In this chapter, a review of the Weibull probability distribution, probability ranking, and the Weibull graphical estimation technique is presented. A review of single-stress and multiple-stress life models of electrical insulation is also introduced. The chapter also describes the graphical, linear and multiple linear regression techniques used in estimating the parameters of the aging models. The application of maximum likelihood estimation technique for estimating the parameters of combined life models of electrical insulation is illustrated.
- life models
- Weibull probability
- maximum likelihood estimation
- least square estimation
A lifetime analysis of electrical insulation failure is an approach that relies on statistical analysis of data that are attributed to the breakdown of the electrical insulation due to the presence of degrading stresses, such as electrical, thermal and other environmental factors. The lifetime analysis can provide statistical information about the electrical insulation such as lifetime characteristics, probability of failures, lifetime percentiles or any time percentile under normal operating conditions. In this approach, the insulation life is determined by measuring the time-to-breakdown of identical specimens of the solid insulation subjected to life tests [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Obtaining life data under normal operating conditions is a very time consuming and costly process, rendering it impractical. Besides, it is important to observe modes of failure of the electrical insulation to better understand the prevailing mechanisms of breakdown. Consequently, electrical insulation design engineers and material scientists devised methods to force the insulation to fail in shorter periods of time. These methods seek to accelerate the failures of insulation samples by applying stresses at levels that exceed the levels that the insulation will encounter under normal operating service conditions. Acceleration is accomplished by testing the insulation (specimen or device) using single or combined high stress levels which could involve electrical, thermal or environmental stresses for either short periods (few seconds or minutes) or long periods (few hours or days) . The accelerated test data are then considered as a base for extrapolation to obtain an estimate of the lifetime of the insulation when the device or material is operated at normal operating conditions for relatively long time periods (decades) of years [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27].
Times-to-breakdown obtained by accelerated life (aging) tests are analyzed using an underlying lifetime probability distribution. The probability distribution can, correspondingly, be used to make predictions and estimates of lifetime measures of interest at the particular stress level. This is accomplished by projecting or mapping lifetime measures from high stress level to a service level. It can be assumed that there is some model (or function), which can be described mathematically, that maps the lifetime estimate from the high stress level to the service level, and can be as simple as possible (i.e. linear, exponential, etc.) [28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37]. The parameters of the lifetime models can be estimated by combining the proposed life models with the Weibull probability distribution function. Maximum likelihood estimation can be used to estimate the parameters of the combined Weibull-electrical-thermal models using experimental data obtained by measuring time-to-breakdown of the insulation.
2. Weibull probability distribution
The Weibull distribution has been widely recognized as the most common distribution in breakdown testing of solid dielectric insulation and in reliability studies [28, 29, 30, 31, 37, 38, 39, 40]. Its popularity is attributed to the many shapes it attains for various values of the shape parameter (
2.1. Specific characteristics of the Weibull probability distribution
An interpretation of the shape parameter indicates that if
2.2. Estimating the cumulative probability of failure data
The cumulative probability of failure
Mean rank approximationE2
Median rank approximation
Mode rank approximation
Sample cumulative distribution function (cdf) approximation
The choice of the rank approximation is generally immaterial except when the sample size is small. However, both the mean and median rank approximations are most widely used. In this work, the median rank approximation is used in estimating the probability of failure. Note that the median rank approximation is also known as Benard’s approximation.
2.3. Parameter estimation of Weibull distribution
The Weibull distribution parameters
2.4. Graphical technique
A graphical technique is the simplest method for estimating the Weibull parameters using probability plotting [29, 38]. The breakdown results at each individual stress level are plotted on a specially constructed probability plotting paper (Weibull Probability Paper) as shown in Figure 3. A probability plotting looks at the
Estimating the parameters of the Weibull distribution by a graphical technique using a probability plotting method has some shortfalls. A manual probability plotting is not always consistent in the results. Plotting a straight line through a set of points is a subjective procedure; it differs from person to person. In addition, the probability plot must be constructed for each stress level. This, as a result, takes tremendous time and effort to plot the data. Furthermore, sufficient failures must be observed at each stress level, which is not always possible.
2.5. Least squares technique (LS)
The least squares technique is a linear regression estimation technique that fits a straight line to a set of data points, in an attempt to estimate the parameters associated with the straight lines. The parameters are estimated such that the sum of the squares of the vertical deviations from the points to the line is minimized according to [1, 2, 3, 4]
where and are the LS estimates of
The least squares estimation technique is good for functions that can be linearized. Its calculations are easy and straightforward, and the correlation coefficient provides a good measure of the goodness-of-fit of the chosen distribution. However, for some complex distributions, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to implement.
2.6. Maximum likelihood estimation (MLE)
The maximum likelihood parameter estimation seeks to determine the parameters that maximize the probability (likelihood) of the failure data. Statistically, the MLE is considered to be more robust and yields estimators with good statistical properties. The MLE has the following statistical properties:
The ML estimators are consistent and asymptotically efficient.
The probability distribution of the estimators is asymptotically normal.
For small sample sizes, the ML estimators are considered to be more precise than those obtained by LS method. Moreover, the ML estimators can converge into a solution even with only one failure.
The MLE technique applies to most models and to different types of data.
The ML estimates are unique, and as the size of the sample increases, the estimates statistically approach the true values of the population.
The theory of the MLE method is described as follows: Let
The logarithmic likelihood function is given by
The parameter estimates are obtained by maximizing
The resulting equations give the best estimates and .
Although the methodology for the MLE is simple, the implementation is mathematically intense. The present high-speed computers, however, have made the obstacles of the mathematical complexity of the MLE an easy process. A specialized statistical commercial package Weibull++ is used throughout this work to find the ML estimates of the Weibull distribution parameters .
2.7. Failure time percentiles
Once the Weibull distribution parameters are obtained, the failure time percentiles,
3. Life models
There are two approaches for studying the electrical breakdown and estimating the insulation lifetimes (under normal operating conditions) of polymeric insulating materials. One approach is based on phenomenological studies which require a complete understanding of the breakdown mechanism. This approach requires physical and/or chemical tests to be performed on the insulating material that may yield to the development of mathematical models functional with the lifetime. An example of this is relating the lifetime of the insulation to the length of trees formed in the insulation bulk as a result of treeing mechanism . The other widely known approach relies on a statistical analysis of failures that are attributed to the breakdown of the electrical insulation due to the presence of degrading stresses, such as electrical, thermal, and other environmental factors [6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36]. In this approach, the insulation life is determined by measuring the time-to-breakdown of identical specimens of the solid insulation subject to life tests. Life tests, however, show that the times-to-breakdown are widely variable. This variation is best modeled by the Weibull probability distribution.
Conducting life tests at realistic working stresses is not possible due to the time constraint, given that most electrical insulation is expected to serve for several decades. Instead, breakdown data are obtained, without paying much attention to the details of the breakdown mechanism, by conducting accelerated life (aging) tests in laboratory experiments so that the insulation life is severely reduced [41, 42]. The main goal of life tests is to establish mathematical models for the aging process and the stresses causing it [32, 33, 34, 35, 36]. The constants of these models need to be estimated from life tests where the lifetimes at a variety of stress levels are measured. Once the constants are estimated, the life at any particular stress including normal operating conditions can, in principle, be estimated.
3.1. Single-stress life models
3.1.1. Life models for electrical stresses
An electrical stress is considered as one of the main factors causing deterioration of electrical insulation. There are two empirical models that relate the test of an electrical stress to the time-to-breakdown. One is the inverse power law model, and the second is the exponential law model. The parameters of both models are obtained from experimental data taken at several different high voltage levels with other conditions unchanged. The electrical life models mathematically describe the aging in a solid dielectric insulation that experiences an electric stress . The life models do not characterize the exact type of aging mechanism that takes place. The life models are totally empirical and have no physical meaning other than defining the degradation rate as power or exponential. However, the models have proven to fit reasonably well with experimental data.
184.108.40.206. Inverse power law
The inverse power law (IPL) model is one of the most frequently used in the aging studies under an electrical stress. The inverse power law model is given by:
220.127.116.11. Exponential law
The exponential law is also commonly used for lifetime calculations. The exponential model is given by:
3.1.2. Life model for a thermal stress
The life of electrical insulation is seriously affected by a thermal stress. This effect can only be recognized by a thermal life test. The life of electrical insulation under a thermal stress is empirically expressed by the well-known Arrhenius equation. This equation describes the thermal aging of materials and shows the dependency of the chemical reaction rate as a function of the temperature. The Arrhenius equation is given by :
3.2. Multi-stress life models
Multi-stress Life models were developed to predict the life of the insulation under combined electrical and thermal stresses. In general these models are limited to the common electrical and thermal aging stresses acting simultaneously . Mainly, some models have empirical nature such Simoni’s, Ramu’s, and Fallou’s [11, 12, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36]. These models account for the interactions of electrical and thermal stresses by using a multiplicative law, in which the life under a combined stress is related to the product of the single-stress lives. One possible formula for this interaction can be manifested as the multiplication of the IPL model and Arrhenius relationship, which is given by:
which is considered to be the basis for both Simoni’s and Ramu’s electrical-thermal life models. Alternatively, the electrical exponential model is associated with the Arrhenius relationship. This can be expressed as:
which constitutes the Fallou’s electrical-thermal life model.
Another probabilistic life model based on IPL was presented by Montanari et al. . A brief overview of the above mentioned electrical-thermal life models of Simoni, Ramu, Fallou, and the probabilistic model by Montanari will be presented. The above models were developed for a relatively simple dielectric system involving polymer films or slabs. A variety of multi-stress life tests have been also developed for more complex insulation systems, for example, cables and rotating machines stator windings [16, 17]. However, lifetime models as a function of two or more stresses are rarely derived due to excessive cost and time needed for collecting the failure data.
Regarding the frequency as an aging factor little research has been published in developing combined electrical-thermal-frequency life models. In some works, high frequency sinusoidal voltage was applied [41, 42]. The results of these works show that the frequency as an aging factor that causes insulation deterioration. The effect of the frequency is modeled by relating the variation of the parameters of the life model to the frequency .
3.2.1. Simoni’s model
According to the Simoni’s model, the insulation life, in relative terms with respect to a reference life determined by the absence of an electrical stress and at low temperature, is given by:
3.2.2. Ramu’s model
The Ramu’s model is obtained from a multiplication of classical single-stress laws, and is given by:
where , ,
3.2.3. Fallou’s model
Fallou proposed a semi-empirical life model based on the exponential model for electrical aging:
3.2.4. Montanari’s probabilistic model
The probabilistic life model of combined electrical and thermal stresses by Montanari
3.3. Estimating life model constants
Eqs. (21) to (23) describe several mathematical models which relate insulation life to a single aging stress, either voltage or temperature. Likewise, Eqs. (24) to (29) describe the electrical-thermal life models. In each model of the above life models, there are several parameters that are needed to be estimated from life testing data. The parameters are estimated from life tests where the lifetimes at a variety of stress levels are measured. Once the parameters are estimated, the life at any particular stress can, in principle, be estimated. This enables a method of estimating the life at normal stress based on failure data collected from accelerated life tests. Traditionally, the parameters of life models are calculated either graphically or analytically using graphical or regression analysis type methods.
3.3.1. Graphical method
The graphical method for estimating the parameters of a life model involves generating two types of plots. First, the time-to-breakdown at each individual stress level is plotted on a probability paper appropriate to the assumed life distribution (i.e. Weibull, Lognormal). The parameters at each stress level are then estimated from the plot. Once the parameters of the life distribution have been estimated at each stress level using probability plotting methods, a second plot is created in which a characteristic lifetime is plotted versus stress on a paper that linearizes the assumed lifetime-stress relationship. For example, a log-log paper linearizes the inverse power law, a semi-log paper linearizes the exponential model, and a log-reciprocal linearizes the Arrhenius relationship. The lifetime characteristic can be any percentile, such as 10% lifetime, the scale parameter, the mean lifetime, etc. The parameters of the lifetime-stress relationship are then estimated from the second plot by solving for the slope and the intercept of the line .
In spite of the fact that the graphical method is simple and straightforward, the method suffers from some shortfalls such as:
It is quite time consuming.
The graphical method may fail in linearizing the lifetime-stress relationship when the data are plotted on the special paper.
In accelerated life tests with small data, the separation and individual plotting of the data to obtain the parameters increase the underlying error.
The estimated parameters, that are assumed constant, are likely to vary when the test is repeated. Confidence intervals on the estimated parameters cannot be established using the graphical methods.
3.3.2. Regression analysis
Calculating the parameters of a life model using regression analysis is relatively straightforward. For most single-stress models, simple linear regression (SLR) is used to estimate the parameters. Similarly, multiple linear regression (MLR) is used for multi-stress models and complicated single-stress models. On the other hand, nonlinear regression methods are employed in cases where life models contain thresholds below certain values where aging does not occur. These nonlinear models are much more difficult to analyze . Therefore, non-statisticians do not usually use nonlinear regression. For this reason, most life models assume that the threshold is close to zero, permitting the use of conventional regression analysis. The MLR method first requires the life model to be linearized into a form such as:
The least squares function is:
The solution to the
by setting . Accordingly,
Eq. (38) is the least squares normal equations in matrix form, which is identical to the scalar form of the normal equations given in Eq. (35). The least squares estimators is obtained by multiplying both sides of Eq. (38) by the inverse of .
In practice, MLR calculations are always performed using a computer. Many statistical analysis computer packages can quickly and accurately perform the necessary calculations. The more sophisticated commercial packages will also provide a plot of the stress versus lifetime .
If the times-to-breakdown are presented with a Weibull distribution, then the conventional linear regression is theoretically not applicable . Only recently commercial computer programs have become available which enable linear regression with Weibull-life data [46, 48]. The calculation method is complicated, but depends on the use of information matrix using a large sample size normal approximation . The regression analysis approach has only been standardized to estimate the parameters of the thermal life model. No other life models have been standardized to data.
Alternatively, another analytical approach will be used in this work to estimate the parameters of the proposed multi-stress life models using the life distribution-life-stress combined model. The MLE will be used for estimating the model parameters. An Accelerated Life Testing Analysis (
4. Combined Weibull-life model
Three methods for estimating the parameters of accelerated life test models were presented in chapters two and three. First, the graphical method was illustrated using a probability plotting method for obtaining the parameters of the life distribution. The parameters of the life model were then estimated graphically by linearizing the model on a separate lifetime versus stress plot. However, not all life models can be linearized. Hence, instead of estimating the parameters of the life distribution and the life model graphically, an analytical technique based on least squares was presented. However, the accuracy of the graphical method and LS estimation is affected by the probability rank approximation. Furthermore, estimating the parameters of each individual distribution leads to accumulation of uncertainties, depending on the number of failures at each stress level. In addition, the slope (shape) parameters of each individual distribution are rarely equal (common). Using the graphical method or the LS technique, one must estimate a common shape parameter (usually the average) and repeat the analysis. By doing so, further uncertainties are introduced on the estimates, and these are uncertainties that cannot be qualified .
On the other hand, combining the life distribution and the life model relationships in one statistical model that describes both can be accomplished by including the life model into the
The goal of the ML parameter estimation is to determine the parameters that maximize the probability (likelihood) of the life data. Statistically, the method of the ML is considered to be more robust and yields estimators with good statistical properties (unbiasedness, sufficiency, consistency, and efficiency). Due to its nature, the ML is a powerful tool in estimating the parameters of life models. In addition, the ML provides an efficient method for quantifying uncertainty through confidence intervals.
4.1. Maximum likelihood estimation of combined Weibull-life model
For life data analysis, the two-parameter Weibull distribution
4.2. Weibull-inverse power law electrical life model
The combined Weibull-IPL model can be derived by setting , yielding the following Weibull
4.2.1. Parameter estimation of Weibull-IPL model using MLE method
Substituting the IPL electrical life model into the Weibull-Log-Likelihood function yields (Λ) yields:
The ML estimates of the parameters can be found by solving for such that .
4.3. Electrical-thermal life model
In this dissertation, a new electrical-thermal relationship has been proposed for predicting the lifetime of magnet wire insulation at service conditions when the voltage and temperature are the accelerated stresses in a test. This new combined model is given by:
The proposed lifetime relationship can be linearized by finding the natural logarithm of both sides of Eq. (46). A family of linear curves can be obtained by plotting the lifetime versus either of the stresses,
Considering that the lifetime is a random variable, the above model can be converted to a probabilistic model by setting the scale parameter α of the Weibull distribution equals to
4.3.1. Parameter estimation of Weibull-electrical-thermal life model using MLE
The combined Weibull-electrical-thermal model has four parameters to be estimated using the joint voltage-temperature life data. Using the MLE method, the log-likelihood function of the combined Weibull-electrical-thermal
The parameter estimates can be found by solving:
4.4. Failure lifetime percentiles
Once the combined Weibull-Lifetime model parameters are estimated, the failure time percentiles, or the time-to-breakdown,
where , , and are the ML estimates of , , and of the combined Weibull-IPL model. Likewise, for the Weibull-Electrical-Thermal model, the lifetime percentile can be obtained by substituting Eq. (46) into Eq. (20). Thus yields,
where , , , and are the ML estimates of , , , and of the combined Weibull-Electrical-Thermal model.
|ALTA||accelerated life testing analysis|
|α||Weibull scale parameter|
|β||Weibull shape parameter|
|cdf||cumulative distribution function|
|IPL||inverse power law|
|MLE||maximum likelihood estimation|
|MLR||multiple linear regression|
|probability density function|
|SLR||simple linear regression|