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Two types o f high voltage high vacuum bushings are described, which represent the present situation at the

Anstalt f~r Tieftemperaturforschung (A TF) o f the development of efficient and cheap bushings. These have a very low heat loss and heat capacity, are resistent against thermal shocks and are therefore very suitable for cryogenic applications. The described prototypes attain breakdown voltages (50 Hz ac) of more than 70 k V rms and 100 k V rms respectively with outer diameters of about 10 cm.

High vacuum bushings for cryogenic applications

F. Schauer

At experiments using high voltages, or at the operation of high voltage installations at cryogenic temperatures, the problem of high heat losses often arises due to heat conduction caused by using traditional bushings with solid insulators. In most cases these heat losses are, of course, very undesirable. Further disadvantages of these bushings usually occur at temperature changes so, normally it has to be observed over fixed time for cooling or heating. These times are normally in the range of hours or even days, times which are unacceptable for experiments in laboratories, for serial tests and also for eventual operation in some technical applications. Sometimes the heat capacity of the solid insulator is also a disadvantage. Last, but not least these bushings are very expensive to manufacture. For use at higher operating voltages only very high quality materials may be used, which are generally found under vacuum and are eventually equipped with potential control layers. To avoid, at least in part, some of these disadvantages, the ATF began developing bushings, which have a high vacuum as an insulating medium instead of solid insulators. Proposals for high vacuum bushings have existed for a long time. 1'2 Voltage tests using up to 130 kV dc and 45 kV ac for bushings of similar dimensions to those in this paper are reported in Reference 2. One of the main problems of all this equipment is the high vacuum tight connection between the metallic electrodes and the insulating materials bounding the vacuum at the cold ends of the bushings. Because of this we first carried out experiments with different sealings between different insulators and metals. The successful results are reported in reported, a We have tested prototypes of two different systems of bushings with an ac-voltage of 50 Hz.
Bushing w i t h t h e g r o u n d e d electrode outside o f the high v a c u u m

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The bushing (Fig. 1, left side) essentially consists of a glass fibre reinforced epoxy tube - 5 - (Vetresit 335, outer diameter (od) = 102 mm, inner diameter (id) -- 88 mm), of the high voltage electrode - 6 - made from stainless steel (od = 22 mm, id = 20 mm) and as the grounded electrode, a silver layer - 8 - outside of the Vetresit-tube with

Fig. 1 Bushing with the grounded electrode outside of the vacuum: 1-screw; 2, 14, 22-O-rings; 3, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 19potential shieldings;4, 16, 21-sucking holes; 5, 18-glass fibre reinforced epoxy tubes; 6, 17-high voltage electrodes; 8-silver layer; 11-in-O-ring; 13- cryostat; 20-grounded electrode; 23-vacuum pump. Measurementsin mm

torus-like potential shieldings - 7 - at the upper and - 9 lower end of the silver layer respectively. The sealing of the warm upper end of the bushing is attained with ordinary O-rings - 2 - , at the cold lower end with the In-O-ring - 11.3 The evacuation of the bushing is carried out through both holes - 4 - in the high voltage central electrode - 6 . To evacuate the bushing at the applied voltage an insulating

The author is at the Anstalt f~'r Tieftemperaturforschung, Steyrergasse, 19, 8010 G raz, Austria. Received 11 December 1977. 0011-2275/78/1805-0259 CRYOGENICS. M A Y 1978

$01.00 1978 IPC Business Press


tube is needed like that which is shown in Fig. 1 right side. This also consists of a Vetresit - 355 tube - 1 8 and two sucking tubes - 1 7 and 2 0 - are used as high voltage and grounded electrodes respectively. These electrodes are made from nickel-plated copper tubes. This insulating tube is resistive for voltages (amplitudes) of more than 200 kV, which is ample for the following experiments. The most important advantage of this bushing, with the grounded electrode outside of the vacuum, is the fact that at no position in the vacuum are metallic electrodes of different potentials lying in opposition. A breakdown should therefore take place through the excellent insulator-according to the maker's claims. Vetresit 355 has a dielectric strength of 25-32 kV mm -1 (in a space of 3 mm perpendicular to the layers) and 2.5-3.5 k V m m -1 (in a space of 25 mm parallel to the layers) respectively. At experiments with this bushing therefore, flashovers were only expected at the outside.
2 3

Fig. 2

Circuit diagram:

1-regulating transformer; 2-switch; 3-high voltage transformer;

4-oscilloscope; 5--capacitive voltage divider; 6--sample; 7-sphere gap


The bushing was tested in a LN2-cryostat 13, the LN2 reached over the lower grounded potential shielding - 9 . During the experiments the vacuum in the bushing was 5 x 10 -4 T. This relatively bad vacuum however guarantees according to literature 4' s about the same insulating properties as for a high vacuum of, say, 10-6 T. The circuit diagram of the high voltage tests is seen in Fig. 2. Three measurements were made with series resistances of in each case of 50 kfl, the flashovers at 147 kV, 158 kV and again at 158 kV (amplitude) originated at the upper grounded potential shielding - 7 - (Fig. 1) and continued along the tube - 5 - to the top. At the same time luminous phenomena were seen through the Vetresit tube 5 in the upper inner part of the bushing. Probably in the surroundings of the potential shielding - 7 - this arose because of the high field to vacuum breakdowns between the electrode - 6 - and the inner side of the tube - 5 - , so that a high voltage was applied there. Because of this the field at position 7 rose resulting in a flashover at the outside. The dielectric strength of this bushing could undoubtedly be increased by surrounding its upper part with oil, or by mounting some potential control installations. But because of the disadvantages of the necessity of an additional insulating tube for evacuation and the limited length of high quality Vetresit-355 epoxy tubes obtainable on the market - although instead of this it would be possible to use porcelain tubes, glass tubes etc. (some possibilities of sealing at the cold end are described in Reference 3) - we tried another system.

Fig. 3 Bushing with the grourded electrode in the vacuum: 1-screw; 2-plate spring; 3.10, 14-O-rings; 4, 5, 8, 9, 18, 19, 20, 22-potential shieldings; 6. 16-glass fibre reinforced epoxy tubes; 7-high voltage electrode; 11-stainless steel tube; 12-vacuum flange; 13-flange; 15-grounded electrode (stainless steel) ; 17-vessel of thermal and electrical insulting material; 21-1n-O-ring; 23-insulator, Measurements in mm

B u s h i n g s w i t h t h e g r o u n d e d e l e c t r o d e s in t h e vacuum Bushings without potential control equipment

on the tube - 1 5 . The potential shieldings - 4 and 19 respectively - are also made from nickel-plated brass. Nickel is almost as well suited as material for high vacuum electrodes as stainless steel. 6 One of the advantages of this arrangement is the possibility of using two Vetresit-tubes - 6 and 1 6 - (dimensions as above) and therefore the bushing can be made longer. Another advantage is the omission of an insulating tube like that on the fight in Fig. 1 because the grounded

At this kind of high vacuum bushing (Fig. 3) the grounded electrode is transferred into the high vacuum. The grounded electrode - 1 5 - and high voltage electrode - 7 consist of stainless steel tubes, the potential shieldings - 8 and 1 8 - are nickel-plated brass rings whiCh are screwed



M A Y 1978

vacuum flange - 1 2 - lies between the tubes 6 and 16 respectively. The sealing of the bushing is as above, at the cold end with an In-O-ring - 2 1 - , at the warm places with ordinary O-rings - 3 , 10 and 14. The bushing is held together by the screw - 1 - through the plate spring - 2 - (to compensate the different expansion coefficients) and the high voltage electrode - 7 . This screw 1 besides the vacuum-effect secures all the O-rings.

Measurements. The bushing was mounted at the grounded flange - I 3 - , the lower end was immersed in a vessel - 1 7 - of thermal and electrical insulating material f'dled with LN2. This vessel was standing about 80 cm above the ground on an insulator - 2 3 . The vacuum measured at the flange - 1 2 - was about 4 x 10-ST.

Because of the opposition of the metallic electrodes in vacuum these had to be "conditioned", this means the slow raising of the voltage with an highly resistive series resistance R (we used 10 M ~2). In this manner the electrodes were cleaned because of a lot of breakdowns with little currents. After about two hours 126 kV was reached and applied for several minutes. At the oscilloscope some discharges were seen but breakdown didn't take place. During following days the tests were repeated, in the meantime the bushing was always evacuated. The cooling at the lower end was interrupted during the nights. Without cooling the vacuum deteriorated to 3 x 10-4T. The voltage could always be raised again with the series resistance R = 10 M ~2 to 120 - 130 kV without breakdown. Without the resistance R the voltage could be raised to about 90 kV until a breakdown occurred mostly in the upper part of the bushing (seen by the lightning in the Vetresit 355-tube 6). After the disassembly of the bushing dark spots were seen on the electrode-ring - 8 - and at the opposite side of the high voltage electrode - 7 .
Fig. 4 Bushing with the grounded electrode in the vacuum and with potential control equipment: 1--cooling tank; 2-high voltage electrode; 3, 4, 7, 8-potential shieldings; 5-potential controlling tube, 6-glass fibre reinforced epoxy tubes; 9-spacer (polyethylene)

Bushingwith potential control equipment

Because the voltages reached by the bushing above appeared unsatisfactory, the bushing was improved in the following way (Fig. 4): Potential-control equipment and a cooling tank were incorporated at the upper warm end. The potential-control consists of the tube - 5 - made from stainless steel which is proportioned to divide the voltage capacitively into two portions of about the same heights (od = 43 mm, id = 41 mm). It is well known that a more uniform distribution of the potential causes an essential improvement of the breakdown voltage. At the upper and lower end of the tube - 5 - are the nickelplated brass potential shieldings - 3 and 8 - which are screwed on the tube - 5 . These shieldings are also spacers in the radial direction, along the axis. Tube - 5 - is held by the insulator - 9 - (polyethylene PAS- PE 10). The cooling tank - 1 - also consists of stainless steel and serves in addition as potential shielding. Measurements. First the bushing was tested in LN2 as in Fig. 3, the vacuum was 5.10 -s T. After several hours

conditioning with a series resistance of 10 M~2, a voltage amplitude of 160 kV was reached for half a minute, some lower voltages could be applied with a resistance R -150 k ~2 for a longer time, eg 155 kV for 4 minutes. A voltage of 100 kV was applied without series resistance for 3 days without discharges or breakdown. As a transformer (3 in Fig. 2) we used a model with a rated current of 0.17 A and a rated voltage of 250 kV rms. After this the bushing was tested in a cryostat cooled by supercritical He (4 bar, 6 K). Here the vacuum was improved to 8.10 -~ T. For this test no difference could be observed in the behaviour with applied voltage compared with the tests in LN2. After disassembling the bushing, traces of breakdowns were seen at the electrode - 2 - opposite to the tube - 5 - and also at the inside of the tube - 5 - just as traces at the potential shieldings - 3, 4, 7 and 8. Traces of flashovers along the surfaces of the insulator - 9 - or the tubes - 6 could not be seen.

Three high vacuum bushings are described here which comprise only the beginning of the development at the ATF of efficient high voltage bushings especially for opearation in the cryo-laboratory or eventually in technical cryogenic installations.



There is still scope for many improvements, eg the small thermal conductivity of the installations described between LHe and the warm part of about 25[d W where d [cml = distance from the LHe to the warm part (=flange) of the bushing, could be lowered by thinner walls of the insulating tubes and the electrodes respectively. The breakdown voltage could be increased by different additional steps, eg additional potential controlling layers, other electrodes, eventually by insulator coated electrodes. We expect to improve the ac breakdown voltage by a factor 1.5 or more with about the some dimensions of bushings (diameters of about 10 cm). This value is comparable with conventional bushings with potential controlling layers. Further investigation may be done with dc voltages, we expect the vacuum bushings to be suitable at least as well as at ac. 2 Assembling the described high vacuum bushings we deliberately did not take care to obtain a high purity, which could have been reached at these dimensions only with great expenditure. The electrodes, as the insulator tubes, were washed before mounting only with a solvent (Aceton) and dried by dry N2. Therefore the manufacturing was relatively easy, such bushings may

be produced by the workshops of little laboratories inexpensively. Besides the advantage of cheap and easy manufacture the high vacuum bushings have very low heat losses, are easy to cool down because of the small masses and therefore low heat capacity and are very resistive against thermal shocks. This last feature was often tested using a lot of very fast cooling and heating up processes to and from temperatures of LHe and LN2.3 The author wants to thank Dr. Gerhold for helpful discussions during the work.


1 2 3 4 5 6

Mauset,Butghardt, Fenger, Dakin, Meyethoff IEEE Trans

Pow App and Syst, PAS-95, (1976) 909

CryogenicPower Transmission Technology-Cryogenic Dielectrics, Final Report 1972, 1976, ORNL/TM - 5941, July 1977 Schauet, F. Vakuumtechnik6 (1977) 172 Ganju, T.K., StivastavaK.D. Proc 7th Int Syrup Vacuum Discharges and Insulation, Novosibirsk(1976) 165 Schauet,F. Dissertation, Anstalt f//r Tieftemperaturforschung, Graz, Austria, to be published G~nger,B. Der elektrische Durchschlag yon Gasen, (Springer-Verlag Berlin/GiSttingen/Heidelberg 1953) 234

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