Liquid Dielectrics

In Power Apparatus Liquid Insulation is used for: •Cooling and Heat Transfer •Filling Agent in Voids of Solid Insulation •Arc Quenching in Circuit Breakers Liquids find Application in: •Transformers •Cables and Capacitors •Circuit Breakers •Solid State Power Electronic Devices

Most Commonly used Liquids are • Hydrocarbon or Mineral Oils • Askerals or Polychlorinated Diphynyls • Silicone Oils • Synthetic Hydrocarbon Oils such as Polyolefins, Polyester Oils (eg. PETEP) • High Temperature Hydrocarbon Oils (eg. HTH, Tetrachloroethelene) Most of these Oils have Specific Gravity 0.8 to 0.95 Dielectric Strength Max ~ 1MV/cm Working 150 – 200 kV/cm

Electrical Properties • Relative Permittivity er • Volume Resistivity r • Power factor or loss tangent tand • Dielectric Strength (kV/cm) Other Physical properties • Specific Gravity • Viscosity, Temperature Viscosity characteristic • Surface Tension • Coefficient of Volume expansion • Thermal conductivity • Pour point, Flash point & Fire point • Refractive Index • Acid Value and Saponification Value

Testing of Oils
To assess the quality of the oil following parameters are determined on samples • er and tand •Dielectric Strength •Acid value and Saponification value •Sludge Value

Other Properties are determined only for new oils or when oil is to be replaced.

Mineral Oils: The Hydrocarbon Oils
The most commonly used liquid dielectric is the Transformer oil, which is a mixture of several hydrocarbon oils like paraffins, iso-paraffins, naphthalenes and aromatics like benzene, toluenes etc. Usually the oil can be worked at temperatures upto 100oC above which it undergoes gradual ageing or decomposition. The oil becomes darker due to formation of acids, sludges (resins) etc losing its dielectric properties. It becomes corrosive as well as highly conductive. With a little variation of the mixture composition, the capacitor and cable oils are produced. The electric properties are same with variation of other physical properties like viscosity, interfacial tension etc.

Synthetic Hydrocarbon Oils
Since petroleum products are becoming scarce and costly, synthetic hydrocarbon oils are produced, mainly for applications in cables and capacitors. The synthetic oils are mainly polyolefins like polybutylene, polyalkyl benzene etc. In general these have almost same or similar properties and characteristics of those of mineral oils.

Silicone Oils
Silicone Oils are obtained by replacing silicon in place of carbon atoms in paraffin chain or aromatic chain as follows:
Hydrocarbon Oils Silicone Oils

The oils have excellent electric properties, good thermal stability upto 1500C and oxidation resistant. They are nonflammable. These oils are very costly (about 10 times that of transformer oil) and hence are not widely used.

Polyester oils
Natural esters such as caster oil, linseed oil etc are widely used as capacitor oil, particularly for high frequency applications ( upto 1 MHz). They have high boiling point, high fire point etc. Recently synthetic esters have been developed viz organic esters, phosphate esters etc. These oils are biodegradable and hence do not pose problem for environmental pollution.

New Liquids
A few new oils such as high temperature hydrocarbon oil (HTH), Tetrachloroethelene etc have been introduced recently whose properties are much similar to that of transformer oil with much better heat transfer properties. They can be worked upto 2500C or more.

Dielectric properties of some liquid dielectrics
Breakdown Strength at 200 C on 2.5 mm standard sphere gap Relative permittivity (50 Hz) 50 Hz

Transfo rmer Oil
15 kV/mm

Cable Oil
30 kV/mm

Capaci tor Oil
20 kV/mm

>15 kV/mm

Silicone Oil
30 – 40 kV/mm

2.2 – 2.3

2.3 – 2.6

0.25 x 10-3 0.10 x 10-3 1013 1014 0.88 – 0.89 30 Nil

0.1 x 10-3 0.5 x 10-3 >1014 0.96 – 0.97 80 <0.03

2 - 73

T a n d




1 kHz

0.0005 1012 1013

0.0001 1012 1013


Resistivity ohm-cm Specific Gravity at 200 C Viscosity at 200 C (CS) Acid Value (mg/gm of KOH) Refractive Index

3 x 1014

30 Nil

30 Nil

1.0 – 1.1
10 – 1000 Nil 1.5000 – 1.6000





Saponification (mg of KOH/gm of Oil) Thermal Expansion (20 – 1000 C) Max. Permissible water content (in ppm)





7 x 104 /0 C

7 x 104 /0 C

7 x 104 /0 C


5 x 10-4/0C <30 (negligible )





Properties of high temperature hydrocarbon (HTH) oils and tetrachloroethylene (C2Cl2)
Dielectric Strength, kV/mm Negative polarity Impluse breakdown strength, kV/mm Dielectric constant, er Positive polarity

43 118 85 2.38

43 -


Dissipation factor (%)

1000 C
500 C 250 C

0.4 <10-3 285 312 -30

0.05 -

Flash point, 0C Fire point, 0C Pour point, 0C Viscosity, cSt 1000 C 500 C 250 C Specific gravity

-22 36 42 55 1.620

16 85 350 0.877

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