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XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION OF EFFECT OF UV RADIATION ON


FLASHOVER VOLTAGE OF POLYMERIC INSULATORS WITH AND
WITHOUT CONTAMINATION
A. Majzoobi*, I. A. Joneidi, S. Mohajer, H.Mohseni and A. A. Shayegani
High Voltage Lab, School of Electrical & Computer Eng., University of Tehran, Iran
*Email: <A.Majzoobi@ece.ut.ac.ir>

Abstract: In recent years Polymeric insulators have been found wide spread usage in
all voltage levels in IRAN, especially in southern areas, due to environmental condition
and high contamination in these areas. The main property that led to this increasing
tendency toward this kind of insulators is enhancement of contamination flashover
voltage through hydrophobicity property of polymeric insulators. Environmental factors
such as Ultra violent (UV) radiation, affect the hydrophobicity property of polymeric
insulators and reduction of this property can reduce flashover voltage of insulators. In
this paper two tests have been done on polymeric insulators. In the first test flash over
voltage of insulators has been measured in different humidity condition. In the second
test, five kinds of insulators have been exposed to UV radiation for 160 days. Then the
flashover voltage of aged insulators has been measured in different levels of
contamination. The results showed that in the low humidity condition, humidity does not
have any meaningful effect on flashover voltage, but in the high humidity, reduction in
flashover voltage has been observed. Results of the other test showed that
hydrophobicity of aged insulators start to decrease during the time and increasing in
conductivity of contamination, lead to reduction of flashover voltage.

1 INTRODUCTION 1- They are subject to chemical changes on the


surface due to weathering and from dry band
Polymeric insulators have been used in outdoor arcing.
service for about sixty years. bisphenol epoxy 2- Suffer from erosion and tracking which may lead
resins have been used commercially for indoor to failure of the insulator.
applications in the mid 1940's and in the 1950's, 3- Life expectancy is difficult to evaluate.
cycloaliphatic epoxy resins have been used in the 4- Detection of faulty insulators is difficult.
United Kingdom in outdoor service due to their Despite these disadvantages, advantages of
better performance.[1] polymeric insulators persuade electric power
insulators for transmission lines have been companies to use them in power transmission and
developed as early as 1964 in Germany, and by distribution system.
other manufacturers in England, France, Italy, and So in recent years Polymeric insulators have been
the U.S [2]. found wide spread usage in all voltage levels
In recent years, a lot of researches have been including distribution networks, overhead
done in performance evaluation of polymeric transmission lines and high voltage equipments in
insulators especially about advantages and IRAN. Especially polymeric insulators are
disadvantages of these insulators compared to increasingly being used in southern areas of IRAN.
ceramic ones [1,3,5]. Environmental condition and high contamination in
The most important advantages are [1]: these areas are the most important reason for
1- Reduction in weight up to 90% which can installation of this kind of insulator instead of
benefit towers design and transportation and ceramic ones. The main property that led to this
installation of insulators economically. increasing tendency toward this kind of insulators
2- Higher mechanical strength. is enhancement of contamination flashover voltage
3- Reduction of serious damage from vandalism through hydrophobicity property of polymeric
such as gunshots, etc. insulators. Another reason for this growing
4- Much better performance in the presence of tendency is an up to 90% reduced weight of them
heavy pollution. compared to ceramic ones.
5- Better withstand voltage in polluted condition. With increasing usage of polymeric insulators,
6- Reduction of the maintenance costs such as concerns about the performance of these
insulator washing which is often required for insulators after aging of polymeric materials have
ceramic insulators in contaminated environment. been raised. Hydrophobicity is one of the major
The main disadvantages of polymeric insulators advantages of polymeric insulators because it can
are [1, 9]: increase the flashover voltage of polymeric
insulators in the wet and contaminated condition,
XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

Table 1: Specification of samples


NO. of Creepage
Parameter A(mm) A'(mm) A"(mm) B(mm) B'(mm) C(mm) D(mm) D'(mm)
Sheds distance(mm)
Sample1 7 670 190 100 110 55 27.5 22 40 30
Sample2 10 600 275 110 120 75 25 23 25 15
Sample3 6 600 240 110 130 90 45 22 35 28
Sample4 6 680 320 100 110 50 50 22 40 40
Sample5 6 640 300 100 110 90 45 22 40 25

compared to ceramic ones. Environmental


condition such as UV radiation affect the
hydrophobicity property of polymeric insulators and
reduction of this property can reduce flashover
voltage of insulators. Owing to importance of effect
of UV radiation on performance of polymeric
insulators, experimental studies in various
conditions have been done in recent years [4, 6,
7].

2 EXPERIMENT SETUP AND PROCEDURE

2.1 Specification of samples


All of the samples which used in this experiment
were commercial domestic products.

Description of samples geometry has been given in


Table1. These samples have different design
features, but all of them have the same voltage
level of 24kV.

Figure 1: Specification of samples Figure 2: Sample in fog chamber in Laboratory.

2.2 Flashover voltage in fog chamber 2.3 Ultra Violet (UV) radiation
In this test as shown in "figure 2", cylindrical plastic UV radiation is classified by its wavelength into
chamber prepared in High Voltage Lab. three types A, B and C [8]:
The wavelength of UV-A is between 315 and
Diameter of this chamber is about 1m and its 400nm, UV-B is between 290 and 315nm and UV-
height is 2m. Insulators were placed in the middle C is less than 290nm.
of chamber in vertical position. An electrical vapour As UV radiation with shorter wavelength is more
maker has been used for preparation of fog and harmful for insulator, UV-C must be the most
humidity in the chamber. Tests have been done in problematic but UV-C is filtered by atmosphere, so
different temperature and humidity. So temperature UV-B is the most problematic radiation.
and humidity were checked and recorded via Silicone rubbers have high resistance against UV
thermometer and humidity meter continuously. damage because the photons do not contain
Voltage is applied to upper electrode of insulator enough energy to break the siloxane (Si-O) bonds.
and the lower electrode is connected to earth. UV resistance can be increased with addition of
carbon, but carbon reduces insulation property of
For measuring the withstand voltage of insulators, insulators. So a balance should be between
voltage must be increased gradually till flashover increasing the resistance against UV radiation and
occur. This voltage will be recorded as flash over reducing the resistance to tracking.[8]
voltage of insulator in clean fog condition.
XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

In this test 5 samples which their specification The hydrophobicity of surface usually can be
mentioned in table1, were exposed to UV determined by measurement of the contact angle
radiation. between surface of insulators and water droplets.

A metal structure 1m x 1m x 1m was made and 8


UV lamps and insulators were placed in this
structure as shown in "figure 3".

Figure 3: Samples in expose to UV radiation in


Laboratory.

UV lamps are UV-C with 40W power. Insulators


were exposed to UV radiation for 160 days.
Flashover voltage of insulators has been measured
two times, after 80 days and 160 days UV aging, in
3 levels of contamination.

In order to have various contamination levels, salt


solutions with different electrical conductivity were
sprayed over insulators. Electrical conductivity of Figure 4: Hydrophobicity of new samples.
these solutions is as follows:
Running water: 0.4 ms/cm
Salt solution No.1: 8.5 ms/cm
Salt solution No.2: 18.5 ms/cm

3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

3.1 Visual observation


In comparison with new insulators, the aged
insulators with UV and even after flashover voltage
tests in contaminated condition, there is no visible
difference between them.

3.2 Hydrophobicity
The surface hydrophobicity property of polymeric
insulators is one of the most important parameters
which affects the electrical insulation property of
insulators directly. On a hydrophobic surface,
water appears in droplet form, whereas a
hydrophilic surface is easily wetted by water.
Reduction in hydrophobicity property leads to
decrease of the flashover voltage.

Silicone rubber regains its hydrophobicity because


of low molecular weight (LMW) polymer chains
diffusing through the bulk of the material to the
surface forming a thin layer covering over the
pollution layer [8].
Figure 5:Hydrophobicity of samples after UV aging
XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

In order to analyze changes of hydrophobicity after Table 5: Flashover voltage of new insulators (kV).
aging of insulators STRI method has been applied
Type of contamination
[10]. The Swedish Transmission Research Institute
Dry &
(STRI), has been categorized hydrophobicity of Parameter Running solution solution
Clean
surface to 7 levels, HC1 to HC7. HC7 refers to water No.1 No.2
condition
surface with the least hydrophobicity and water Sample1 96 91 68 43
covered surface. With decrease of index of HC Sample2 104 100 49 22
from HC7 to HC1, hydrophobicity increase. Sample3 102 99 70 29
Sample4 114 110 90 65
Sample5 112 109 77 40
By comparison between photos of samples of
insulators as shown in "figure 4 &5 " and reference Table 6: Flashover voltage of UV aged insulators,
pictures which STRI has been published [13], it after 80 days(kV) .
can be concluded that new insulators belong to
HC1 or HC2, whereas hydrophobicity of the aged Type of contamination
samples is between HC4 and HC5. So these Dry &
Parameter Running solution solution
pictures and conclusions show that UV radiation Clean
water No.1 No.2
affects hydrophobicity of insulators obviously. condition
Sample1 90 84 58 35
Sample2 100 95 30 13
3.3 Flashover voltage Sample3 102 97 56 17
Sample4 115 108 70 45
withstand voltage of 3 insulators have been Sample5 108 105 55 20
measured in clean fog chamber and in various
temperature and humidity condition. The results of Table 7: Flashover voltage of UV aged insulators,
tests have been put in table 2-4. In order to after 160 days(kV) .
increase accuracy of results, tests have been done
3 times in each condition. Type of contamination
Dry &
Parameter Running solution solution
Clean
Table 2: Flashover voltage of sample1 in clean fog water No.1 No.2
condition
chamber. Sample1 88 78 55 35
Sample2 100 96 35 16
Sample1
Sample3 98 94 54 19
Humidity Temp. 1st test 2nd test 3rd test Sample4 110 108 76 48
25 25 94.6 96.3 100 Sample5 110 108 62 24
54 25 95 94.5 97
69 27 92 90 95
95 29 84 81 87

Table 3: Flashover voltage of sample2 in clean fog


chamber.
Sample2
st nd rd
Humidity Temp. 1 test 2 test 3 test
37 25 110 110 112
55 26.5 108.5 110 109
70 28 106 105.3 104
96 29 93 94 91

Table 4: Flashover voltage of sample3 in clean fog


chamber.
Sample3
Humidity Temp. 1st test 2nd test 3rd test
25 26 108.8 108 107.5
54 25 107 107.5 106
70 28 104.5 107 103
97 30 92.5 95 94
In the other tests, UV aged samples have been
tested in different condition, after 80 days and 160
days of UV aging. In order to make results close to
what is happening in practice, insulators which
were contaminated for tests after 80 days, were
not cleaned and were exposed to UV radiation
aging with contamination. The results of these
situations have been shown in table 5-7.
Figure 6: Arcing of samples in clean fog chamber
XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

4 CONCLUSION

In the low humidity condition, according to results


of tables 2-4, humidity does not have any
meaningful effect on flashover voltage, But in the
high humidity condition which humidity creates the
little drops of water on the surface of insulators, the
flashover voltage has been reduced. This
reduction in flash over voltage is because of
conductive layer of water in the insulator surface.

In the test of effect of UV radiation, the following


results can be concluded:

(a) 1- There is not any difference between flashover


voltage of aged insulators and new samples in dry
and clean condition. So UV radiation doesn't have
any effect on insulators in non-contaminated
condition.

2- Contamination with higher electrical conductivity


leads to much lower Flashover voltage of
insulators.

3- Flashover voltage of insulators has been


reduced extremely after 80 days UV aging.

4- Flashover voltage of insulators doesn't have any


difference after 160 days rather than 80 days
aging. Even it has been increased a little in some
cases. Because of contamination which has been
remained on the surface of insulators UV radiation
doesn't reach to surface of insulators, therefore
(b) contamination prevents insulators from further
aging and polymeric insulators recover their
hydrophobicity property themselves. So unlike
previous generation insulators that should be
cleaned periodically, presence of contamination on
the surface of polymeric insulators have even
positive effects. Also it should be mentioned that
the rate of aging of insulators reduce as time goes
by.

5 REFERENCES

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(c)
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Figure 7: Arcing of UV aged insulators. (a):dry and January 1993
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No.1 ; (c): (b): Contaminated with solution No.2 Hillborg: "Diagnostic Methods for Outdoor
Polymeric Insulators", IEEE Transactions on
Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 14, No.
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XVII International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, Hannover, Germany, August 22-26, 2011

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