HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Sherlock Ohms

Case of the Oil Fire Damper

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Oldest First|Newest First|Threaded View
Page 1/4  >  >>
Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Good idea waiting to happen
Rob Spiegel   3/21/2012 1:49:05 PM
NO RATINGS
Here's a case of a good idea that is waiting to happen. Let's hope that someone puts this to good use.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Good idea waiting to happen
Ivan Kirkpatrick   3/21/2012 3:52:19 PM
NO RATINGS
I would like to know a bit more about the tranformer failure modes and then design safety features around the most common issues.  Removing the fuel from the fire and keeping it away and safely held after an incident is a good idea.

My guess is that the incidence of this kind of failure are low enough that the insurance companies are willing to put up with it.

Recall that in the early part of the last century steam boilers were routinely used for heating apartment buildings.  teh insurance companies eventually enforced the adoption of what would become ASME standards for boiler inspections and safety operations. 

The same thing applies to the blowout preventers on oil drilling rigs like the one that failed on the BP rig in the gulf.  the oil companies should have to obtain unsubsidized insurance on their operations and be held liable for uncapped (by the Feds) liabilities if they screw up.  the blowout preventer manufacturers should have good designs, well tested and thorough inspection standards to insure their systems perform adequately.

Insurance costs can be a pretty effective way to force environmental responsibility. 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Good idea waiting to happen
Charles Murray   3/21/2012 9:16:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Gee, the idea of an underground tank connected to the drain on the transformer seems  obvious. Could there must be some good reason why it hasn't been done?

Pete Ostapchuk
User Rank
Iron
Re: Good idea waiting to happen
Pete Ostapchuk   3/21/2012 10:57:02 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi Charlie,

    I don't know enough about the electric industry to say that it has not been done or proposed. If it has not been done, it might just be one of those things like surfing the internet while walking the dog. We never realized we just had to  have the capability. 

    Even the pole transformers that feed your house have oil in them but it's not a big deal when one of them catches on fire. As the size increases, the scope of the issue goes from a nusance to a catostrophe. 

    If it hasn't been done, it could be an economic issue. How much would such an installation cost? How much would the property tax on such an installation cost each year? How often do the really big transformers catch on fire? Would there be any savings on insurance?

    Maybe someone with the answers will respond.   Pete O.  

PCC
User Rank
Iron
Re: Good idea waiting to happen
PCC   3/22/2012 10:20:16 AM
NO RATINGS
A quick scan on the web revealed this web site - http://www.transproco.com/how-tpc-works.htm

Looks like some people have already thought about this...

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Transformers and airplanes
bob from maine   3/22/2012 11:39:48 AM
NO RATINGS
The oil in these transformers is there as an insulator and coolant. The incidence of these transformers exploding is very small, and I'd guess the possibility of something opening the drain and emptying the oil by mistake is greater than the possibility of an internal short-circuit igniting the oil. As a firefighter, our protocols for high-voltage electrical fires is quite clear; protect your exposures, evacuate as necessary, enjoy the show. As far as aircraft dumping fuel; most aircraft taking-off with a sufficient load of fuel for the trip and reserve are too heavy to land without overstressing landing gear and other parts of the aircraft. When fuel is dumped, the aircraft are typically advised to either move to a loiteriing area and begin dumping, or dump as they travel to the nearest airport. The fuel becomes a mist which is quite diffuse and is considered non-hazardous. As opposed to keeping it in the aircraft and converting the entire load to heat immediately after landing.

Pete Ostapchuk
User Rank
Iron
Re: Transformers and airplanes
Pete Ostapchuk   3/22/2012 12:17:29 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks Bob and PCC,

    I would not be too concerned about the oil being dumped accidently. These monster transformers do or should have their vital signs monitored at all times. We're not talking about a $5,000 pickup truck running low on oil. 

    I looked at the oil evacuation system in the supplied link. Two problems that I saw were the secondary tank in close proximity to the transformer and the theory of operation requiring the integrity of the transformer case to not be compromised so the transformer can be pressurized. At least someone has given it some thought.  Pete O.

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Transformers and airplanes
kenish   3/22/2012 12:56:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Adding to Bob's aircraft comment- Long range aircraft carry about 1/3 of their takeoff weight in fuel (e.g. 300,000 pounds of fuel on a 747 with 900,000 pound max gross takeoff weight).  The max landing weight is lower, so fuel is dumped if a problem happens on or after takeoff.  If the emergency requires an immediate landing, an overweight landing inspection is performed.

Shorter range aircraft such as 737 and A320 can land with max fuel and don't have a fuel jettison system.  If a situation requries minimium fuel it has to be burned off.  Usually by circling around for a few hours at low altitude where jets are inefficient.

Ken E.
User Rank
Gold
Are transformer fires common?
Ken E.   3/22/2012 3:33:23 PM
NO RATINGS
We recently had an oil filled pad mounted transformer 'explode'.  At least the earth moved for me in my office, about half a block away.  Although the transformer case was severly deformed from the internal pressure, there was neither fire, nor appreciable leakage.  These are typically out in the open, no longer contain dangerous pollutants, and fairly rarely ignite. I can imagine that it would not be cost effective to add all these components being discussed, or the utilities would be all over it.

Now if it's and underground transformer, downtown...

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Good idea waiting to happen
Rob Spiegel   3/22/2012 6:52:06 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree, Chuck. It is surprising this safety featue has not be imagined earlier. While it would involve costs, the costs would be nothing compared to the value of ending a fire quickly.

Page 1/4  >  >>
Partner Zone
More Blogs from Sherlock Ohms
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Design News Webinar Series
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 20 - 24, How to Design & Build an Embedded Web Server: An Embedded TCP/IP Tutorial
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Stratasys
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Gates Corporation
Next Class: 11/11-11/13 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service