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11.. Bi)rgigia*, R. Brambilla+', 11. Pigini**, G. Rizzi**

* EIlEL CREL - Cologno ~!or.:,c~e (r-lilano)

**CESI Via Rubattino 54 I-lilano

Italia - Italia


The impulse strength of SF6 configuratjc~s in presence of spacers is examined, with special r e f e rc nc« to fast t.r an s i.e n t s e nd compos i te s t re s sc s (Lmpu l sc s e uperim?os~d on a DC coc.ponent).

Resul ts of tests on basic type and a c t ua 1 'configurations are reported s uch to give a picture, as wide as possible, of the influence of solid insulation on the dielectric performance of SF6 confisurations.

CompOSite voltages; dielectric strength; direct current; fast transients; gas insulated substations; spacers; volt~tine curves.



The design of GIS fron a dielectric point of viel1 must face two apects: the

; performance of plain 5F6 gaps and the performance of 5['6 in presence of spece r s , Generally it is assumed that the presence of spacers, suitably designed, does not affect the dielectric strength', which is ma i.n l y governed by the max i mcm field strength existing on the configuration considered, usually located on the II.V. electrodes.

This fact was proved by laboratory tests O'lasettj and others, 1982; Pigini and others, 1983 a, 1983 b; Bargigia and others, 1982) wh i ch have shown that the influence of insulators under standard lightning impulses, LI, is secondary pro vided thC! maximum field strength, is not located on spacers and not influencedby the presence of solid insulators.

Thp above: conclusion was also verified in p rc s erico of particles provided no .. pr!':.. strpss was applied, such as the spacers rCQained clean.

On the other hand some experiences of type tests,on site tests and servi.ce,in<l~ cate tllat many discharges involve spacers.

This paper wants to analyse the pe r f ormanc c of spacers in t\-."O cond i tions which moy enllance their influence and have not been suffici.ently studied:


The Ln f Luc n co of !;[,accrs on the impulse strength when a DC vo l tilg" pr o s t r o s s 1s applied. 'l'h i s condi tion may be typical of DC applications and may also occur 1n AC systems (e.g. trapped charges left when opening capacitive currents by dis connectors) .

The influence of ~pi3C0rS on the duve Loprne nt; of the discharge. This aspect may become of special concern when n:oving. to short times to breakdown for which the discharge process mily substantially affect the dielectric performance.


.Tests have been pe r f orrued on basic type configurations and on conponen t s of GIS I of different des~gn.

Namely the f o Ll owi nq configurations were con s i de r od (sec Fig. 1):

! - Configuration A) consisting of an in=ulating rod, having a diwmpter ¢ = 35r:un mounted be t.we en two electrodes, with a clearance of 6 cm and a uniformity factor J) = 0.50


Configuration 13) conc i s t.i.nq of a con.pone nt; of 300 kV GIS, cho r o c t e r i.aed by a uniformity facto~ ~ = 0.33

Con f Lqu r a t Loa C) consisting of a com<onc n t; of 14:' J.:V GIS with spacers charac terized by a n value of 0.48

A c;:J
IIASIC TYI'( ... ~'::
I"'SoIJ~'~ .:;<: r-:
COHfIGUr.I.T!:ttl "~i; (.";-]
300 kY CIS JW
"5 tV GIS $FO.C'R
a .... PON[Nl BE Fig. 1. Test configurations.

Fig. 2. Test circuit adopted for the dielectric (

tests with composite voltages.

The insulators were constituted by alurniniu~ oxide epoxy resin ~ith a dielectric constant of 5.5.

Configuration A) Has placed in the middle of a large vessel such as the vessel itself acted as a large particle trap.

Conf igUZ"il tion C) was equ Lpned wi th sui table pa r t i c I e traps.

The strength under lightning overvoltages and fast transients was investigated by applying iightning impulses of nearly standard shape(1.2/50 lls) and of diffe rent prospective peak values. - The influence of a DC prestress (strength under composite voltages: DC plus LI in all the possible polarity combinations) was checked using the circuit in Fig. 2.

To exclude any possible influence of previous discharges the insulators were changed after each discharge.




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Performance under Composite Ovcrvolti\ac~ (DC prest.res" plu!:i r.inhtnin~~)

The influence of the DC prestress on the strength is summarized in Fig. 3a, b, <; which refer to configurations A,B,C respectively.

In the above figures the flashover voltage (namely the total voltaCJc aCross the test sample at flashover) is plotted versus the preexisting DC component. Furthcr~ore the strength is expressed in p.u. of the minimum strength observed under lightning impulse of negative polarity, without prestress.

The more comp Le t.e investigation was performed on configuration B for wh i ch three conditions were considered:

i) clean ,configuriltion without preconditioning

ii) clean configuration after. preconditioning with AC voltage U? to 250 kVrms

iii) configl1ration containing Ig of aluminium particles of 500 ~m maximum size, witlJout preconditioning .

. ,







"V- ~ ~o-.



o Uodp.u.)



·1 !' r

i i


o elf J.H CQNo.'l!0u WJTH:)JT PREc:x:lh()lll0"~~






Fig. 3.

Tests wi th corr.pos I t e stresses. nr c ek down YOIL~gc (in p.u. of tll~ mini:=um ncg~tlvc li9~lllinq Lmpu Ls e b r-o akdown vc Lt.aqe ) versus t.he p.u. value of the DC component.


• ,..
1 The t.o s ts on the c l can con f igura t Ion wi thout pnYCl:lt'!j ti oning (cond I ti on i) i ndi cated a remarkable effect of the prestress CSP'c(·I.>lly when the DC component and the applied impulse .... ere of opposite polarity.

An explanation for the above performance (B,Jt.c,:i(_li.1 and others, 198/) was that the reduction was mainly caused by the presenc0 of particles.

Tests with AC preconditioning and d.th a r t i.f i c i aI particles seem to confirm the above assumption:

the influence of the prestress was reduced by }'I.e preconditioning and very careful cleaning (condition ii)

the influence of prestress increased remark'hIy vlhen particles were present (condi tion iii)

In this last case. inspection aft.er tests "'lith prestress have shovn thDL a Le r ce number of p~rticles. located before tests on the enclosure, moved after tests to the spacer surface.

All ·the above tests wc r e made wi th a prestress application time of so!:'.'? mi nu t.os , (

Tests made in the condition i) with different prestress application t in.os j.J1c:jcated a negligible influence of this parameter v .. he n it is varied in the r anqo from minutes to few hours:

Less systematic Lnve s t i qa t Lcns , made on conf i cu r at.Lons .. Z\. and C, con f a rmed t I.e possibility to e x t cnd the above findings to d i f t o r e n t configurations.

As a conclusion the results. at least for the ~i1terial.considered and for the configurations examined.seem to indicate that.the major influence of DC prestress is not rela ted to j n t r i ns i c phe nomene inside space r s (such as sp;;c'"!!: charging and polarization) but to stray phenOr:1ena such as location of charged particles 0(1 spacers, following the applicatio;1 of a prestress.

Performance under fast transients

The performance under overvoltages Simulating stresses created by lightning ph~ nomena or under fast transients (such the ones originated by operation of d15- connectors), is usually given in term of cur vo s giving the max i.mun vo l.t.aqe reac.!2_ ed before br-eakdown UE,versus the actual t.i.me to breakdown tB (V-t curves). Previous investigations (Masetti and others, 1982; Pigini and others. J983a. 1983b; Bargigia and others 1984)'indicate that when plain SF6 gaps arc considered, V-t curves present a remarkable voltage increase decreasing the time to breakdown. When spacers are present V-t curves tend to be nl?arly flat.

In order to get additional infonnation on the influence of spacers 'O!J the strength additional "ad hoc" tests woz e made on configuration A.

The V-t curves of the above configuration are reported in Fig. 4, which also


Of'Q~\I'19 po4..)fily • Negatrft pol.lr1t'f

- .. _--- ... -. __ ._--_ ...

Fig. 4. Performance under fast transients.

Configuration A).Breakdo·.m voltage (maximum voltage before brcakd0wn) versus the time to breal:do ..... n. 'I'he vol tage values arc gi ven in r'. u . of t.he minimum observed b r eak down voltage with negative LI.

. .

~----o.._.~ •...

.. -

~Lj---L~02~~03~·~O~4~O~5~~~--~--~2~~J~P '.1 .... ,





, ",

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confirms the typIcal trend with intersection of the curves interpolating the minimum observed strength under positive and negative polarity at short times to breakdown.

Typical discharge patterns obtained at prospective levels ·near to the minimum breakdown voltage and with high overvoltage levels are reported in Fig. 5, which shows the tendence of the discharge to involve larger part of the solid insulation when higher overvoltage levels are applied.



1J~1 p.u.

U=3 p.u.

Fig. s. Configuration A) Typical discharge patterns at different overvoltage levels.

This trend is summarized in Fig. 6 where the percentage of the solid insulation involved in the discharge is given versus the overvoltage level.

This findings,may at least qualitatively,heloto explain the influence of spacers on V-t curves and seem to confirm that the major influence of spacers is on the propagation phase of the discharge.

( ~ t

." Cont.


• NegatIve Polarity o Positive Polarity

Ol~~--~~~~~~--~~ __ ~

o 2 3 4

U (p.u.)

Fig. 6. Configuration A) Percentage of the insulator' surface involved by the discharge versus the prospective value of the applied voltage.




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I t" ,~.



Pre5ence of spacers 1n clean conditions do not alter apprt'ciubly the strength under standard lightning im;:>ulse; this may be explained considcring thut the discharge occurs when 'the critical condition (corona jnception) is r~~ched' on the examined configurutionr. and that spacers are usuully designed such to not affect the maximum gradient.

Large reductions of th~ strength in presence of a DC prestress, seem not di rectly connected to the presence of spacers, but to the synergjsm between spacers and particles. In this respect the most critical condition was found when DC uOO impulses 'v:ere of opposite polarities.

'The above findings may be of special concern for DC applications; nevertheless they may be of interest also for AC: it may occur ,that the strength under fast transients, a5 the ones deriving from disconnecting capacitive currents, is lo~ er than the impulse strength verified in the design phase, due to the influencA of trapped charges.



The spacers'influence the strength, whencver the duration of the discharge> process becomes corapa r ab Le to the time to br eak down , as when very short times to bz eakdown are cons i cered.


(1) Masetti C., A. Pigini, A. Bargigia, R. Brambilla and B. Mazzoleni (1982) "Volt-til::e performance of SF6 insulated system" Int., Conf. on Gas Disch. and their Apol. pp. 243-246

(2) Pigini A., A. Porrino and G. Santagostino (1983a) "Fast transient caused by the ot)eration of disconnecting switches (stresses and strength)"

CIGRE SC 33 Colloquium, paper 33-83 esc) S.3Ii'm


(3) Pig~~i'A., G. Rizzi, A. Bargigia, G. Mazza and B. Mazzoleni (1983b) "Dielectric s t r enq t h of SF6 insulation under vel'y fast overvoltages" 4th ISH, Athens, paper 32.12

(4) Bargigia A., G. Mazza, A. Pigini, L. Thione and B. Mazzoleni (1982)

"Study of the d.ielectric strength of SF6 insulated metal enclosed substations and application to their design and testing" CIGRE 1982,Dil;:>er 33.12

(5) Bargigia A., A. Porrino, G. P~zzi, G. Santagostino and B. Mazzoleni (1984) "Contribution to the choice of the dielectric withstand levels of SF6 gas insulated sub-stations" £!...GRE 1984 to be published


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