Large Synchronous Generators Computer Models

Project ID: 2417
Principal Investigator: Rory Mclean
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016, 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

Electrical computer models for large synchronous generators are mainly used for power system stability studies,
and are based on manufacturer calculations or a small series of tests rarely conducted on generators during
commissioning. The present models are too simplistic to investigate some of the problems often encountered by
Reclamation and other industry engineers. An upcoming opportunity to perform some new, atypical types of tests
on a Reclamation generator, coupled with state of the art computer modeling abilities, may open up a wide
window of insight into solving a large number of problems facing engineers. Can these new testing techniques and
modeling tools be used to investigate problems heretofore out of reach, for the improved reliability, protection,
longevity, and safety of the essential resources that are power plant generators?

Need and Benefit

Reduction in generator operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, improved plant reliability, and reduced forced
outages require new methods to diagnose abnormal equipment operation, address effects of aging and wear, and
minimize costly downtime (e.g. the costs for a generator failure ranges from one million dollars to fifty million
dollars per incident). Some of the present issues facing the power industry includes less than adequate diagnostic
tests for winding insulation. Present methods give results that are somewhat subjective and limited in scope in the
types of failures they can detect. In order to address the need to develop new winding insulation test methods,
computer models of the generator insulation system needs to be developed. The lack of good models of the
generator also limits our ability to predict how the generator will respond during turn-to-turn faults or when the
winding is modified during repairs. Estimating, or worse, guessing, how a generator will react during these
conditions limits our ability to develop new protection schemes and repair methods. Again better and more
detailed computer models of the generator would be very beneficial.
This research will start to address these issues by developing or improving computer models and computer
simulation methods. This information will then be used in one or more follow up research project to develop
better field diagnostics test methods of high-voltage rotating machines, develop better protection of multi-turn
generators, and develop better methods to return a generator to service following a stator winding fault. Avoiding
costly generator outages or reducing outage length will result in significant savings as the costs of a generator
winding failure are very high.
More reliable plant operation is possible with less downtime. Resulting reduction in maintenance costs and lost
revenue will contribute to improved plant operating efficiency. Results will be shared with technical peers and will
benefit Reclamation-wide maintenance, operation, and protection of large generators and motors.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20