Electricity - Power to spare
With thousands of substation power transformers around the nation operating on borrowed time, the need to develop a new generation of transformers is taking on increased importance. In a project led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Waukesha Electric, researchers are focusing on new alloys and insulation materials for transformers with more operational flexibility and greater power densities. This will result in increased reliability and will provide faster restoration in case of failures. The transformers, which, depending on the application either increase or decrease voltage, will feature modular design to give them plug-and-play capability and will be made with materials that will maximize magnetic and dielectric (insulation) properties. Many of the estimated 180,000 transformers in the United States are between 30 and 40 years old and are custom-made, which adds to their cost. The new transformers would be far more adaptable, which would make it feasible for utilities to optimize their spare inventories. The third partner in this project funded by DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is American Electric Power.
November 10, 2006