IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. PAS-94, 6 ,no.

November/December 1975


, 'R Lacey
I. Kromer
(Senior Member)
Ultra High Voltage Laboratory
- "Les Renardisres"
Electricits de France Paris



At "Les Renardisres", great care has been taken to
A new algebraic expression has been established
for the critical sparkover voltage (CSOV)
d a i r insula- build the impulse test circuit completely corona free
by using double toroid electrodes and smooth tubular
tion submitted to positive switching impulses. By using
busbars, limiting the electric stress under positive
the concept of the gap factor, the expression is found
S ,I. to 7 . 7 kV/cm/MV peak value2, up to3 . 5
The 50
to be valid for all practical gap configurations in the
percent sparkover voltage expressed in terms
d t h e time
distance range1 to at least30 m. Based on theseconsiI toderations, an absolute limit of2.4 MV is foreseen for to crest and the gap distance is given in figure
gether with the results already published by other lathe rated voltage of sptems.
*arkover VOltqg-uqp
der A.C. or lightnihg impulses are alse predicta6le
Cdplementary investigations concerning the physics of
discharge are needed for further improvements.



Studies of E.H.V.networks have already pointed out
the great importance of switching impulses of positive
polarity and appear to suggest the possibility of a saIt is thus essenturation effect at longer distances.
tial to find out the importance ofthese non linearities
and even a possible technical limit for rated voltages
of A.C. networks.
L. Paris has previously proposed a simple expressionl giving the50 percent breakdown voltage Us0 as a
function of the gap distance, together with the notion
of a gap factor,
k , for a given wave shape

Us0 = k

. 500


(u5Q in M
V and d in meters).

Even if this expression is very useful for designing purposes in the E.H.V. range( 2 to 8 m), it can
not, however, be extended into the U.H.V. range.
Many experiments have recently been carried out in
the U.H.V. range, some of them at "Les RenardiSree".
From all the available results,
an attempt can now be
made to elaborate a better expression giving the dielectric behaviour of various air gaps.










Fig. 1 Switchingimpulsesparkovervoltage



of r o d p l a n e

- the rod-pbe gap - must
The most simple geometry
be considered first, mainly because a large number of
Some qualitative facts are already wellestablished
results have been obtained for this configuration invarious testing conditions, but also because it is the
- The 50 percent sparkover voltage (SOV)
only one which is sufficiently identicalin different
time to crest varies according to a U curve.
- The minimum of this curve
: the "critical sparkover voltage" (CSOV) corresponds to a particular value
of the time to crest called the "criticaltime to crest"


Paper T 73 408-2, recommended and approved the
by IEEETransmission
of the Power
IEEE Engineering
Society fp

- The critical time to crest increases with

& DistributionCommittee

For a given gap distance, when theto time
at the IEEE PES Summer &
Energy Resources Conf., Anaheim, Cal., -July
14-19,1974.Manuscript submitted February 13, available
for printing of the applied wave shape corresponds to the critical
May 16,1974.
value, the sparkovers take place near the crest,whereas

Paris showed t h a t m the range from 2 t o 8 m t h e sparkovervoltage of any e l e c t r o d ec o n f i g u r a t i o n submittedtoswitchingimpulses(120/4000 us) is proportional t ot h a t of a rodplanegap of the same length.88 MV (understandardatmosphericconditions8) . the voltage-distance curve.U. Menemenlis haspointedout4 thatthestandarddeviation u p r e s e n t sa l s o a U curve when i t i s shown a s a f u n c t i o n of t h e time t oc r e s t . thus : u = .4 (2) (U i n EN and d meters) in 1 +.Their CSOV l e v e l s ( f i g u r e 2) publishedbydiffer e n tl a b o r a t o r i e s . ad P 1P. Thus the CSOV may beconsider e de i t h e ra s a c r e s tv o l t a g eo r as an a c t u a l v o l t a g e . From them.probably due t ot h ep r e s e n ti n s u f f i c i e n td e f i n i t i o n of theparameters.P.reports fromJapanese5 and European Laboratories indicate thatCSOV k e l s obtained with exponential and damped o s c i l l a t o r y wave shapesor by varying tk impedance d the generator are almost equal. which a r e a l s o c o n s i s t e n t w i t h theproposedexpression.s i n c et h er e s u l t s obtained by d i f f e r e n t l a b o r a t o r i e s d i s a g r e e .3. Up t o 21 m y theexperimentalresultscovercritical points.f o rs h o r t e r times t oc r e s t . - Further.) AUlU I - Some discrepanciesareobservedbetweenlaboratories.Finally. Ledcell. - A g e n e r a l i z a t i o n of a l l wave shapes i s possiblelO b u tt h er e s u l t sa r el e s sc o n s i s t e n t .V. AU u Around any p o i n t . Ekanwhile enough d a t a arenow a v a i l a b l e t o make one steptowards a q u a n t i t a t i v e a n a l y s i s . structures.CSOV l e v e l s may be estimated. i s related how t h er a t e dv o l t a g e lines. (d i n m e t e r s ) This may be regarded as a linear differential equa : t i o n which hasthegeneralsolution 1990 . I GAP DISTANCE F i g . GENERALIZATION TO ALL CONFIGURATIONS : THE GAP FACTOR CONCEPT L.but i t i s p o s s i b l e t o t h i n k of some l i n k s w i t h t h e physics of discharge. Fig. Taking intoaccountthenumericalcoefficients of theaboveequation and the CSOV of the IO m gap(which has been extensively studied at "Le's RenardiPres") U50 = 1.25 kV/cm a t t h eo r i g i n (d 0 ) .H.Ailleret'suggestedthat an accurate study should be made ofthe numerical values Ad of theparameter m = -1 f o rd i f f e r e n tv a l u e s of d . much simpler however thanthe model we may expect when consideringthepresent knowledge of the various physical phenomena involved. The c o e f f i c i e n t d p r o p o r t i o n a l i t y i s c a l l e d t h e gap f a c t o r . I 15 10 1 I I 25 d h ) 20 5 This expression has not yet been physic. This correspondstothe so called"unstable streamer"regiondescribed by E .H. and conversely.explained. t h e d i s t a n c e d v a r i e s a s Um.from 1 t o 21 meters. Such coincidencesleadustosuppose t h a t fromthestudies now inprogressconcerningthe physics d l o n g s p a r k s i n a i r 1 2 some answers may k given tothequestionsraisedabove. and being c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the non l i n e a r i t y of.t h e yu s u a l l yt a k ep l a c e on t h e t a i l . m representing the sensivity ofd with U .correspondingtothefollowing equation : I no r d e rt of i n d tu t h e c o s t of U. It happens thatapproximatelythe same value i s generally accepted asthevoltagegradientalongthestreamersduringthe dischargeprocess.V.a r ei n a betteraccordancethanthe s i d e s of the U curves.Test 29 meters f a time d a t a g a r e a l s o known i n the range 21 t o c r e s t l o w e rt h a nt h ec r i t i c a lv a l u e s . from f i g u r e 2 The values of m f o rd i f f e r e n td i s t a n c e s are p l o t t e d i n f i g u r e 3 which s u s s t s f i t t i n g a s t r a i g k l i n e s t a r t i n g from m = 1. 3 Variation of the sensivity of d to U versus distance : calculated points ami estimated line. 2 Variation of CSOV versusdistance p d n t s m d estimated curve : experimental Thisleadstotheconclusionthat a p r e c i s e knowledge of the CSOV l e v e l s i s obviously needed andwillbe adequatefordesignpurposes of f u t u r e U.thenearlyperfectalignment of the exper i m e n t a lp o i n t sg i v e ni nf i g u r e 3 suggeststhepossib i l i t y of e s t a b l i s h i n g a rather simple mathematical mod e l of thelongspark. C.i I t shouldbepointedoutthatthisexpression is i n good agreementwithexperimentalresultsobtained over a range of gapdistances. which means that the withstand wlw (Ugo-ku) i s hardly influenced by thetimetocrest and t h e r e s u l t o b t a i n e d f o rt h ec r i t i c a l Tcr beingrepresentative of thewithstandvoltage. a Ad d -hUIU d = + 7 (1) CSOV The slope of t h e t h e o r e t i c a l c u r v e g i v i n g t h e i n terms of gap d i s t a n c e i s 4.

700 1 .90 6. I n s u l a t o rl e n g t hg r e a t e rt h a n 1.V. o r a t an angle but with the presence dgrading shields.I7 1.H. - Theminimum a i r gap d i s t a n c e h s t o beconsidered. and longerdistances.30 1. F i n a l l y .00 5.75 1.The l e e r i s obviously d e s i r a b l e . v o l t a g e .3O). sparkovervoltage i s : by c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t t h e where k l i s equalto kl - : SOV (Tcr = 5..C. and present studies ensure that it is t r u e i n ' 3.18 1.25 i n t h e whole range 2 t o 6 m.I7 1 . The curvesplotted on f i g u r e 4 areobtainedunder theseconditions.Many results are avaiBut i t i s a l s oi m p o r t a n tt on s t et h a tt h ee x p r e s l a b l ei nt h el i t e r a t u r e .C. -. However i t i s necessaryto make a s e l e c tionbecause any m o d i f i c a t i o ni nt h e geometry of t h e t e s t o b j e c t changes the results. It allows the extrapolation t u r e t o onewithcomparabledimensionseven ifthe gap f a c t o r i s unknown. 8 (3) 1 +.60 8. Good consistent experimentalresults are indeed obtained A.000 us) c sov 1 * E *( 1 . and fromexperiments a t "Les sion (1) : Renardilres". - Conductor e n t e r i n g t h e tower window horizontally. i t i s obvious t h a tt h ec r i t i c a lf l a s h o v e rv o l t a g e of t h e two c o n f i g u r a t i o n sa r ep r o p o r t i o n a lf o rt h ed i f f e r e n t gap lengths.4 U50 = k p r a c t i c a lc a s e s .50 5. Theminimum of t h e U curvesarepreI. From t h e s e r e s u l t s .000 us) and CSOV v a r i e ss l i g h t l y between SOV (Tcr with the gap d i s t a n c e and may be estimated from results a t about 1.25 8. w i t ht h er a t i o st ot h e CSOV of t h e s e n t e di nt a b l e corresponding rod planegaps.16 1 . Figure 5 presentscomparativeresultsobtained a simulatedexternalphase.21 1.120 Mean value k I .where eachpeakvalue a l i t t l e higherthanthepreceedingone.-.20 1.660 1.170 2. we should point out that the knowledgeof the gap factor also allows the determination of the sparkover voltage under lightning impulse(via the curve presented by L. - fi b e i n gr e l a t e dt o rms values and ( I 30) due t ot h e i s only t e s t i n g method under A.thequestionremains ratiDn $a well represented by the general formula : whether t h i s f a c t o r a p p l i e s e i t h e r t o t h e same vawsbape ortothecritical time tocrest. It hasbeendemonstray * = 1 d ted that reproducible results are obtzhed with the followingconditions : - +x - Same gap d i s t a n c e t o each s i d e . ( t h e tower i s t h e r e f o r e equipped with V strinLg).20 1.780 2.55 5.- U50 [kV1 -- i s s t i l l v a l i df o rc o n f i g u r a t i o n so t h e rt h a nt h er o d from a t e s t e d s t r u c plane. REWARDIERES PROJECT U W CEO0 WESTIYGHOUBE - A t t h ep r e s e n ts t a g e of t h e knowledge. 5 @arkover voltage rent constraints 1991 of e x t e r n 1 phase under d i f f e - . P a r i s 1 4 ) and a l s o under A. - Dry c o n d i t i o n s( r e s u l t sc o r r e c t e df o rs t a n d a r d atmospheric conditions).530 1.C. 4 Switchingimpulsesparkovervoltage o f tower windows with V s t r i n g s Table I TowerwindowsLvith V string : CSoV andgap factor under dry conditions c sov d (m> 4.r A f i r s t d e m o n s t r a t i o n i s g i v e n by t h e tower windows equippedwith V string insulators. IO 7.22 9.I9 Fig.0 0 Thus t h e c r i t i c a l f l a a b o v e r v o l t a g e of any configuWith U.20 1.2 t i m e st h ea i r gap l e n g t h . where no flashovertakesplacealongthe s t r i n g s . 1 I I I 200 400 800 800 on I Tcr [ea] F i g . t h er a t i o 5.

at least.4 1. K. sis of typical structures will always allow the predetermination of a gap factor. cessary to consider the different possible discharge distances greater than some tens of meters are not expaths in parallel. d in meters) sparkover voltage of5 such gaps in parallel is the vol1 (0. considering it as a series of2 meters3.transmission lines given by the dielectric blem. paThe knowledge ofk allows also the predetermination nels (i. E 2.thetowerwindowtestedat"Les Renardiired'was made of5 adjacent panels corresponding to 5 separate discharge paths. lines." proposed recentlya method based upon voltage distribu1.27) leads to a gap factor of of the sparkover vokage under lightning impulses and about 1.C. the sparkover probability functiond t h e total configuration is bound pected for future. Leroy.27 to 1. at Les Renardiires".5)'E = 0. The New When d increases. Conference Paper C 72 223 1.e.Schneideand K.. corresponds to u below the 50 X sparkover times the standard deviation those previously given by L. K. "Influence of Air Gap Characteristics on equipotential determinations.1. Gallet and G.E. tion into the gap. G.5 1. The same method used with a configurationd a conductor-plane.E.V. This expression is valid from 1 to. is k * 3.20 which fits exactly the experimental value the gap (as recently proposed by K.E.A. it will in REFERENCES future be calculated bya computer with a program of 1.5 which is broadly agreed now in that voltage dows in the range 420/1. Paris. But. it can be seen from the above pression (3) that U increases up toa final limit which Laboratory of E.E.D.4 Mv 1. a gap factor of 1. 1 (10 X less than the former proposals). and a gap factor of 1. Paris proposed a collection of values which behaviour of air when submitted to switching surges of has been completed by measurements made in different positive polarity.15 (1 30). considering an overvoltage faclues must be carefully selected.H. Vol. build an A.13 2. tances in air higher than 29 m.C.V. With u = 5 X . "One Step towards U. gap factor 1. conclusion that the saturation effect is less pronounced at extremely large gaps (some hundreds of meters)due to Our recent studies lead us supposethat besides the pa modifications of the field distribution. - - - . network studied in the range P = 1 (I p1) ( 1 p2) (1 pn) .. it is nealso a change in the relative importance of some physical rameters. Schneider and measured on the tower window.15 corresponding to the as 1 .physics of discharge. the gap factor is changed from ted by considering both the voltage distribution in 1. L. 4.H. In the latter case. Weck) and the statistics due to parallel discharge paths. 6. pp. August 1967. Weck13 X. The 50 X U = k * 3 4 (U in MV. 3 .H.V. the electrode geometry being affected by the water droplets. If this law is still valid for extremelylarge gaps. the arcing rings and only one panel (an3 one of them) is tested.H.4 MV (although an economic limit Therefore.the fields distcr sion in the gap and the statistics of parallel gaps. 30 meters. the external impossible from the dielectric point of view to phase of a tower. e.from a practical point of insulatim view.1 For air insulation. at least.future U.H. As a result.U. But any modification in the geometry of the test object may change the gap factor and the k vaFor A.Paris. I. it is supposed that thegap factor t a k appear at a much lower level). networks. network with a rated voltage higher krill probably than 2. expredons ( 1 ) to ( 3 ) are valid for 1 to. - CONCLUSIONS Forexample. the highest permissible voltage way. The use of the above general formula allows the predetermination of the gap factor for configurations 5 . When the configuration 1 .E. SYSTEMS Trans.13 to tage which hasa probabilityp = 1 sparkover the configuration with one panel.4 MV (50 X sparkover voltage). to the elementary ones: Consequently. in order to enlarge the range of validity. This very attractive method needs further inproveA previous theory16 had led the authorstu the conments. laboratories.For example. 1 1 6 = 3. EVALUATION OF THE GAP FACTOR stand switching surges greater than about k * 3 In other words.27 is measured.H. I. i. A new algebraic expression is proposed for determining the critical sparkover voltage dair insulation was made with a bundle conductor. 30m. Leroy et al. voltages.H. tower wintor of 1. G. L.5 p.12..E. With an overvoltage factor of 1. into account two different influences. "Up and DOM" Testing Modait means that in any case it would be impossibleto with- - 1992 - .MV.936-947.artificial rain reduces the sparkover voltage by : dry anconditions wsll be for an infinite gap distance extra 5 X to 7 X . it would be consisting of two discharge paths.the insulator strings.F.- - . +f - - - - e n 2 .C. based upon pure dielectric considerations and supposes tential at IO X and 60 % of the gap length from the that expression (3) is also valid for insulation diselectrode.In the same conductor plane gap. Pas 86 no 8 . Further improvements in this field can only be expe ted by studies into the processes involved in the It is expected that this separation and the analy. there is a highest permissible voltage fo The choice of the gap factor is a difficult pro.300 kV may havek values as lowrange15.V. The constant k called the gap factor. submitted to switching impulses dpositive polarity. and may be compu voltage..C. 1. Line-to-Ground Switching Surge Strength".g. They have shown that the gap factor with u = 6 X and a safety coefficient of of insulation gaps may be predicted by consideration of It should be stressed again that this value is the ratio between the values of the electrostatic poH.e. HIGHEST PERMISSIBLE VOLTAGE FOR A. . very close to the value obtained experimen.u. tally by Paris.

C 73 408 2. report presented to the Colloquium strecken bei positiver Schaltstossspannung". pp. Pas 92. no 4. Vol. Y. Vo1. Aihara and Y. Cortina.23. Application l o . December 1972.E. Impulse Strength Suggesting a Highest Permissible Voltage for A.E. K. May-June 1973. July 1972. 1971..H. T. - - - - Bd. "Researchon Long Air Gap Discharges at Les RenardiOres". 77-91.E. Vol.E. I.E. High Voltage Tes. C.1969. I. Vol. 42(Central OfficeIl4. Pas 90.R. Gallet and G. - - - '. "Influence of Switching Impulse Wave Shape on Flashover Voltages of Air Gaps".E. "Le plafond Bconomique des ultra-hautes tensions. 12.E. The "Les RenardiOres Group".E. Leroy. Winters. "Einfluss eines Funkenstrecken Vorwider1 3 .E.E. 1085-1093. pp. G. "Expression for Switching at "Les Renardisres" iu the Study of Large Air Gaps". Gaps". 1973.E.E. L.N."Features d the Developmentof Spark H. 744-747. - 1993 .E.H. Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift derElektrotechnik 1969 no 13.lities Using Fully Automatic Equipment. Schneider and K. G.pp. Electra.V.H. Conference Paper I. I. 14. Revue GnCralede 1'ElectricitB (Paris). Weck. no 24.E. Ailleret. 16. 17-22 September 1973. 94 (1973) H 9.C. Technical Committeeno 42. pp. 947-957. 1579-1589.C.Lemke.E. ristics of Extra Long Gaps". Menemenlis and G. A. Draft. Paris and R.C. no 3. Barnes and D. E.Electra. ting Technique.U. Aoshima. Harada. 799-803.."Parameters Idhencing standes auf das Durchschlagverhalten von Luftfunkenthe Gap Factor". Pas 87 no 4. Alexandrow. pp. 53-157.. pp. I. pp. no 12. G h m .Systems". I.E. 564-565.. Harbec. Ad-Hoc Group of CIGBE. pp."Die Leaderentladung und ihre Bedentung fiir das Durchschlagverhalten Langer Luftfunkenstrecken". 5. "U. Journal of Switching Flashover CharacteDesign Requirements Technical Physics. Trans.H. 7.E.E. -ET2 A of CIGRE SCno 33 In maKuw. "Coefficient of Variation of the Positive Impulse Breakdown of Long Air l l . pp.S.E. Transactions PaperT 73 436 3. Conference PaperC 72 562 4. ThBorie de base dans l'analyse de lignes aBriennes en parallPle".E. "Switching and Lightning Impulse Discharge Characteristics of Large Air Gaps and Long Insulator Strings". Trans. '. 6. I.S. Final report of the U.. P. 9-41. October 1972. April 1968.l5. Trans. Transmission Discharge in Long Air Gaps"(in Russian).