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

STUDY ON LIGHTNING IMPULSE CHARACTERISTIC OF 220KV


COMPOSITE INSULATOR AND PARALLEL GAP DEVICES AT HIGH
ALTITUDE AREA
Xuan Ye, Qing Yang*, Wenxia Sima, Tao Yuan and Chilong Jiang
State Key Laboratory of Power Transmission Equipment & System Security and New
Technology (Chongqing University), Shapingba District, Chongqing 400044, China
*Email: <yangqing@cqu.edu.cn>
Abstract: Lightning impulse experiments on 220 kV composite insulator and its parallel
gap devices with different distances under standard lightning impulse were carried out at
the high altitude area of 2000 m while their voltage-time (v-t) Characteristic investigated.
The v-t curves, drawn by the experimental data, demonstrate that all the v-t curves with
the implement of the parallel gap devices are lower than that of the standard 220 kV
composite insulator. Based on the insulation coordination principle, this paper
recommends the maximum protective distance of the parallel gap device at the high
altitude area of 2000 m. Moreover, the flashover records indicate that the parallel gap
device drives the arc far away from the insulator and fixes the position of the burning arc.
1

INTRODUCTION

Nowadays, the lightning trip fault of the overhead


HV transmission line is a great problem threatening
the power-grid security all over the world [1]. The
arc initiating by the flashover may lead to serious
damage to the insulators. In order to protect the
insulators, the parallel gap device, different from
the traditional protective measures, is implemented
as the novel lightning protective method on the
insulators. To study this kind of device,
researchers have obtained the impulse voltagetime (v-t) curves of the rod-rod gaps, from 1m to
5m, and present the distribution rules between the
breakdown time and voltage [2]. Moreover, in low
altitude area, some scholars have acquired the
relationship between the gap distance and the 50%
flashover voltage of 110 kV composite insulators
and gained qualitative conclusions [3].
However, researches on the application of parallel
gap devices at high altitude area are still limited.
So experiments focusing on the v-t characteristics
of extra high voltage insulators and the parallel gap
devices in high altitude area are desired to support
the insulation coordination of extra high voltage
transmission lines at high altitude area. In this
paper,
the
lightning
impulse
discharge
characteristics of the 220 kV composite insulator
with the parallel gap devices are investigated in the
high altitude area, which can provide a basic
support for the novel lightning protection method
for transmission lines at the high altitude around
2000 m.
2
2.1

(Kunming) for UHV Engineering Technology. The


altitude is 2100 m, and the atmosphere pressure is
about 80 kPa. The test circuit is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The lightning impulse test circuit. T:


Charging transformer; R0, R2: Protective
resistance; D: High-voltage silicon rectifier stack;
C1, C2: Charging capacitor; S: Discharge ball gap;
F: Impact capacitance bleeder; R1: Charging
resistor.
The test voltage source is a 7200 kV impulse
voltage generator which can produce the standard
lightning wave. Its efficiency is 55%-90%, meeting
the standard of IEC 60060.1.

TEST EQUIPMENT AND METHOD


Test equipment

The experiments were carried out at the testing


base of the National Engineering Laboratory

Figure 2: The installation diagram of the parallel


gap device on the composite insulator

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

The lightning impulse is stressed on the FXBW1220/100 composite insulator which is kept clean
during the experiments. The installation diagram is
shown in Figure 2. The parallel gap devices with
two balls on two rods made of carbon steel are
installed on both ends of the insulator.
2.2

Test method

The standard lightning wave is used in the test: the


front time is T1=1.12 s, the tail time is T2=45.37 s.
The error rate is within the range of GB/T 16927.1
and IEC 60060.1.
The experiment starts with the determination of
50% breakdown voltage (U50%) of the insulator with
and without the parallel gap. According to Equ. 1,
the 50% breakdown voltages are acquired by
applying the voltage of 3 or 4 different peak levels
(with 3%-5% difference of the amplitude between
adjacent peaks).

U50% = nV UV / nV

(1)

where: UV= Voltage for each time (V)


nV= Number of times
The v-t characteristic is investigated by choosing 4
or 5 overvoltage level. 20 times of breakdown are
carried out for each voltage level in order to obtain
the distribution of the breakdown time [4].
Moreover, the ambient temperature, humidity and
atmosphere pressure are recorded at every shot
as a reflection of the ambient environment effect.

The experimental results of the v-t


characteristic

The analysis of v-t characteristics


of the insulator with parallel gaps

1) From the comparison between the v-t curves of


the insulators with and without the parallel gap
devices, it is clear that the v-t curve of the insulator
without the parallel gap is obviously flatter and
higher than those with the parallel gap devices.
The shorter the gap length is, the lower and
steeper the v-t curve is.
The air discharge theory of the long gap explains
that the gap breakdown time, counting from the
initial electron generation responsible for the strong
ionization process to the formation of the final
discharge path, is characterized with dispersion
property. With the decrease of the gap length, the
electron travelling distance is reduced. Hence, in
the same condition, it is easier for the leader to be
formed within the shorter gap, and consequently it
is easier to breakdown with the shorter gap.
2) In order to investigate the altitude effect on the
v-t characteristic, the curve of the 220 kV
composite insulator in high altitude area is
compared with the v-t curve of the 2 m rod-rod gap
in standard altitude area [2].

THE V-T CHARACTERISTIC OF


COMPOSITE INSULATOR WITH THE
PARALLEL GAP DEVICE

3.1

3500
220 kV composite insulator
2 m gap in standard altitude area

3000
2500
2000
1500

2500
220kV composite insulator
1744mm parallel gap device
1844mm parallel gap device
1944mm parallel gap device

2000
U/kV

3.2

U/kV

Figure 3. The peak voltages are taken as the


horizontal axis and the flashover time is taken as
the vertical axis in the v-t curve. The v-t curves are
acquired with repeated experiments with the
parallel gap length of 1744 mm, 1844 mm and
1944 mm on the 220 kV composite insulator. It can
be found from Figure 3 that the v-t characteristic
varies with the parallel gap lengths.

1000
10

1500

20
t/ s

30

40

Figure 4: The v-t curves in different altitudes

1000
5

10

15
t/ s

20

25

Figure 3: The v-t curves of 220 kV composite


insulator and its three kinds of parallel gap devices
The v-t curves of 220 kV composite insulator and
its three kinds of parallel gap devices are shown in

As shown in Figure 4, the v-t curve of the 2m rodrod gap in standard altitude area is integrally
higher than that of the 220 kV composite insulator
in high altitude area. Therefore it can be concluded
that the v-t characteristic of the insulator moves
downward with the increase of the altitude. This
regularity is in accordance with the case of 50%
breakdown voltage.

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

INSULATION COORDINATION OF THE


INSULATOR WITH THE PARALLEL GAP
DEVICES

The regulation method and the intersection method


are commonly used in insulation coordination
analysis. The regulation method indicates the
breakdown takes place when the voltage curve
intersects the test objects v-t curve. Also when the
voltage stressed on the test object is low but the
peaks level extended line intersects the v-t curve,
breakdown happens. The intersection method
shows that if only the voltage stressed on the test
object intersects the test objects v-t curve,
breakdown happens.
Thus with the combination of the regulation method
and the intersection method, the insulation
coordination between the insulator and the parallel
gap devices lies on whether the two curves have
the intersecting point.
According to Figure 3, the v-t curve of the insulator
with the parallel gap device is slightly flatter and
lower than that of the standard insulator. So every
kind of the three parallel gap devices has more or
less protective effect on the insulator.
However, when the stressed voltage rises to 2300
kV in the experiments of the 220 kV composite
insulator with the 1944 mm parallel gap device, arc
may be burned on the insulators surface, as
shown in Table 1.
Table 1: The flashover on the insulators surface
when the insulators is installed with gap devices
Flashover
times

Flashover
probability

7/20

45%

The composite insulator


with the 1944mm gap

the standard insulator intersects each other at the


time of 2s, as shown in Figure 5. Namely, when
the lightning voltage exceeds 2300 kV, the
flashover may take place on the insulator surface
and the parallel gap device loses its protective
efficacy.
In
summary,
considering
the
insulation
coordination between the insulator and the parallel
gap devices, it is not recommended to install the
1944 mm parallel gap device on the 220 kV
composite insulator at the high altitude area
around 2000 m.
5

FLASHOVER PATH ANALYSIS OF THE


INSULATORS

When judging the protective performance of the


parallel gap devices, it is of great significance to
observe the flashover path of the insulator with the
suitable parallel gap device. Thus a great number
of photos of the flashover paths have been taken
on the insulator with and without the gap devices.
The flashover path of the standard 220 kV
composite insulator is shown in Figure 6, and the
flashover paths of the insulator with the parallel
gap devices are shown in Figure 7. In both cases,
the upper end is grounded and the lower end is
stressed with high voltage. From the photo records,
it can be concluded that:
1) According to Figure 6, in most cases, the arc
path is not developing along the surface of the
insulator but through the air between the upper and
lower ends of the insulator. But sometimes some
part of the arc path may develop along the surface,
with the other parts connecting the air gap between
the neighbouring sheds.

220 kV composite insulator


1944 mm parallel gap device

3500

U/kV

3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
0

10

20

t/ s

30

40

Figure 5: The v-t curves of 220 kV composite


insulator and the1944mm parallel gap device
Meanwhile, from the v-t curve and the data of
these two curves wave-fronts, it is clear that the v-t
curve of the 220 kV composite insulator with the
1944mm parallel gap device and the v-t curve of

(1)

(2)

(3)

Figure 6: The flashover paths of 220 kV composite


insulators

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

2) After the insulator is installed with proper chosen


parallel gap device, it is shown in Figure 7 that the
arc path is driven far away from the insulator
surface and the arc path is formed between the
balls of the parallel gap device. It means that the
parallel gap device can locate the burning arc at a
fixed position. Thus the insulator is not burned by
the arc and is protected by the parallel gap device
under the lightning impulse.
3) As shown in Figure 6(2), (3) and 7(2), it is clear
that no matter whether the insulator is installed
with or without the parallel gap device, there are
some branch discharges besides the main arc. The
minor discharges appear on the two balls of the
device, as well as on the two ends of the insulator.
These branch discharges, are the streamers which
is not sufficiently propagations and sometimes can
cause the damage on the insulators.

REFERENCES

[1] PANG Qi-cheng, ZHANG Yu, RUAN Jiang-jun:


Study on Criterion of Insulation Flashover
Based on Antecedent Development Method,
Guangxi Electricity, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 51- 53,
2006
[2] TOSHIO
Suzuki,
KUNIHIKO
Miyake:
Experimental study of breakdown voltage-time
characteristic of large air gaps with lightning
impulses, Transactions on Power Apparatus
and Systems, Vol. PAS-96, No. 1, pp. 228- 233,
1977
[3] CHEN Weijiang, SUN Zhaoying, WANG Xianli,
et
al:
Study
on
Self-Extinguished
Characteristic of Single-Phase-to-Ground Fault
Arc of Parallel Gap Lightning Protection Device
on 35 kV Overhead Transmission Lines,
Power System Technology, Vol. 31, No. 16, pp.
22- 25, 2007 (in Chinese)
[4] IEC
60060-1-1989,
High-voltage
test
techniques Part 1: General definitions and test
requirements

(1)

(2)

Figure 7: The flashover path of 220 kV composite


insulators with the parallel gap devices
6

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the v-t characteristic experiments on the


standard 220 kV composite insulator and the
insulators with different-interval parallel gap
devices at the high altitude area, the following
conclusions can be drawn.
1) The 220 kV composite insulators v-t curve is
obviously flatter and higher than that with the
parallel gap devices.
2) Based on the v-t characteristic experiment of the
insulator and the parallel gap devices, the
maximum distance of the parallel gap device is
recommended for the transmission lines at the high
altitude around 2000 m with the consideration of
the insulation coordination principle.
3) The parallel gap device can drive the arc away
from the insulator and locates the burning arc at a
fixed position.