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2008 International Conference on High Voltage Engineering and Application, Chongqing, China, November 9-13, 2008

Performance of composite insulators with and without


bio contamination
M.N.Dinesh 1, N.Vasudev 2 , P.V.Vasudevan Nambudri 2 , K.Suryanarayana 2 , K.N.Ravi 3 ,V.Krishnan 4
1
Department of EEE , RVCollege of Engineering , Bangalore,India.
2
Central Power Research Institute, Bangalore , India.
3
Department of EEE, Sapthagiri College of Engineering , Bangalore, India.
4
Department of EEE , MSRamaiah Institute of Technology , Bangalore India

Abstract- Contamination flashover is a major concern of algae, dark green in colour, on both the insulators.
affecting the reliability of power systems. Industries switched over Photograph 1 shows the virgin insulator (SRV) and insulators
from porcelain to polymers due to lighter weight and superior
contamination performance. Polymers especially silicone rubbers with bio contamination. It can be observed that the formation
(SR) helped considerably to eliminate the contamination problem. of algae on the insulators was not uniform. Algae formation
Bio contamination is a growth of fungi or other micro organism was observed on that part of the insulator which was exposed
which colonize on the surface of the insulator. The paper presents to sun regularly.
results of the laboratory tests performed on polymeric insulators
with and without bio contamination. It was observed that there is
no effect of bio contamination on SR insulators, except that the
part of insulator shed with algae formation lost its hydrophobicity
and lot of scale formation was observed on all the insulators.

I. INTRODUCTION
Problems due to bio contamination of insulators have been
reported in tropical areas in USA, Srilanka, Tanzania, Germany,
Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Paraguay and New Zealand. Bio
contamination in the form of algae is formed on the insulator
Photograph 1 Virgin insulator (SRV) and Insulators with bio contamination
surface in the cold countries especially on silicone rubber
(SR1) ,(SR2).
insulators. No systematic study has been done to investigate
the long term performance of polymeric insulators with bio
contamination. When fungi and other microorganisms colonize A. AGEING TEST (SALT FOG TEST)
the surface of an insulator, they impede the drying of the
insulator surface and thus there is a possibility of increased
insulator degradation by enzymes secreted by fungal 66 kVA
contaminants. Bio contamination causes concern among utility R
engineers because it is not understood fully. In the present
work, algae was allowed to form on silicone rubber insulator.
These insulators were then tested under salt fog condition for a
SRV SR1 SR2
period of 10000 hrs and the results are presented in this paper.
II. EXPERIMENTAL SET UP AND TEST
PROCEDURES
Fig 1 . Test set up in a ageing chamber
In order to simulate bio contamination / algae formation on
insulator the two commercially available SR insulators SR1 The SR1 and SR2 insulators with algae formation were
and SR2 were used. Creepage length of both the insulator was removed from the tank and mounted in an ageing chamber
maintained at the same value of 588 mm. Both the insulators along with the virgin insulator SRV. The SRV and SR1
were put in a septic tank for a period of 13 months. The cover insulators are identical in all respects except for the algae
of the septic tank was kept open and insulators were fully formation on SR1. The experimental set up is shown in fig 1. A
immersed in water. The average conductivity of water in the voltage of 17kV was applied continuously using a 33kV,
tank was 0.528 m mho /cm. 66kVA high voltage transformer. Insulators were exposed to
Insulators were inspected every month. For the first three salt fog with the salinity of 10 kg/m3 .
months there was no formation of algae/fungus on the Voltages across the resistances (R) were measured randomly
insulators. Gradually there was a formation of fungus on both and the leakage current through the insulators were calculated.
the insulators. At the end of 13 months there was a thick layer The test was carried out initially for a period of 5000 hours.

978-1-4244-2810-6/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE 124


After every 1000 hours a very small portion was cut out from operated at 30 kV /30 mA provided the X-ray source and a
all the three insulators for EDXRF and XRD analysis. The test scintillation counter was used for the detection. The diffraction
was further continued for a period of 5000 hours (totaling to data on each polymer sample was obtained from 5 to 100
10000 hours) and only the leakage current was recorded during degree 2-theta, with a sampling interval of 0.02 degrees and a
this period. At the end of 10000 hrs samples were cut out from scan rate of 2 degree per minute. Data reduction was carried
all the insulators for EDXRF analysis. out using the software provided by the manufacturer. This
At regular intervals during the test, check for hydrophobicity includes removal of k-alpha component of the copper radiation
was done by spraying water on to the insulator surface from a prior to peak identification. The diffraction pattern obtained is
distance of 25 + 10 cm. a plot of the intensity vs. Theta angle. The estimated sample
depth of 10,000 to 60,000 Angstroms, the depth increasing
B. Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (EDXRF)
with 2 - theta angle. The degree of crystallinity can be
Analysis.
EDXRF analysis was carried out on samples by using the determined if the crystalline and amorphous scattering in the
equipment Mini Pal2 of PANalytical make. This analysis is diffraction pattern can be separated from each other. The
used to estimate the silicone content in the insulator samples degree of crystallinity is equal to the ratio of the integrated
from the test. The basic principle of X-ray fluorescence is that crystalline scattering to the total scattering, both crystalline and
an electron can be ejected from its atomic orbital by the amorphous, and is given by
absorption of a light wave (photon) of sufficient energy. The
xc = s2 Ie (s)ds/ s2 I(s)ds,
energy of the photon must be greater than the energy with
which the electron is bound to the nucleus of the atom. When
Where s is the magnitude of the reciprocal-lattice vector and
the inner orbital electron is ejected from an atom, an electron
is given by
from a higher energy orbital will be transferred to the lower
energy level orbital. During this transition a photon may be s= (2 sin)/
emitted from the atom. This fluorescent light is called the is the one-half the angle of deviation of the diffracted
characteristic X-ray of the element. The energy of the emitted rays from the incident X-rays
photon will be equal to the difference in energies between the is the X-ray wavelength,
two orbital occupied by the electron making the transition. As I(s) is the intensity of coherent X-ray scatter from a
the energy difference between two specific orbital shells, in a specimen (both crystalline and amorphous),
given element, is always the same , the photon emitted when Ic is the intensity of coherent X-ray scatter from the
an electron moves between these two levels, will always have crystalline region.
the same energy, Therefore, by determining the energy of the The degree of crystallinity calculated from the above
X-ray light (photon) emitted by a particular element, it is equation tends to be smaller than the true crystalline fraction,
possible ;to determine the identity of that element. For a because part of the X-ray intensity that is scattered by the
particular energy of fluorescent light emitted by an element, crystalline regions is lost from the peaks and appears as diffuse
the number of photons per unit time (generally referred to as scatter in the background as a result of atomic thermal
peak intensity or count rate) is related to the amount of that vibrations and lattice imperfections.
analyte in the sample. The counting rates for all detectable III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
elements within a sample are usually calculated by counting,
for a set amount of time, the number of photons that are A. Leakage Current Measurements
detected for the various analytes characteristic X-ray energy The variation of leakage currents of SRV, SR1 and SR2 with
lines. It is important to note that these fluorescent lines are respect to time are shown in fig2, fig 3 and fig 4 respectively.
actually observed as peaks with a semi Gaussian distribution
because of the imperfect resolution of modern detector SRV
technology. Therefore, by determining the energy of the x-ray 25
peaks in a samples spectrum, and by calculating the count rate 20
Current in mA

of the various elemental peaks, it is possible to qualitatively


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establish the elemental composition of the samples and to
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qualitatively measure the concentration of these elements.
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C. X-RAY Diffraction (XRD) Analysis. 0
This analysis was used to study the changes in the physical
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structure of the polymer with ageing. In addition, the clustering


Days
of the filler particles on the surface with ageing was studied
using this technique. The samples were cut from the insulators
under study after every 1000 hours. The instrument used was Fig 2. Leakage current of SRV
XPert PRO of PHILIPS. A copper anode sealed X-Ray tube

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SR1

20
Current in mA

15

10

0
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Days

Fig 3. Leakage current of SR1

SR2

50 Photograph 2 . Shows the scale formation on insulator (SR2)


Current in mA

40
TABLE 1
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Variation of silicone content with ageing
20
Insulator Silicone content after
10
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 10000
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106

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hrs hrs hrs hrs hrs hrs


Days SRV 10.20% 15.68% 21.40% 22.77% 28.05% 28.79%
Fig 4. Leakage current of SR2.
SR1 8.12% 17.04% 16.55% 8.33% 10.02% 29.98%

Pattern of variation of leakage current is almost same for SR2 20.76% 30.01% 34.70% 27.87% 29.12% 48.11%
SRV and SR1 insulators. It can be observed that the maximum
leakage current recorded is 20 mA in SRV, 16.9 mA in SR1 and It can be seen that there is an increase in silicone content in
40 mA in SR2. There was no flash over during the entire all the insulators at the end of the test. This increase in silicone
ageing process. At the end of ten thousand hours the leakage content is due to the migration of low molecular weight chains
currents in all the insulators were less than 1 mA. from bulk to the surface. Due to this the insulator displays
good hydrophobic property and its performance is superior in
B. Variation of Hydrophobicity contaminated conditions.
It was observed that the hydrophobicity was partially lost D. X-Ray Dispersion Analysis
during the test, Hydrophobicity was of the class HC 4 , on that The results of the analysis of SR1 is presented in the fig 5.
part of insulators where the bio contamination was present and
on the other parts it was HC 3/ HC 2. After the test was
concluded(i.e. after 10000 hours) and after a recovery period of
24 hours , it was found that the hydrophobic value was HC1 in
spite of scale formation on insulators. The scale formation of
the insulator is shown in photograph 2. This property of
hydrophobic recovery of the material makes the insulator to
perform better under polluted conditions.
C. EDXRF Analysis.
EDXRF analyses were carried out on small samples cut out
of the insulators.
Four silicone rubber materials with known ATH content of
10%, 20%, 30% and 40 % was taken as a reference for creating
calibration curve. Based on the calibration curve the resultant
Fig 5 XRD analysis of SR1 insulator after every
% of silicone in various samples taken out is as indicated in 1000 Hrs up to 5000 Hrs
table 1.
It can be seen that there is no appreciable variation in the
state of the material. Thus the analysis on SRV and SR2

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insulators gave the same result. The materials of all the three Bangalore.
insulators are still amorphous even after being exposed to 5000 N.Vasudev obtained B.E , M.E, PhD Degree from the
hours of salt fog and have not degraded. University of Bangalore, Mysore and Bangalore during the
year 1982, 1986 and 1999 respectively . He worked as lecturer
IV. CONCLUSION at RV College Of Engineering during 1982 to 1984. Joined
CPRI High voltage Division during the year 1987. His areas of
The results show that the behavior of insulator with and interest are design of external insulation from the point of view
without bio contamination is virtually same under salt fog of pollution. Ageing studies on polymeric AC and DC
conditions. Thus it can be concluded that bio contamination insulators under polluted conditions. He has more than 70
does not have significant effect on the performance of polymer publications at National and International forums. He is
insulator. member IEEE.
V. ACKNOWLEDGMENT K.N.Ravi . Professor and Head of EEE Department, SCE ,
Bangalore. Born in Salem, India during the year 1956.
The authors are thankful to the authorities of Central Power Received BE degree in Electrical from Bangalore University
Research Institute for according permission to publish this during 1978. Received ME degree with specialization in High
work, and all the staff of High Voltage Division of CPRI for Voltage from Indian institute of Science during 1981. Recieved
their constant support during this work. Phd degree from Indian institute of Science during the year
1995. Received Badkas medal during 1996 for best thesis.
REFERENCES Joined CPRI during 1982 Worked in CPRI till 2007 . Areas of
interest are Design of external insulation from the point of
[1] Dernfalk A.D, Gubanski SM, Techniques for estimation of biological
contamination on insulators using image analysis, Electrical Insulation view pollution. Pollution Performances of DC insulators,
and Dielectric Phenomena, 2004, Annual report coference on volume , lightning arrester and polymeric insulators. He has published
issue, oct 2004, pp 659-662. more than 30 papers in national and international conferences.
[2] Stina Wallstrom and Sigbritt Karlsoon , Biofilms on silicone rubber
insulators, microbial composition and diagnostics of removal by use of P.V. Vasudevan Nambudiri born in the year 1951 received
ESEM/EDS composition of biofilms infecting silicone rubber insulators, B.Sc. Electrical Engineering degree in the year 1975 from
Dept of Fibre and Polymer tech, Royal Institute of Technology , Kerala University. Joined CPRI in the year 1977 and presently
Stockholm, Sweden ,.
working as Joint Director, High Voltage Division. Areas of
BIOGRAPHIES interest design and development of HV test and measuring
M.N. Dinesh, born in Karnataka, India in 1965. He received equipments pertaining to high voltage and insulation. Testing
his Electrical Engineering degree from Bangalore University of lightning arresters and calibration of HV equipment. He has
during 1988, His M.E degree from Bangalore University many national and international papers to his credit.
during1994, since 1988 he is in teaching, presently working in K. Suryanarayana is presently working as Engineering
the Department of Electrical Engineering, RV College Officer in the Materials Technology Division, CPRI, Bangalore.
Engineering, Bangalore 59. He received his M.Tec in Structural Engineering from NITK ,
V. Krishnan, born in Karnataka, India in 1951, He received Surathkal. His research interests include material
his BE degree in Electrical Engineering from Madras characterization, development and evaluation of fly ash based
University during the year 1967, ME in High Voltage building products, composite products, fly ash concrete and
Engineering from IISc Bangalore in 1974, PhD in High allied areas. His areas of expertise include techniques such as
Voltage Engineering from IISc Bangalore during the year 1988, X-Ray diffraction, X-Ray Fluorescence, Mercury intrusion
He is presently working as Professor and Head of the porosimetry, Microstructure analysis and associated techniques.
Department , Department of Electrical Engg , MSRIT, He has many national and international papers to his credit.

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