Delivered and up and running in days

The Recovery Transformer (RecX) project

When it comes to power transformers, delivery times are generally a matter of months rather than days, but just recently, we managed to deliver a transformer in less than a day. Yes, in just 20 hours the ABB transformer had arrived. Everything went like clockwork and the transformer arrived with the punctuality of a Swiss watch.

ABB has been working with the US Department of Homeland Security, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Center Point Energy on emergency drills to deliver modular transformers to substations. In the test scenario, the transformers needed to be delivered from our St. Louis facility to a Texas substation within 20 hours.

The Recovery Transformer (RecX) project was introduced at the turn of the century when utilities became concerned with grid reliability and the vulnerabilities of large power transformers. The project is part of the US Department of Homeland Security’s rapid recovery initiative.

So what is a Recovery Transformer? It is a large auto transformer that can be rapidly deployed to help restore power in case of multiple outages in the transmission grid caused for instance by a natural disaster.

These RecX transformers which consisted of three single phase units that were assembled, processed, tested and fully energized in less than a week, a process that would normally take as long as two weeks after the units arrive at site.

This initiative originally started with the assessment of over 1100 transformers on the US grid. Based on the sizes of all these units a 345/138kV design was considered the best fit based on the existing installations and was selected for the test.

The design on this Rec X transformer then began. One of the many special design requirements was that the unit had to fit numerous installation requirements such as storage requirements and transportation to site which required a small footprint and the ability to ship on trucks. Speed of installation and disassembling was critical which meant cooling and accessories and mechanical parts needed to be considered. This resulted in a modular cooling and hybrid insulation system.

Some other unique design concepts were also incorporated, such as a self-supporting base and transportation system that eliminates the need for large cranes at the site, draw rod bushings, and special oil expansion connections. Along with these unique transformers design features specialized equipment required for hauling and installation of the transformers, subsystems and components was also provided.

The US department of homeland security has produced a great video on the event. Check it out at:


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About the author

Scott Curley

I lead the Demand Side Operations for ABB's power transformer business in North America, including strategic partnerships, marketing, engineering, project management and transportation of Power transformers. I've worked at ABB for over 20 years and have lived in the USA, UK and Australia.
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