Amorphous Transformers Fit Green Environmental Initiatives

April 2, 2012
Canadian distribution power companies are turning greener from coast to coast with amorphous pole-mounted distribution transformers from ABB in Quebec.

The introduction of high-efficiency amorphous transformers to Canadian distribution companies has been a great success for ABB in Quebec. Some utilities in Canada are using amorphous metal distribution transformers (AMDT) in up to 100% of their volume. Orders for AMDT accounted for nearly 25% of Quebec City's orders in 2011.

"In areas where the cost of the no-load losses exceeds U.S. $5.20/W it would be advantageous to use amorphous alloys," said Hydro Quebec, the largest electricity generator in Canada, in a published paper.

AMDT is a new option for ABB customers who are looking to increase energy savings, lower their operating costs and reduce environmental impact. The product coincides with green initiatives that many countries are workings towards.  

Conventional silicon steel core transformers will become a thing of the past due to AMDT's abilitiy to reduce transformer no-load losses by up to 70%. Unlike silicon steel, which contains crystalline structure, all atoms in an amorphous metal are arranged randomly, causing less friction than silicon steel when the magnetic field is applied to amorphous metal.  This results in a reduction of hysteresis loss, causing amorphous metal transformers to have significantly lower no-load losses than silicon steel core transformers.

Another difference amorphous metal transformers has to silicon steel core transformers is a lower eddy current loss, which is due to the very thin nature of the amorphous laminations. Together, reduced hysteresis and eddy current losses creates the end result of energy efficient transformer that can lower core losses by 60-70%.