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Transformer power where it’s needed

Trafotek specialises in the design and manufacture of inductive components, such as power transformers and reactors. The company’s customers include shipbuilders and power electronics manufacturers worldwide.

Electricity is the lifeblood of modern society and much of modern technology as well, and it is also the resource that Trafotek’s solutions address, in industry and at sea. A growthdriven company, Trafotek is one of the world’s leading producers of inductive components, such as transformers, reactors, and filters – all of which help reduce electricity usage and improve the quality of supply.

The scale and speed of the changes affecting many aspects of the energy sector today and what we expect of electricity usage are opening up new opportunities for Trafotek’s technology, and adding a more global dimension to the sector as well.

Tailored solutions

Trafotek manufacturers dry-type transformers in the 1 kVA to 8 MVA range with natural air cooling, and up to 12 MVA with forced air cooling, supplied with a maximum high-voltage winding of up to 12 kV. Transformers can have two, three, or more windings and can be also be fitted with high-voltage secondary windings.

Reactors are mainly rated for applications requiring less than 6,300 A, but higher currents can be handled – and are mainly used in frequency converters, DC drives, UPS applications, and filters.

Trafotek’s solutions for industry and shipping lead the field. The company is the number one in inductive components for frequency converters at selected ratings, for example, and one of the most well-known manufacturers of water-cooled ship transformers.

Water cooling is an efficient and inexpensive way of transferring heat away from a transformer location. By using water-cooled transformers like those developed by Trafotek, 85-95% of the heat loss produced by a transformer can be transferred to cooling water, reducing the size of the air-conditioning systems needed and the size of transformers themselves, and freeing up onboard space for other uses.

Solutions are normally individually tailored to customers’ needs, and always built to deliver high standards of reliability – as system failures can have major implications, whether in terms of stoppages in production at a plant on land or the failure of steering or propulsion on board a ship at sea. Every unit is thoroughly tested before delivery to guarantee reliability.

The recently completed Skandi Acergy is one of the world’s most advanced subsea construction vessels in its class, and features Trafotek’s advanced propulsion transformers, handling both its main propulsion units and thrusters.

Equipping cruise ships…

Marine applications are one of the most exciting fields of Trafotek’s expertise. The company’s transformer and reactor solutions have been installed on hundreds of vessels built in Finland and elsewhere, from cruise liners and oil and gas tankers to icebreakers and offshore vessels.

Virtually all the massive cruise ships built by STX Europe in recent years have been equipped with Trafotek transformers, for example, and units have also gone to other European shipyards specialising in cruise ships – to power lighting, galleys, and emergency and navigation systems.

The Oasis of the Seas, being built by STX Europe in Finland and due to be launched in late 2009, weighing in at 225,000 gross tonnes, will have around 40 Trafotek transformers aboard.

Trafotek’s transformers form an integral part of electrical propulsion systems, cargo pumps, and motor start-up and phase shift operations, and often feature unique or customised mechanical solutions.

… and offshore vessels

The need for propulsion transformers is growing, particularly in the diesel-electric vessels used in the offshore industry.

Trafotek’s expertise here has seen the company selected to supply the transformers for one of the world’s largest offshore supply vessel projects, consisting of eight vessels to be built at three STX Europe shipyards. The first deliveries took place in 2007, and will be followed by deliveries lasting until 2011. Each vessel will include propulsion and thruster transformers and distribution transformers.

Trafotek’s transformers are rated at 1 kVA - 12 MVA, and are mainly intended for low- or medium-voltage use.

The design of the Skandi Acergy, the first ship of the series to be delivered, has prioritised good sea-keeping abilities and excellent station-keeping performances, and makes the vessel among the world’s most advanced subsea construction vessel in its class.

Equipped with two azimuth propellers and one controllable pitch propeller astern, and two tunnel thrusters and two retractable azimuth thrusters forward, she boasts excellent electric consumption performance, and the vessel never consumes more power and energy than actually needed.

Trafotek can currently supply propulsion transformers rated at up to 12 MVA and 12 kV, and is looking to increase this in the future, to enable it to compete for the larger units used on cruise ships for example.

> Annette Laine
(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)