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

Experimental and Mathematical Modeling of the Effect of Pollution


Constitution on DC Flashover of High Voltage Insulator
M. El-A. Slama1,2, A. Beroual1,, and H. Hadi2
1

AMPERE - Lab, CNRS UMR 5005, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, University of Lyon
36 avenue Guy de Collongue, 69134 Ecully Cedex, France
2
Laboratoire de Gnie Electrique dOran, University of Sciences and Technology of Oran,
Mohamed Boudiaf, USTO BP1505 El Mnouar Oran, Algeria

King Saud University - Distinguished Visiting Professor, Aramco Chair in Electrical Power, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Abstract: This paper is aimed at the study of the influence of salts and salts mixtures
on dc flashover discharge of high voltage polluted insulators. Its shown that the type of
salt and salts mixtures dont have a significant influence on the critical voltages at both
polarities. The critical voltages computed using the dynamic equations of dc flashover
discharge characteristic constants (n and N) of polluted insulators we established
elsewhere are found in a good accordance with the experimental ones. It also appears
from this study that the most important components of the discharge column are water
vapour and air and the transfer of metal ions has not a significant influence on
flashover voltage.
Index Terms Pollution, Insulators, Flashover, Modeling, Discharge characteristic constants, Constitution of
pollution layer, Salts, Salts Mixtures.
1

INTRODUCTION

THE Flashover of polluted high-voltage insulators is a


common problem in power electrical networks. The
accumulation of pollution layer on the insulator surface
is the first stage of flashover process. The constitution
of this pollution differs from one site to another.
However, the main elements that are found are
minerals and insoluble materials [1-7]. Numerous
studies have been conducted to determine the influence
of pollution constitution on ac and dc flashover
characteristics [8-12]. Ghosh and Chatterjee [12]
showed that the constituents of pollution deposits
represent a crucial parameter that can affect the ac
flashover characteristics. They conclude that the
discharge electrical gradient is affected by the nature of
electrolyte. This influence is reflected by the variation of
values of the discharge characteristic constant N and n
with the type of salt within the pollution deposit (Table
1). The critical current versus the linear resistance of
pollution with NaCl is greater than that with other salts
[12]. As concerns the variation of critical voltage versus
the linear resistance of pollution, these authors dont
give any indication. By measuring the quantities of
metallic ions before and after flashover, they found that
these quantities increase; and they conclude that there
is a transport phenomenon of metallic ions during
flashover process. Matsumoto et al. [13], show that in
the first step of discharge propagation, the discharge
column contains traces of N2 and Na. They conclude

that the presence of metallic atom has an influence on


the temperature of the discharge comparing to a free air
discharge. In electrochemistry field, many authors
investigated the interaction of an electrical discharge
with a water surface or volume [14 - 17]. It was shown
that the most components of chemical species in
discharge column are water vapour and air and there is
a transfer of a few part of metallic ions from the liquid.
The presence of metallic ions is explained with the
sputtering phenomena from the liquid to plasma. The
amounts of metallic ions depends on their concentration
within the liquid.
The aim of this paper is to study the experimental effect
of different salts and salts mixtures on dc critical
flashover voltage Vcri. The experimental values of Vcri
are compared to those deduced from the relationships
we established elsewhere [2].
Table 1: Values of flashover characteristic constants n
and N according to Ghosh [12]

Electrolyte

NaCl
CaCl2
FeCl2
CuSO4

360
461
270
450

0.59
0.42
0.66
0.49

EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

The experimental device we used is the same as that


presented in a previous work [11, 18]. It consists of a

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

Table 2: Used electrolytes

Electrolyte

Constitution

1
2
3
Mixture 1
Mixture 2

NaCl + H2O
KCl + H2O
CaCO3+ H2O
30% NaCl + 50% CaCO3 + 20% KCl
15% NaCl +70% CaCO3 + 15% KCl

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Figure 2 illustrate the variations of critical voltages


versus the linear resistance of pollution layer. In the
following, we take the pollution with NaCl as reference.
We observe that the critical flashover voltage increases
with the pollution linear resistance. The critical flashover
voltages are higher when the point is positive than when
its negative whatever the types of electrolytes. This
difference increases with the linear resistance of
pollution. The results we get are quite different from
those observed under impulse voltage [19, 20].
The experimental results show that the constitution of
pollution doesnt have a significant influence on the
critical flashover voltage whatever the polarities of
voltage. These results are in contradiction with those
reported by Holte et al. [8] and Ghosh and Chatterjee
[12] under ac. This is likely due to the fact that the

electrolytes we used are different from those tested by


these authors.

Figure 1: Experimental setup.


Critical Voltage (kV)

15
12
9
6
3

NaCl (+)

KCl (+)

NaCl (-)

KCl (-)

CaCO3 (+)

CaCO3 (-)

0
0

10

15

20

25

Linear Resistance (kOhms/cm)

(a) : Simples electrolytes.


16
14

Critical Voltage(kV)

high voltage generator, a control panel, a set of


batteries and capacitors of a total value C = 16.7F
(Figure 1). The insulator model consists of a channel
made of Plexiglas filled with a given electrolyte. One of
the ends of this model is in contact with a grounded
plate electrode. The HV electrode consists of a point
which overhangs the electrolyte at a height h of 3 mm;
its placed at a distance L=7cm from the ground
electrode. The width (ap) and thickness (ep) of pollution
layer are defined by the geometry of channel (ap=2cm,
ep=0,4cm). The pollution consists of a single salt (XY +
H2O) or a mixture of salts (XY+ WZ+ +H2O), XY and
WZ design salts in the different electrolytes. The
conductivities of electrolyte are measured with a digital
conductivity-meter (INOLAB cond 720). The used
electrolytes represent the accumulated insulator
pollution in proximity of cement manufactories at the
west coastal of Algeria [6, 11]. During our experiments,
the condensers are charged at a voltage U = U1, and
the voltage is applied by discharging the capacitors.
And depending on the voltage level, a discharge can
occur or not between the HV electrode and the
electrolyte. The voltage is gradually increased up to get
a flashover. Thus, we measured the critical flashover
voltage and the critical current for different electrolyte
conductivities and for both polarities. Table 2 presents
the constitution of electrolytes that simulate the pollution
layers used in our experiments.

12
10
8
6
4

NaCl(+)

Mix1(+)

Mix2(+)

NaCl(-)

Mix1(-)

Mix2(-)

2
0
0

10

15

20

25

Linear Resistance(kOhms/cm)

(b) Mixtures.
Figure 2. Variations of critical voltages versus the linear
resistance of pollution for both polarities: (a) electrolytes
with one salt; and (b) electrolytes with salts mixtures.

To discuss the influence of linear resistance of pollution


layer, we define the relative difference of the critical
flashover voltage as

U cri = 100.

(U

NaCl
cri

U criXY

(1)
U
We also define the relative difference of critical
flashover voltages of each electrolyte as function of the
polarity of voltage as

U cri = 100.

NaCl
cri

(U

XY ( + )
cri

XY ( )
U cri
XY ( + )
cri

(2)

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

Where UNaClcri is the critical voltage of an electrolyte with


XY
NaCl and U cri is the critical voltage of an electrolyte
XY. The symbols (+) and (-) corresponds respectively to
positive and negative polarity of the point electrode.
Table 3: Variations of the relative differences of critical
flashover voltages for simple electrolytes for both
polarities
CaCO3

KCl
(-)

-7.69

-7.22

0.00

-8.33

3.125

0.00

0.00

0.00

6.32

6.25

0.00

9.09

0.00

-5.95

12.5

0.00

7.69

0.00

4.71

18.75

0.00

7.14

0.00

0.00

25

-6.67

6.45

-4.40

0.00

KCl
(+)

1.25

(-)

Table 4: Variations of the relative differences of critical


flashover voltages for different mixtures for both
polarities
rp (k/cm)

Mix1(+)

Mix2(+)

Mix1(-)

Mix2(-)

1.25

-7.69

-15.39

0.00

0.00

3.125

-7.69

-7.69

0.00

0.00

6.25

-11.11

2.22

5.89

5.89

12.5

17.65

23.53

-20.01

-20.01

18.75

33.34

33.34

-5.56

0.00

25

30.00

30.00

6.24

12.50

Delta_NaCl

Delta_Mix2

Delta_Mix1

Delta_KCl

Delta_CaCO3

25
20

DeltaVcri(%)

CaCO3
(+)

rp (k/cm)

pollution doesnt have an important effect on the DC


flashover critical voltage for both polarities for the used
electrolytes in our experimental conditions.
Figure 3 shows, that the relative differences of critical
voltages range 7% to 25%. There is a tendency to the
increase of this difference with the linear resistance of
pollution. Note that there is some scattering regarding to
the constitution of the different electrolytes we used.
The relative difference of critical voltages of mixture 1
and mixture 2 are approximately the same except for
rp=3.125k/cm and rp=6.25k/cm. The electrolyte with
KCl presents a relative difference greater than that with
CaCO3 except for rp=3.125k/cm. Thus the effect of
polarity depends on the nature of the electrolyte;
however this influence presents an arbitrary
dependency. The relative difference of flashover
voltages of simple electrolyte depends on the linear
resistance. Such a result has also been reported by
Jolly [9] and Rahal [10] for positive polarity. Therefore
the presence of metallic ions in the discharge column
doesnt have a significant effect on the discharge
voltage whatever the polarity; and the most important
chemical species that probably have an important role
on the flashover voltage are water vapour and air.

15
10
5
0

Tables 3 and 4 present the variations of the relative


difference of critical voltages for both polarities. Figure 3
illustrates the relative difference of critical voltages
regarding to the polarity of voltage. According to Table
3, the critical voltages of electrolytes with NaCl, and KCl
are the same except for rp =3,125 k/cm and rp = 25
k/cm. The relative difference of critical voltages of
electrolyte with CaCO3 is not the same depending on
the polarity of the point electrode; when the point is
positive, the relative difference is positive and when its
negative, the relative difference presents some
fluctuations. For salts mixtures, the relative differences
of critical voltages with positive polarity are negative for
low values of pollution linear resistance (Table 4).
Beyond this value, the relative differences are equal to
zero or positive. When the point is negative, the relative
differences of critical voltages are negative or equal to
zero for the majority of the used mixtures except for
mixture 2 which presents a positive relative difference at
rp=12.5k/cm. We can conclude that the composition of

1,25

3,125

6,25

12,5

18,75

25

Linear Resistance(kOhms/cm)

Figure 3. Variations of the relative differences of critical


voltages as function of applied polarity.
The effect of the polarity of applied voltage can be
explained as a consequence of accumulation of
charges at the front of the head of the discharge. When
the voltage polarity is positive, the negative ions loss
their electrons and leave the liquid. These atoms are
electronegative and probably engender attachment
phenomena (O, Cl, C, S) that decrease the number of
electrons that came from different ionization process at
the head of the front of discharge. The implication of
this attachment is that the net degree of ionization
decrease and the breakdown of the gap on the front of
discharge will be difficult. When the point is negative,
the negative ions migrate toward the plane electrode
and the positive ions should be attracted by the

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

Figure 4. Comparison of computed and measured


critical flashover voltages for positive polarity
12
10
Critical V oltage(kV )

discharge. Those ions catch the electrons coming from


the discharge and are neutralized. Because the low
energy of ionization of these atoms (Na, K, Cu, Ca),
they can be ionized with the combination of intensity of
tangential electrical field at the liquid surface photoionization and the photoemission caused by the
discharge. The result is that the degree of ionization of
the front of the head the discharge should be ionized
and the breakdown will be easy.

DC
cri

= L (k )

Td rp

NaCl-

Vcri_cal-

KCl-

CaCO3-

Mix1-

Mix2-

According to the relationships we established in recent


work, the dc critical flashover voltage is given by [21]:
1
k +1

0
0

(1)

With
r
k= d
rp

10

15

20

25

Resistance(kOhms/cm)

Figure 5. Comparison of computed and measured


critical voltage for negative polarity

(2)

4.

CONCLUSION

and

av =

(3)

Ai (1 vi )
vi
Where i, vi and Ai are the thermal conductivity, volume
fraction and a kinetic gas coefficient respectively for
each constituent; indexes a and v are related to air and
water vapour respectively assuming that the discharge
column contains water vapour and air. The term i
depends on temperature and species constituting the
discharge column. Td is the axial temperature required
to provide the necessary amount of thermal ionisation.
rd, and rp are respectively the linear resistance of
discharge channel and pollution layer respectively.
i =a

1+

This work shows that type of salt and salt mixture have
dont have a significant influence on critical voltages.
The effect of the polarity of applied voltage can be
explained as a consequence of accumulation of
charges (neutral or negative) at the front of the head of
the discharge. The critical voltages computed using the
dynamic equations of n and N we established
elsewhere are found in a good accordance with the
experimental ones. It also appears from this study that
the most important components of the discharge
column are water vapour and air and the transfer of
metallic ion has not a significant influence on flashover
voltage.
5.

Thus one can compute the critical flashover voltage


using expression (5). Figures 4 and 5 show the
comparison of the computed and measured critical
voltage and critical current for both polarities. We
observe that the hypothesis of a discharge column
contains water vapour and air gives good results. Thus
the transfers of metallic ions from electrolyte to the
discharge column dont present an important effect on
the result.

C ritical voltage(kV)

15

10

NaCl+

Vcri_cal+

KCl+

CaCO3+

Mix1+

Mix2+

0
0

10

15

Linear Resistivity(kOhms/cm)

20

25

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