Arteche and Tekniker collaborate to achieve a more sustainable electric grid

Date 20-07-2023 Tekniker

Arteche and the technology centre are researching the option of replacing mineral dielectric fluids used by measurement transformers with biodegradable fluids.

The Basque industrial sector is currently involved in an energy transition process whose aim is to reduce emissions, boost renewables and further efficiency in the sector. These are also the environmental goals set by the European Union to minimise the impact this sector has on the planet. 

It is in this context that the electricity company Arteche is leading BIOAT, a project in which the Tekniker technology centre is also involved and is focused on looking into how conventional mineral dielectric fluids can be replaced by biodegradable fluids in measuring transformers, used to transform high voltage line intensities and voltages into values that can be measured by meters and protection devices.

More specifically, Tekniker has been commissioned to analyse several biodegradable dielectric fluids shortlisted by Arteche to choose the most suitable option.

Subsequent to running several trials, synthetic ester fluids were chosen as they offered the best physical-chemical and electric (non-conductive) properties. Market requirements and technical criteria related to the transformer’s manufacturing process were also taken into account. 

Alberto Villar, the Tekniker researcher in charge of the project, stated that “by replacing mineral dielectric fluids with biodegradable fluids we will be able to meet all the environmental goals set by the European Union without affecting the transformer’s properties nor increasing manufacturing costs significantly.

The Tekniker expert also underscored “that these dielectric fluids are used in electric applications such as measurement and power transformers. Electric insulation is the main function of a measurement transformer in addition to the oil-impregnated paper that forms part of the insulation system. Compared to mineral fluids, biodegradable fluids can decompose in a natural and environmentally friendly manner”.

Improvements thanks to nanotechnology

During the trials, Tekniker analysed the physical-chemical and electric features of the fluids and verified the extent to which the fluids were compatible with the transformer’s gaskets.

The technology centre has also investigated the effects produced by nanotechnology in terms of improving the dielectric features of the insulation. As explained by José Miguel Nogueiras, D&D Engineer, and Ixone Urruela, Sustainable Product Leader from Arteche, the project will also verify the degree of compatibility between the fluid and the rest of the transformer’s materials that are in contact with it to perform a life cycle analysis.

The results obtained to date were presented by Ana Aranzabe, director of Technology and deputy director of Tekniker, at Lubmat 2023, the international lubrication and industrial maintenance conference held in Preston, England on July 17-19.

BIOAT is a project that comes under the Basque Government’s Elkartek programme and has been rated as type 2 related to those characterised by a high degree of industrial potential. 

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