Western Power trials substation power transformer bunding

In one of the first installations of its kind in Australia, Western Power has trialled an innovative technology to provide oil containment/bunding for the power transformers in one of its zone substations.

The new design has improved environmental benefits and delivers considerable financial savings over traditional masonry bund and associated oil/water separator solutions.

Western Power’s group manager transmission delivery, Mehdi Toufan said a trial of this new technology was undertaken at the Medina substation to ascertain whether it could be suitable for wider application.

“The new approach to bunding uses a synthetic liner that drains through a special polymer material that enables water to pass through it, but blocks the flow of oil due to a chemical reaction whereby it solidifies on contact with oil,” Mr Toufan said.

“This method is significantly cheaper and quicker to install, is totally passive and has minimal ongoing maintenance requirements,” he said.

“Substation transformers typically contain around 20,000 litres of oil. The bunds are designed to capture oil from leaks and major spills to protect the surrounding environment.

“Unlike traditional bunds, the new bunds are totally below ground. This allows for greater flexibility around substation design, for instance, access across a substation site is not obstructed by the traditional masonry bunds walls.”

This technology has already been used in the US and other utilities around Australia are watching intently to see how the trials progress in WA.

“Lessons learnt from the Medina substation trial will be applied at the Mullaloo and Gosnells substations over the next three months,” Mr Toufan said.