The relationship between insulation aging and generator lifespan using fiber optic sensors (FOSs) is explored to ultimately improve asset lifespan through smart choices in running conditions and maintenance. Insulation aging is a major factor that causes generator failure. FOS provides the rare opportunity of being installed up close to the insulation, monitoring degradations that are otherwise difficult to detect. FOSs, unlike purely electrical transducers, are immune to high voltage (HV) and strong electromagnetic (EM) fields. They are small and have a proven long life by their deployment in the Telecom industry. The proposed FOS is a Fabry-Perot cavity made up of two identical fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) using light wave interference as the working principle. Such architecture delivers simultaneous vibration (10 Hz–1 kHz) and temperature (0.1°C resolution) monitoring, both helping to spot irregular vibration patterns (signatures) and hot-spots inside the generator stator slots. The signal processing unit equipped with a gateway device can help to connect the large volume of sensor data, allowing correlation with the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system data of the plant. This chapter also elaborates on the field test jointly conducted with Calpine Corporation and Oz Optics, Ltd. (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada).
Part of the book: Simulation and Modelling of Electrical Insulation Weaknesses in Electrical Equipment