Thailand Develops Palm Transformer Oil


Thailand Develops Palm Transformer Oil
Dielectric breakdown testing is performed on transformer oil at a facility in Bangkok, Thailand. © kajeab_pongsiri/shutterstock

Thailand’s National Energy Technology Center is heading a consortium working to develop biobased transformer oils formulated with palm oil as part of the country’s efforts to find higher value applications for its palm oil beyond its use as edible oils or biodiesel.

According to a seminar presentation by the center, known as Entec, the research plan includes developing a prototoype biobased transformer fluid made from palm oil, and testing to ensure it passes ASTM and IEC standards. The first year of research includes testing for thermal aging, and then for thermal and electrical aging.

In the second year members would make a prototype of the biobased transformer oil, produce 300 liters per day and test product quality control. In the third year of research, a transformer will be filled with the prototype biobased fluid and transformer testing will aim to confirm it passes the necessary performance standards. Field aging will also take place.

According to Entec, the three main points in supporting the use of biobased transformer oil from palm oil include quality and efficiency, acceptance from Thailand’s power utility companies and the promotion of industrial product standards.

The biobased transformer oil needs to be standardized and should be equivalent to current transformer oil, the agency said, adding that it wants the oil to gain acceptance from each of the country’s main users of power transformers: the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand; the Metropolitan Electricity Authority; and the Provincial Electricity Authority.

According to Entec, most of the demand for biobased transformer oil in Thailand stems from a national project to change the aerial electrical power cable system to an underground power cable system. The Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority have issued specifications for transformers that must be filled with biobased transformer oils. These include submersible transformers for underground power distribution systems.

The consortium’s members include toll blender PSP Specialties, which is a leading manufacturer of transformer oil in Thailand and manufactures lubricants; and oleochemicals company Global Green Chemicals. Other consortium members include the three utility companies, transformer manufacturer Chardenchai Transformer Co. Ltd. and a project consultant.