+ = (1)
If we admit that the free charges density in the insulator is
too weak and may be neglected, then equation (1) turns into
Laplace equation.
The cylindrical cable has an axial symmetry; thus, the
electric field lines are radial. The cavities size is small
enough compared to the insulator thickness.
If we consider a spherical cavity, the potential in this case
presents turn symmetry around the radial axe of the cable.
Equation (1) takes the form:
1
2
sin 0
sin
V V
r
r r
+ =
   
 
\ . \ .
(2)
The analytical solution of equation (2) has as form:
cos
2
B
j
V A r
j j
r
= +
 


\ .
(3)
Numerical Study of partial discharges
apparition in XLPE insulation of high voltage
cables
A. Nouar, M. Guibadj, I K Lefkaier , A Boubakeur
P
0780379675/03/$17.00 2003 IEEE
Paper accepted for presentation at 2003 IEEE Bologna Power Tech Conference, June 23th26th, Bologna, Italy
Index j represents the insulator i or the cavity c according to
the considered surrounding. Constants Aj and Bj are
determined by the boundary conditions.
Upon computation of Aj et Bj, we obtain the expressions of
the potential in the insulator and in the cavity:
3
. cos
0 2
2
r
c
i c
V E r
i
r
c
i
= +
+
 


\ .
(4)
3
. cos
0
2
i
V E r
c
c
i
=
+
(5)
Hence we obtain the expressions of the radial and tangential
components of the field inside the cavity:
3
2( )
1 . cos
0 3
2
V r
c c i c
E E
cr
r
r
c i
= =
+
 


\ .
(6)
3
( )
1
1 . sin
0 3
2
V r
c c i c
E E
c
r
r
c i
= = +
+
 


\ .
(7)
where :
1
0
.
0
ln
V
E
R r
T
R
c
=
 

\ .
(8)
r
c
: cavity radius,
r : any position from the cavity center,
V
0
: applied voltage in the cable,
R
T
: radius of the cable,
Rc : radius of the conducting cable.
We note that the two components of the field Ec depend on
the position (r,) and on the permittivities of the two
surroundings. When
I
>
c
, the field inside the cavity is
higher than that in the insulator.
III. IGNITION CONDITIONS OF PARTIAL
DISCHARGES IN THE CAVITIES
The field Ec of partial discharges starting in a cavity may be
deduced from the Paschens plot using the following
approached expression [4]:
0.7 0.3
E Kp d
c
= (9)
Where: K = 8.10
3
for air; p: the pressure inside the cavity;
d: cavity diameter.
The comparison of computed electric field values inside the
cavities with regard to critical field values determined with
equation (9), can be used to predict the partial discharges
ignition.
IV. CONSTITUTION OF THE CABLE
The cable is constituted of elements presented in figure1.
V. THE INFLUENCE ZONE OF THE CAVITY ON THE
ELECTRIC FIELD DISTRIBUTION
To optimize the time of computing and the space
memory allocated to the application, we reduced the domain
to the boundary of the zone of influence of the cavity.
We define the boundary of the influence zone by a
level of the potential disruption V 10
3
kV.
The contribution to the potentiel of yhe cavity is
3
1 2
1 2
. . cos
2
c
o V E r
r
r
+
=
 

\ .
(10)
This term will be considered negligible with regard
to the value of the potential of the homogeneous insulation
as soon as it takes values of the order of 10
3
kV. In figure 2,
we give the diagram of an insulation containing a cavity. The
domain surrounding the cavity marks the zone of its
influence on the potential distribution.
5
3
1
6
4
2
Type : 185mm , Al 30/50 kV.
1. Conductor radius : 7,65 mm.
2. Thickness of inner semi conducting
layer
: 1,0 mm.
3. XLPE insulation thickness : 11.3 mm.
4. Thickness of outer semiconducting layer : 1,20 mm.
5. Copper tape screen: wires and Cu foil : 0,8 mm, 25x0,1mm
6. PVC sheath : 53 mm.
Dielectric losses factor ( tg) : 4 10
3
.
Electric conductivity ( ) : 10
12
(. cm)
1
.
Thermal conductivity ( k ) : 0.286 W/m. C.
Specific heat ( cv ) : 2.08 J/cm
3
. C.
Fig. 1. Cable characteristics.
To delimit the zone of influence of the cavity on the
potential in the insulation (Fig.2) if we take account of the
effect of the variation of the permittivities between the two
mediums, we must use the expressions of the radial and
tangent components of the electric field:
3
3
2
1 cos r o c
V k
E E r
r r
 
= =

\ .
(11)
and
3
1
1 . sin
c
o
V r
E E k
r r
 
 
= = + 


\ .
\ .
(12)
where : k =
+
1 2
2 2
Finally the intensity of the electric field in the insulation is
given by the resultant:
2 2
r
E E E
= + =
1
6 3
2
2
6 3
2 2
0
0
6 3
2
1 (4 . 4
. 2 . ) cos 1
. 2 .
c c
c c
o
c c
r r
k k
r r
r r E
E k k E
r r E
r r
k k
r r
(
   
+ (
 
\ . \ . (
(
     
(
= +
  
(
\ . \ .
\ .
(
(    
+ +
  (
\ . \ .
(13)
While neglecting terms of order 6 and while estimating the
factor
0
E
E
to 10
3
, we obtain the relation below:
( )
1
3
2 1 2
1 2
10 2. 1 3.cos
2
c
r
r
(  
=
( 
+
( \ .
(14)
This ratio reached its maximal value for ' k = ;
with k= 0, 1, 2, 3 ....
In the case of sparking cavity, where
2
=1, we obtain :
r / r
c
10. This means that the dimension of influence zone
has a length of 10 times the cavity radius [5].
VI. FLOWCHART OF THE COMPUTING PROGRAM OF
THE THREE CONSTRAINTS.
We give the global flowchart for computing program of
electric field and Parial discharges.
VII. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
We developed computing program that permits us to
determine the distribution of the electric field in a cable
insulation (see characteristic), the obtaining results are:
 Case of a homogeneous insulation:
In a first step we verified the validation of our computation
program ascertaining that in absence of any default, the
logarithmic decrease of the electric field along the insulating
part, predicted by the analytical model, is similar to that one
calculated using the numerical simulation.
In a second step, we managed to test the procedure of the
electric field computation in the case of a presence of a
cavity. At first, we consider a cavity that has the same
properties as the insulation. The comparison between
obtained results and those of the homogeneous case being
satisfying. In presence of gaseous cavityinsulatorcavity.
Indeed, our numerical simulation obtained this result. We
Begin
Introduction of the features of the cable, the
insulation and the cavity.
Localisation of the cavity and
determination of the boundary
influence zone. Computing the initial
and boundary conditions
Partial discharges computing
Potential and electric
field computing
End
i
r
id
r
j
Cavity
Zone of influence
l
e
c
t
r
i
q
u
e
,
k
V
m
m
isolation homogne
isolation htrogne
Fig.5. Electric field in presence or absence of a default.
Radius cable (mm)
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
f
i
e
l
d
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
Heterogenious insulation
Homogenious insulation
Fig.6. Electric field distribution in presence or absence of a cavity.
Radius cable (mm)
The plot in figure 5 shows horizontal straight lines, which
represent the values of the critical field for each cavity size.
Comparing these values to those of the inner field at any
position, we deduce that the field inside the cavity attains the
critical value only for cavities of diameter high to 1m, such
result is confirmed by Kageyama [2]. In contrast, for any
default with size high to 20 m, the partial discharges appear
whatever the position of the cavity on the cable.
Figure 7 shows that for a given size of the default, partial
discharges occur only for a certain position, called limit
position. Below this position, the cavity constitutes an
unfavorable case.
As much as the cavity radius is higher, as the limit position
of the core is distant, e.g. the partial discharges are
favourable at larger range. Indeed, if we consider a cavity of
3 m size.
If this cavity is located between the core and 11 mm, the
electric field inside this cavity is higher than the critical one;
consequently this cavity will be a location for partial
discharges. In reverse, if it is placed between 11 mm and the
girdle no partial discharges will be involved.
The figure 7 may help for the determination of first
approximation of risky cavities in the cable.
 Case of two cavities:
In a first stage we determine the radial distribution of the
electric field in the region of the two defaults in interaction.
Figure 8 shows that the field inside a cavity situated at the
core side is less than the field inside a cavity situated at the
girdle side.
This situation is reversed when the two cavities are in
contact (figure 9). Besides, we note that in the case of mutual
influence between two cavities, the two fields inside and on
the wall of one cavity are identical, whereas they are
different in the other one. This situation is reversed when the
two cavities are in contact.
The reversion of the situation between influence and contact
phenomena may be explained by the fact that in the case of
mutual influence, the field inside the first cavity is higher
than in the homogeneous case. This disturbance causes a
supplement increase in the field inside the second cavity,
such result is confirmed by Agoris and Hatziargyriou [6].
After the contact, the antagonist electric discharges of
polarisation that were before facetoface neutralize each
other, producing a new distribution of the electric discharges
in both sides of the two cavities in contact. In this way and
due to the fact that the external field applied to this region is
uniform, the electric fields inside the two cavities are equal.
Elsewhere, the results of computation show that the mutual
influence between two matching cavities will appear only for
a distance equal or less to 3 times the cavity diameter. For
cavities of different value, this distance is practically equal to
16.995 16.998 17.001 17.004 17.007
1.6
1.8
2.0
2.2
2.4
2.6
2.8
3.0
sur la ligne passant par le centre des deux cavits
C
h
a
m
p
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
1
Position radiale r
i
(mm)
sur la ligne passant par les parois latrales
isolant sans dfaut
Fig. 8. Radial distribution of electric field in two air cavities in interaction
On the line passed throw the cavity center
On the line passed on the lateral partitions
Homogeneous isolation
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
a
l
f
i
e
l
d
E
Radial position ri (mm)
Fig.9 . Radial distribution of electric field in two gaseous cavities in
interaction.
16.995 16.998 17.001 17.004 17.007 17.010
1.6
1.8
2.0
2.2
2.4
2.6
2.8
3.0
3.2
sur la ligne passant par le centre des deux cavits
C
h
a
m
p
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
6
position radiale r
i
(mm)
sur la ligne passant par les parois latrales
isolant sans dfaut
Fig. 7. Radial distribution of the electric field in two air cavities in
interaction
On the line passed throw the cavity center
On the line passed on the lateral partitions
Homogeneous isolation
Radial position r
i
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
f
i
e
l
d
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
Radial position ri ( mm )
Fig.8. Radial distribution of the electric field in two cavities in interaction.
Radial position r
i
( mm )
0 4 8 12 16 20
position (mm)
8.0
12.0
16.0
20.0
d
i
a
m
e
t
r
e
(
m
)
Fig. 6. Limit Positions of partial discharges apparition in air cavity with
respect to its diameter.
Position (mm)
D
i
a
m
e
t
e
r
(
m
)
Fig. 7. Limit positions of partial discharges apparition in gaseous cavity
with respect to its diameter.
Cavity diameter (m)
P
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
r
i
(
m
m
)
3 times the average diameter; such result is confirmed by M
G Danikas [7].
From fig.10 and fig.11 we can estimate, for a given
distance, the intercavity distance for which the partial
discharges appear, either in one cavity, or in both at the same
time. For this, it is sufficient to compare the value of the
eclectic field E inside the cavity with the critical one Ec.
If E E
C
partial discharges will occur and vice versa. In
order to study the partial discharges occurrence in the two
cavities, we considered a system of two cavities at the
following positions: near the core, near the girdle and at a
position of 3/4 from the cable, which presents the densest
region of the cable in cavities.
The two cavities near the core constitute the most favourable
case in term of occurrence of partial discharges.
If we take the example of the cavity of 3m, this one
represents an interesting case. Indeed, this cavity favours the
apparition of the partial discharges to a given intercavity
distance, where such apparition manifests only in the core
nearest cavity.
Another case is to refer to, cavities with 1m diameter.
This size is a limit case where for a given intercavity
distance; partial discharges appear only for cavities nearest
to the core, whereas in the case of a unique cavity we noted
an absence of partial discharges (fig.10). At the girdle, they
occur only in cavities of 20m. These discharges vanish
inside the two cavities at a relative intercavity distance
going from 1.5 to 2.
If this distance decreases more, the partial discharges
will occur only in the cavity nearest to the core. The case of
cavities of 15 m sizes constitutes a distinguishable one.
Indeed, the partial discharges occur only if the two cavities
are close to each other.
 Case of a cavity with special shape:
Once the two cavities are in contact, the regime passes
suddenly from influence phenomenon to contact one. The
ensemble of the two cavities presents a complex default of
special shape called bicavity.
The result of computations shows that the size of the default
practically does not affect the value of the field inside it. In
contrast, the shape affects this value. Indeed, for a given
position, the field inside the special shape of the bicavity is
15 % higher than in the case of a unique cavity (figure 12).
1 2 3 4
Distance relative entre les centres des vacuoles
2
3
4
5
6
7
C
h
a
m
p
e
l
e
c
t
r
i
q
u
e
,
k
V
/
m
m
d= 1micm
d = 1.5 micm
d = 3 micm
d = 7 micm
d = 10 micm
d = 15 micm
d = 20 micm
Position 9
E1
E2
Fig. .9. Distribution of the electric field inside the two cavities with respect
to the distance between them at 0.35 mm from the cable core.
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
a
l
f
i
e
l
d
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
Relative distance between the cavities center
Fig.10. Distribution of the electric field inside two cavities with respect to
the distance between them at 0.35 mm from the cable core.
8 12 16 20
Position (mm)
2
3
4
5
6
7
C
h
a
m
p
m
a
x
i
m
u
n
(
k
V
/
m
m
) 1 vacuole
2 vacuoles
Fig. 11. Variation of the electric field inside the default with respect to its
position. Cases of a unique cavity and a bicavity
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
f
i
e
l
d
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
one cavity
bi cavity
Fig. 12. Variation of the electric field inside the cavity with respect to its
psition. Case of a unique cavity and a bicavity
Position mm)
1 2 3 4
DIstance relative entre les centres des vacuoles
2
3
4
5
6
7
C
h
a
m
p
l
e
c
t
r
i
q
u
e
,
k
V
/
m
m
d = 1 micm
d = 1.5 micm
d = 3 micm
d = 7 micm
d = 10 micm
d = 15 micm
d = 20 micm
Position 17
E1
E2
Fig. .10. Distribution of the electric field inside the two cavities with respect
to the distance between them at 8.35 mm from the cable core
E
l
e
c
t
r
i
c
f
i
e
l
d
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
Relative distance between the cavities center
Fig. 11. Distribution of the electric field inside two cavities with respect to
the distance between them at 8.35 mm from the cable core.
If the two cavities, separated by the insulator, approach more
and more each other, the mutual influence increases and
maintains a stable value less than 4/3 the diameter (figure
13). Once the two cavities take a contact (bicavity), the
electric field will present a discontinuity that elucidates the
sudden change from influence phenomenon to contact one,
and consequently, a new distribution of surface electric
discharges occurs at the contact between the cavities.
If the two cavities interfere (e.g. the distance between the
centres of the two cavities is less than the diameter of one
cavity) the gaseous default will have an average special
shape between spherical and a bicavity. In this case, the
electric field at a given position inside the default decreases
in linear manner with the diminution of the radial dimension
of the default (figure 12).
VIII. CONCLUSION
The electric field inside a cavity depends only of its position
from the cable core in the limit of the observed cavity sizes.
For cavities of diameter less to 1.5 m the electric field is
less to the threshold of the occurrence of partial discharges
whatever their positions are. However, these discharges
occur in cavities with diameter higher than 1.5 m for any
position. For cavities with size between 1.5 m and 20 m
the occurrence of partial discharges depends on the position
of these cavities. The interaction between cavities is feasible
only when the distance between the centers of the two
cavities is about 3 times the diameter of one cavity. Cavities
near the core are the most promoting for the occurrence of
partial discharges.
REFERENCES
[1] R. Fournier Les isolants en lectrotechnique, essais 
mcanismes de dgradation, et applications
industrielles , dition Ayrolle, Paris 1990
[2] S. Kageyama, M. Ono, S. Chabata Micro voids in
cross linked polyethylene insulated cables , IEEE,
transactions on power apparatus on systems, vol pas
94,n4, pp. 12581263, July/August 1975
[3] B. Yoda, K. Muraki development of EHV cross linked
polyethylene insulated power cables , Hitachi cable,
pp. 506512, Ltd Tokyo, Japan, 1972.
[4] R. Fournier Les isolants en lectrotechnique, Concepts
et thories , dition Ayrolle, Paris 1990.
[5] A. Nouar, A. Boubakeur Influence des microcavits
dair sur la distribution du champ lectrique dans
lisolation des cbles de haute tension , 4
me
CNHT,
pp. 7982, Ghardaa, January 2002. Algeria
[6] D .P. Agoris, N. D. Hatziargyrion Approach to partial
discharge development in closely coupled cavities
embedded in solid dielectrics by the lumped capacitance
model , IEE ProceedingsA, Vol. 140, n 2,pp. 131
134, March 1993.
[7] M G. Danikas, I. Karafyllis, A.Thanailakis and A M.
Brunuig Simulation of electrical tree growth in solid
dielectrics containing voids of arbitrary shape, IEEE,
modeling Simul. Mater. Sci. Eng., n4, pp 535552,
U.K, 1996.
0 1 2 3 4
Distance relative D/d entre les centres des vacoules
3
5
7
2
4
6
C
h
a
m
p
l
e
c
t
r
i
q
u
e
E
,
k
V
/
m
m
position 9
10
12
16
19
17
18
E1
E2
Fig. 12. Variation of the electric field inside the cavities with respect to the
intercavity distance.
E
l
e
c
t
e
r
i
c
f
i
e
l
d
E
(
k
V
/
m
m
)
Relative distance between the cavities center
Fig. 13. Variation of the elctric field inside the cavities with respect to the
intercavity distance.
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