make radiators using different designs that affect the

performance of the radiator. These differences may be apparent or not so apparent

and may or may not be of consequence. From the equation of heat transfer, the heat

transfer area is an apparent and easily quantified parameter and so a simple

radiators that fall into the same design type. This might be a relatively justifiable

assumption but when one starts drawing the same type of correlation between

products from different manufactures and sometimes even different designs, the

relationship is too simplistic. However, U and T are not easily measured and these

are the non-apparent factors that can significantly influence the heat dissipation rate.

We have been testing radiators of various designs from several manufacturers and

have been documenting the variations in U and T that influence the heat dissipation.

Presently our testing has been limited to natural convection heat transfer mode of

operation with heat transfer areas ranging from 5.5 to 550sqft. We have found U

ranging from 0.86 in large radiators to 2.66W.ft-2.C-1 in small radiators at Tmax of

65C. In addition, the heat dissipation is governed by the effective temperature

difference between the oil and the air or the log-mean-temperature difference that

ranges from 23C to 41C as shown in equation-1 and not the Tmax, which is held

constant at 65C. This shows the range of variation of U and

market. However, quite often, due to the constrained resources, available and

allocated for radiator testing, manufacturers test a limited number of radiators and

assign the thermal performance of their entire range of products based on the heat

transfer area that can be measured quickly and easily, assuming that the other factors

are constant.

Thus, wide ranges exist in thermal performance due to design variations. Design

variations usually evolve out of leaner manufacturing initiatives when thermal

performances may be overlooked or even compromised. This adds up and compounds

with time and in the end, this information is drowned in safety factors, rules of the

thumb and factors of experience. Finally, when these safety factors occasionally or

consistently fail, new safety factors are applied uniformly to an entire range of

products and the financial impact would be passed on to the uninformed customer at

the next opportune moment.

Test Set-up

A schematic diagram of the test set up is shown below:

Radiator

Therm owell

Valves

Heating

Cham ber

It consists of the following:

1) Tank or heating chamber for the oil

The heating chamber for the oil is a compact 20x20 square cross-section area

with a height of about 10 to house 7 oil heaters. The square section transitions at the

top and the bottom into 5 diameter pipes. The heating chamber and the transitions

are made of plate steel welded together into three separate pieces and then bolted

together.

2) Heaters for oil

Seven electric oil heaters, are mounted, three from one side and four from the

other side of the heating chamber. The heaters are rated at 6kW each.

3) Transformer oil

Transformer oil that meets the following specs is used.

a) ANSI/ASTM D 3487

b) NEMA TR-P8-1975

c) US Government Mil Spec VV-I-530A, supersedes Navy spec OS-1023

d) British Standards BS 148:1972.

4) Watt-Hour meters

GE model WH-4V1A3WD

5) Variac

Variable transformers are used to control input voltage to the heaters.

6) Data Acquisition System

LabView software along with hardware has been obtained from National

Instruments. It includes thermocouples (TCs) with 64-channels for temperature

monitoring. Some critical points where the temperature is monitored include:

a) Thermal-wells at the oil inlet to the radiator.

b) Surface mounted TC at oil inlet to the radiator.

c) Thermal-wells at the oil outlet from the radiator.

d) Surface mounted TC at oil outlet from the radiator.

e) Ambient air.

f) Hot air exit from the radiator.

Test Procedure

1) Set a variac voltage for necessary heat to reach a desired top oil temperature

and note electrical power input into the assembly.

2) Calculate the time constant of the system.

3) Monitor steady state (SS) readings after allowing sufficient time to reach SS.

4) Analyze and verify the data recorded.

5) Tabulate and present results.

1) Heat assembly to desired top oil temperature.

2) Switch off heaters and allow the assembly to cool.

3) Record the following:

a) Top oil temperature (at inlet to radiator or exit from heating tank

assembly), To,i.

b) Bottom oil temperature (at exit from radiator or inlet to heating tank

assembly), To,o.

c) Inlet air temperature to the radiator or the ambient temperature, Ta,i.

d) Exit air temperature from radiator, Ta,o.

4) Calculate the log-mean-temperature-difference, TLM from

TLM =

ln((To,i Ta,i )/(To,o Ta,i ))

(2)

5) With readings taken at two different times t1 and t2, the time constant,

is

calculated as follows:

= (t 2 t 1 ) * ln(

TLM2

)

TLM1

(3)

1) Set a desired electric heater power input, Pe in heater by adjusting the variac

and verify that all parameters are at SS after a period of five times the time constant

of the entire system.

2) Since the ambient temperature is not controlled, the test must be done when

ambient temperature does not change appreciably (preferably less than 1C during

this period of time).

LabView software is used to note the temperature values and is noted two times

per seconds for a period of 15 minutes to ensure steady state operation. Five readings

are taken at about 10C intervals for a temperature differential between top oil

temperature and ambient air temperature range of 30C to 70C.

1) Calculate the total electrical power dissipated by the assembly (Pe).

2) Calculate heat dissipated by Radiator QR, modeled as

Q R = Pe *

AR

AT

(4)

AT is the total area of the system

3) The heat transfer coefficient, U, is calculated from equation 1. The U is not a

strong function of temperature and may be assumed constant for each radiator.

4) This data is tabulated and presented for use by the sales force and for easy use

by the customers. Under field conditions, the exit air temperature is a very

difficult parameter to measure and so U is based not on the log-meantemperature-difference as is dictated by equation-1 but the mean oil

temperature. When such is the case, due corrections must be applied to predict

the heat dissipation characteristics of the radiator for a maximum top oil

temperature of 65C.

Another factor of concern is the differential oil temperature. This can be predicted

from the resistance offered by the radiator to oil flow. Since the oil flows through the

transformer as well as the radiator, the sum or total flow resistance is of concern. So a

radiator must be matched to a transformer appropriately to accurately predict the heat

dissipation capability. In the absence of this essential data, oversized radiators will be

smothered by excessive safety factors and undersized radiators will be corrected by

mounting air-fans with loss of reliability when natural convection radiators have no

such loss of reliability.

Verification

Radiators that are used to dissipate heat from transformers have been tested in our

heat transfer laboratory to find out their thermal performance characteristics. The

parameter of interest is the product of the heat transfer coefficient and area or U*A.

This is easily modeled from the simple energy conservation equation. At steady state

condition,

Q ss = U * A * TLM

(5)

(5)

Q ss

or U * A =

TLM

Steady state condition is attained after allowing the entire system to remain at a

constant heater setting for several times the thermal time constant of the system.

The time constant of the system was determined by raising the temperature of the

system to a little over its highest operating condition and then the heater was shut off

while the temperature readings were noted. The exponential decay of the log mean

temperature difference ( TLM) was plotted and curve fitted to a function of the form

T2, LM

T1, LM

= e *(t 2 - t1 )

(6)

=

m * Cp

U*A

or U * A =

(7)

m * Cp

(7)

and m*Cp, the thermal mass can be easily determined from a transient ramp test,

again using the conservation principle in the form

Q trans = (m * Cp) * (

TSystem

t

) -

(8)

(8)

(9)

Q trans

or m * Cp =

TSystem

t

Q

U * A = ( trans )/ TSystem

t

Thus we now have two independent methods to verify the U*A of the radiator.

For the radiator models tested, the heat transfer area A is easily defined by

physical geometry and does not change with the operating conditions. However, the

heat transfer coefficient U and the differential temperature

T do change with

operating conditions. We are primarily concerned with U when the maximum oil

temperature is 65C above ambient air temperature.

One more level of complexity must be added to fully evaluate the heat dissipation

characteristic of the radiator. That is the temperature differential or the log-meantemperature-difference, TLM. The TLM depends on the overall resistance to the oil

flow in the radiator as well as the transformer or the effective hydraulic diameter of

the entire flow path.

A summary of results of some of the radiators tested is tabulated below.

Sl No.

Description

Qrad at Tmax

of 65C

Area

2

[ft ]

U

-2

-1

[W*ft *C ]

TLM

[C]

7507

160

1.613

29.1

8388

244

1.233

27.9

7080

218

1.262

25.7

7235

218

1.272

26.1

12883

394

1.157

28.3

7002

218

1.207

26.6

14588

554

0.864

30.5

5745

160

1.397

25.7

992

10.7

2.475

37.6

10

576

5.33

2.661

40.6

Summarizing from the information above, the various factors that affect the

thermal performance of the radiator are as listed below:

1) Width of plate

Affects heat transfer area for the same center-to-center distance between

headers but the plan footprint changes and must remain acceptable.

Changes intake of ambient air but follows the law of diminishing returns.

Performance improves with increasing Length/Height, again governed by the

law of diminishing returns.

Changes the time of contact with the ambient air and the contact area.

3) Number of Plates

Performance improves with increasing number of plates, again governed by

the law of diminishing returns.

Intake of ambient air increases with number of plates.

The heat transfer area increases linearly with number of plates.

4) Header Size

Performance improves with increasing Header Size.

Reduces pressure drop for fluid flow.

For the same top oil temperature, a larger pressure drop is available across the

radiator ensuring higher oil flow velocity and heat transfer coefficient.

5) Oil flow Capacity

Performance improves with increasing Oil flow Capacity.

Increases LMTD due to reduced Temperature drop in Radiator fluid.

A good indicator is the oil holding capacity of the radiator plates. A larger

capacity means a larger hydraulic diameter and so reduced friction for flow. This

reduces the drop in oil temperature ensuring a higher TLM.

6) Empty weight

Performance deteriorates with increasing empty weight.

Increasing the metal thickness reduces the overall heat transfer coefficient.

However, the thermal resistance offered by the metal is at least one order of

magnitude lower than the thermal resistance offered by the oil and the air and its

effect is negligible.

Performance improves with increasing Heat transfer area.

Enhanced surface due to ripples increases heat transfer area. However, ripples

could reduce the flow rate due to tortuous oil flow path and increase pressure drop.

8) Distance between plates

Performance improves with increasing distance between plates.

It reduces the interference between the boundary layers for air.

This outlines the various factors affecting the heat dissipation from the radiator.

Note - Though the heat transfer coefficient U is tabulated in the table above, quite often various

modified or effective heat transfer coefficient is used, especially in sales brochures. The modified U

may be used conveniently and accurately within the scope of assumptions made and due corrections

need to be factored in for good thermal performance prediction.

Conclusion

Thus the radiator manufacturer must be able to suggest the best or optimal

geometry for a given or specified design heat dissipation and other geometric and

process constraints. It must also be understood that the heat dissipation performance

of the radiator-transformer system can be accurately predicted only as a single whole

system. This is a typical situation where system optimization cannot be achieved by

optimization of the sub-systems.

It is our desire and intent here to make the industry aware of the various factors,

other than the heat transfer area alone that influence the heat dissipation characteristic

Q of the radiator.

10

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