• Xiang Zhang

Student thesis: Phd


Reliable thermal modelling approaches are crucial to transformer thermal design and operation. The highest temperature in the winding, usually referred to as the hot-spot temperature, is of the greatest interest because the insulation paper at the hot-spot undergoes the severest thermal ageing, and determines the life expectancy of the transformer insulation. Therefore, the primary objective of transformer thermal design is to control the hot-spot temperature rise over the ambient temperature within certain limit. For liquid-immersed power transformers, the hot-spot temperature rise over the ambient temperature is controlled by the winding geometry, power loss distribution, liquid flow rate and liquid properties. In order to obtain universally applicable thermal modelling results, dimensional analysis is adopted in this PhD thesis to guide computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations for disc-type transformer windings in steady state and their experimental verification. The modelling work is split into two parts on oil forced and directed (OD) cooling modes and oil natural (ON) cooling modes. COMSOL software is used for the CFD simulation work For OD cooling modes, volumetric oil flow proportion in each horizontal cooling duct (Pfi) and pressure drop coefficient over the winding (Cpd) are found mainly controlled by the Reynolds number at the winding pass inlet (Re) and the ratio of horizontal duct height to vertical duct width. The correlations for Pfi and Cpd with the dimensionless controlling parameters are derived from CFD parametric sweeps and verified by experimental tests. The effects of different liquid types on the flow distribution and pressure drop are investigated using the correlations derived. Reverse flows at the bottom part of winding passes are shown by both CFD simulations and experimental measurements. The hot-spot factor, H, is interpreted as a dimensionless temperature at the hot-spot and the effects of operational conditions e.g. ambient temperature and loading level on H are analysed. For ON cooling modes, the flow is driven by buoyancy forces and hot-streak dynamics play a vital role in determining fluid flow and temperature distributions. The dimensionless liquid flow and temperature distributions and H are all found to be controlled by Re, Pr and Gr/Re2. An optimal design and operational regime in terms of obtaining the minimum H, is identified from CFD parametric sweeps, where the effects of buoyancy forces are balanced by the effects of inertial forces. Reverse flows are found at the top part of winding passes, opposite to the OD results. The total liquid flow rates of different liquids for the same winding geometry with the same power loss distribution in an ON cooling mode are determined and with these determined total liquid flow rates, the effects of different liquids on fluid flow and temperature distributions are investigated by CFD simulations. The CFD modelling work on disc-type transformer windings in steady state present in this PhD thesis is based on the dimensional analyses on the fluid flow and heat transfer in the windings. Therefore, the results obtained are universally applicable and of the simplest form as well. In addition, the dimensional analyses have provided insight into how the flow and temperature distribution patterns are controlled by the dimensionless controlling parameters, regardless of the transformer operational conditions and the coolant liquid types used.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorZhongdong Wang (Supervisor) & Qiang Liu (Supervisor)


  • Pressure Drop
  • Hot-Spot Temperature
  • Hot-Spot Factor
  • Flow Distribution
  • CFD
  • Transformer
  • Dimensional Analysis
  • Thermal Modelling

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