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Dry-type transformers lead to increased safety at mines

DAVID CLAASSEN Dry-type transformers translate into increased safety and reduced environmental risk, as there are no chances of leakages or possible fires

OUTDOOR APPLICATION The company offers efficient and cost effective dry-type transformers within enclosures suited to outdoor applications

SPECIFIC DESIGN Dry-type transformer with enclosure designed specifically for installation in dry and dusty mining environment

3rd February 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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The global trend of mining companies continuously showing their strong commitment to evaluating their operating practices and working towards zero harm has led to an increased demand for the installation of dry-type transformers at underground and surface mining operations.

The safety imperative of the dry-type transformer technology is one of the key drivers, says dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions MD David Claassen, who adds that the dry-type transformers translate into increased safety and reduced environmental risk, as there are no chances of leakages or possible fires.

He explains that, because they use air as a medium of cooling, dry-type transformers are typically installed in indoor environments.

However, Trafo’s products are custom-designed and manufactured to site-specific conditions because the company leverages its experience in the mining industry, and takes into account that every mine is different and has its own set of challenges.

For outdoor applications, such as underground mining, the design of the enclosure is critical to withstand the common harsh conditions associated with high dust and moisture levels.

Despite the restrictive nature of enclosures, Trafo’s custom-design capability guarantees enough ventilation without compromising the necessary levels of ingress protection (IP) to keep dust and moisture at bay.

The IP rating is an international standard used to rate the degree of protection or sealing effectiveness in electrical enclosures against the intrusion of objects, water, dust or accidental contact.

This is critical for mining operations, explains Claassen, who comments that “mining applications have very high levels” of all of these.

“The anomaly with dry-type transformers is that you need a good airflow because that’s the only method of cooling it has. But at the same time, you need to keep air and water out, which means the design aspects kind of work against each other,” he tells Mining Weekly.

Through its strategic partnership with Italian manufacturer TMC Transformers, Trafo Power Solutions has access to a broad range of high-quality cast-resin transformers, from 50 kVA to 25 MVA, with system voltages up to 52 kV with Class F or Class H insulation systems.

These transformers are manufactured under stringent quality control conditions at TMC Transformers’ ISO-certified facility in Italy.

“The design principles around maximising cooling through air while keeping dust and water out as much as possible are really important and critical, and this is where Trafo and TMC Transformers reap the benefit of our experience when designing these types of enclosures to fit a specific footprint, while maintaining an IP rating that is suitable for various applications and environmental conditions,” he explains.

Trafo is one of few suppliers that can provide an IP65-rated dry-type transformer.

While IP21- to IP66-rated enclosures can be custom designed according to specific operating environments to provide protection against condensation, and dust and water ingress, enclosures can also be designed for seismic conditions and other shocks.

Additionally, the cost of installing dry-type transformers is significantly less than that of oil-cooled transformers, which also require more maintenance. Oil-cooled transformers require special bunding to contain any oil spills, and the installation of fire-detection and suppression systems.

Mines can also reduce their reliance on fossil fuels because dry-type transformers use air as the insulating and cooling medium instead of oil.

Trafo’s power solutions also include custom-designed and locally manufactured mini substations, as well as modular substations for underground and surface mining applications, including temperature protection, surge protection, cooling, ventilation and earth fault protection.

“With our in-house design capability, we are able to custom engineer solutions for challenging underground applications. We are able to tailor the dimensions, weight and other factors to match the space constraints presented when using vertical shafts or decline shafts to take the transformer underground,” explains Claassen.

Having a modular-type substation, which houses low-voltage switchgear, is also quicker to install and minimises time spent on site, adding to the operation’s productivity and bottom line.

Reputation Matters

Claassen further cautions companies or customers to deal with reputable suppliers who understand operating criteria.

“You want to be purchasing from a transformer manufacturer that has a solid and long-term record, and you want to make sure that they are aware and informed about the specific design, how to do the costings and how these change with the differences in applications.”

He, therefore, highlights the importance of references for the types of designs and transformers, and the relevant application.

“It’s really important that the transformer manufacturer understands what the application and environment is,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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