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Introduction for insulator

The insulating material is a material that reacts to a very high resistance to electrical current flow or against the flow of electricity. It also seeks to separate electrical conductors without allowing current to pass from one place to another. In addition, it can also be used to provide a medium for conducting heat conduction in electrical machines and equipment. There are three basic types of electrical insulating materials, which are solid, liquid and gas. The figure 1.1 show basic types of electrical insulating material and example


- laminated plastic - papers - fabrics - mineral oil - vegetable oil - sulfur hexafluoride - air

Electrical insulating material



Figure 1.0: Types of electrical insulating material

The solid constitute the most extensive group of insulating material. Based on physical and chemical properties, structure and production characteristic, the solid insulating material are divided into several subgroups such as laminated plastic, paper ad fabrics. Furthermore, the liquid insulating are insulating oils, which include petroleum, vegetable oil and synthetic oil. The liquid insulating has different types of insulation from each other in viscosity and in the value of their electrical properties. The gases insulating include air and sulfur hexafluoride. Air is a natural insulated use for air gape in electrical machinery and electrical equipments.


Insulation in transformer

Transformer is a static device that can transform electrical energy from one circuit to another without any direct electrical connection. It is the exclusive use of electric power for electromagnetic induction to transfer power at the same frequency, usually with changed values of voltage and current. The transformer has two parts to produce magnetic flux is primary and secondary winding. The primary winding can be produce magnetic flux when it is connected to electrical sources such as power supply. The magnetic flux produces by primary winding will be pass through the core. The varying magnetic flux will be produce to other core. This core called the secondary winding. The secondary winding also would on the same core and can give output for transformer [1]. The figure 1.1 show the magnetic flux produced by primary and secondary winding.

Figure 1.1: The flux magnet produced by coil [1]

The heat in the winding will be moved to the oil for generated in the transformer. The oil will be heated and will flow into the radiator by convection. The temperature of transformer will be increases are entirely due to heat in transformer does not disappear that right. It will cause damage to the paper insulating and fluids insulating medium in transformers. Temperature control is important to ensure a long life for the transformer. Transformer cooling system can be accelerated rate of heat dissipation in the transformer.

The critical part of a modem power system is the transformer life management but the transformer life depended on the insulating medium use. The strength will be increase in electrical insulation but it is depends on the distance between coils and winding in a transformer. Most of transformers used mineral oil as an insulator and also acts as a cooling medium. The mineral oil is an excellent dielectric and cooling medium. Moreover, the limitations of mineral oil are low biodegradation and panic threats to human beings and ecosystem. Nevertheless, the mineral oil has poor performance at high temperature [13]. That why it is restricted in ecologically sensitive locations (indoor type applications). Furthermore, this oil is high cost, it used of such oils certain special transformer application only. There are several important features in determining the oil is suitable for use in transformer and it depends on the physical, chemical and electrical properties in order to achieve characteristics of insulation in the transformer. Figure 1.2 show electrical power transformers.

Figure 1.2: power transformer 3


Problem statement

Mineral oil is an important component in the transformer. The function of mineral oil is to insulate and to serve as a coolant. This oil has to provide good dielectric, thermal and could maintain its good properties over period application. It also can be obtained at reasonable low price. The problems related to mineral oil are non- biodegradable, short services life, the impact on the environment and resources of non-renewable energy. Therefore, it is important to find an alternative insulating liquid that is environment friendly. The performance of a machine such as transformer need to increase for safety in transformer which transformer oil is essential tools for make the transformer working with smoothly. Therefore, the oil will be required dielectric characteristics for better insulation and cooling in the transformer.



The main objective of this project is make sunflower oil as an alternative to mineral oil in transformer. There are several objectives to be achieved to achieve the main objective: i. ii. iii. To test the performance of sunflower oil as transformer oil To conduct electrical testing on the sunflower oil To compare the chemical, physical and electrical characteristic between the sunflower oil and mineral oil


Project scope

The project has to find and understanding regarding the literature review the covers of study of insulting oil, characteristics of the liquid insulation. Besides that it have to conduct some physical and electrical testing such as kinematic viscosity, water content,

breakdown voltage, permittivity and lost factor. It also must be analyze the result base on chemical and electrical characteristic and compare result with the standard.



This project has several steps that must be followed during the conduct of the project. It seeks to ensure that the project has to run smoothly and successfully as the objectives of the project. The first step that needs to be conducted that study the sunflower oil and mineral oil as well as the study of the transformer. Besides, it also needs to identify the characteristics of the sunflower oil and also mineral oil that it meets the required characteristics to be used as transformer oil. After identifying the characteristics of each sample of oil, the preparation is required where the project is to use different brands of sunflower oil that Sunlico and Adela and it has made in Malaysian. For each brand will be divided into two oil that where the oil should not be heated and heated. So, the project provides all four samples, two samples of oil that has been heated and the two oils are unheated on both the brand. The next step to make measurement based on physical and electrical properties. After get on each test result, it should be analyzed so that the oil is suitable or not site as transformer oil. Figure 1.3 shows flow chat for this project

Figure 1.3: Project flow



This thesis has five chapters. At the first chapter discuss about the objective and the scope in this project. Chapter 2 discuss about the literature review which is mineral oil, sunflower oil, electrical and physical properties. Chapter 3 discusses about the procedure in this project. Chapter 4 discusses about the result and analysis in and lastly chapter 5 discuses the conclusion and recommendation in this project.




Mineral oil

Mineral oil used as a coolant insulating fluids in power transformer. The first idea for mineral oil is used in 1892 by general electric in transformer that been designed by Prof Elihu Thomson [4]. The mineral oils such as petroleum have some structure such as Paraffinic, aromatic and naphthenic. It is obtained after making the fractional distillation of crude petroleum. Until today, mineral oil are used in liquid filled transformer as the insulating liquid. When in the service, the mineral oil liquid in a transformer undergo a constant heat produce by the operation of the transformer and consequently it degradation because of ageing process. The dark color formation and resin acids or mud liquid is the result of ageing process. Oil to be used in transformers are made by many regional and international refining companies, each using a particular crude oil and refined oil, such as shown in figure 2.1.

mineral oil

crude mineral oil

refined mineral oil

Figure 2.1: Classification of mineral oil 8

The aim for refining mineral oil is to remove or reduce waxes, sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen compound and the aromatic hydrocarbon. After refining process, the mineral oil has good insulation properties. Table 2.0 show the main type of mineral oil

Table 2.0: The main type of mineral oil Type of mineral oil Chemical structure comment

Methane (CH4) is a gas Paraffin normal butane (C4H10) and iso butene


It has ring structures with six carbon atoms (within six-member rings) or fourteen carbon atoms (within three member rings)


It has six-member ring structures and two groups: mono-aromatics (single rings) and poly-aromatics (two or more rings).

Mineral oil have several advantages over the other types of oils, it has higher resistance to aging method. The transformer oil must have required low viscosity because it can better for cooling of transformer [5, 6]. Usually, the mineral oil used for insulation because it has excellent dielectric properties such as high dielectric strength and low dielectric losses but poor in flash point and fire point characteristics. However, the oils are non biodegradable and good long term performance [2, 3].

The transformer oils are classified as liquid insulating which a good insulating in transformer, it has some of properties that need to know to determine to provide the oil to use into transformer. Some of the properties that need to know is physical, chemical, and electrical properties. There are some basic factors to show the electrical properties of the transformer oil, such as breakdown voltage, dielectric dissipation factor, dielectric constant and volume resistivity. Breakdown voltage is most important for estimate the transformer oil capacity of tolerance to electrical stress. When the dielectric dissipation factor increases as the resistance reduces, dielectric dissipation factor and resistivity directly affect the insulation of the electrical equipment.


Mineral oil properties

All the insulation oil for transformer should follow this specification. Table 2.1 show the mineral oil properties

Table 2.1: mineral oil properties [13] Property Density at 20C, kg/dm3 Viscosity at 40C cSt Viscosity at -30C cSt Pour point, C Flashpoint, C Water content, ppm Ac breakdown volt kV tan at 90C (50Hz) Test method ISO 3675 ASTM D445 ASTM D445 ISO 3016 ISO 2719 IEC 60814 IEC 60156 IEC 60247 Mineral oil 0.88 8.9 1.080 -63 146 <20 >70 0.001



Sunflower oil

Natural ester fluids base on renewably sourced has provide to been used for insulating liquid in transformer. The natural ester oil was used in transformers since 1990. This is because the oil has the properties better than traditional mineral oils. In the recent years, the natural ester appear of clean and function technologies in high demand to used as ecofriendly but in newest version, it are derived by compressing plant and animal tissue such as natural ester is slower ageing rate, less total operating cost (initial cost and operating cost) and low noise level. Moreover, vegetable oil could be reduce the exploitation and end life cost in transformers. It also could be safety and health problem and appropriated responds to environment [2].

The natural esters like sunflower oil are used successfully in transformers [2]. For this project, the sunflower oil use as an alternative for mineral oil in transformer because it is non-fossil and also 100% environmental friendly. The first extraction of sunflower oil in Europe was in the early 18th century. The sunflower oil is a combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats at low levels of saturated fat, but it provides a lot of vitamin E compare with other vegetables. Besides, the sunflower oil also has health benefits, a good frying performance and value for a light taste.

Sunflower oil has a fatty acid consisting of a linear hydrocarbon chain and ended with carbolic function. The molecules contain in the chain has an even number of carbon atoms and the chain may be saturated or unsaturated chain is compose of mono-, tri-and di-. Then even numbers of carbon atoms normally used for number 8 to 22 in triglycerids. HOOC-(CH2)16-CH3 is a crude formula that represents the expression of C18:0 in which both queries numbers correspond to the number of carbon atoms and unsaturated chains to bound (s) in each molecule [7]. The natural of the fatty acids components of triglycerides plays an important role for determining the physical chemical properties of bio-oil. Table 2.2 show the characteristic by the relative quantities of fatty acids.


Table 2.2: Typical fatty acid profiles (%) of sunflower oil [7] Fatty acids C16:0 C18:0 C18:1 C18:1(OH)* C18:2 C18:3 C20:0 C20:1 C22:0 C22:1 Other Sunflower oils 5.77 3.97 27.2 0.00 59.2 0.23 0.24 0.13 1.44 0.00 1.82

Therefore, higher viscosity of the oil because the chemical is stable in saturated fatty acid but in triple unsaturated fatty acids, the viscosity is lower because the chemical is unstable [2]. The sunflower oil insulation have tabulated in table 2.3. It shows sunflower oil properties.

Table 2.3: Sunflower oils insulation properties [16] Property Breakdown voltage (kV/m) Flash point (C) Fire point (C) Viscosity (cSt) Sunflower oil 34 260 270 132



Electrical properties


Breakdown voltage

Breakdown voltage is one of important properties to define the efficiency of oil as an insulator. The ability of the oil (acting as a dielectric) to oppose the flow of a current is determine by test which show its dielectric strength. Among these are the specific of resistance that a dielectric offers under moderate conditions of voltage. Moreover, the ability to prevent arcing between two electrodes at high electric potentials or to prevent arcing between the electric source and ground. The quality of the oil can be influenced by the presence of impurities like humidity, particles and gases. The presence of water in the oil can cause a rapid drop in the dielectric strength. However, dielectric strength will increase if there are impurities in the oil. Due to oil is used for insulation in a transformers, it have to release of moisture and oxidation in the oil for need to make a strong insulating material in transformers. [12].

The liquid fraction in the gas is connection dependent avalanche ionization of atoms, causing the collision of electrons that have been supplied in the field. The electrons must be removed from the liquid cathode available. Pure liquid is a liquid that has a pure chemical which can not contain any impurities and simple structure in pure chemistry. The breakdown mechanism explains breakdown only of highly pure liquid and do not applied commercially available in liquid. Conductivity may be obtained after the electric field is low at less than 1kV/cm. it will be due to impurities found after purification. However, the current will increase as the area is high (> 100kV/cm) [12].

Breakdown strength affect the breakdown strength in oil once will affect the insulation in the transformer. There are several factors that can affect the breakdown strength to affect the breakdown strength of oil such as the field, separation gap, the cathode work function and cathode temperature. Therefore, the dielectric fluid includes a conduction mechanism of charge and the process leading


to the breakdown. It is also important to develop high-voltage technology and pulse power systems to form a transformer that works well. [12].


Dielectric loss, Tan

Dielectric dissipation factor is important properties in the liquid insulating. The electrical energy absorbed by the material from the electric field and it will appears in the form of heat within the material. The dielectric dissipation factor can be expressed as (1.0)

The electrical loss tangent is defined by the angle between the capacitor impedance vector and negative reactive axis [16]. Figure 2.2 show the leakage current per phase to an insulator.

Figure 2.2: The leakage current per phase to an insulator

The leakage current leads the voltage by 90 because the voltage is instantaneous voltage. If not insulating, the current leads the voltage with an angle little bit shorter the 90. It can generates a leakage current, and the


displacement current represents the value of

. From the phasor diagram in figure 2.2, it can be

. From this equation, applying the substitution on

I and IC, it will give final expression of


The dissipation according IEC 60247 is the tangent of the loss angle here is described as the angle difference between applied voltage and the resulting current deviation from . The low value of tangent delta is needed so that insulation oil

can works as good insulation oil. If the value of tangent is high, it could be an indication of presence of contaminants in liquid transformer.



The dielectric constant is purely a relative number comparing the capacity of a material for storing electricity to that of air. It also depends on the physical parameters of temperature density, molecular weight and dipole moment. The capacity of the material for storing electricity decreases as the frequency rises above the corresponding orientation time. The dipoles not longer fully orient themselves, the material could be hold as large an electric decrease [16].

The relationship between the dielectric constant and the loss factor as the frequency can be increases. The equation for the complex dielectric constant:


Where the imaginary

represents the magnitude of the dielectric loss can

be contribute by the leakage current and the polarization, is complex permittivity.



Physical properties



Viscosity of liquid used in electrical equipment can be provided the information on flow characteristic and heat transfer properties. It is known as the drag where it will measure the frictional properties of the liquid. It also has a function of temperature and pressure in the liquid. While the viscosity of liquid and gases will be change with temperature and pressure, it can be effect viscosity in different ways [8]. The function of the moving part such as pump can be effect if the viscosity is higher than at room temperature. The start up of apparatus in cold climates will be effect in high viscosity. Viscosity of the oil will be affected by the pressure drop, flow rate of oil and oil cooling system.

Dynamic viscosity and kinematic viscosity is two distinct forms in the viscosity. Dynamic viscosity is the tangent force in the slide. The area of tangent force per units is required to slide one layer (A) against another layer (B) are maintain at a unit distance [9]. Figure 2.3 shows the simple shear of the liquid film.

Figure 2.3: Simple shear of the liquid film [9]

In figure 2.3, Force (F) causes layers A and B to slides at velocities V1 and V2. Since the viscosity of the fluids is defined is a measure of the resistive flow under gravity [9]. Kinematic viscosity requires of density of the liquid ( ) at the 16

pressure and the time of flow is proportional to the kinematic viscosity of the fluids ( ). Kinematic can be by the relationship [9].

(4.0) Where is dynamic viscosity.

The units of kinematic viscosity is the centistokes (cSt) and used by the international standard organization (ISO). Viscosity classification using ISO shows in table 2.4.

Table 2.4: ISO grade classification (ISO 3446) [10] ISO viscosity grade notification ISO VG 2 ISO VG 3 ISO VG 5 ISO VG 7 ISO VG 10 ISO VG 15 ISO VG 22 ISO VG 32 ISO VG 46 ISO VG 68 ISO VG 100 ISO VG 150 ISO VG 220 ISO VG 320 ISO VG 460 ISO VG 680 ISO VG 1000 ISO VG 1500 Kinematic viscosity limits, cSt at 40C Min 1.98 2.88 4.14 6.12 9.00 13.5 19.8 28.8 41.4 61.2 90.0 135 198 288 414 612 900 1350 17 Max 2.42 3.52 5.06 7.48 11.0 16.5 24.2 35.2 50.6 74.8 110 165 242 352 506 748 1100 1650 Midpoint kinematic viscosity, cSt at 40C 2.2 3.2 4.6 6.8 10 15 22 32 46 68 100 150 220 320 460 680 1000 1500


Moisture content

Moisture in transformer oil has the effects the insulation of solid and liquid insulation. Therefore, the dielectric breakdown strength of the insulation will have the effect of the water. Its water content will be rises above two to three percent by weight after the breakdown of the paper insulation decreases [11]. Moisture in the oil shows up above 50 to 60ppm but it is depends on temperature. Accepted of water in oil are shows in table 2.5.

Table 2.5: Maximum allowable moisture in oil [12] Voltage level (kV) 5 15 35 69 138 and up Maximum moisture (ppm) 30 30 25 20 15






In this experiment, the sunflower oil use for the sample but it have different brand from the local market. Every brand needs to provide two samples of the oils which one of the sample have to remove moisture and other samples used the original oil which dont remove moisture of the oils. It aims to compare between the samples from in terms of electrical and physical properties. Therefore, it is should to make measurements using several parameters including breakdown strength, dielectric dissipation, permittivity, viscosity and moisture content


The oil sample conditioning

The samples have to prepare bottles or jar was required to clean to prevent moisture in the oil increased in the period in which the oil is stored in the container. In the event of humidity in oil will be affect to the dielectric properties such as dielectric loss and breakdown stress in the oil. Fuel humidity is likely to require a reduction of thermal aging on the dielectric properties. Therefore, test humidity needed to reduce humidity on the oil through a vacuum process. The oven equipped with a heating device to speed up the evaporation process using a low temperature to remove moisture. It can reduce the problem of unstable thermal degradation of the materials. The temperature use in this oven is 100C and took one day for this process. Figure 3.1 shows the sample after heated


Figure 3.0: The sample after heated


Breakdown voltage measurement

The breakdown voltage was measured according standard IEC 60156 insulating liquid. It also measured for this property containing two electrodes of specified gap is 2.5mm and high voltage applied in this sample. The frequency is 50Hz will be applied with increasing the voltage at a rate of 2kV/s until breakdown occurs. This measure needs to take a reading at least five value of the average value from this samples. There has several procedures that should be followed. Figure 3.1 show breakdown voltage equipment.

Figure 3.1: breakdown voltage equipment



Sample preparations

The electrode and test cup should be clean up and dry until completely. It is performed to prevent pollution or have oil or other solvent during this test. If have another solution, the average value is not same or opposite of the value on electrical properties in literature review.

The distance between the two electrodes must set 2.5mm. After that, the electrode should be locked to prevent movement of the electrode such that the electrode comes into contact between the electrodes. Figure 3.2 show gap between electrode


Figure 3.2: Gap 2.5mm in test cup

The samples have to be filled in the test cup until it is almost full and will leave about 3% of the cup as a free space for air. Time must be set for make measurement.


Measurement procedures

After measurement, record the data for the first measuring. After record n want to start next measure, should be wait 1 minute that have no gas bubbles present within the electrode gap.


This measurement needs to be repeated with the same sample up to 5 times of the measurement to see the average value.


Viscosity measurement

This test measure according to the ASTM D445 and this measurement equipment named as viscometer. It intended to get the viscosity found in the oil. This viscometer used spindle to find the speed that should be used to take a more accurate reading of a sample. The spindle has a variety of different sizes and it depends on the viscosity, spindle use a small sample size which is suitable for high viscosity. The measurement of sunflower oil use spindle size s-02. Figure 3.2 show viscometer equipment for measure viscometer.

Spindle (s-02)

Figure 3.3: Viscometer

The speed used to take readings of 100, 60, 50, 30, 20 and 10 rpm where in each speed has some value percentage torch to determine the necessary speed to make viscosity measurements for these samples. The value for percentage torch needed for a speed is above 10% because the value for viscosity is accurate. If the value is below 10%,


the value of viscosity is not accurate. Therefore, the speed cant be used to take readings for the viscosity. So, this sample used speed 100rpm and the value of torch is 28.4%.


Measurement procedure Make sure the spindle and beaker to be used for this measurement in a clean and dry before use. Its because, to avoid no solution available on the equipment prior to conducting the test.

500ml oil must be prepared in a beaker and make sure there are no air bubbles in the spindle. The used of oil also depends on the spindle where the oil is needed for these measurements have exceeded any marks or labels on the spindle.

Set time and speed required for this test. The time required is 5 minutes while the speed is 100rpm after knowing the torch at each speed in which more than 10%.

Readings must be repeated three times on each sample during the test. Record for all the result.


Moisture content measurement

The measurement of moisture in oil has two methods which Karl Fischer reaction method and the pressure gauge method. Usually, this test measured according standard IEC 60814 and use Karl Fischer for this test. The oil in the transformer is designed to provide good electrical insulation for work in the transformer. When the moisture in the oils has to increase, the properties of the oil will be reduced at the expense of the breakdown voltage. However, the properties of the oil are important when the temperature changes in a transformer.


While performing this test, the oil temperature must be set to see a change of water in the oil. Temperature is also important where the acid will be formed during the oxidation of the oil. Therefore, the water will dissolve in oil due to acids formed during oxidation. Water content in the oil is measured as ppm.


Dielectric measurement

The measurement of dielectric dissipation factor and permittivity test has to according for standard IEC 60247. This test was conducted using cells in which the cell has two parts, low voltage and high voltage. The samples used must meet the cell to prevent the air accumulates in the cell during the test done. This test measured the empty condition and there is the capacitance is determined to do the measurement. This sample make measurement using Schering bridge with gas a standards capacitor. This cells must are clean before performing any tests. It is done to avoid contamination in the cell.





Result and discussion


Breakdown voltage

The result for measured the breakdown voltage of sunflower oil have been listed according to the sample to be used for this measurement. This measurement is done by using four samples, two samples of oil that has been heated and the rest of the sample is unheated. For each sample to be perform the measurement of the five tests. Table 4.0 shows the results obtained from these measurements.

Table 4.0: Result for breakdown voltage measurement of the sample Breakdown voltage (kV) Sample Measurement Heated Sunlico Unheated Heated Adela Unheated 12.5 12.6 14.2 17.3 12.0 13.7 10.0 59.8 9.5 47.8 10.2 57.2 15.2 61.8 16.1 31.1 12.2 51.5 1 10.0 2 9.3 3 16.2 4 9.3 5 10.3 Average value (kV)



Based on table 4.0 above, it shows the readings taken during a breakdown voltage measurement on four samples of different brands. Based on the average value of the oil that has been heated to a brand Adela is a high value of 51.5kV. This is because the oil has been heated with low humidity so it does not affect the breakdown voltage. If compared with mineral oil exist in the literature review is more than 70kV compared with sunflower oil. According to the characteristics of transformer oil, the value of the breakdown voltage is ideal for use as liquid insulation for high efficiency and good for insulation and will be use in the transformer.

The value of breakdown voltage are low, it is likely due to the high moisture in the oil and not good for insulation. The measured for the brand sunlico, the difference for heated and unheated are lower value in breakdown voltage. it is not good to used in a transformer due to its efficiency of the insulation is low. The insulation in transformers is important to respond with a very high resistance to the flow of electric current in a transformer. The minimum value of the breakdown voltage to safety used in transformer is 30kV [14].



The measurement for the viscosity of the oil is only done for the sample of the oil that has been heated. The sample must be performed by three time of test. The results obtained are recorded for this measurement in Table 4.1

Table 4.1: Result for viscosity measurement of the heated sample Cp (MPa s-1) at 100rpm Sample for heated 1 Sunlico Adela 113.6 114.4 2 113.6 114.4 3 113.6 114.4


Based on the result of the measurement of viscosity, the value in the two samples no difference. The sample for the brand sunlico is 113.6 MPa s-1, while 114.4 MPa s-1 is the viscosity of the sample for brand Adela. Based on the viscosity of mineral oil is 8.9 cSt at temperature 40C. The sample used for this measurement is the oil has been heated and has also reduced the moisture in the oil.

The viscosity is the flow resistance in the normal state. The transformer requires that transformer oil has a lower viscosity to reduce the resistance to the flow of oil that does not touch the convectional cooling transformer. It is also safe for use in transformer condition better on a long run as cooling. If high viscosity, it is not suitable for use in a transformer because the transformer cooling process requires high temperatures. Usually, the temperature is reduced to increase the viscous liquid. Therefore, the viscosity should be high for the cooling process in transformers. The sunflower oil can be used as the viscosity is high and similar for mineral oil [15, 17].



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