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Numerical Modelling of the Natural Ventilation of Underground Transformer Substations

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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

transformer substations

Juan Carlos Ramos a, *, Maximiliano Beiza a, Jon Gastelurrutia a, Alejandro Rivas a,

Raúl Antón a, Gorka S. Larraona a, Iván de Miguel b

a

TECNUN (University of Navarra), Department of Mechanical Engineering, Thermal and Fluids Engineering Division,

Paseo de Manuel de Lardizábal 13, 20018 San Sebastián, Spain

b

Ormazabal Distribución Secundaria, Barrio Basauntz 2, 48140 Igorre, Spain

h i g h l i g h t s

< Simulations serve to analyse air ﬂow patterns and temperature distributions.

< There is a component of reverse ﬂow in the outﬂow grilles.

< There is a mass of static warm air at the top part of the switchboards zone.

< Correlations for air mass ﬂow rate and heat transfer coefﬁcients are proposed.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Ventilation by natural convection of two underground transformer substations has been numerically

Received 28 May 2012 modelled. The model has been veriﬁed in terms of discretization errors and it has been validated with the

Accepted 7 October 2012 experimental results of eight temperature rise tests carried out under different conditions of ventilation

Available online 2 November 2012

and transformer power losses. The results of the simulations serve to analyse the air ﬂow pattern and the

air temperature distributions inside the substation. A correlation for the air mass ﬂow rate as a function

Keywords:

of the ventilation conditions (discharge coefﬁcient and area of the grilles) and the heat dissipated by the

Thermal modelling

transformer has been ﬁtted. The heat transfer coefﬁcients on the surfaces of the transformer and the

Transformer substation

Natural ventilation

walls of the enclosure can also be obtained from the simulations of the model. All this information will be

CFD used in a future paper to develop a zonal thermal model of the ventilation of the substations that can be

employed as a design and optimisation tool.

Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction convection ﬂow of air that enters and leaves the substation through

the ventilation grilles and by the radiation exchanges with the walls

Underground transformer substations are used for electrical of the substation.

power distribution in public networks and private installation load- International Standards [1,2] state that the criterion for good

centres. These buildings are usually made of prefabricated concrete performance in a transformer substation is given by the maximum

and have a personnel access point and some ventilation grilles. temperature reached by the top-oil of the transformer. This

Inside of the enclosure there are one or two distribution trans- temperature must be limited in order to extend the operating life of

formers with their Low Voltage (LV) boards, Medium Voltage (MV) the transformer. As experimental tests must be run on a real

cubicles, and interconnecting and auxiliary devices. In the trans- substation, obtaining a temperature that is over the limit would

former and the LV boards the generation of heat is due to power invalidate the built substation, requiring a new design and new

losses occurring in the conversion of the distributed electrical casts. In order to avoid this slow and expensive design procedure, it

energy from medium voltage to low voltage for domestic and would be very useful to have a mathematical model of ventilation

industrial applications. This heat must be removed by the natural in the substation and to perform a simulation of this model to

determine the temperatures in the design stage prior to the

experimental tests.

* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ34 943 21 98 77; fax: þ34 943 31 14 42. One of the ﬁrst models of ventilation in transformer substations

E-mail address: jcramos@tecnun.es (J.C. Ramos). that can be found in the literature is the one by Menheere [3]. This

1359-4311/$ e see front matter Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2012.10.032

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 853

Sh source term in energy equation [W/m3]

T temperature [K or C]

Latin letters ui velocity components [m/s]

Agrilles surface area of the ventilation grilles [m2] xi Cartesian coordinates [m]

cp speciﬁc heat [J/kg K] yþ dimensionless distance to the nearest wall [e]

Cd,grilles discharge coefﬁcient of the ventilation grilles

[m/s Pa0.5] Greek letters

g gravity acceleration [m/s2] dij Kronecker delta [e]

GCI Grid Convergence Index [%] DT temperature rise over ambient temperature [K]

k turbulent kinetic energy [m2/s2] ε dissipation rate of k [m2/s3]

m_ air air mass ﬂow rate [kg/s] l thermal molecular conductivity [W/m K]

Nuz Nusselt number [e] lT turbulent thermal conductivity [W/m K]

p pressure [Pa] m dynamic molecular viscosity [kg/m s]

P transformer power losses [W] mT turbulent eddy viscosity [kg/m s]

qconv,transf transformer convection heat losses [W] r density [kg/m3]

is a very simpliﬁed model that uses one equation for the heat As far as the authors are aware, there are only two attempts in

transferred to the ventilation air and another equation to the heat the specialized literature. Loucaides et al. [7] use the Finite Element

dissipated through the walls of the substation. The inputs of the Method (FEM) to solve the energy and the NaviereStokes equations

model are the power dissipated by the transformer, the dimensions in a ﬂow domain corresponding to the air inside a transformer

of the transformer and the substation, the thermal conductivity of substation. They assume that the ﬂow is under a laminar regime

the walls, and the heights, surface areas and resistance coefﬁcients and the buoyancy forces are modelled by means of the Boussinesq

of the inlet and outlet ventilation grilles. The outputs of the model hypothesis. As main boundary conditions, they impose the ambient

are estimations of the outlet air and of the transformer’s mean temperature on the external surface of the walls, the ventilation

temperature rises over the ambient temperature. Although the grilles are geometrically modelled with their effective area, and the

model takes into account the main parameters involved in the transformer losses are imposed as a uniform heat ﬂux on the

ventilation performance of the substations (the transformer power surface of the transformer. The model is used to analyse the inﬂu-

and the surface area and the resistance coefﬁcient of the ventilation ence of the aperture of the ventilation grills, the transformer load

grilles) the results can be used only as a “rule of thumb” in the and the ambient temperature in the air temperature distribution

design stage of a transformer substation because the model does inside the substation.

not give the enclosure class of the substation required by IEC The other work addressing the issue of modelling the ventila-

Standard [2]. tion in substations by means of differential equations is the one by

Another possible approach to the thermal modelling of trans- Ramos et al. in [8], where they develop a differential model of the

former substations is the transient equivalent thermal circuit ventilation (air circulation and heat transfer) of a half-buried

model developed by Radakovic and Maksimovic in [4]. This model transformer substation solved by means of the Finite Volume

is based on a small number of characteristic temperatures inside Method (FVM). Taking a more realistic approach than the previous

the transformer substation, and it relies on some parameters whose authors, they assumed the ﬂow is turbulent and used the Standard

values have to be determined through experimentation for each keε model to model it. The walls of the enclosure are modelled as

new design. The same authors in [5] present an improvement of the solids with one-dimensional heat conduction and external

model by including solar irradiation and wind velocity. convection. The ventilation grilles are modelled as boundaries

Iskender and Mamizadeh in [6] use the same methodology as where the air ﬂow suffers a pressure loss, and the corresponding

the dynamic thermal circuit model. They improve the previous loss coefﬁcients are calculated numerically. A vertical temperature

models by taking into consideration the variation over time of the distribution is imposed on the transformer casing and the oil-ﬁlled

thermal resistances and capacitances of the top-oil, of the venti- hollow ﬁns are modelled as solids by means of an equivalent

lation air and of the different components of the substation thermal conductivity. The model allows the enclosure class of the

enclosure. substation to be determined and for the analysis of the air velocity

A common characteristic of these dynamic network models is and temperature distributions.

that they can be used to simulate the load capability and ageing of On the one hand, the principal handicap of these differential

a speciﬁc and experimentally checked system using discrete models is the high computational cost of performing a single

temperature measurements, but they are not able to analyse and simulation and the long time period that is required to obtain

optimise the performance of a transformer substation in the design results. On the other hand, they provide results that cannot be

stage in order to determine the enclosure class. obtained either experimentally or with other types of models,

Thus, in order to deal with design and optimisation objectives, namely, the air ﬂow pattern and temperature distributions, the air

the use of other types of mathematical models with a more mass ﬂow rate and the heat transfer coefﬁcients on the transformer

exhaustive treatment of the physical phenomena that is taking surfaces.

place in the transformer substation is required. Nevertheless, all this information obtained in the simulation of

Hence, there is the type of model based on the description, by the differential model can be used to develop an intermediate level

means of differential equations, of the mass and heat transfer model, an approach known as zonal modelling [9,10], which

phenomena taking place in a ﬂow domain under the restriction of requires fewer computational resources and less simulation time,

some conditions imposed at its boundaries. To solve these differ- so as to allow its implementation in a software tool oriented toward

ential equations there are different numerical techniques that can designing and optimizing the thermal performance of transformer

be employed. substations.

854 J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863

This methodology has been successfully applied to the model- The main external dimensions of the transformer substations are

ling of the cooling of distribution transformers by Gastelurrutia 6.56 m, 2.46 m and 2.79 m in length, width and height, respectively.

et al. In [11] they developed a detailed numerical model of the The input voltage during the standard performance of the trans-

movement by natural convection of the oil inside distribution formers is 25 kV at 50 Hz, and it handles 1000 kVA. The nominal

transformers and, based on the oil ﬂow and temperature patterns power dissipated in the form of heat by the transformers is 12,200 W.

obtained, they produced in [12] an algebraic zonal thermal model During the operation of the substation the LV also has power losses.

that can be used for design and optimization purposes. The ventilation of the substations occurs as follows. The internal

In this paper a mathematical model based on the numerical power losses of the core and the windings of the transformer are

resolution of the differential equations describing the air ﬂow transferred to the external surfaces, casing and hollow ﬁns by

movement and the heat transfer inside underground trans- means of the natural convection ﬂow of the internal oil. From the

former substations is presented. The numerical model is external surfaces the heat is dissipated in two ways: by the venti-

described, attending to its main characteristics: ﬂow domain, lation air and by radiation to the walls of the enclosure, and from

governing equations, treatment of turbulence, boundary condi- the walls to the surrounding soil by conduction. The ventilation air

tions, discretization and resolution, convergence and grid inde- ﬂows through the substation by natural convection. The air enters

pendency. The model is validated with the experimental results the substation through the inﬂow grilles (9 in Fig. 1) located over

of eight temperature rise tests. The simulations of the model the LV and MV switchboard zone of the substation. From here the

provide a description of the main features of the natural air passes to the transformer zones through a free pass below the

convection air movement and the heat transfer inside trans- separating metallic plates. Finally, the air leaves the substation

former substations. Correlations for the air mass ﬂow rate and through the outﬂow ventilation grilles (10 in Fig. 1) located on top

for the heat transfer coefﬁcients on the surfaces of the trans- of the transformers.

former and of the walls of the enclosure have been ﬁtted. All this Substation TS01 has three types of ventilation grilles. Two of

information will be used to build a zonal thermal model of the them can be seen in the left-hand image of Fig. 1, where the most

ventilation of transformer substations that will demand fewer external are the grating grilles situated at ground level at the top of

computational resources and that will be easier to implement in the concrete vents (9 and 10). Over the ventilation windows at the

design-oriented software, following the methodology described bottom of the concrete vents, on the walls of the enclosure, there

in Refs. [11,12]. are two types of grilles: the louvered ones (7 and 8) and the

expanded metal grilles (not shown in Fig. 1). The function of the

2. Description of underground transformer substations latter is to prevent small animals from entering the substation.

Substation TS02 (Fig. 1, right) has only two types of ventilation

Fig. 1 shows internal and external views of the modelled grilles: the louvered vents protruding from the ceiling of the

transformer substations identiﬁed henceforth as TS01 (left) and substation (9 and 10), and the expanded metal grilles that in this

TS02 (right). TS01 has horizontal ventilation because the grilles are case are situated in the internal part of the louvers of the protruding

at ground level, and TS02 has vertical ventilation because the vents vents (9 and 10).

protrude from the ground. Each of them includes two distribution

transformers (1); their respective Low Voltage boards (2); the 3. Experimental temperature rise tests

Medium Voltage switchgears (3); the protection metallic plates (4),

which separate the transformer zone from the switchboards zone; One of the objectives of the model that has been developed is to

the concrete walls of the enclosure (5); the prefabricated concrete provide the enclosure class of the substation obtained during

vents (6), the internal inﬂow (7) and outﬂow (8) windows and a temperature rise test [1,2]. Thus, in order to validate the model it

louver grilles in the substation with horizontal ventilation; and the is necessary to have the results of the temperature rise or heating

inﬂow (9) and outﬂow (10) horizontal (left image) or vertical (right test carried out in the two substations. But another objective of the

image) external ventilation grilles. model is to analyse the air circulation and the air temperature

Fig. 1. Conﬁguration of the two modelled transformer substations with their main components.

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 855

differ from the standard heating test have also been performed Grid independency analysis of the results for the simulation of test TS01-E02.

with the aim of better understanding the ﬂow and thermal Mass ﬂow Transformer Air temperature

boundary conditions to be imposed on the model and in order to rate [kg/s] power losses rise [ C]

validate it again. [W]

Table 1 shows the list of the experimental tests performed in Variable values f1 0.3184 12,356 36

f2 0.3152 12,283 36.6

both substations, varying the ventilation condition and the power

f3 0.3093 12,597 37.6

dissipated by the transformers. Test E00 corresponds to the heating Absolute differences a21 0.0032 73 0.6

test of the transformer outside the substation [1]. This test is a32 0.0059 314 1.0

necessary to calculate the enclosure class of the substation [2]. Apparent order p 4.843 20.879 11.072

In tests E01 and E05, all the ventilation grilles of the substations Extrapolated values fExt,21 0.3337 12,414 34.9

fExt,32 0.3279 12,208 35.9

were removed. In test TS01-E04, four of the six inﬂow windows Approximate relative EAprox,21 [%] 1.0 0.6 1.7

(7 in Fig. 1) and two of the four outﬂow windows of each trans- errors EAprox,32 [%] 1.9 2.6 2.7

former (8 in Fig. 1) were closed by means of expanded polystyrene Extrapolated relative EExt,21 [%] 4.6 0.5 3.2

plates. In test TS02-E08 the standard protruding louvered vents error

Grid convergence GCI21 [%] 6.0 1.5 3.8

consisting of eight louvers where replaced by shorter vents con-

index

taining only four louvers.

The measurement devices employed during the tests were: 34

T-type thermocouples with an accuracy of 1 K; 26 T-type ther- The most relevant results of the eight tests used to validate the

mocouples with an accuracy of 0.5 K; 15 K-type thermocouples numerical model are presented in Table 3.

with an accuracy of 1.5 K; 3 one-directional hot wire anemome-

ters with an accuracy of 0.015 m/s; 2 omni-directional hot wire 4. Mathematical model

anemometers with a reading accuracy of 3%; and an infrared

thermographic camera. The location of the thermocouples was the The natural convection of air inside the described transformer

following: 38 were on the external surface of one of the trans- substations can be studied by solving the governing differential

formers: lid, casing, ﬁns and base (Fig. 2a); 5 registered the air equations restricted to the boundary conditions inside the ﬂow

temperature over the lid and between the ﬁns of the transformer; 4 domain.

recorded the external ambient temperature; 6 were on the external

and internal surfaces of the walls of the enclosure (Fig. 2b); 2 4.1. Flow domain

measured the internal oil temperature at the upper part of the

transformers; and 20 were on the external surfaces of the LV and The computational ﬂow domain consists mainly of the air inside

MV switchboards. One omni-directional and one one-directional one half of the substation, delimited by the internal surfaces of the

anemometer both were placed inside the substation, over one of walls of the enclosure, the external surfaces of the inner compo-

the transformers (Fig. 2c), the other omni-directional and one one- nents (the transformer, the LV boards and the MV cubicles) and the

directional anemometer were placed at the outlet external grilles symmetry plane. Fig. 3 represents the ﬂow domain of substations

(Fig. 2d), and the remaining one-directional anemometer at the TS01 and TS02, with the external limits and the main components

inlet ventilation external grilles. identiﬁed. The ﬂow domain has been extended outside the venti-

The temperatures were recorded during the whole heating test lation grilles in order to include a small portion of the ambient air

with a sample frequency of 1, 3 or 5 min, depending on the case. where the corresponding boundary conditions of pressure and

The velocities were only recorded at the end of the heating test temperature are imposed.

with a sample frequency of 1 s. An infrared camera was used to The main simpliﬁcation adopted in deﬁning the ﬂow domain

photograph the temperature distributions on the external surfaces has been to consider only one half of the substation, assuming

of the walls of the enclosure when the steady state of the heating a geometrical symmetry with respect to a vertical plane that cuts

test was reached. The total power losses of the transformers and the the substation width wise. To implement this simpliﬁcation in the

LV boards were checked at intervals of 20 min. computational domain of both substations, the personnel access

The maximum uncertainties of the variables measured have metallic door and its ladder have been eliminated and the MV

been estimated based on a Student-t distribution with a conﬁdence boards have been centred. Moreover, in substation TS02, the posi-

interval of 95% [13], obtaining the following values: 4% in the tion of the inlet protruding vents (9 in Fig. 1) has been assumed to

power measurements; 0.8 K in the ambient temperature; 1.6 K be symmetric as well. These simpliﬁcations can be checked by

in the measurements of the rest of the temperature rises over the comparing Figs. 1 and 3. The external boundary conditions on the

ambient temperature and 0.15 m/s in the velocity measurements. walls of the enclosure have also been assumed to be symmetric, as

the results of the experimental tests have conﬁrmed.

A high quality hexahedral mesh was used in the discretization of

Table 1 both computational domains. The number of cells is of the order of

Main characteristics of the experimental tests.

31 106. The resolution of the mesh is higher in two zones of the

Test name Ventilation condition % of transformer domain where it is required in order to obtain more reliable results:

power losses in the zone surrounding the transformer (Fig. 4), especially

TS01-E00 Outside the substation 100 between the ﬁns (z7 106) and in the zones where the ventilation

TS01-E01 Without grilles 100

grilles are situated (z5 106 cells in the inlet and z7.7 106 in the

TS01-E02 Standard 100

TS01-E03 Standard 50 outlet concrete vents of substation TS01 and z4 106 cells in the

TS01-E04 Reduced 50 protruding vents of substation TS02). All this modularity and

TS02-E05 Without grilles 100 meshing quality is achieved through the use of a non-conformal

TS02-E06 Standard 100 grid type, splitting the meshed domain into different coupled

TS02-E07 Standard 50

TS02-E08 Reduced 50

zones. This meshing strategy is numerically possible due to the use

of a code developed explicitly for unstructured meshes [14].

856 J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863

To analyse the mesh quality, the values of the dimensionless where the substation’s ventilation grilles are removed) and the

distance of the centroid of the cells to the nearest wall, yþ, have RNG keε turbulence model for closed cavities (as in the case where

been checked for the ﬁrst cell of the walls of the transformer and the substation’s ventilation grilles are installed). The latter

the substation. Among the eight simulations, it has been obtained conclusion has been also pointed out in [11].

that the greatest average values are 1.85 and 2.48, for the trans- The radiation heat exchange has been calculated by means of

former and the substation walls, respectively. Moreover, in all the the Discrete Ordinates (DO) model [19]. Each octant of the angular

simulations, at least the 94% of the values of the yþ in the trans- space has been discretized into 9 solid angles, which determine 72

former walls are below 5 (recommended upper limit). For the directions where the radiation intensity is computed. We assumed

substation walls this percentage is 95% in all the simulations, except that the air does not participate in the radiation and that the

TS02-E05 and TS02-E06 where it is 89% and 87%, respectively. surfaces inside the domain are grey and diffuse.

These values permit to assure that the resolution of the mesh close

to the walls is ﬁne enough to characterize correctly the heat 4.3. Boundary conditions

transfer phenomena.

This section reports the ﬂow, turbulence and thermal boundary

4.2. Governing equations conditions that are needed for the air at the limits of the proposed

computational domains.

The equations that represent the air ﬂow and the heat transfer A non-slip condition is ascribed to ﬂuid velocity at all the solid

inside the substation are the steady Reynolds Average Naviere walls, and the shear stress is calculated considering smooth

Stokes (RANS) equations, (1) and (2), used to include the turbu- surfaces. The normal velocity component and the normal gradients

lence effects in the mean ﬂow variables, and the energy Eq. (3). of all the other variables are set to zero at the plane of symmetry.

On the inﬂow surfaces of the ﬂow domain the total pressure is set to

zero and the direction of the velocity is imposed normal to the

v

ðrui Þ ¼ 0 (1) surface. On the outﬂow surfaces the static pressure is set to zero.

vxi

Regarding the turbulence at the solid walls, in the simulations

" ! # using the RNG keε turbulence model, the normal gradient of the

v vp v vui vuj 2 turbulent kinetic energy, k, is set to zero and its rate of dissipation,

rui uj ¼ þ ðm þ mT Þ þ rkdij

vxj vxi vxj vxj vxi 3 ε, is calculated with an algebraic expression. In the simulations

using the ChangeHsieheChen turbulence model, the turbulent

gi ðr r0 Þ (2)

kinetic energy is set to zero and its rate of dissipation is calculated

" # as proportional to the second normal derivative of k. At the inﬂow

v v vT surfaces the turbulent variables are calculated from the imposition

rcp Tui ¼ ðl þ lT Þ (3) of a low level of turbulence by means of a turbulent intensity of 1%

vxi vxi vxi

and a turbulent viscosity ratio of 1.

The buoyancy term has been included in the right side of Eq. (2) The grating grilles of substation TS01 and the expanded metal

to take into account the movement provoked by density variations grilles presented in both substations are modelled as plane surfaces

of the air. The Ideal Gas equation is used to model the variation of where the air ﬂow suffers a head loss. The curve relating the head

the air density with the temperature. The rest of the air properties, loss with the normal velocity of the ﬂow has been obtained

like molecular viscosity, thermal conductivity and speciﬁc heat, are numerically for the grating grilles and from a experimental corre-

also temperature dependent. lation from the literature [20] for the expanded metal grilles. The

The same two-equation turbulence models tried in [11] have louvered grilles in the windows of TS01 and in the protruding vents

been assessed in the present case, because in the previous case all of TS02 are geometrically modelled in the computational domain

of them provided acceptable results in the modelling of a similar because they modify the trajectory of the air ﬂow.

natural convection problem. Although those turbulence models The external walls of the enclosure have been modelled as solids

have not been speciﬁcally developed to study natural convection with one-dimensional heat conduction and the thermal conduc-

due to the fact that they consider an isotropic relation between tivity of the concrete. In the outer side of these external walls mixed

temperature gradients and turbulent heat ﬂuxes in conjunction (convection and radiation) boundary conditions are imposed. The

with a constant turbulent Prandtl number that relates the turbulent heat transfer coefﬁcients have been obtained from empirical

eddy and thermal diffusivity, their adequateness for the modelling correlations for natural convection presented in the literature [21],

of turbulence in natural convection problems [15] has been veriﬁed. and the radiation exchanges are calculated between a grey diffuse

In summary, in the simulations corresponding to the tests surface (with the known values of the emissivities of the external

without ventilation grilles (TS01-E01 and TS02-E01 in Table 1), the surfaces) and a black body at the ambient temperature.

Low-Reynolds-number keε model by ChangeHsieheChen [16] re- The surface representing the protection plate has been modelled

ported in the results was closer to the experimental ones. In the rest as adiabatic. The surfaces of the MV cubicles are considered adia-

of the simulations, which correspond to the tests with ventilation batic, and a uniform heat ﬂux is imposed (384.4 W/m2) on the

grilles, a Two-Layer approach combining a RNG keε model [17] and surfaces of the LV boards.

the one-equation model by Wolfstein [18], which deals with On the surfaces of the transformer temperature distribution

turbulence modelling near the walls, has been adopted. maps extrapolated from the experimental measured temperatures

As our goal is not to analyse the inﬂuence of the modelling of have been imposed. In Fig. 5, the temperature distribution maps

turbulence in natural convection, the choice of the turbulence imposed on the transformer for the simulations of the temperature

models has been based on obtaining the better correlation between rise test TS01-E01 are shown.

the numerical results of the main mean ﬂow and thermal variables

provided by the mathematical model and the experimental results. 4.4. Discretization and resolution

Taking into account this premise, it can be said that the Change

HsieheChen turbulence model seems to be more appropriate for The Finite Volume Method (FVM) is applied to discretize the

problems of natural convection in open domains (as in the case differential equations of the mathematical model described above,

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 857

Table 3

Comparison between the experimental results and the model results for the simulations of the temperature rise tests.

Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif.

P [W] 12,620 12,407 213 12,356 12,407 51 6502 6204 298 6056 6204 148

T1 [ C] 16.1 16.1 e 15.9 15.9 - 14.6 14.6 e 14.6 14.6 e

T2 [ C] 46.0 48.0 2.0 51.9 53.9 2.0 37.7 39.0 1.3 49.8 49.1 0.7

T3 [ C] 46.1 40.0 6.1 50.1 41.7 8.4 36.3 30.4 5.9 39.2 16.9 22.3

T4 [ C] 39.5 37.9 1.6 55.9 46.3 9.6 35.0 33.3 1.7 46.5 47.3 0.8

T5 [ C] 43.5 43.0 0.5 49.4 50 0.6 37.2 36.0 1.2 44.0 44.9 0.9

T6 [ C] 26.8 26.0 0.8 30.0 27.6 2.5 23.5 22.2 1.3 29.7 25.4 4.3

T7 [ C] 30.8 33.4 2.6 35.3 37.8 2.5 26.5 27.5 1.0 35.3 33.0 2.3

Vinlet 0.423 0.299 0.124 0.359 0.385 0.026 0.291 0.376 0.085 0.138 0.248 0.110

[m/s]

Vinside 0.050 0.120 0.070 0.220 0.274 0.054 0.173 0.234 0.061 0.172 0.129 0.043

[m/s]

Voutlet 0.437 0.436 0.001 0.323 0.334 0.011 0.249 0.240 0.009 0.204 0.100 0.104

[m/s]

using a segregated implicit solver to solve the generated algebraic chosen taking into account the fact that it was not possible to

equation system. Equations are linearized and then sequentially increase the ﬁnest mesh due to hardware limitations and that the

solved using the GausseSeidel algorithm accelerated by an alge- coarse mesh cannot be reduced in order to assure that this grid

braic multigrid method [22]. The pressureevelocity coupling is level is inside the asymptotic range of convergence. The resulting

achieved through the use of the SIMPLE algorithm [23]. Diffusive reﬁnement factors are r21 ¼1.04 and r32 ¼ 1.08.

terms of the equations are discretized using a second-order centred Three results from the model’s simulation for the conditions of

scheme, and the convective terms are discretized using a second- the experimental test TS01-E02 have been selected in order to

order upwind scheme [14]. A body force weighted scheme [24] is evaluate the discretization error: the air mass ﬂow rate, the power

chosen in the discretization of pressure to deal with this buoyancy- dissipated by the transformer, and the air temperature rise over the

driven ﬂow. All this numerical procedure has been implemented in ambient temperature at a point situated over the transformer. The

the unstructured CFD code Fluent V.6.3 [25]. results of the evaluation are presented in Table 2. As can be seen,

The mathematical model has been solved in an HP Proliant the values of the GCI are acceptable for the three checked variables;

DL585 G6 server with 4 Opteron 8439 SE dual core processors and the maximum value is 6.0% for the air mass ﬂow rate. These results

with 128 GB of RAM memory. show that the assumed discretization error is low enough if the

ﬁnest mesh, N1, is chosen for the mathematical model.

4.5. Convergence criteria

5. Validation of the model

Three main convergence criteria have been applied to deter-

mine when the numerical procedure described in the previous

The mathematical model described in the previous section has

paragraph has converged to a solution. The ﬁrst criterion consists of

been validated by comparing the results obtained in the simula-

reaching stable values for the power dissipated by the transformer

tions under the conditions of the 8 heating tests mentioned in

and for the temperatures of both the internal surfaces of the walls

Section 3 with the experimental results.

of the enclosure and of the air at the outlet of the substation,

The comparison of some of the results is presented in Table 3.

meaning that a converged steady state has been reached. Variations

The correspondence between the symbols used in the table and the

of less than 1% for the power and of less than 0.3 C for the

measured variables is as follows: P represents the transformer

temperatures in 1000 iterations are required. The second criterion

power losses; T1 corresponds to the ambient temperature; T2

is the fulﬁlment of global continuity and energy balances: the

corresponds to a thermocouple measuring the air temperature over

equality between the air mass ﬂow rate at the inlet and at the outlet

the transformer; T3 is the air temperature in a location at the outlet

of the ﬂow domain, and the equality between the power dissipated

ventilation grilles; T4 and T5 correspond to two thermocouples sited

by the transformer and the power that leaves the domain through

between the central ﬁns of the long and short side, respectively, of

the walls of the enclosure and with the air ﬂow. Differences of less

the transformer; T6 and T7 are the temperatures measured from

than 0.1% for the former and 0.5% for the latter are required. The

two thermocouples located on the external and internal surfaces of

ﬁnal criterion is to check that the values for the scaled residuals of

the right wall of the enclosure of the transformer zone, looking to

the equations are below certain magnitudes: 103 for the mass,

the transformer from the protection plate; Vinlet is the average air

momentum and turbulent equations, and 106 for the energy

velocity measured by the hot wire anemometer sited at the inlet

equation and the DO radiation equation.

external ventilation grilles; Vinside is the average air velocity

measurement from the omni-directional anemometer located over

4.6. Grid independency the transformer inside the substation; and Voutlet is the average

speed measurement from the omni-directional anemometer at the

The grid independency of the mathematical model results has outlet grilles.

been checked by means of the so called Grid Convergence Index From the results in Table 3 it can be concluded that the valida-

(GCI), based on the Richardson Extrapolation method [26]. This tion of the model is acceptable. For the transformer power losses,

value is used to determine the discretization error by comparing the maximum difference between the model and the test occurs for

the results for three different meshes. The ﬁrst mesh (N1: 31, 107, the test TS02-E08 and is of 5.5%. For the air temperature over the

372 elements) is the ﬁnest, the second case (N2: 27, 675, 514) transformer, T2, in all cases the difference is less than 2 C, except

represents an intermediate grid level and the third case (N3: 21, for test E06. Taking into account that we are comparing tempera-

824, 429) is for the coarse mesh. These three meshes have been tures measured at a concrete point rather than average

858 J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863

Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif. Mod. Exp. Dif.

12,556 12,407 149 12,442 12,407 35 6477 6204 273 6547 6204 343

14.6 14.6 e 16.4 16.4 e 17.1 17.1 e 18.2 18.2 e

46.7 48.0 1.3 50.3 56.9 6.6 40.6 42.6 2.0 49.6 49.8 0.2

48.5 45.3 3.2 51.4 56.8 5.4 37.8 42.4 4.6 49.2 50.6 1.4

43.3 34.4 5.9 53.7 45.7 8.0 38.9 36.0 2.9 45.8 44.4 1.4

42.2 43.0 0.8 50.6 52.0 1.4 38.2 39.5 1.3 46.0 46.8 0.8

26.2 26.0 0.2 30.2 31.4 1.2 26.6 26.4 0.2 31.5 30.0 1.5

30.5 32.5 2.0 35.5 39.3 3.8 30.1 30.9 0.8 36.5 36.2 0.3

0.534 0.892 0.358 0.202 0.068 0.134 0.167 0.040 0.127 0.524 0.559 0.035

0.054 0.257 0.203 0.148 0.107 0.041 0.151 0.150 0.001 0.233 0.203 0.030

0.742 0.718 0.024 0.445 0.734 0.289 0.216 0.104 0.112 0.999 0.461 0.538

temperature of a zone, it can be considered a good result. For the 6. Analysis of the results and discussion

temperatures at the outlet ventilation grilles, T3, the results are not

so good. However, this is because in these outlet grilles there is The ﬁrst result to be analysed is the difference between the

a zone of reverse air ﬂow; the thermocouple is located at the model and the experiments regarding the temperature of the air at

boundary between the outﬂow and the backﬂow air. It is also the outﬂow ventilation grilles. It must be taken into account that

the case that the model is not predicting exactly the same area for the result corresponds to the point where the thermocouples were

the reverse ﬂow zone as the experimental tests. This will be located, not to an average temperature on all the surface of the

explained in detail in the next section. For the air temperatures outﬂow grilles.

between the ﬁns, T4 and T5, and for the wall temperatures, T6 and T7, Fig. 6 shows an infrared image of the outlet grating ventilation

the results are, in general, acceptable. grilles during the running of heating test TS01-E02. The white-

Regarding the average air velocities, the results of the model are yellow colours represent high temperatures and the purple-black

also acceptable. For the eight simulations, the results are in general colours low temperatures. The white dot shows the location of

better for the air velocities inside the substation and at the outlet the thermocouple measuring temperature T3 in Table 3. In this

grilles. However, these results must be considered in a qualitative picture it can be seen that there are zones of the grating grilles that

way because the velocity measurements showed a high ﬂuctuation have the purple colour, which means that there is no hot air leaving

(as it is reﬂected in the uncertainty value presented in Section 3). the substation through these zones, but instead external air at

Fig. 2. Location of some of the probes during the experimental tests: (a) photo of the thermocouples on the transformer surface; (b) diagram of the thermocouples on the

substation walls; (c) photo of one anemometer inside the substation; and (d) photo of two anemometers at the outﬂow grille.

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 859

Fig. 3. Boundaries and main components of the computational ﬂow domains of substations TS01 (left) and TS02 (right).

a lower temperature is entering back into the substation. (For The above explanation could be the reason for the not so good

interpretation of the references to colour, the reader is referred to correlation between the model and the experiments for T3: the

the web version of this article.) In other words, there is a reverse air zones of reverse ﬂow in the real grating grilles and in the modelled

ﬂow. grilles do not exactly coincide. Moreover, in reality the thermal

The same behaviour has been obtained from the simulation of plumes of the outﬂow air are not static structures; instead, they are

the mathematical model. Fig. 7 (left) represents the temperature changing with time, so the mean thermal plume predicted by the

contours at the surface of the ﬂow domain representing the model is not in exactly the same position as in the experimental test

outﬂow grating grilles for the simulation of test TS01-E02. Fig. 7 and the area of the zone of the grating grilles with reverse ﬂow is

(right) shows the z-component of the velocity vectors at the not always the same. In summary, the mathematical model is

same surface. In both ﬁgures the white dot represents the position predicting the reverse ﬂow in the outlet grating grilles in the same

where temperature T3 in Table 3 was measured. It can be seen in zone as in the experimental tests, though it does not have quite the

Fig. 7 (right) that there are zones on the outlet grating grille where same surface area, resulting in a difference in temperature T3. In

the z-component of the velocity vectors is negative; that is, the air test TS01e04, the difference is much more pronounced than in the

ﬂow is not going out of the substation but rather entering it. This is rest: the empirical temperature T3 is 16.9 C, just 2.5 C over the

conﬁrmed by the non-uniform temperature distribution of Fig. 7 ambient temperature, conﬁrming the existence of the reverse air

(left). In the zones on the grating grille where there is a reverse ﬂow.

ﬂow the temperature of the air is lower (green-blue colour), rep- Similar results have been obtained for substation TS02, the one

resenting a mixing temperature between the outﬂow and the with protruding louvered vents. In this case the reverse ﬂow

ambient air. It can be seen in Fig. 7 that the white dot representing appears in the lower louvers of the vent. For this substation the

the position of thermocouple T3 is in the zone where the air differences are smaller and in some tests they are negative,

velocity passes from positive (leaving the substation) to negative implying that the model is predicting that fewer louvers of the

values (entering the substation). (For interpretation of the refer- grille have reverse ﬂow.

ences to colour, the reader is referred to the web version of this Regarding the air temperatures inside the substation, T2, T4 and

article.) T5 in Table 3, the model appears to predict them acceptably. T2

860 J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863

Fig. 5. Contours of temperature [K] imposed on the transformer for the simulation of heating test TS01-E01.

corresponds to the temperature at a point over the transformer the bottom part of the substation for two reasons. First, fresh air has

where a thermocouple was sited and, as reported previously, the lower density and it weighs more than hot air. Second, the “engine”

differences with the experiments are less than 2 degrees for all the behind the air ﬂow is the heat dissipated by the transformer and so

tests, except test E06. T4 and T5 are the temperatures of the top air the air passes to the transformer zone through the free space below

between the central ﬁns of the long and the short side of the the protection plate that separates the MVeLV board zone from the

transformer, respectively. For T4 the differences between the model transformer zone. After passing between the ﬁns of the trans-

and the test are around 2 C in all the tests, except in cases E02, E05 former, the refrigeration air is redirected to the outﬂow windows

and E06. A possible explanation for this difference is that, as the ﬁns and from here enters the prefabricated concrete vent and leaves the

of the long side of the transformer are in front of the main venti- substation through the horizontal grating grilles. In this zone, the

lation air ﬂow, the model is predicting a hot thermal plume that reverse ﬂow mentioned previously can be observed once again.

does not exist in the real experimental tests. The reason why the It can be also observed that in the top part of the MVeLV board

hot thermal plume appears only in these three tests and not in the zone of the substation there is warm air at an intermediate

rest stays hidden. On the other hand, the differences in T5 are less temperature (about 35e37 C), which is not participating in the

than 1.5 C for all the tests. In this case, the ﬁns of the short side of ventilation of the substation (low velocities in Fig. 8 (right)). This air

the transformer are in front of the lateral walls of the substation, is heated by the power dissipated by the LV boards (1583 W).

a zone where the ventilation air ﬂow is not so important, and the In the transformer zone and above it, the air is at a temperature

model seems to give a better prediction. of around 50 C, and the plumes of hot air (z60 C) coming from

The simulations of the model can be used to analyse the air the ﬁns of the transformer and going to the outﬂow windows can

thermal and ﬂow patterns inside the substation. Figs. 8 and 9 be observed.

represent the temperature contours (left) and the velocity vectors In analysing the temperature and velocity ﬁelds shown in Fig. 9,

(right) for the simulations of tests TS01-E02 and TS02-E06, the same conclusions pointed out in the above paragraphs for

respectively. substation TS01 hold for substation TS02. The only difference in this

Analysing the temperature and velocity ﬁelds shown in Fig. 8 case is that there is an acceleration of the inlet fresh air because the

together, it can be said that the fresh air entering the substation inlet protruding vent is just over the MV cubicles and the inﬂow air

through the inﬂow grilles in the MVeLV board zone goes directly to collides with them, and most of the ﬂow tends to pass through the

small space between the MV boards and the walls of the enclosure.

Another interesting result that has been obtained with the

simulation of test TS01-E02 is that the two central windows of the

six windows presented in the inlet prefabricated concrete vent are

not contributing to the ventilation of the substation. This can be

seen in Fig. 10, where, with the same time of integration, only a few

pathlines released from the central window of the domain (in blue

colour) arrive at the outlet grating grille, meanwhile the most of the

pathlines from the other windows (in green, yellow and red

colours) exit the substation. The most of the pathlines from the

central window goes to the bottom part of the MVeLV board zone

of the substation, a region where the air velocities are low, being an

indication of its small contribution to the cooling of the substation.

Fig. 6. Thermographic image of the outlet grating grilles during the temperature rise To verify this result a simulation closing the central window of

test TS01-E02 and location of the thermocouple measuring temperature T3. the model was carried out. The air mass ﬂow rate circulating

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 861

Fig. 7. Contours of temperature in C (left) and z-component of the velocity vectors coloured by its magnitude in m/s (right) at the outlet grating grille for the simulation of the

heating test TS01-E02.

through the substation was diminished by 8% with respect to the losses by 50% (test E02 vs. test E03 and test E06 vs. test E07) gives

test TS01-E02. Taking into account that the reduction in the similar results in both substations: a reduction of 38.7% and 38.4%,

ventilation area by the closing of one window is 33%, it can be respectively in DToil and a reduction of 16.9% and 17.9%, respec-

concluded that the inﬂuence of the ventilation air ﬂowing through tively, in the air ﬂow rate.

the central windows is very limited. When comparing test TS01-E03 vs. test TS01-E04 and test TS02-

The most important results of the simulations of the model are E07 vs. test TS02-E08, although the reduction in ventilation is

those that cannot be experimentally determined but can be used in dissimilar for both substations, it is greater in TS01; the increase in

the development of a zonal model: the mass ﬂow rate of the air DToil is similar between the compared tests for both substations:

circulating through the substation and the heat transfer coefﬁcients 13.8% and 13.1%, respectively. However, the reduction in the air ﬂow

over the surfaces of the transformer and of the walls of the rate is greater for TS01: 42.9% versus 28.9% for TS02. This would be

enclosure. an indication that ventilation is better in substation TS01.

Table 4 shows the eight temperature rise tests carried out with In Table 4 and in the analysis of it presented in the previous

their ventilation conditions and transformer power losses, the paragraph, it has been demonstrated that the most inﬂuencing

experimentally measured transformer top-oil temperature rise parameters governing the quantity of air ﬂowing through the

over the ambient temperature, and the results of the air mass ﬂow substation are the ventilation grilles and the heat losses from the

rates in the simulations of the eight tests with the mathematical transformers. Hence, from the results presented a correlation

model. relating these three parameters can be deduced. The ventilation

Several interesting conclusions can be drawn from Table 4. First grilles are characterized by the discharge coefﬁcient, Cd,grilles, and

of all, the direct relationship between the reduction of the venti- the surface area, Agrilles, and the transformer losses only by the

lation or of the transformer power losses and the increment of the convection heat losses, qconv,transf, because the radiation heat losses

top-oil temperature rise and the reduction of the air mass ﬂowing do not directly inﬂuence the air ﬂow rate. The adjusted correlation

through the substation can be seen. For substation TS01, when the is shown in Eq. (4) and the numerical results with the adjusted

ventilation grilles are installed (test E02 versus test E01) there is correlation and the 10% error lines are shown in Fig. 11.

a relative increase in the oil temperature rise of 12.3% and a relative

reduction in the air mass ﬂow rate of 18.3%. Comparing the same 0:7001

tests for substation TS02 (test E05 versus test E06) the increase in _ air ¼ 0:0358$q0:297

m conv;transf $ Cd;grilles $Agrilles (4)

total

the oil temperature rise is 8.6% and the reduction in the air ﬂow rate

is 16.4%. Thus, it can be concluded that the grilles of substation TS02 Regarding the heat transfer coefﬁcients on the surfaces of the

handicap the ventilation to a lesser extent than the grilles of TS01. transformer and on the walls of the enclosure, for the lid and the

Once the grilles are installed, reducing the transformer power base of the transformer and for the walls of the enclosure empirical

Fig. 8. Contours of temperature in C (left) and velocity vectors coloured by velocity magnitude in m/s (right) at two perpendicular planes for the simulation of the heating test

TS01-E02.

862 J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863

Fig. 9. Contours of temperature in C (left) and velocity vectors coloured by velocity magnitude in m/s (right) at two perpendicular planes for the simulation of the heating test

TS02-E06.

correlations from the literature [21] for the average Nusselt number Table 4

have been ﬁtted with the results of the eight simulations of the Experimental oil temperature rise and numerical air mass ﬂow rates in the eight

tests.

temperature rise tests.

However, for the ﬁns of the transformer the variation of the heat Test name Ventilation condition Transformer power DToil [K] _ air ½kg=s

m

transfer coefﬁcients with the vertical direction is important and losses [%]

must be taken into account, as pointed out in [11]. For this reason, TS01-E01 Without grilles 100 65.2 0.3863

TS01-E02 Standard 100 73.2 0.3184

on the surface of the ﬁns of the transformer a new correlation for

TS01-E03 Standard 50 44.9 0.2623

the local Nusselt number in the vertical direction has been ﬁtted. TS01-E04 Reduced 50 51.1 0.1498

The correlation has been obtained as the average of the correlations TS02-E05 Without grilles 100 67.3 0.3646

ﬁtted for the numerical results of a vertical line in the centre of the TS02-E06 Standard 100 73.1 0.3047

surface of the four central ﬁns on each side of the transformer for TS02-E07 Standard 50 45.0 0.2501

TS02-E08 Reduced 50 50.9 0.1778

the eight experimental tests. That is, the ﬁnal ﬁtted correlation is

the average of thirty-two ﬁtted correlations. Eq. (5) shows the

average ﬁtted correlation and Fig. 12 shows the ﬁtted correlation

with the 30% error lines and the numerical results for one ﬁn for can be used to analyse and optimise the ventilation of underground

each of the eight temperature rise tests simulated. transformer substations by means of design improvements.

The results from the simulations of the developed mathematical

Nuz ¼ 1:3254$Ra0:1845 (5) model can be used to obtain parameters that are related to or that

z

inﬂuence ventilation, parameters that cannot be determined

The qualitative and quantitative results of the air ﬂow patterns experimentally. This information will prove to be instrumental in

and temperature distributions shown and discussed in this section developing a simpliﬁed zonal thermal model of the natural venti-

lation of underground transformer substations.

0.50

0.45

Air mass flow rate [kg/s]

0.40

0.35

0.30

0.25

0.20

0.15

0.10

0.05

0.00

2 3 4 5 6 7

0.7001 0.297

(C d,grilles ·A grilles ) ·(q conv )

Fig. 11. Numerical results of the air ﬂow rate (red dots); ﬁtted correlation (continuous

Fig. 10. Pathlines releasing from the inlet windows coloured by the particle number line) and 10% error lines (dashed lines). (For interpretation of the references to colour

for the simulation of the temperature rise test TS01-E02. in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

J.C. Ramos et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 51 (2013) 852e863 863

the CENIT (Consorcios Estratégicos Nacionales en Investigación

Técnica) program. The ﬁnancial support of Cátedra Fundación

50 Antonio Aranzábal e Universidad de Navarra is also gratefully

E01 Back Fins

acknowledged.

E02 Left Fins

References

Nuz

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IEC Standard, 1997.

E07 Back Fins

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[24] J.H. Ferziger, M. Peric, Computational Methods for Fluid Dynamics. pp.

Acknowledgements 157e217, third ed., Springer-Verlag, Germany, 2002.

[25] Fluent Inc, Fluent 6.3 User’s Guide, Cavendish Court, Lebanon, NH 03766,

2006.

This research has been carried out as part of the research project [26] P.J. Roache, Perspective: a method for uniform reporting of grid reﬁnement

called CRISALIDA, with the support of Grupo Ormazabal. CRISALIDA studies, ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering 116 (1994) 405e413.

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