Jelena Lukic is the Head of laboratory for electrical insulation testing at the Nikola Tesla Electrotechnical Institute, Belgrade (Serbia). She has a PhD in chemical engineering and an illustrative career in transformer diagnostics particularly in paper-oil insulation treatment, phenomenon and removal of corrosive sulphur and other refining techniques. She is actively involved in various CIGRE working committees and currently the convener of CIGRE working group D1.76. She was previously involved with IEC for the creation and revision of standards related to the oil and paper. She has worked on corrosive sulphur phenomena and was the convener of CIRE A240 for copper sulphide long term mitigation. Read along for her DeepBrains interview with us!
Let’s start the interview!
Q. Tell us about yourself
Jelena: Hi, my name is Jelena Lukic. I’m a chemical engineer working at the Nikola Tesla Electrotechnical Institute for about 25 years now. My background is chemical engineering but I work with colleagues from electrical engineering team as well. I’m the head of lab for paper-oil testing. We have a lot of accredited measurements. We are an independent research organization providing various testing and diagnostic services. Together with our team of electrical engineers, we frequently provide diagnostics and condition assessment of power transformers. I am quite engaged in various mitigation techniques for the paper-oil insulation, oil treatments, phenomenon and removal of corrosive sulphur, and other refining techniques.
Q. What inspired you to join this sector?
Jelena: It is really the interdisciplinary approach. I was really thrilled with the opportunity to research and investigate these phenomena inside a transformer looking at it as a black box, or a chemical reactor really; search and find out the answers to what is going on inside and what are the root causes of different phenomena working inside a transformer. I’m more in chemistry in one way looking at this side (while testing), but on the other side I’m applying a bit of engineering. It (transformer) is a chemical reactor.
If you study the phenomena of water (mass) transfer, temperature distribution inside a transformer then those are all the things we have learned as a chemical engineer. These are connected in such way that it is really challenging and motivating for a chemical engineer to work in this area.
Q. What trends do you think will rule in the next 5 years in this sector?
Jelena: These are very hard times for the mankind. All of us are trying to answer the big questions on energy demands. So, finding sustainable energy supplies, challenges on integration of renewables with conventional energy sources, green self-sustainable prosumers and regulated renewable energy cooperatives are the things that will be emphasized. At the bottom of all this, we have to look at the basic equipment that has to support this.
Q. Can you elaborate why?
Jelena: The basic equipment is expected to support these concepts such as smart grids and renewable resources. We need to investigate the implication of new materials that we see on market every day including solid insulation or insulating liquids. These composites should be investigated on their performance, thermal and electrical endurance. Because, now in a smart grid the distribution transformer becomes a generator step up function. So, stresses on the materials and equipment are really high. And, we have to find answers to all these questions to enable the sustainable supply.
Q. Most of the people think maintenance and reliability are the same thing. What are your thoughts about it?
Jelena: They are connected by not really the same, really. In fact, proper or good maintenance will have the opportunity to the equipment capacity. Take a step back and understand that we have a condition-based and a risk-based maintenance. Those are different approaches, definitely. They are not equal and have their importance but not on the equal scale if you look at the equipment application and importance of the unit. The key thing is good diagnostics and discovering the root cause of eventual and potential risks. And this risk-based maintenance is leading directly to reliability. If this is not said correctly, then maintenance can be obsolete or performed improperly. For example, in case of sulphur corrosion, if you have a good diagnostic tool, approach and expertise then you find the root cause of the problem. But if you don’t discover the real reason then mitigation action or maintenance can be completely wrong!
Q. What is the best piece of advice you would give to a junior professional to succeed in your sector?
Jelena: To be aware that when you start to work you start to learn. Until then you are just equipped with good approach, logic and some knowledge. Join international groups and seek-exchange knowledge with the people in these groups for better development. I would also recommend joining CIGRE working groups which work on different topics and work in interdisciplinary teams.
Q. What is something nobody tells you, but you wish you knew earlier?
Jelena: Things change very much very fast. People have to explore more on interdisciplinary work and soft skills to open their minds.
Q. Can you recommend any books or media?
Jelena: IEEE and CIGRE guides and brochures are a good starting point with elaborate reference lists and good summary on various topics.