Current transformers (CTs) are essential devices in power systems that measure and monitor electric current. They are used in a variety of applications, including metering, protection, and control. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about CTs, including their working principle, construction, types, applications, and errors.
Current Transformer (CT)
A current transformer is an electrical device that is used for the measurement of electric current and power of transmission and distribution lines. CTs are mostly used on grid stations, small powerhouses, and substations for the measurement of power and current. A current transformer is also called a Series Transformer because it is connected in series connection with any circuit for the purpose of measuring various parameters of electric power. The primary winding of the current transformer is connected in series with the main line which carries the main current. The secondary winding is stepped down many times as compared to the primary current of CT. The secondary winding is connected across the ammeter for the measurement of current or with the wattmeter for the measurement of power in the circuit or in line. The circuit diagrams of the applications of the Current Transformer (CT) are shown in the figure below:
Types of Current Transformer (CT)
Indoor Type Current Transformers (CT)
Indoor-type current transformers are mounted on control panels and control tables. There are two types wound-type CTs and bar-type CTs.
Wound-type indoor current transformers have few turns on their primary winding. The primary conductor is bolted and the secondary winding of the current transformer consists of a large number of turns. More than one turn is used to attain exciting current and high accuracy. The ratings of this transformer are 800 Amperes.
Bar-type current transformers consist of a single bar as a primary winding. This bar is connected in series with the circuit conductor. These CTs include the laminated core and a secondary winding. These CTs are named single turn primary type current transformers. The figure shows the cross-section of bar type current transformer as follows:
Clamp-on Type CT / Portable Type CT
It is possible to measure the electric current in a current conductor without breaking the current circuit. The core of the current transformer with the secondary winding is clamped around the main conductor which acts as the primary winding of the current transformer.
Bushing Type Current Transformer
Bushing-type current transformers are similar to bar-type current transformers. The core and secondary winding are mounted on the single primary conductor. It consists of a circular core that carries the secondary winding wound on it. This secondary winding forms a unit. The primary winding is the single conductor between the bushings.
Theory of Current Transformer (CT)
The equivalent circuit and the phasor diagram of the current transformer are shown in the figure below during its operation:
VP = Primary Supply Voltage
EP = Primary Winding Induced Voltage
VS = Secondary Terminal Voltage
ES = Secondary Winding Induced Voltage
IP = Primary Current
IS = Secondary Current
I0 = No-Load Current
IC = Core Loss Component of Current
IM = Magnetizing Component of Current
rP = Resistance of Primary Winding
xP = Reactance of Primary Winding
rS = Resistance of Secondary Winding
xS = Reactance of Secondary Winding
RC = Imaginary Resistance Representing Core Losses
XM = Magnetizing Reactance
Re = Resistance of External load including resistance of meters, current coils, etc.
xE = Reactance of External load including reactance of meters, current coils, etc.
NP = Primary Winding Number of Turns
NS = Secondary Winding Number of Turns
N = Turns Ratio = NS / NP
Φ = Working Flux of the CT
Θ = Phase angle of the CT
δ = Phase angle between secondary winding induced voltage and secondary winding current
β = Phase angle of Secondary Load circuit
α = Phase angle between no-load current I0 and flux φ
The magnetizing component of the current is in phase with the flux and the flux is along the positive x-axis. The core loss component leads by the magnetizing component by 90o. The sum of the core loss component and magnetizing component produces the no-load current which is the phase angle of flux.
The induced voltage of secondary winding is 180o out of phase with the primary winding induced voltage. The secondary lags with the secondary winding induced voltage with the δ angle. The secondary output voltage is obtained by subtracting the secondary winding resistive and reactive voltage drops Is rs and Is Xs from the secondary induced voltage Es.
The phase angle difference between the primary current and the secondary current is β. It is the phase angle of the load. The secondary current goes back to the primary side then the shifted phasor is represented by 180o and it is indicated by nIs. The phase angle difference between the primary current and the secondary back current is called the phase angle of the CT.
Construction of Current Transformers (CT)
The construction of the current transformer consists of many features according to its design. The design features are described below:
Number of Primary ampere-turns
The numbers of the primary ampere-turns are in the range of 5000 to 10000. The number of primary ampere-turns is determined by the primary current.
To attain the low magnetizing ampere-turns. The core material should have low reluctance and low iron losses. Core materials such as an alloy of iron and nickel-containing copper have properties of high permeability, low loss, and low retentivity is used in current transformers.
Primary and secondary windings of the current transformer are placed close to each other to reduce leakage reactance. The SWG wires are used for secondary windings and copper strips are used for primary winding. The windings are designed for proper robustness and tight bracing without any damage.
The windings of the current transformer are insulated with tape and varnish. Higher voltage
applications require oil-immersed insulation arrangements for the windings.
Causes of Errors in Current Transformer (CT)
The following are the errors caused by the current transformer:
- The primary winding of the current transformer needs magnetite motive force (MMF) to produce flux and this force draws a magnetizing current.
- The no-load current of the current transformer has a part of the core loss component and it causes eddy current losses and hysteresis losses.
- When the core of a current transformer is saturated then the flux density finishes the linear function of the magnetizing force and other losses are occurred.
- Primary and secondary flux linkages vary due to leakages of flux.
Reducing Errors in Current Transformers (CT)
Usually, magnetizing current components causes major errors and losses in current transformers. So, the following methods/schemes are used to reduce the value of the magnetizing component as small as possible:
Low Flux Density
The magnetizing component of current is reduced by using low values of flux density. Low flux density is attained by using a large cross-section of the core. That is why current transformers are designed with low flux densities as compared to power transformers.
High Permeability Core Material
The magnetizing component may be reduced by using high-permeability core materials such as Permalloy, Hipernik has high permeability at low flux densities. These materials are frequently used for the manufacturing of Current transformers.
Modifications of Turns Ratio
The current transformers are improved by improving the accurate number of turns instead of using the higher turns. This change in turns is made on the secondary side of current transformers because the primary turns are so less and if these are reduced then it results in a wide variation in the turn ratio.
The wound core construction is used for the current transformer to improve the magnetization characteristics. This type of construction is used in distribution transformers. The silicon steel is used as core material and is used to carry flux in it. This construction is used in current transformers to reduce the ratio and phase angle errors.
Uses / Applications of Current Transformer (CT)
Current transformers are usually used as a measurement of electric current, electric power in grid stations, powerhouses, industrial powerhouses, and industrial control rooms for metering and analyzing of the circuit current and for protection purposes, etc.