Use Of Micro-Void Content Growth Rates To Validate And Add Value To Electrical Insulation Tan-Delta Aging Testing


  • David A. Horvath
  • Greg M. Hostetter



Our research as well as others has shown that micro-void content in electric insulation polymers grows in a way that can be correlated to the degree of aging. Specific results of our experiments combined with research by others have led us to conclude that a promising technique for predicting remaining life in electric cable insulation, based on micro-void content and proximity to void limiting parameters, can be developed. This approach involves use of acoustic or optical microscopy to establish an estimate of void content in polymers by determining micro-void sizes and density. Separate research is used to establish limiting values for percent void content correlating to material failure. The mode of failure varies depending on the applied voltage regime. For example, at medium and high voltage levels, partial discharge detection can be considered indicative of pending end of life. Whereas for low voltage regimes, brittleness to the point of cracking susceptibility would allow the potential for moisture ingress and shorting and can be considered end of life. It has been separately shown that void growth rate is a function of temperature and radiation dose rate both during normal and nuclear accident conditions and is predictable based on the known polymer chemical degradation equations, which produce gaseous products in the form of oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Thus if end of life void content is known, the degree of void content growth occurring during a design basis accident is properly accounted for, and void content growth rates during normal temperature and radiation conditions are considered, then remaining life in electrical insulation can be accurately predicted. In recent years, several techniques have been proposed to assess electrical insulation aging. One of the more promising approaches for use with medium voltage cable is the tan-delta technique. This paper will demonstrate how the mirco-void content approach can be used to validate other techniques such as tan-delta and add additional meaning and value not otherwise available from tan-delta alone.


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