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Transformer Protection Barriers

Electricity is taken for granted and it is only when the lights go out and life comes to a standstill that people suddenly become aware of their dependency on electrical equipment such as transformers. Transformers are a fundamental component of electrical distribution and transmission networks. Most people are not aware of the fact that transformers are subject to faults. Transformers sometimes can explode, and/or catch fire without any warning. When a catastrophic fire or explosion occurs, the damage and costs can be immense.

Insurers and corporate risk managers consider transformers to be the most critical electrical components within facilities today. This is due to the quantity of oil contained within the transformer, its contact with high voltage elements and the dangers involved with failure. A one-year research project (2007) led to the discovery of 730 transformer explosions in the USA alone and many experts anticipate that the number of failures will increase significantly in the near future. According to a leading transformer insurance underwriter, the failure rate per year is approximately 1% which will rise to 2% by 2008.


Two specific transformers statistics that deserve special attention are the current average age of transformers and the increased loads they are expected to supply. The average age of transformers in North America is 35 years, which means that many, with an optimistic life span of 40-50 years are coming to the end of their usefulness. There is also a problem with increased loads. World energy consumption has grown from 1 trillion to 11 trillion /hr in the decades following World War II. Transformers were not designed to handle such heavy loads. These emerging risk factors have caused many corporate risk managers and insurance companies to demand protection of the transformers. This is why the DURASTEEL® Fire Barrier was developed.

DURASTEEL® Fire Barrier system offers protection to people and property from fire and explosion resulting from transformer failures. DURASTEEL® continues to offer systems designed to meet project specific performance requirements in terms of fire and blast resistance. The DURASTEEL® Barrier system is suitable for use in confined spaces and allows for swift installation being a completely dry trade, unlike the more traditional concrete barriers. Due to its relatively low weight, the DURASTEEL® Barrier requires simpler and smaller foundations than poured concrete or concrete block methods. This can result in significant cost savings especially with retrofit applications where existing equipment is being upgraded/replaced or existing underground service foundations cannot be disturbed.

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