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To the Graduate Council:

I am submitting herewith a thesis written by Dinesh Kumar Dhunde entitled “Comparison


of Dielectric Breakdown Voltage of Different Composite Materials ” I have examined the
final copy of this thesis for form and content and recommend that it be accepted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, with a major in
Engineering Science.

______________________________

W. Elliott Hutchcraft, Assistant Professor

We have read this thesis and recommend its acceptance:

_____________________________________

Richard K. Gordon, Associate Professor

_____________________________________

Ellen Lackey, Associate Professor

Accepted for the Council:

____________________________

Dean of the Graduate School


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Permission for extensive quotation from or reproduction of this thesis may be

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Date________________________________
Comparison of Dielectric Breakdown Voltage of Different Composite

Materials

A Thesis Presented for the

Master of Science Degree

The University of Mississippi

Dinesh Kumar Dhunde

May 2009
DEDICATION

This work is dedicated to my parents, SHANKAR and ESHWARAMMA.

To all beloved ones without whose encouragement I would have given up long ago.

ii
Copyright © 2009 by Dinesh Kumar Dhunde

All rights reserved

iii
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Tim Hall of the Composite Materials Laboratory and James

McPhail of the Mechanical Engineering Machine shop for their valuable help in getting

the equipment setup and for the preparation of electrodes and also Marty Hickman from

the Electrical Engineering Department.

iv
ABSTRACT

Due to their good adaptability, their convenient manufacturing technology, and

their very good electric and mechanical properties, composites are the preferred

duromeric materials for many high quality insulating systems nowadays. These materials

for outdoor and indoor use show different phenomena under high electric field which has

not been previously known for many materials. Owing to their great technical

importance, the dielectric breakdown voltage of composite materials has been a subject

of experimental and theoretical investigations. For this reason it is very important to

obtain get reliable data on the dielectric breakdown voltage of different composites to

provide a basis from which one can estimate the use of composites for different

applications.

Reliable data measured according to the ASTM D 149-97(a) standard has been

recorded here. The system utilizes 51 mm opposing cylinders for 67.5 mm samples and

25 mm opposing cylinders for 37.5 mm samples. The Plexiglas fixture is filled with

mineral oil to cover the electrodes to at least a depth of 20 mm, and the sample is allowed

to set for at least 2 minutes without agitation. A 60 Hz sinusoidal wave voltage is applied

at a ramp rate of 500 V/20s till 50KV until breakdown occurs as indicated by passage of

a current through the sample of 0 to 40mA. This occurrence is used to trip a relay within

3 to 5 cycles that stops the voltage ramping and maintains the breakdown voltage. A

series of measurements are completed, which are then treated statistically to yield the

final value. To examine environmental effects on the dielectric breakdown properties a

series of tests was carried out in which the samples were first subjected to 2 hours of

v
boiling water and then tested according to the D-149 standard to obtain the dielectric

breakdown voltage.

There is a reduction in the breakdown voltage of the samples which are subject to

moisture prior to the breakdown testing due to the water absorbed by the samples because

water helps the current to pass through the sample more easily.

vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................1

II. STANDARDS ...............................................................................................................32

III. PROCEDURE ..............................................................................................................49

IV. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS ..............................................................................62

V. CONCLUSIONS ...........................................................................................................88

VI. REFERENCES ............................................................................................................90

APPENDIX ........................................................................................................................94

vii
LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE PAGE

1.1 Random fiber (short fiber) reinforced composites .........................................................3

1.2 Continuous fiber (long fiber) reinforced composites .....................................................3

1.3 Particles as the reinforcement (Particulate composites) ................................................4

1.4 Flakes as the reinforcement (Flake composites) ............................................................4

1.5 Fillers as the reinforcement (Filler composites) ............................................................4

1.6 Boeing 7E7 Structural Compositions ...............................................................................15

1.7 A pair of positively charged and negatively charged conductor planes in a vacuum.. 22

1.8 Schematic of a tree growing between two electrodes on two parallel plates...............26

1.9 Voltage-current characteristics of a dielectric .............................................................27

2.1 Plot showing the slow rate rise method voltage application ........................................36

3.1 Basic Setup...................................................................................................................49

3.2 Transformer used for the approach ..............................................................................50

3.3 Test Setup Controller ...................................................................................................52

3.4 Oil bath with Mineral Oil .............................................................................................57

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3.5 Picture shows the two types of electrodes used ...........................................................58

3.6 Glued sample with a breakdown spot ..........................................................................59

4.1 Plot showing the dielectric breakdown field for a single kind of 67.5 mm sample…62

4.2 Polyurethane samples...................................................................................................63

4.3 Polyester Samples ........................................................................................................63

4.4 Polyester with mat and roving samples .......................................................................64

4.5 Polyester with hemp filler samples ..............................................................................64

4.6 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 67.5 mm Polyester samples

without and with moisture content………………………………………………….…...64

4.7 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 67.5 mm Polyurethane

samples without and with moisture content ……………………………………….…….65

4.8 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of all different 67.5 mm samples without

and with moisture content …………………………………………………………….....67

4.9 Two inch electrical samples before test …,,………………………………………....68

4.10 Plot showing the dielectric breakdown field with standard deviation for all kinds of

67.5 mm Electrical samples ……………………………..……………..………………..68

4.11 One inch sample before test ……………………………………………….……….69

4.12 One inch sample after test………………………………………………….…….....69

4.13 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 37.5 mm Epoxy samples

without and with moisture content …………………………..……..………….………...69


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4.14 Breakdown Fields with standard devation of different 37.5 mm Polyester samples

without and with moisture content ……………………………………………….……..70

4.15 Breakdown Fields with standard devation of different 37.5 mm Phenolic and

Polyurethane samples without and with moisture content…………………………..…..70

4.16 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of all different 37.5 mm samples without

and with moisture content.……..…………………………………………….…………..73

4.17 Glued sample before test ……………………………………………………….......74

4.18 Glued sample after test...............................................................................................74

4.19 Breakdown Fields of different Epoxy glued samples without and with moisture

content……………………………………………………………………………………74

4.20 Breakdown Fields of different Polyester glued samples without and with moisture

content …………………………………………………………………………...………75

4.21 Breakdown Fields of different Phenolic glued samples without and with moisture

content. ...............................................................................................................................75

4.22 Breakdown Fields of different Polyurethane glued samples without and with

moisture content.................................................................................................................76

4.23 Breakdown Fields of different glued samples without and with moisture content....76

4.24 Breakdown Fields and standard deviation of different 67.5 mm samples with

different resin systems (without and with moisture content) .............................................77

4.25 Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 37.5 mm samples with
x
different resin .....................................................................................................................78

4.26 Breakdown Fields of different Glued samples with different resin systems

……………………………………………………………………………………………79

4.27 Plot showing the percentage increase in weight for all 67.5 mm samples ................79

4.28 Plot showing the percentage increase in weight for all 37.5 mm samples ................80

4.29 Original setup for calculating the output voltage .......................................................81

4.30 General voltage divider circuit …………………………………………….……….82

4.31 Center Knob with which we calculated the voltages …………………………..…..82

4.32 Voltage divider circuit used for measuring the output

voltage…………………………………………….……………………………………...83

4.33 Output voltage Vs Source voltage for 100M resistor ………….…………………..83

4.34 Output voltage Vs Source voltage for 100M resistor ………….…………………..84

4.35 Power rating curves for 100M resistor through which we know the maximum

wattage of the resistor to be used ………………………………………………….…….84

4.36 Power rating curves for 100K resistor through which we know the maximum

wattage of the resistor to be used…………………………………………………..…….85

4.37 Sample Preparation for treeing characterization with SEM ……….……………....86

4.38 SEM images of the Polyester samples .......................................................................87

4.39 SEM images of the Polyester samples .......................................................................87

4.40 SEM images of the breakdown area in polyester samples .........................................87

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4.41 SEM images of the breakdown area in polyester samples ………………………....87

4.42 SEM image of the breakdown area in polyester with mat and roving samples

….………………………………………………………………………………………..88

xii
LIST OF TABLES

TABLES PAGE

1.1 Table lists some aircraft in which significant amounts of composite materials are used

in the airframe ....................................................................................................................14

1.2 Typical dielectric strength values for different materials ............................................24

2.1 Table shows the required electrode geometry .............................................................32

2.2 Short time test voltage application method .................................................................35

2.3 Step by step test voltage application method ..............................................................35

2.4 Slow rate rise voltage rates .........................................................................................36

2.5 Electrode designs based on applications .. ...................................................................40

3.1 Table shows the Basic Components of the Setup……………………………………51

4.1 Table shows the average fields of 67.5 mm samples without moisture ......................65

4.2 Table shows the average fields of 67.5 mm samples with moisture ...........................66

4.3 Table shows the average fields of 37.5 mm samples without moisture.......................71

4.4 Table shows the average fields of 37.5 mm samples with moisture ............................72

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APPENDIX

TABLES PAGE

A.1 Table shows the values for a Normal test for 67.5 mm Polyester and Polyurethane

sample ................................................................................................................................95

A.2 Table shows the values for a moisture test for 67.5 mm Polyester and Polyurethane

sample ................................................................................................................................96

A.3 Table shows the values for a normal test for 37.5 mm Epoxy, Polyester, Phenolic and

Polyurethane sample ..........................................................................................................97

A.4 Table shows the values for a moisture test for 37.5 mm Epoxy, Polyester, Phenolic

and Polyurethane sample ...................................................................................................98

A.5 Table shows the values for a normal test for Glued Epoxy, Polyester, Phenolic and

Polyurethane sample ........................................................................................................100

A.6 Table shows the values for a Moisture test for Glued Epoxy, Polyester, Phenolic and

Polyurethane sample .......................................................................................................100

A.7 Table shows the values of weights of different 67.5 mm samples before and after

moisture test (Trial1). ......................................................................................................101

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A.8 Table shows the values of weights of different 67.5 mm samples before and after

moisture test (Trial2).…………………………………...................................................102

A.9 Table shows the values of weights of different 37.5 mm samples before and after

moisture test (Trial1). ......................................................................................................103

A.10 Table shows the values of weights of different 37.5 mm samples before and after

moisture test (Trial2). ......................................................................................................104

A.11 Table shows the specifications of the 100K resistor ...............................................105

A.12 Table shows the specifications of the 100M resistor ..........................................…105

xv
CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Composite Materials

A typical composite material is a system of materials composing of two or more

materials (mixed and bonded) on a macroscopic scale. If the composition occurs on a

microscopic scale (molecular level), the new material is then called an alloy for metals or

a polymer for plastics. The different materials work together to give the composite unique

properties, but within the composite you can easily tell the different materials apart – they

do not dissolve or blend into each other [1].

Composites exist in nature. For example, a piece of wood is a composite, with

long fibers of cellulose (a very complex form of starch) held together by a much weaker

substance called lignin. Cellulose is also found in cotton and linen, but it is the binding

power of the lignin that makes a piece of timber much stronger than a bundle of cotton

fibers.

Generally, a composite material is composed of reinforcement (fibers, particles,

flakes, and/or fillers) embedded in a matrix (polymers, metals, or ceramics). The matrix

holds the reinforcement to form the desired shape while the reinforcement improves the

overall mechanical properties of the matrix. When designed properly, the new combined

material exhibits greater strength than would each individual material.

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Humans have been using composite materials for thousands of years. Take mud

bricks, for example. A cake of dried mud is easy to break by bending, which puts a

tension force on one edge, but makes a good strong wall, where all the forces are

compressive. A piece of straw, on the other hand, has a lot of strength when you try to

stretch it but almost none when you crumple it up. But if you embed pieces of straw in a

block of mud and let it dry hard, the resulting mud brick resists both squeezing and

tearing and makes an excellent building material. Put more technically, it has both good

compressive strength and good tensile strength.

Another well-known composite is concrete. Here aggregate (small stones or

gravel) is bound together by cement. Concrete has good strength under compression, and

it can be made stronger under tension by adding metal rods, wires, mesh or cables to the

composite (reinforced concrete).

Many materials are produced as composites, such as the fiberglass-reinforced

plastics used for automobile bodies and boat hulls, but the term usually is used to

describe any of various modern industrially manufactured fiber reinforced composites,

such as carbon fiber-reinforced polymers. Composite materials allow a blending of

properties of the separate components. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastics combine the high

strength and stiffness of the fiber with the low weight and resistance to fracture of the

polymeric matrix. Glass, wood, and other kinds of fibers are also used, and the fibers

may be layered or woven [2].

2
1.2 Common Categories of Composite Materials

Based on the form of reinforcement, common composite materials can be

classified as follows [7]:

Figure 1.1. Random Fiber (short fiber) Reinforced Composites

Figure 1.2. Continuous Fiber (long fiber) Reinforced Composites

3
Figure 1.3. Particles as the reinforcement (Particulate composites)

Figure 1.4. Flat Flakes as the Reinforcement (Flake composites)

Figure 1.5. Fillers as the Reinforcement (Filler composites)

1.3 Making a Composite

Most composites are made up of just two materials. One material (the matrix or

binder) surrounds and binds together a cluster of fibers or fragments of a much stronger

material (the reinforcement). In the case of mud bricks, the two roles are enacted by the

mud and the straw; in concrete, by the cement and the aggregate; in a piece of wood, by

the cellulose and the lignin. In fiberglass, the reinforcement is provided by fine filaments

or fibers of glass, often woven into a sort of cloth, and the matrix is a plastic [7].

4
The filaments of glass in fiberglass are very strong under tension but they are also

brittle and will snap if bent sharply. The matrix not only holds the fibers together, it also

protects them from damage by sharing any stress among them. The matrix is soft enough

to be shaped with tools, and can be softened by suitable solvents to allow repairs to be

made. Any deformation of a sheet of fiberglass necessarily stretches some of the glass

fibers, and they are able to resist this, so even a thin sheet is very strong. It is also quite

light, which is an advantage in many applications.

Over recent decades many new composites have been developed, some with very

valuable properties. By carefully choosing the reinforcement, the matrix, and the

manufacturing process that brings them together, engineers can tailor the properties to

meet specific requirements. They can, for example, make the composite sheet very

strong in one direction by aligning the fibers that way, but weaker in another direction

where strength is not so important. They can also select properties such as resistance to

heat, chemicals, and weathering by choosing an appropriate matrix material [7].

Common fiber reinforced composites are composed of fibers and a matrix. Fibers are

the reinforcement and the main source of strength while the matrix “glues” all the fibers

together in shape and transfers stresses between the reinforcing fibers. Sometimes, fillers

or modifiers might be added to smooth the manufacturing, to impart special properties,

and/or to reduce product cost [7].

The primary function of the fibers is to carry the loads along their longitudinal

directions. Common fiber reinforcing agents include:


5
Aluminum, Aluminum oxide, Aluminum silica

Asbestos

Beryllium, Beryllium carbide, Beryllium oxide

Carbon (Graphite)

Glass (E-glass, S-glass, D-glass)

Molybdenum

Polyamide (Aromatic polyamide, Aramid), e.g., Kevlar 29 and Kevlar 49

Polyester

Quartz (Fused silica)

Steel

Tantalum

Titanium

Tungsten, Tungsten monocarbide

1.4 Choosing Materials for the Matrix

For the matrix, many modern composites use thermosetting or thermoplastics

(also called resins). The use of plastics in the matrix explains the name 'reinforced

plastics' commonly given to composites. The plastics are polymers that hold the

reinforcement together and help to determine the physical properties of the end product.

Thermosets are liquid when prepared but harden and become rigid (i.e., they cure)

when they are heated. The setting process is reversible, so that these materials do not

become soft under high temperatures. These plastics also resist wear and attack by
6
chemicals, making them very durable, even when exposed to extreme environments.

Thermoplastics, as the name implies, are hard at low temperatures but soften when they

are heated. Although they are less commonly used than thermosetting plastics they do

have some advantages, such as greater fracture toughness, long shelf life of the raw

material, capacity for recycling, and a cleaner, safer workplace because organic solvents

are not needed for the hardening process [3].

Ceramics, carbon and metals are used as the matrix for some highly specialized

purposes. For example, ceramics are used when the material is going to be exposed to

high temperatures (e.g., heat exchangers) and carbon is used for products that are exposed

to friction and wear (e.g., bearings and gears).

1.5 Matrix of Fiber Reinforced Composites

The primary functions of the matrix are to transfer stresses between the

reinforcing fibers (hold fibers together) and to protect the fibers from mechanical and/or

environmental damages. A basic requirement for a matrix material is that its strain at

break must be larger than the fibers it is holding. Most matrices are made of resins for

their wide variation in properties and relatively low cost [6].

Common resin materials include:

Resin Matrix

o Epoxy

o Phenolic
7
o Polyester

o Polyurethane

o Vinyl Ester

Among these resin materials, polyesters are the most widely used. Epoxies,

which have higher adhesion and less shrinkage than polyesters, come in second for their

higher costs.

Although less common, non-resin matrices (mostly metals) can still be found in

applications requiring higher performance at elevated temperatures, especially in the

defense industry.

Metal Matrix

o Aluminum

o Copper

o Lead

o Magnesium

o Nickel

o Silver

o Titanium

Non-Metal Matrix

o Ceramics

1.6 Modifiers of Fiber-Reinforced Composites

8
The primary functions of the additives (modifiers, fillers) are to reduce costs, improve

workability, and/or impart desired properties [7].

Cost Reduction:

o Low cost to weight ratio, may fill up to 40% (65% in some cases) of the

total weight

Workability Improvement:

o Reduce shrinkage

o Help air release

o Decrease viscosity

o Control emission

o Reduce coefficient of friction on surfaces

o Seal molds and/or guide resin flows

o Initiate and/or speed up or slow down curing process

Property Enhancement:

o Improve electric conductivity

o Improve fire resistance

o Improve corrosion resistance

o Improve ultraviolet resistance

o Improve surface toughness

o Stabilize heat transfer

o Reduce tendency of static electric charge

o Add desired colors


9
Common materials used as additives include

Filler Materials:

o Feldspar

o Glass microspheres

o Glass flakes

o Glass fibers, milled

o Mica

o Silica

o Talc

o Wollastonite

o Other microsphere products

1.7 Choosing Materials for the Reinforcement

Although glass fibers are by far the most common reinforcement, many advanced

composites now use fine fibers of pure carbon. Carbon fibers are much stronger and

stiffer than glass fibers, but are also more expensive to produce. Carbon fiber

composites are light as well as strong. They are used in aircraft structures and in sporting

goods (such as golf clubs), and increasingly are used instead of metals to repair or replace

damaged bones. Even stronger (and more costly) than carbon fibers are fibers of boron

[6].

10
Polymers are not only used for the matrix, they also make a good reinforcement

material in composites. For example, Kevlar is a polymer fiber that is immensely strong

and adds toughness to a composite. It is used as the reinforcement in composite products

that require lightweight and energy absorption (e.g., structural body parts of an aircraft)

[4]. Composite materials were not the original use for Kevlar – it was developed to

replace steel in radial tires and is now used in bulletproof vests and helmets.

1.8 Choosing the Manufacturing Process

Making an object from a composite material usually involves some form of mold.

The reinforcing material is first placed in the mold and then semi-liquid matrix material is

sprayed or pumped in to form the object. Pressure may be applied to force out any air

bubbles, and the mold is then heated to make the thermoset matrix set solid. The molding

process is often done by hand, but automatic processing by machines is becoming more

common. One automated composite manufacturing method is called pultrusion (a term

derived from the words 'pull' and 'extrusion'). This process is ideal for manufacturing

products that are straight and have a constant cross section, such as bridge beams. In

many thin structures with complex shapes, such as curved panels, the composite structure

is built up by applying sheets of woven fiber reinforcement, saturated with the plastic

matrix material, over an appropriately shaped base mold. When the panel has been built

to an appropriate thickness, the matrix material is then cured [7].

In many advanced composites (such as those used in the wing and body panels of

aircraft), the structure may consist of a honeycomb of material sandwiched between two
11
skins of carbon-fiber reinforced composite material. Such sandwich composites combine

high strength, and particularly bending stiffness, with low weight. Like everything to do

with aircraft, they can be very costly [8].

In an advanced society like ours, we all depend on composite materials in some

aspect of our lives. Fiberglass, developed in the late 1940s, was the first modern

composite and is still the most common. It makes up about 65 per cent of all the

composites produced today and is used for boat hulls, surfboards, sporting goods,

swimming pool linings, building panels and car bodies. You may well be using

something made of fiber glass without knowing it.

1.9 Why Use Composites?

The greatest advantages of composite materials are strength and stiffness

combined with lightness. By choosing an appropriate combination of reinforcement and

matrix material, manufacturers can produce properties that exactly fit the requirements

for a particular structure and a particular purpose. Modern aviation, both military and

civil, is a prime example. It would be much less efficient without composites. In fact,

the demands have been the main force driving the development of composites [1]. It is

common now to find wing and tail sections, propellers and rotor blades made from

advanced composites, along with much of the internal structure and fittings. The

airframes of some smaller aircraft are made entirely from composites, as are the wing, tail

and body panels of large commercial aircraft [8].

12
In thinking about planes, it is worth remembering that composites are less likely

than metals (such as aluminium) to break up completely under stress. A small crack in a

piece of metal can spread very rapidly with very serious consequences (especially in the

case of aircraft). The fibers in a composite act to block the widening of any small crack

and to share the stress around. The right composites also stand up well to heat and

corrosion. This makes them ideal for use in products that are exposed to extreme

environments such as boats, chemical-handling equipment and spacecraft [6]. In general,

composite materials are very durable. Another advantage of composite materials is that

they provide design flexibility. Composites can be molded into complex shapes – a great

asset when producing something like a surfboard or a boat hull.

Among the first uses of modern composite materials was about thirty years ago

when boron-reinforced epoxy composite was used for the skins of the empennages of the

U.S. F14 and F15 fighters. Initially, composite materials were used only in secondary

structures, but as knowledge and development of the materials has improved their use in

primary structures such as wings and fuselages has increased [9].

The use of composite materials in commercial transport aircraft is attractive

because reduced airframe weight enables better fuel economy and therefore lowers

operating costs. The first significant use of composite material in a commercial aircraft

was by Airbus in 1983 in the rudder of the A300 and A310 and then in 1985 in the

vertical tail fin.

13
Table 1.1. The following table lists some aircraft in which significant amounts of

composite materials are used in the airframe [9].

The Boeing 7E7 will leverage extensive use of composite materials (estimates are

as high as 50 percent) in the quest for very high efficiency and performance with reduced

weight. The excellent strength-to-weight ratio of composites is also used in helicopters to

maximize payloads and performance in general. Boeing Vertol used composites for

rotorcraft fairings in the 1950s and made the first composite rotor blades in the 1970s.

Composites are used in major structural elements of many modern helicopters, including

the V22 tilt-rotor aircraft, which is approximately 50 percent composites by weight. The

formability of composites has been used to particular advantage in helicopter

manufacturing to reduce the numbers of component parts and therefore the costs. The

following figure shows the Boeing 7E7 structure composition:

14
Figure 1.6. Boeing 7E7 Structural Compositions [9]

The downside of composites is usually the cost. Although manufacturing

processes are often more efficient when composites are used, the raw materials are

expensive. Composites will never totally replace traditional materials like steel, but in

many cases they are just what we need. And no doubt new uses will be found as the

technology evolves. We have not yet seen all that composites can do [8].

1.10 Benefits of Composites

Different materials are suitable for different applications. When composites are selected

over traditional materials such as metal alloys or woods, it is usually because of one or

more of the following advantages [10]:

Cost:

o Prototypes
15
o Mass production

o Part consolidation

o Maintenance

o Long term durability

o Production time

o Maturity of technology

Weight:

o Lightweight

o Weight distribution

Strength and Stiffness:

o High strength-to-weight ratio

o Directional strength and/or stiffness

Dimension:

o Large parts

o Special geometry

Surface Properties:

o Corrosion resistance

o Weather resistance

o Tailored surface finish

Thermal Properties:

o Low thermal conductivity

o Low coefficient of thermal expansion

16
Electric Property:

o High dielectric strength

o Non-magnetic

o Radar transparency

Note that there is no one-material-fits-all solution in the engineering world. Also,

the above factors may not always be positive in all applications. An engineer has to

weigh all the factors and make the best decision in selecting the most suitable material(s)

for the project at hand [11].

1.11 Applications of Composites

Ship applications of composites abound and continue to expand. They include

aerospace, aircraft, automotive, marine, energy, infrastructure, armor, biomedical and

recreational applications. Aerospace structures such as space antennas, mirrors and

optical instrumentation make use of lightweight and extremely stiff graphite reinforced

composites. The high stiffness, high strength and low density characteristics make

composites highly desirable in primary and secondary structures of both military and

civilian aircraft [12]. Composites are used in various forms in the transportation industry,

including automotive parts and automobile, truck and railcar frames. Ship structures

incorporate composites in various forms, thick section glass and carbon fiber composites

and sandwich construction. The latter consists of thin composite face sheets bound to a

thicker lightweight core.

17
Applications include minesweepers and corvettes. Composite ship structures

have many advantages such as insulation, lower manufacturing costs, low maintenance

and lack of corrosion. In the energy production field, carbon fiber reinforced composites

have been used in the blades of wind turbine generators that significantly improve power

output at a greatly reduced cost. Biomedical applications include prosthetic devices and

artificial limb parts. Infrastructure applications are the most recent development.

Composites are being used to reinforce structural members against earthquakes to

produce structural shapes for buildings and bridges [13].

Composites are helpful in the electromagnetic field, as well. Electromagnetic

acoustic transducers (EMATs) are developed with fiberglass-reinforced plastics (FRP).

FRP is one of the candidates for a base of smart materials in which sensors, processors

and actuators are embedded. FRP composites are used for EM-transparent applications,

as a dielectric material. FRP composites exhibit very low loss over a range of

frequencies. Commercial applications for EM transparent composites range from

radomes to cell tower enclosures to RF transparent buildings for electronics testing. New

applications for EM transparent materials are emerging in industries that utilize radio

frequency identification (RFID) systems [14].

Research work is also ongoing to develop conductive knitted fabric composite

materials and to determine their electromagnetic shielding effectiveness (EMSE).

Electromagnetic wave absorbers are being manufactured using composites with glass

fabric reinforcement and epoxy matrix. Microwire composites have high permeability

18
and permittivity so they have great potential to be used for high attenuation and shielding

applications [14].

1.12 Breakdown Voltage

All materials conduct electricity to some extent, and all suffer some form of

breakdown in a sufficiently strong electric field. For low field strengths the conduction

process in most materials are ohmic, but as the field strength is increased the conductivity

usually becomes field dependent; if the field strength is increased further, some form of

destructive irreversible conduction takes place [15].

The atoms in insulating materials have very tightly bound electrons, resisting free

electron flow very well. However, insulators cannot resist indefinite amounts of voltage.

With enough voltage applied, any insulating material will eventually succumb to the

electrical "pressure" and electron flow will occur. However, unlike the situation with

conductors where current is in a linear proportion to applied voltage (given a fixed

resistance), current through an insulator is quite nonlinear [15]. For voltages below a

certain threshold level virtually no electrons will flow, but if the voltage exceeds that

threshold, there will be a rush of current.

Once current is forced through an insulating material, breakdown of that

material's molecular structure has occurred. After breakdown, the material may or may

not behave as an insulator any more, the molecular structure having been altered by the

19
breach. There is usually a localized "puncture" of the insulating medium where the

electrons flowed during breakdown.

The thickness of an insulating material plays a role in determining its breakdown

voltage, otherwise known as dielectric strength. Specific dielectric strength is sometimes

listed in terms of volts per mil (1/1000 of an inch), or kilovolts per inch (the two units are

equivalent), but in practice it has been found that the relationship between breakdown

voltage and thickness is not exactly linear. An insulator three times as thick has a

dielectric strength slightly less than 3 times as much. However, for rough estimation use,

volt-per-thickness ratings are fine [16].

1.13 Dielectric Materials

Dielectric materials refer to those having the basic electric property of being

polarized in the presence of an electric field and having an electrostatic field within them

under the state of polarization. (Polarization here refers to the molecular alignment along

the direction of the applied electric field). The dielectric has the ability to prevent

leakage of electrical charges from the body on which it is deployed. Hence, such

materials differ distinctly in basic electric properties from those classified as electric

conductors, such as metals [16].

Naturally occurring materials like wood, vegetable fibers, cotton, silk, oils,

rubber, resin, rocks, etc. are well known as electric insulators and are characteristically

dielectric. Added to these, is a gamut of manmade materials such as polymers etc., which
20
are also used widely as insulating/dielectric materials. The basis of dielectric properties

stems from the interaction of matter at the microscopic level with an external electric

field force. Its manifestation as the macroscopic electrical insulation property is rather

common in all states of matter [18]. This basic microscopic property dictates the extent

of electric field force of interaction between electric charges in the medium as quantified

by the well known Coulomb‟s law, i.e., the extent of dielectric properties of a material is

stipulated by a constant proportionality „ε‟ in Coulomb‟s law given by :

F 1 q1q2 ar r 2 Newton (1)


4

Where F is the columbic force of interaction between two charges q1 and q2 (each

expressed in Coulombs) separated by a distance of r meters in the dielectric medium; ar is

the unit vector along the direction of r.

1.14 Dielectric Constant

Consider two metal plates connected to the two ends of a battery of voltage V.

Assuming the electrical resistance of the connecting wires is negligible, the potential

between the two plates is V. Assume the medium between the plates is vacuum. There

are numerous conduction electrons in the metal plates and the metal wires. The positive

end of the battery attracts conduction electrons, making the left plate positively charged

[16].

21
Figure 1.7. A pair of positively charged and negatively charged conductor planes in a

vacuum.

The negative end of the battery repels conduction electrons, making the right plate

negatively charged. Let the area of each plate be A. The magnitude of charge per unit

area of each plate is known as the charge density ( D0 ):

Q
D0 (2)
A

The electric field E between the plates is given by

V
E , (3)
d

22
Where d is the separation of the plates. When E =0, D0 =0. In fact, D is

proportional to E . Let the proportionality constant be 0 . Then

D0 0 E (4)

0 is called the permittivity of free space. The equation is called Gauss‟s law [16].

Just as D0 is proportional to E , Q is proportional to V.

Q 0EA 0A
C0 . (5)
V Ed d

„ C0 ‟ is known as the capacitance. Its unit is coulomb/volt, or farad. In fact this is the

principle of a parallel plate capacitor.

Let us consider that medium between the two plates is not a vacuum, but an

insulator, whose positive charge and center of negative charge coincide when V =0.

When V>0, the positive charge is shifted toward the negative plate while the center of

negative charge is shifted toward the positive plate. Such displacement of the centers of

positive and negative charges is called polarization. When polarization occurs, the center

of positive charge sucks more electrons to the negative plate, causing the charge on the

negative plate to be Q , where >1. Similarly the center of negative charge repels

more electrons away from the positive plate, causing the charge on the positive plate to

be Q . is a unitless number called the relative dielectric constant. When an insulator is

between the plates, the charge density is given by [17]

23
Q
Dm 0 (6)
A

Using the equation (4), equation (6) becomes

Dm 0 E E , Where is known as dielectric constant. (7)

1.15 Dielectric strength

The maximum electric field that an insulator can withstand before it loses its

insulating behavior is known as the dielectric strength. Dielectric strength is the ability of

an insulator to withstand potential difference. It is usually expressed in terms of the

voltage at which the insulation fails because of the electrostatic stress. Maximum

dielectric strength values can be measured only by raising the voltage of a TEST

SAMPLE until the insulation breaks down [18].

Table 1.2 Typical dielectric strength values for different materials

Material Dielectric Strength (kV/ mm)

Vacuum 787.41

Air 787.41 to 2952.75

Porcelain 1574.803 to 7874

Paraffin Wax 7874 to 11811

Transformer Oil 15748

Bakelite 11811 to 21653.54

24
Rubber 450 to 700

Shellac 900

Paper 1250

Teflon 1500

Glass 2000 to 3000

Mica 5000

1.16 Dielectric Breakdown

Dielectric breakdown is a complex problem and has been studied for a long time.

While considering the dielectric breakdown in solids, the material is initially non-

conducting when an electric field is applied across the sample. If the field exceeds the

threshold, the material breaks down and conducts. The microscopic mechanisms of

dielectric breakdown in solid materials are much more complex than those in gases since,

in addition to the dielectric effects, mechanical and chemical effects can also intervene

and make the problem more difficult. From a practical viewpoint, dielectric breakdown

is an important phenomenon, since it limits the application of dielectrics as insulators

[19]. A well known example of such phenomena is the formation and growth of

electrical trees. The trees themselves may not cause breakdown unless they grow so

large that they span the thickness of the material. A diagrammatic representation of the

phenomena is shown in Figure 2 [19].

25
Figure 1.8. Schematic of a tree growing between two electrodes on two parallel plates.

Endurance of dielectrics under the action of an electric field is dictated by the

various coexisting dielectric phenomena, namely dielectric polarization, electrical

conduction and dielectric relaxation. Dielectric behavior of a material cannot be

sustained with indefinite increase of the applied external field. If the electric voltage is

increased progressively, there will be a “breakdown” at which the material will cease to

be a dielectric and will fail to exhibit electrical insulation properties. The breakdown

phenomenon in a dielectric is accompanied by a surge of current flowing through the

material which increases sharply with the increase in the applied voltage [18]. The point

of inflection in the I-V characteristic of a dielectric material refers to dI dV tends to

infinite or the occurrence of breakdown.

26
Figure 1.9. Voltage-current characteristics of a dielectric.

A high dielectric breakdown voltage does not necessarily prove the absence of

contaminants. The dielectric breakdown voltage is not a constant of the material being

tested like the dielectric constant but it is a statistical process and as a result repetitive

determinations have to be done. The results can also be dependent on the design of the

electrodes, the spacing of the electrodes, the wave form of the applied voltage, and the

rate of rise of the applied voltage [20].

1.17 Literature Survey

The first use of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite dates back to 1930‟s as

part of boat hull manufacturing experiment using a fiberglass fabric and polyester resin.

In the 1940‟s FRP composites found extensive use in the defense industry. Due to their

high strength to weight ratio and their resistance to corrosion, FRP composites became an

integral part in aerospace and naval applications. In the 1950‟s, FRP composites gained

entry into the public sector especially in the oil and chemical industries. The need for
27
surface coating or protection was eliminated due to their inherent resistance to corrosion.

Advanced composites were developed in the 1960‟s. High modulus whiskers and

filament reinforced epoxy composites were not only used in the defense industry but also

in the sporting goods industry. In the 1970‟s, automobile and electrical industries were

the largest consumers of composite materials. Sports cars with fiberglass body panels

were made to reduce weight. In the 1980‟s, composites began to be used in civil and

construction industry. Highways, bridges, bridge decks were made using composites. In

the 1990‟s nanocomposites were developed. In nanocomposites the size of the

reinforcement is in the nano scale. Nanocomposites have better mechanical, thermal,

electrical, optical and other properties when compared to conventional composites [3].

In 1997, Yilmaz and Kalenderli studied the electrical properties of polyester films

aged under cold and hot environment conditions between -40°C and +120°C. The

examined dielectric parameters were dielectric constant and dissipation factor in the

frequency range of 50 Hz to 1 MHz and AC electric breakdown strength at 50 Hz.

Experimental results have been shown that the AC breakdown strength is inversely

proportional to the film thickness and temperature. In 2003, a dielectric breakdown

model was generalized to describe dielectric breakdown patterns in conductor-loaded

composites. Conducting particles are distributed at random in the insulating matrix, and

the dielectric breakdown propagates according to new rules to take into account electrical

properties and particle size [4]. In 2004 the dielectric breakdown model to describe

dielectric breakdown patterns in both conductor-loaded and insulator-loaded composites

was developed. The 2004 model was an extension of a previous one. Particles are
28
distributed at random in a matrix with a variable concentration p. The generalized model

assigns different probabilities to breakdown channel formation according to particle

characteristics. Dielectric breakdown patterns are characterized by their fractal dimension

D and the parameters of the Weibull distribution. Studies were carried out as a function

of the fraction of inhomogeneities, p [5]. In 2005, valuable information about hidden

defects in composite materials using a simple standardized test method was brought into

light by Madsen. There is a clear correlation between the tracking index and the

breakdown strength of composite materials. Therefore, it is in practice sufficient to

measure the tracking resistance of a composite in order to calculate its breakdown field

strength from that. This saves on expensive testing in high voltage laboratories [6].

1.18 Breakdowns in Dielectrics

The mechanisms of breakdown in dielectrics are as follows [18]:

Disruptive breakdown: This refers to the effect of high energy fields causing

physical/molecular disintegration, mostly catastrophic and visible. It is very

commonly observed in thin dielectrics subjected to excessive electric potential

even at low temperatures. It is classified as a subset of conductive breakdown

with higher energy release and follows no definite mathematical or physical

model.

Thermal breakdown: In heterogeneous dielectrics, the presence of non uniform

electric resistance across a dielectric could cause uneven leakage current to flow

29
through it. In regions where the localized current is intense, the resulting heat

would raise the temperature, lowering the electrical resistivity further.

Conductive breakdown: It is attributed to ionic charge carriers in the dielectric

that move in an electric field and produce a leakage current. The electric field

itself may produce additional ions by collision of electron and molecules so that

the current increases with increasing voltage stress. Eventually, the large flow of

ions and electrons culminates in transforming the dielectric into a conductor

which specifies the state of conductive breakdown.

Electromechanical breakdown: This refers to the mechanical failure (followed by

electrical failure) in a dielectric due to intense electrostatic pressure exerted on the

dielectric. It often occurs in certain soft polymers at low temperatures and seldom

occurs in hard polymers.

Electrochemical breakdown: Contaminants such as ionic impurities in a dielectric

could cause a leakage current which over passage of time may include thermal

breakdown, causing run away build up of heat. Dielectric aging under impure

ambient conditions often faces electrochemical breakdown.

Breakdown due to bubble formation: In moisture or liquid contaminated solid

dielectrics, internal voids or cavities are susceptible to expansion with the

associated liquid product being subjected to decomposition under electrical stress

or thermal aging. Thus, they are prone to bubble formation which could

constitute a link of conducting chain across the electrodes causing a current surge

and conduction breakdown.

30
Corona-induced breakdown: Corona induced high speed electrons generated in

the surrounding air or within the void pockets of the dielectrics at high electrical

stresses could initiate erosion in the material with surface tracking and leakage

across the electrodes manifesting as the breakdown.

Several dielectrics absorb moisture which renders them hygroscopic. Permeation

of moisture through the dielectrics “wets” them, impairing their electrical properties. A

host of solid dielectrics absorb moisture as per an empirically modified Henry‟s law

given by:

C ap n

Where C is the equilibrium humidity per unit volume of the material, a is a

solubility factor, p is the pressure of water vapor to which the material is subjected to and

n is an exponent greater than unity. Moisture diffuses through the dielectric material

consistent with a characteristic coefficient of the material known as the diffusion

constant, K . The product Ka is called the wetting parameter of the material.

31
CHAPTER II

STANDARDS

2.1 Standards for Dielectric Breakdown Voltage Measurement

The details of the entire procedures for determining the dielectric breakdown

voltage of solid insulating materials and for the cylindrical electrodes as given in the

ASTM D 149-97(a) standard are only briefly mentioned here.

2.1.1 ASTM D 149-97(a) Standard

The electrode system utilizes 51 mm diameter circular disks that are 25 mm thick

with edges rounded to 6.4 mm radius for the 67.5 mm samples and 25 mm diameter

circular disks that are 25 mm thick with edges rounded to 3.2 mm radius for the 37.5 mm

samples. The glass chamber is filled with mineral oil to cover the electrodes to at least a

depth of 20 mm and the sample is allowed to set for at least 2 minutes without agitation.

A 60 Hz sinusoidal wave voltage is applied at a ramp rate of 500 V/20 sec until

breakdown occurs. A series of samples are measured, which are then treated statistically

to yield the final value [20].

Table 2.1. Table shows the required electrode geometry

Electrode Description of Electrodes Insulating Materials


Type

32
1 Opposing cylinders 51 mm in Flat sheets of paper, films, fabrics,
diameter, 25 mm thick with edges rubber, molded plastics, laminates,
rounded to 6.4 mm radius. boards, glass mica and ceramic.

2 Opposing cylinders 25 mm in Same as for Type 1, particularly for


diameter, 25 mm thick with edges glass, mica, plastic and ceramic.
rounded to 3.2 mm radius.

The more uniform electric field of the cylindrical electrode system makes this

method more sensitive to the presence of water or other conducting particulate material in

the fluid. It is for this reason that the oil must be circulated during the measurement to

insure that any particles are uniformly suspended in the oil.

This test method covers procedures for the determination of dielectric strength of

solid insulating materials at commercial power frequencies. Unless otherwise specified,

the tests shall be made at 60Hz. However this test method may be used at any frequency

from 25 to 800 Hz. At a frequency above 800 Hz dielectric heating may be a problem.

This test method may be used at various temperatures, and in any suitable liquid

surrounding medium. This test method is also suitable for determining the dielectric

breakdown voltage through the thickness of a test specimen.

2.1.2 Terminology

Dielectric breakdown voltage (or) electrical breakdown voltage (or) breakdown

voltage: the potential difference at which the dielectric failure occurs under

prescribed conditions, in an electrical, insulating material located between two

electrodes.
33
Dielectric strength (or) electrical strength: the voltage gradient at which

dielectric failure of the insulating material occurs under specified conditions of

test.

Dielectric failure: an event that is evidenced by an increase in conductance in the

dielectric under tests limiting the electric field that can be sustained.

Flashover: a disruptive electrical discharge at the surface of electrical insulation

or in the surrounding medium, which may or may not cause permanent damage to

the insulation [21].

2.1.3 Summary of Test Method

AC voltage, at a commercial power frequency, is applied to a test specimen. The

voltage is increased from zero or from a level well below the breakdown voltage,

in one of three prescribed methods of voltage application, until the dielectric

failure of the test specimen occurs. In this project we apply the voltage in a step

by step way.

Three methods for voltage application are specified as:

o Short time test: Apply voltage uniformly to the test electrodes from zero at

one of the rates shown in the table.

34
Table 2.2. Short time test voltage application method

Rates ((V/s) ± 20 %)

100

200

500

1000

2000

5000

o Step by step test: Apply voltage to the test electrodes at the preferred

starting voltage and in steps and duration as shown in the table.

Table 2.3. Step by step test voltage application method

When Vs (kV)A is Increment (kV)

5 or less 10% of Vs

Over 5 to 10 0.5

Over 10 to 25 1

Over 25 to 50 2

Over 50 to 100 5

Over 100 10

35
o Slow rate of rise test: Apply voltage to the test electrodes from the starting

voltage and at the rate shown in figure until the breakdown occurs.

Figure 2.1. Plot showing the slow rate rise method voltage application

Table 2.4. Slow rate rise voltage rates

Rates (V/s) ± 20 % Constraints

1 t bd > 120 s

2 Vbd =>1.5Vs

5 Vbd =>1.5Vs

10 Vbd =>1.5Vs

12.5 Vbd =>1.5Vs

20 Vbd =>1.5Vs

25 Vbd =>1.5Vs

50 Vbd =>1.5Vs

100 Vbd =>1.5Vs

36
The step by step test and slow rate rise test methods give lower test results which

are more meaningful when different materials are being compared [20].

The test voltage is applied using simple test electrodes on opposite faces of the

specimen. The specimens may be molded or cast, or cut from a flat sheet or plate.

2.1.4 Significance and Use

The dielectric strength of an electrical insulating material is a property of interest

for any application where an electric field will be present. In many cases the

dielectric strength of a material will be the determining factor in the design of the

apparatus in which it is to be used.

The test made as specified herein may be used to provide part of the information

needed for determining the suitability of a material for a given application and

also for detecting changes or deviations from normal characteristics resulting

from processing variables, aging conditions, or other manufacturing or

environmental situations.

Results obtained by this test can be seldom used directly to determine the

dielectric behavior of a material in an actual application [20].

37
2.1.5 Apparatus

Voltage source: Obtain the test voltage from a step up transformer supplied from

a variable sinusoidal low voltage source. The transformer shall have the following

capabilities:

o The ratio of crest to root mean square test voltage shall be equal to

2 5% , with the test specimen in the circuit, at all voltages greater than

50% of the breakdown voltage.

o The capacity of the source shall be sufficient to maintain the test voltage

until the dielectric breakdown occurs.

o The voltage source is equipped with a circuit breaking device that will

disconnect the voltage source from the power service and protect it from

overload as a result of a specimen breakdown causing an overload of the

testing apparatus. If a prolonged current follows breakdown it will result

in unnecessary burning and contamination of liquid surrounding medium.

o The circuit breaking device should have an adjustable current sensing

element in the step up transformer secondary to allow for adjustment

consistent with the specimen characteristics and arranged to sense

specimen current.

o The current sensitivity setting can have a significant effect on the test

results. Make the setting high enough that the transients, such as partial

discharges, will not trip the breaker but not so high that excessive burning

38
of the specimen, with resultant electrode damage, will occur on

breakdown. The electrode area may have a significant effect on what the

current setting should be.

o If the setting is set too high, the breaking circuit will not respond when the

breakdown occurs; if set too low, it may respond to leakage currents,

capacitive currents, or partial discharge currents so excess care should be

taken when setting the current element.

Voltage measurement:

o A voltmeter must be provided for measuring the rms test voltage. A peak

reading voltmeter may be used, in which case the reading by 2 to get

rms values. The overall error of the voltage measuring circuit shall not

exceed 5% of the measured value.

o Voltage is measured using a voltmeter or potential transformer connected

to the electrodes.

o It is desirable for the reading of the maximum applied test voltage to be

retained on the voltmeter after breakdown so that the voltage can be

accurately read and recorded.

Electrodes:

o For a given specimen configuration, the dielectric breakdown voltage may

vary considerably, depending upon the geometry and placement of the test

electrodes.

o One of the electrodes listed in the table below should be used.

39
Table 2.5. Electrode designs based on applications

Electrode Description of Electrodes Insulating Materials


Type

3 Opposing cylindrical rods 6.4 mm Same as for Type 1, particularly for


in diameter with edges rounded to varnish, plastic and other thin film and
0.8 mm radius tapes: where small specimens
necessitate the use of smaller
electrodes, or where testing of a small
area is desired.

4 Flat plates 6.4 mm wide and 108 Same as for Type 1, particularly for
mm long with edges square and rubber tapes and other narrow widths
ends rounded to 3.2 mm radius. of thin materials.

5 Hemispherical electrodes 12.7 mm Filling and treating compounds, gels


in diameter. and semisolid compounds and greases,
embedding, potting and encapsulating
materials.

6 Opposing cylinders; the lower one Same as for Type 1 and 2


75 mm in diameter, 15 mm thick;
the upper one 25 mm in diameter,
25 mm thick; with edges of both
rounded to 3 mm radius.

7 Opposing circular flat plates, 150 Flat sheet, plate or board materials for
mm diameter, 10 mm thick with tests with the voltage gradient parallel
edges rounded to 3 to 5 mm radius. to the surface.

o The electrodes should be in contact with the test specimen over the entire

flat area of the electrodes.

40
o Keep the electrode surface clean and smooth and free from projecting

irregularities resulting from previous tests. If irregularities have

developed, they must be removed.

o The flatness and surface finish of the electrode‟s faces must be such that

the faces are in close contact with the test specimen over the entire area of

the electrodes.

o Whenever the electrodes are dissimilar in size or shape, the one at which

the lowest concentration of stress exists, usually the larger in size and with

the largest radius, should be at ground potential.

o Because of the effect of the electrodes on the test results, it is frequently

possible to obtain additional information as to the dielectric properties of a

material by running tests with more than one type of electrode.

Surrounding medium:

o Since flashover must be avoided and the effects of partial discharges prior

to breakdown minimized, it is often preferable and sometimes necessary to

make the tests in an insulating liquid. Breakdown values obtained in

liquid may not be comparable with those obtained in air. The nature of

liquid and the degree of previous use may influence the test values.

Testing in air may require excessively large specimens or cause heavy

surface discharges and burning before breakdown

o It is recommended that Type I or II mineral oil be used. It should have a

dielectric breakdown voltage of at least 26 kV.

41
o The quality of the insulating oil may have an appreciable effect upon the

test results. Particulate contaminants are especially important when very

thin specimens (1 mil) are being tested. Depending upon the nature of the

oil and the properties of the material being tested, other properties,

including dissolved gas content, water content, and dissipation factor of

the oil may also have an effect upon the results.

o Breakdown values obtained using liquids having different electrical

properties may not be comparable.

Test chamber:

o The test chamber or area in which the tests are to be made shall be of

sufficient size to hold the test equipment, and shall be provided with

interlocks to prevent accidental contact with any electrically energized

parts.

2.1.6 Test Specimens

Preparation and handling:

o For the purpose of most tests it is desirable to take samples from the areas

that are not immediately adjacent to obvious defects or discontinuities in

the material. The outer few layers of roll material, the top sheets of a

package of sheets, or material immediately next to an edge of a sheet or

roll should be avoided.

42
o When flat-faced electrodes are to be used, the surfaces of the specimens

which will be in contact with the electrodes shall be smooth parallel planes

insofar as possible without actual surface machining.

o The specimens shall be of sufficient size to prevent flashover under the

conditions of test. For thin materials it may be convenient to use

specimens large enough to permit making more than one test on a single

piece.

o For thicker materials (more than 2mm thick) the breakdown strength may

be high enough that flashover or intense surface partial discharges may

occur prior to breakdown. Techniques that may be used to prevent

flashover or to reduce partial discharge include:

 Immerse the specimen in insulating oil during the test.

 Apply seals and shrouds around the electrodes in contact with the

specimen to reduce tendency to flashover.

 Materials that are not in flat sheet form shall be tested using

specimens appropriate to the material and the geometry of the

sample.

 In nearly all cases the actual thickness of the test specimen is

important. Measurements shall be made at room temperature.

43
2.1.7 Calibration

In making calibration measurements, take care that the values of voltage at the

electrodes can be determined with accuracy while the test specimens are in the

circuit.

Use an independently calibrated voltmeter attached to the output of the test

voltage source to verify the accuracy of the measuring device. Voltage dividers

having comparable accuracy may be used for calibration measurement.

2.1.8 Conditioning

The dielectric strength of most solid insulating materials is influenced by

temperature and moisture content. Materials so affected should be brought to

equilibrium with an atmosphere of controlled temperature and relative humidity

before testing.

For many materials, the moisture content has more effect on dielectric strength

than does temperature.

If the conditioning atmosphere is such that condensation occurs on the surface of

specimens, it may be desirable to wipe the surfaces of the specimens immediately

before testing. This will usually reduce the possibility of surface flashover.

2.1.9 Criteria of Breakdown

44
Dielectric breakdown consists of an increase in conductance, limiting the electric

field that can be sustained. The phenomenon is most commonly evidenced during the

test by an abrupt visible and audible rupture through the thickness of the specimen,

resulting in a visible puncture and decomposition of the specimen in the breakdown area.

This form of breakdown is generally irreversible. Repeated applications of voltage will

sometimes result in failure at lower voltages, usually with additional damage at the

breakdown area. Such repeated applications of the voltage may be used to give positive

evidence of the breakdown and to make the breakdown path more visible.

A rapid rise in the leakage current may result in the tripping of the voltage source

without visible decomposition of the specimen. This type of failure, usually associated

with slow rise tests at elevated temperatures, may in some cases be reversible, that is,

recovery of the dielectric strength may occur if the specimen is allowed to cool to its

original test temperature before reapplying voltage. The voltage source should trip

rapidly at a relatively low current for this type of failure to occur.

The tripping of the voltage source may occur due to flashover, to partial discharge

current, to reactive current in a high capacitance specimen, or to malfunctioning of the

breaker. Such interruptions of the test do not constitute breakdown and should not be

considered satisfactory tests. However, if the breaker is set for too high a current, or if

the breaker malfunctions, excessive burning of the specimen occurs.

45
As previously discussed, the dielectric strength of most solid insulating materials

is influenced significantly by moisture content. Therefore a standard test is carried out to

know the behavior of the composites with respect to added moisture content.

2.2 ASTM D 570-97 (Standard for Moisture Test)

This test method covers the determination of the rate of absorption of water by

plastics when immersed in water. This test is valid for testing all types of plastics,

including cast, hit-molded, and molded resinous products, and both homogeneous and

molded plastics in rod and tube form and ion sheets that are 0.13 - 0.005 inches or greater

in thickness.

This test method is significant in finding the proportion of water absorbed by a

material, in which case a relation between the moisture and electrical properties can be

determined. The moisture content of a plastic is very intimately related to electrical

insulation resistance, dielectric losses, mechanical strength, dimensions and appearance

[22].

2.2.1 Apparatus

Balance: An Analytical balance capable of reading 0.0001 g.

Oven, capable of maintaining uniform temperatures.

The test specimen of sheets shall be machined, sawed, or sheared from the sample so as

to have smooth edges free from cracks.


46
2.2.2 Immersion Methods

There are seven different types of immersion methods:

Twenty-Four Hour Immersion

Two Hour Immersion

Repeated Immersion

Long-Term Immersion

Two Hour Boiling Water Immersion

One Half Hour Boiling Water Immersion


Immersion at 50 C

In this experiment we have used the Two Hour Boiling Water Immersion Procedure,

where the specimens shall be placed in a container of boiling water, and shall be

supported on edge and be entirely immersed. At the end of 120±4 min, the specimens

shall be removed from the water and cooled in distilled water maintained at room

temperature. After 15±1 minutes, the specimens shall be removed from the water, one at

a time, all surface water removed with a dry cloth, and the specimens weighed to the

nearest 0.0001 g immediately. If the specimen is 1/16 inches. or less in thickness, it shall

be weighed in a weighing bottle.

2.2.3 Calculations

The percentage increase in weight during immersion, calculated to the nearest 0.01%,

47
wetweight conditionedweight
Increaseinweight ,% 100 (8)
conditionedweight

48
CHAPTER III

PROCEDURE

3.1 General Procedure

The general procedure adopted to test the breakdown voltage of composite

materials can be broadly divided into two steps,

First, three samples are cut from each kind of composite sheet, then each of them

is labeled as 1,2 and 3.

Second, we put the materials in the test/hardware setup [20].

There are three major components in the hardware setup of the tester,

Figure 3.1. Basic Setup

49
3.2 Transformer

A Step up Transformer labeled „G‟, which produces a 0-50 kV ac @ 2 kVA is

employed for applying the voltage. A HIP / 750 – 2 – A model AC Dielectric test set was

used.

Figure 3.2. Transformer used for High Voltage test.

3.3 Dielectric Test Set

A diagram of the front panel of the test set is shown below, with the main parts

briefed below [23]:

o Main Power Control: This is a toggle switch with a power rating of less

than 2 kVA.

50
o Control Power Circuit Breaker: This serves both as a switch and a

protection device for the control circuitry. An indicator lights when the

control power circuit breaker is turned on.

o The dielectric test set provides a range of discharge free test power for a

variety of conductive, inductive and resistive loads.

3.3.1 Dielectric Test Set Features:

o Continuously adjustable output voltage control.

o Continuously adjustable overload from 10-110 percent of rated current

output.

o “Zero start” and external interlocks provisions.

o Triple range analog voltmeter, output connected.

o Single range analog current meter

o Backup overload circuit

o Meter recalibration potentiometers

o HV ON and OFF pushbuttons.

Table 3.1. Table shows the Basic Components of the Setup

Input 120 V ac, 60 Hz, 20 Amps

Output 0-50 kV ac @ 2 kVA

Distortion Less than 5 percent

Duty 2 kVA @ 1 Hour, 1.2 kVA Continuous

Kilovolt Meter 0-10/25/50 kV ac, 2 percent accuracy

51
Current Meter 0-40 mA ac, 2 percent accuracy

Control Size 21” Wide x 15” High x 19 ½ “ Deep

Tank Size 14” Wide x 14” High x 14“ Deep

Figure 3.3. Test Setup Controller

3.3.2 Dielectric Test Set Parts:

o Back up Overload Circuit: A back up circuit is installed in series with the

high voltage transformer to detect excessive current levels in the

transformer winding. An excessive current causes the device to activate

and to de-energize the high voltage transformer.

o Secondary Connected Overload: The secondary connected current

overload circuitry serves as the first overload for the system. Any

excessive amount of current flowing in the test loop activates the circuit

52
and de-energizes the high voltage transformer. The circuitry activates in

approx 100 uS and de-activates the system in 3-10 cycles.

o External Interlocks: The system is supplied with terminals at the rear of

the control cabinet that enable the user to install safety interlocks in the

test area. When these interlocks are open, it is impossible to activate the

high voltage transformer.

o High Voltage Button: The high voltage can be activated by pressing the

HV ON push button; there is a zero start feature that prohibits from

activating the high voltage unless the voltage regulator is set to zero.

When the HV OFF button is pressed, the high voltage transformer is de-

energized.

o Voltage Controls: There is a control knob with markings from 0-100

which indicate to what percentage the voltage transformer is excited. This

knob must always be returned to zero at the end of each test. There is an

output voltmeter which displays the output voltage in kilovolts. This

meter is connected directly to the output through a high-impedance

resistive divider.

3.3.3 Pre-Operational Test:

For this study the pre-operational test was performed by TRS Rentelco.

53
Test procedure:

Before any connections are made, a pre-operational test is to be made; this test

helps us to know if there is any damage or deterioration of the parts.

o Activate the high voltage control circuitry.

o Raise the voltage using the voltage control knob, observing the regulator

output voltage using suitable ac voltmeter with a minimum full scale

reading of 1000 V ac.

o Return the voltage regulator to zero.

o Turn OFF the main power and source power breakers and connect primary

leads to high voltage transformer.

o Energize the main power source and activate the main power circuit

breaker. Repeat the steps and monitor the output voltage of the system.

o Set the overload sensitivity control so the unit shuts off the at the desired

current level by following:

 Insert a resistive load simulating 10 percent of acceptable

resistance of the test sample between the high voltage output and

ground.

 Set the SENS potentiometer to MIN

 Press the HV ON Pushbutton

 Increase the output voltage to the desired overload current level.

 Rotate the SENS potentiometer counterclockwise until the

overload trips and shuts off the high voltage.

54
 Press RESET pushbutton.

The system is now ready for high voltage testing.

3.3.4 Step by Step Instructions:

o Ensure that the main power circuit breaker is turned OFF.

o Connect the low end of the test sample to ground with a conductor large

enough to carry rated output current of the system.

o Connect the high end of the test sample to the output bushing of the

transformer.

o Turn ON the main power circuit breaker, control power circuit breaker,

and backup circuit breaker.

o Activate the high voltage transformer by pressing the HV ON button.

o Raise the output voltage to the desired test level by using the raise voltage

control knob.

o Make a note of voltage and currents at each interval.

o When the test is complete, return the raise voltage control knob to zero

and press the HV OFF button.

3.3.5 Calibrating the Meters:

For this study the current and voltage meters were calibrated by TRS Rentelco.

o Calibrating the Current Meter:

 Ensure the unit is grounded properly.

55
 Connect a suitable 1 percent standard current meter between the

high voltage output and the ground. An additional resistor may be

connected in series with the standard meter to provide better

adjustment.

 Activate all circuit breakers and push the HV ON.

 Increase the output current until the external current meter reading

is equivalent to two-thirds of the unit‟s maximum rated output.

 Adjust the current meter calibration potentiometer until the unit‟s

meter reading equals the reading on the external resistor.

o Calibrating the Voltage Meter:

 Ensure the unit is grounded properly.

 Connect a standard kilo voltmeter across the output of the HV

transformer.

 Activate all circuit breakers and push the HV ON.

 Increase the output voltage until the external voltmeter meter

reading is equivalent to two-thirds of the unit‟s maximum rated

output.

 Adjust the voltmeter calibration potentiometer until the unit‟s

meter reading equals the reading on the external meter.

3.4 Glass Chamber

A Plexiglas chamber which encloses the electrodes and the Plexiglas fixture

immersed in oil is used for measuring the dielectric breakdown voltage of different

56
composite materials. The left bottom electrode is connected to the supply voltage, the

right electrode is connected to the ground and the top electrode is connected to the

Ground.

The small Plexiglass fixture mainly helps to make a contact between the two

electrodes in between whom the samples are placed for testing. The glass fixture is

totally immersed in mineral oil of type I or II [19].

Figure 3.4. Oil bath with Mineral Oil

For the 67.5 mm Samples: The electrodes for measuring the breakdown voltage of these

samples should be 51 mm in diameter, 25 mm thick with edges rounded to 6.4 mm radius

[19].

57
Figure 3.5. Picture shows the two types of electrodes used

For the 37.5 mm Samples: The electrodes for measuring the breakdown voltage of

these samples should be 25 mm in diameter, 25 mm thick with edges rounded to 3.2 mm

radius.

We used mineral oil for measuring the breakdown voltage to avoid flashover and the

effects of partial discharges prior to breakdown. Testing in air may require large

specimens or cause heavy surface discharges and burning before breakdown. The quality

of insulating oil can have an appreciable effect on the test results [20].

3.5 Changing the oil

Particulate contaminants are especially important when very thin specimens are

being tested. Depending upon the nature of the oil and the properties of the material

58
being tested, other properties, including dissolved gas content, water content, and

dissipation factor of the oil may affect the test results. Frequent replacement of the oil or

the use of filters and other reconditioning equipment may be necessary to minimize the

effect of variations of the quality of the oil on the test results [20].

3.6 Glued Samples

For this case we glued two 37.5 mm samples and measured the breakdown

voltage across them using the 51 mm electrodes. However, as we increased the voltage

there was a breakdown exactly at the middle of the two samples, at the point where the

glue was applied. This made us think that the glue which was used may be of a low

breakdown voltage [24]. So, to overcome the breakdown at the center of the samples, we

used a gel (Blue RTV Silicone Gel) that has better performance than a normal gel for

gluing the samples. Still, there were a couple of samples that did break at the glued

location due to the air gap while gluing the samples.

Figure 3.6. Glued sample with a breakdown spot

59
However, there was a significant increase in breakdown voltage when glued samples

tested with 51 mm diameter electrodes were compared to the individual samples tested

with 25 mm diameter electrodes.

3.7 Observations

The ramping of the voltage should be done very patiently, since it is very

sensitive and a sudden ramp could destroy the samples, which is not reversible.

The sensitivity should be adjusted wisely.

The current increased very slowly (as we followed the step by step voltage

application method) for most of the insulating samples while we increased the

voltage levels but once the breakdown occurred the current levels increase

quickly.

The current increased suddenly for the conductive samples as we ramped the

voltage.

For some of the samples (Phenolic, Polyester) with moisture content the current

increased to a higher level and then decreased as we ramped the voltage, but again

increased before breakdown.

There was a big flash and sound when the breakdown occurred.

We observed some sparks between the electrodes and lots of smoke when the

sample‟s threshold levels were exceeded.

The smoke and small particulates get settled and dispersed in the oil, which is not

good for testing.


60
For some of the samples with moisture, the oil near the sample became hot upon

sample breakdown which can be felt while replacing the samples or removing the

samples from the oil.

The electrodes left their marks on the samples if the electrodes were not properly

cleaned.

The samples should not be broken and should be smooth for testing.

The samples should be of sufficient size to prevent flashover or corona (approx.

more than 51 mm).

The surface of the samples should be in contact with the electrodes.

The junction where the electrodes are connected to the ground and high voltage

should be sealed or shrouded properly with a silicone gel to minimize the effect of

flashover and to prevent current passing to other devices nearby.

A table made of an insulating material is preferred for use with these kinds of

tests because of the high voltage.

Breakdown tree paths can be observed if the sample subjected to high voltages is

broken or divided into two pieces exactly at the point where the breakdown

occurred and observed with a SEM.

61
CHAPTER IV

Results and Discussions

4.1 Results for samples immersed in oil

For this test we first tested the samples which are not immersed in mineral oil and

then we immersed the same kind of samples in mineral oil for 24 hrs and then tested

them, but as we can see there is no significant difference in the breakdown voltage. This

demonstrates that the test procedure of immersing the samples in the mineral oil did not

lead to different breakdown data due to absorbed mineral oil during the test. Thus we

didn‟t need to submerge the materials in the mineral oil for 24 hrs before we tested them.

( Note: Absence of error bars in any of the graphs indicates only one sample was tested

Breakdown fields without and with


oil imersion
without oil immersion with oil immersion
Avg. Fields (kV/mm)

10

0
1 2 3 4
Samples

Figure 4.1. Plot showing the dielectric breakdown field for four different materials of

67.5 mm samples.

62
4.2 67.5 mm Samples

The electrical breakdown field of the materials without any moisture content was

first evaluated to quantify the influence of the changes due to moisture content. Figures

4.1 and 4.2 show the average breakdown value of 3 samples tested as normal (without

moisture content) composites for 67.5 mm samples, electrical samples (67.5 mm), 37.5

mm samples and some glued samples. As expected, the breakdown voltages reduced

significantly compared to the moisture-free samples. This can be mainly due to the

moisture content or water absorbed by the samples while immersed. It is also noteworthy

that some samples with moisture content were conductive as soon as they were subjected

to even low voltages.

Figure 4.2. Polyurethane samples Figure 4.3. Polyester Samples

63
Figure 4.4. Polyester with mat and roving Figure 4.5. Polyester with hemp filler

67.5 mm Polyester Samples with


standard deviation
without moisture with moisture
Avg. Field (kV/mm)

10

0
W.L S.P N.F Hub 1 Ark 12 AOC
polyester samples with different fillers

Figure 4.6. Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 67.5 mm Polyester

samples without and with moisture content (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

64
67.5 mm Polyurethane samples with
standard deviation
without moisture with moisture

Avg. Field (kV/mm)


10

0
BDD 1 BNX BNN BDD 2 BAS
Polyurethane samples with different fillers

Figure 4.7. Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 67.5 mm Polyurethane

samples without and with moisture content (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

Table 4.1. Table shows the average fields of 67.5 mm samples without moisture

Full Name Name Average (kV/mm) Standard Deviation

Werner Ladder W.L 5.93 0

Sheet Piling S.P 5.37 0.4246

Natural Fiber N.F 5.33 2.8454

Hub 02-10 Hub 1 3.1 0.3335

Ark 12-06 Ark 12 10 1.9008

AOC Trial 3-14 AOC 3.41 0.185

BDD08-81 BDD 1 11.9 1.4344

65
BNX 05-32 BNX 12 0.6464

BNN 07-34 BNN 5.72 0.4773

BDD05-105 BDD 2 7.03 3.1132

BASALT BAS 6.56 0.641

Table 4.2. Table shows the average fields of 67.5 mm sampleswith moisture

Full Name Name Average (kV/mm) Standard Deviation

Werner Ladder W.L 3.86 0

Sheet Piling S.P 3.85 1.009

Natural Fiber N.F 2 0

Hub 02-10 Hub 1 1.61 0

Ark 12-06 Ark 12 10.23 0.9059

AOC Trial 3-14 AOC 2.35 0.3852

BDD08-81 BDD 1 10.72 0.6807

BNX 05-32 BNX 11 0.3074

BNN 07-34 BNN 1.95 0.1104

BDD05-105 BDD 2 11.42 0.1988

BASALT BAS 4.1 0.8158

66
67.5 mm samples
without moisture with moisture

16
Polyester samples Polyurethane samples
14
Avg. Field (kV/mm) 12
10
8
6
4
2
0
W.L S.P N.F Hub 1 Ark 12 AOC BDD 1 BNX BNN BDD 2 BAS
Different 67.5 mm samples

Figure 4.8. Breakdown Fields of all different 67.5 mm samples without and with moisture

content.

4.3 Electrical Samples

We tested 3 different types of electrical samples that incorporated

electrically conductive constituent materials. As we already know that the electrical

samples are conductive, we can expect the breakdown voltage to be very low compared

to the insulating samples. The electrical samples showed this typical behavior by

conducting at low voltages and by breaking down quickly as we increased the voltage. (

Note: Absence of error bars in any of the graphs indicates only one sample was tested

67
Figure 4.9. 67.5 mm samples with carbon veil before test

Electrical Samples
without moisture with moisture

14
12
Avg. Fields (kV/mm)

10
8
6
4
2
0
1 2 3
Electrical Samples with different veils

Figure 4.10. Plot showing the dielectric breakdown field of 67.5 mm Electrical samples.

68
4.4 37.5 mm Samples

Figure 4.11. 37.5 mm sample before test Figure. 4.12. 37.5 mm sample after test

37.5 mm epoxy samples with


standard deviation
without moisture with moisture
Avg.Field (kV/mm)

10

0
Fill 1 Fill 11 Fill 9
Epoxy samples

Figure 4.13. Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 37.5 mm Epoxy

samples without and with moisture content (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

69
37.5 mm polyester samples with
standard deviation
Avg.Field (kV/mm) without moisture with moisture

10

0
ATH HUB FUP FUP FUP 01 FUP 08 FUP 10 FUP 3 FUP 2 FUP 1
19 046 047
polyester samples

Figure 4.14. Breakdown Fields with standard devation of different 37.5 mm Polyester

samples without and with moisture content (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

37.5 mm phenolic and polyurethane


samples with standard deviation
without moisture with moisture
Avg.Field (kV/mm)

10

0
NG 07 B&G
phenolic and polyurethane sample

70
Figure 4.15. Breakdown Fields with standard devation of different 37.5 mm Phenolic and

Polyurethane samples without and with moisture content (error bars indicate the standard

deviation).

Table 4.3. Table shows the average fields of 37.5 mm with moisture

Full Name Name Average (kV/mm) Standard Deviation

Fill 1-13 Fill 1 10.26 0.5387

Fill11-14 Fill 11 9.07 0.5515

Fill9-1 Fill 9 9.1 0.1773

ATH 01-B-12 ATH 2.514 0

Hub 19-05 HUB 19 8.2 0.659

Filler up 04-6 FUP 046 8.62 0.4414

Filler up 04-7 FUP 047 8.32 0.2973

Filler up 01-7 FUP 01 7.38 0.1468

Filler up 08-7 FUP 08 7.53 0.1847

Filler up 10-7 FUP 10 7.45 0.4461

Filler up 3-7 FUP 3 7.53 0.2162

Filler up 2-7 FUP 2 9.62 0.361

Filler up 1-7 FUP 1 9.45 0.5616

NG07-07 NG 07 2.5 0.2878

Basalt and Glass B&G 8.4 0.7313

71
Table 4.4. Table shows the average fields of 37.5 mm samples with moisture

Full Name Name Average (kV/mm) Standard Deviation

Fill 1-13 Fill 1 7.24 1.9496

Fill11-14 Fill 11 8.65 0.5622

Fill9-1 Fill 9 5.7 1.027

ATH 01-B-12 ATH 3.85 0

Hub 19-05 HUB 19 6.11 0.8889

Filler up 04-6 FUP 046 7.07 0

Filler up 04-7 FUP 047 8 0.2785

Filler up 01-7 FUP 01 5.33 0.3771

Filler up 08-7 FUP 08 7.85 0.4525

Filler up 10-7 FUP 10 7.22 0.4739

Filler up 3-7 FUP 3 8.32 0.2852

Filler up 2-7 FUP 2 8.32 0.2852

Filler up 1-7 FUP 1 5.15 0.7307

NG07-07 NG 07 2.9 1.3508

Basalt and Glass B&G 8.04 2.2162

72
37.5 mm samples
Polyurethane
without moisture with moisture

14
Phenolic
12
Epoxy Polyester
Avg. Field (kV/mm)

10
8
6
4
2
0
Fill 1 Fill Fill 9 ATH HUB FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP NG B&G
11 19 046 047 01 08 10 3 2 1 07
Different 37.5 mm samples

Figure 4.16. Breakdown Fields of all different 37.5 mm samples without and with

moisture content.

4.5 Glued Samples

These are the same sample as the 37.5 mm samples but two 37.5 mm samples are

joined at the edge with RTV blue silicone gel. (Note: Absence of error bars in any of the

graphs indicates only one sample was tested)

73
Figure. 4.17. Glued sample before test Figure. 4.18. Glued sample after test

Glued epoxy sample


without moisture with moisture

14
12
Field (kV/mm)

10
8
6
4
2
0
Fill 11 Fill 9
Glued epoxy samples

Figure 4.19. Breakdown Fields of different Epoxy-glued samples without and

with moisture content.

74
Glued polyester samples
without moisture with moisture

14
12

Field (kV/mm)
10
8
6
4
2
0
HUB 19 FUP 046 FUP 01 FUP 10 FUP 2 FUP 1
Glued polyester samples

Figure 4.20. Breakdown Fields of different Polyester-glued samples without and with

moisture content.

Glued Phenolic Sample


14
12
10
Field (kV/mm)

8
6
4
2
0
NG 07 without moisture NG 07 with moisture
Glued phenolic samples

Figure 4.21. Breakdown Fields of Phenolic-glued samples without and with moisture

content.
75
Glued Polyurethane Sample
14
12

Field (kV/mm)
10
8
6
4
2
0
B&G without moisture B&G with moisture

Glued polyurethane sample

Figure 4.22. Breakdown Fields of Polyurethane-glued samples without and with moisture

content.

Glued samples Polyurethane


Phenolic
without moisture with moisture

14 Polyester
Epoxy
12
Field (kV/mm)

10
8
6
4
2
0
Fill 11 Fill 9 HUB FUP FUP 01 FUP 10 FUP 2 FUP 10 NG 07 B&G
19 046
Glued samples

Figure 4.23. Breakdown Fields of different glued samples without and with moisture

content.
76
4.6 Comparison of Breakdown fields with different resin types

For this test we considered only the different types of resins tested. For 67.5 mm

samples we considered:

Polyester resin

Polyurethane resin

Polyester resin with mat and roving

Polyester resin with hemp filler

(Note: Absence of error bars in any of the graphs indicates only one sample was tested)

67.5 mm Samples
without moisture with moisture

14
Avg. Fields (kV/mm)

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Polyurethane Polyester (Ark) Polyester with Polyester with
(BNX) mat and roving hemp filler(NF)
(WL)
Samples

Figure 4.24. Breakdown Fields and standard deviation of different 67.5 mm samples with

different resin systems (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

77
For the one inch samples we considered,

Epoxy resin

Polyester (P920) resin

Polyester (706) resin

Polyurethane resin

Phenolic resin

37.5 mm Samples
without moisture with moisture

14
Avg. Fields (kV/mm)

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Epoxy (Fill 11) Polyester 1 Polyester 2 Phenolic (NG Polyurethane
(FUP 2) (Hub 19 ) 07) (B&G)
Samples

Figure 4.25. Breakdown Fields with standard deviation of different 37.5 mm samples

with different resin systems (error bars indicate the standard deviation).

78
Glued Samples
without moisture with moisture

14

Avg. Fields (kV/mm)


12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Epoxy (Fill 11) Polyester 1 Polyester 2 Phenolic (NG Polyurethane
(FUP 2) (Hub 19 ) 07) (B&G)
Samples

Figure 4.26. Breakdown Fields of different Glued samples with different resin systems

(without and with moisture content).

percent increase in weight for 67.5mm


samples
percent increase in weight

5
Polyester Polyurethane
4
percent increase

1 1.52 1.43
0.49 0.45 1.26 1.23 0.11 0.82 0.085 0.068 0.069
0
W.L S.P N.F Hub 1 Ark 12 AOC BDD 1 BNX BNN BDD 2 BAS
67.5 mm samples

Figure 4.27. Plot showing the percentage increase in weight for all 67.5 mm samples

79
percent increase in weight for 37.5 mm
samples Polyurethane

percent increase in weight


Phenolic
5
Epoxy Polyester
percent increase

4 4.69
3
2
1
0.084 0.009 0.16 1.29 0.119 0.147 0.136 0.213 0.112 0.112 0.103 0.108 0.129 0.007
0
Fill 1 Fill 11 Fill 9 ATH HUB FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP FUP 3 FUP 2 FUP 1 NG B&G
19 046 047 01 08 10 07
37.5 mm samples

Figure 4.28. Plot showing the percentage increase in weight for all 37.5 mm samples

4.8 Problems Faced

The main challenge during the whole process of testing the breakdown voltage

came when the voltage divider built in the dielectric test set malfunctioned. The test set

was not showing the correct value where the breakdown was occurring, while most of the

samples were breaking at what seemed to be below 5 kV. The current levels were high

for a 5 kV applied voltage and the samples were breaking very easily.

To confirm that the equipment was malfunctioning we tested a couple of

relatively thick sheet piling samples, which broke down at what read as less than 4 kV.

The noise from the transformer, which originally was not loud until nearly 25 kV, made

us think the readings were erroneous.


80
After a good analysis we came to a conclusion that the voltage divider in the test

set was not working properly and we needed to build a new circuit. Meanwhile we tested

using the center knob which is rated from 0-100 percent of the total voltage; however this

knob is not calibrated so we made a note of all the values following the knob and at the

end we calibrated the knob using the newly built voltage divider circuit connected across

the two electrodes. We would have waited to do this, but parts had to be ordered and the

tester was rented.

Figure 4.29. Original setup for calculating the output voltage

4.9 Voltage Divider Circuit

This voltage divider produces an output voltage, Vo , that is proportional to the

input voltage, E. The output voltage is measured using a voltmeter. The input voltage is

the voltage of the voltage source. For the Voltage divider circuit, the resistors used are of

high wattage. The power rating indicates how much power the resistor can safely

tolerate. If the maximum rating of the resistor is exceeded, it will become extremely hot

and even burn. We opted for high wattage resistors to find the exact readings of the
81
circuit. We used 3 resistors of value 100 MΩ (R1), 100 MΩ (R2) and 100 KΩ (R3) in

order to make the calculations easy. In this process we also simulated the voltage divider

circuit in Multisim [26] and looked at the power of 100M resistors and the power of the

100K resistor, Fig. 4.35 and Fig. 4.36 show the power rating curves for both resistors.

Also a Table has been listed in the appendix with the specifications of the resistors we

used.

Figure 4.30. General voltage divider circuit

Center knob
used for testing.

Figure 4.31. Center Knob with which we calculated the voltages

82
The power ratings for the 100M resistor was 10W and the maximum power was

6.24W, when the source voltage was 50kV, similarly the power ratings for the 100K

resistor was 5W and the maximum power was 62mW, when the source voltage was

50kV.

Figure 4.32. Voltage divider circuit used for measuring the output voltage

Figure 4.33. Output voltage Vs Source voltage for 100M resistor

83
Figure 4.34. Output voltage Vs Source voltage 100K resistor

Figure 4.35. Power rating curves for 100M resistor through which we know the

maximum wattage of the resistor to be used.

84
Figure 4.36. Power rating curves for 100K resistor through which we know the maximum

wattage of the resistor to be used.

We calculated the output voltage using the formula:

R3
Vout E (2)
R1 R2 R3

R1 R2 R3
E Vout (3)
R3

4.10 SEM

Observation of the breakdown paths was performed with a JSM -6100 scanning

electron microscope. To obtain a good visualization of the breakdown paths, a specific

technique was performed [27]. A straight line was first scored in one time on either sides

of the perforation hole, purposely avoiding the vicinity of the hole (Figure 4.36).

The scanning electron microscope was operated under the following conditions:

85
Accelerating Voltage 2KeV to 5KeV

Probe Current ca 1 1010 A

Objective diaphragm 50μm in diameter.

Working distance 11mm

Figure 4.37. Sample Preparation for treeing characterization with SEM.

The samples were then broken away at room temperature using a Buehler

diamond wafer dial. SEM photographs of the polyester samples without and with mat

and roving are shown in Figure 4.38 thru 4.42. Fibers in the extended thin layer were

totally non-sustained, as we can see in the Figures 4.38 and 4.39. The unidirectional

glass fibers seem to be melted and formed into chunks of glass due to high temperature

during the breakdown. The photographs were not clearly visible during the SEM analysis

because of the charging of the non-conductive samples from these glass fibers-formed

chunks. Figures 4.40 and 4.41 clearly show the SEM image of the composite.

86
Figures 4.38. and 4.39. The SEM images of the Polyester samples.

Figure 4.38 shows the breakdown area of the composite where we can clearly see

the unidirectional glass fibers in the middle and then a big dark area on either side of the

sample where there is significant charging of the sample. Figure 4.39 shows the area

which is not affected by the breakdown; here we can see the unidirectional glass fibers.

In Figures 4.40 and 4.41, the breakdown is clealry visible; we can see the unidirectional

glass fibers melted down into glass chunks and a breakdown path is created. Similarly in

Figure 4.42, the SEM image of a polyester sample with mat and roving sample is shown.

The glass fibers in this sample have also melted due to the high temperature attained

during the breakdown,

Figures 4.40. and 4.41. The SEM images of the breakdown area in polyester samples.
87
Figures 4.42 shows the SEM image of the breakdown area in polyester with mat and

roving samples.

88
CHAPTER V

CONCLUSIONS

In this work, the dielectric breakdown voltages for different composites with

different resin systems have been discussed and compared. We tested both 67.5 mm and

37.5 mm samples with 51 mm and 25 mm opposing cylinders electrodes, and valuable

data was recorded which can be useful for designing any electrical apparatus where

breakdown voltage is one of the main factors. The samples were tested in two different

conditions, without any moisture and with moisture content, according to ASTM D 570 -

95. However, the samples with moisture content did show a reduction in the breakdown

voltage when compared. Also an analysis was done to study the leakage currents when

applying voltage. Most of the samples did not allow any currents until 10-12 kV, but

then they started to pass current slowly allowing a high current at the breakdown. The

phenolic and some of the polyester samples did show a different property compared with

all other samples in the case when samples subjected to moisture were tested for

breakdown strength. These two samples behaved in a similar way to the electrical

samples which are conductive and pass high currents at low voltages. The main reason

for this could be the moisture in the phenolic and some polyester samples. These samples

absorb a good amount of water when they are boiled in water for 120 min. As a result,

the voids inside the samples store the moisture and release it when a high voltage is

applied.

89
We have also analyzed the effect of oil-immersed samples on the breakdown

voltage, and the analysis revealed that oil immersion does not affect the samples‟

breakdown voltage in this case. However, the analysis on glued samples showed us that

if a proper gluing technique is used the breakdown values are the same for 1 inch and

glued 2 inch samples. An SEM analysis was done for the ladder rail and phenolic samples

to study the molecular damage that occurred when a high voltage passed through them.

90
REFERENCES

91
[1] http://www.science.org.au/nova/059/059key.htm

[2] http://composite.about.com/library/glossary/n/bldef-n3566.htm

[3] Mahesh Akula, “Effect of Heat and Moisture on the Mechanical Properties of

Polyurethane Pultruded Composites” Department of Mechanical Engineering May

2009.

[4] Yilmaz, G.; Kalenderli, O. “Dielectric properties of aged polyester films”,

Electrical Insulation and Dielectric Phenomena, 1997. IEEE 1997 Annual Report.,

Conference on Volume 2, Issue , 19-22, Oct 1997 Page(s):444 - 446 vol.2

1 2 2 1,2 1
[5] P. Bergero, F. Peruani, G. Solovey, I. M. Irurzun, J. L. Vicente, and E. E.
1, “
Mola Dielectric breakdown model for conductor-loaded and insulator-loaded
1
composite materials” INIFTA (CONICET, CICPBA,Universidad Nacional de La
2
Plata), Sucursal 4, Casilla de Correo 16,(1900LaPlata,Argentina Departamento de

Fisica, „„Juan Jose´ Giambiagi,‟‟ FCEyN, UBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Received 7 July 2003

[6] S. F. Madsen, S. Krog-Pedersen, J. Holboell & M. Henriksen, “Breakdown Tests

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51

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Johansson, K.; Li Ming, “Recent results in HV measurement techniques,

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Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation”, IEEE Transactions on, Volume 2, Issue 5,

Oct 1995 Page(s):906 - 914

[19] Engineering Dielectrics Volume IIB, Electrical Properties of Solid Insulating

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[20] ASTM D 149 – 97a, “Standard Test Method for Dielectric Breakdown Voltage and

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94
APPENDIX

95
Table A.1. Table shows the values for a Normal test for 67.5 mm Polyester and

Polyurethane sample

Standard Average Standard

Test Test Test Averag deviatio (kV/mm deviation /mm Thickness

Name 1 2 3 e (kV) n ) (mm)

17. 17. 17.

W.L 5 5 5 17.5 0 5.93 0 2.946

S.P 24 27 28 26.333 2.0816 5.37 0.424 4.092

11. 12.

N.F 5 5 28 17.333 9.251 5.33 2.845 3.251

10.

Hub 1 8.5 10 5 9.666 1.040 3.1 0.333 3.12

Ark 12 25 35 36 32 6.082 10 1.900 3.2

AOC 10 11 11 10.666 0.577 3.41 0.185 3.12

BDD

1 33 41 41 38.333 4.618 11.9 1.434 3.22

BNX 35 38 39 37.333 2.081 12 0.646 3.22

BNN 17 18 20 18.333 1.527 5.72 0.477 3.2

BDD 16. 17 34 22.5 9.962 7.03 3.113 3.2

96
2 5

BAS 20 22 24 22 2 6.56 0.641 3.12

Table A.2. Table shows the values for a moisture test for 67.5 mm Polyester and

Polyurethane sample

Standard Average Standard

Test Test Average deviation (kV/mm deviation/m Thickness

Name 1 2 (kV) ) m (mm)

11. 11.
W.L 4 4 11.4 0 3.86 0 2.946

15. 22.
S.P 4 4 18.9 4.949 3.85 1.00 4.092

N.F 6.5 6.5 6.5 0 2 0 3.251

Hub 1 5 5 5 0 1.61 0 3.12

34. 30.
Ark 12 7 6 32.65 2.899 10.23 0.905 3.2

AOC 8.2 6.5 7.35 1.202 2.35 0.385 3.12

BDD
36.
1 1 33 34.55 2.192 10.72 0.680 3.22

34. 36.
BNX 7 1 35.4 0.989 11 0.307 3.22

BNN 6 6.5 6.25 0.3535 1.95 0.110 3.2

36.
BDD 37 1 36.55 0.636 11.42 0.198 3.2

97
2

14.
BAS 6 11 12.8 2.545 4.1 0.815 3.12

Table A.3. Table shows the values for a normal test for 37.5 mm Epoxy, Polyester,

Phenolic and Polyurethane sample.

Avera Average Standard Thickness(

test test test ge Standard (kV/mm deviation mm)

Name 1 2 3 (kV) deviation ) /mm

Fill 1 31.3 34.7 32.2 32.733 1.761 10.01 0.538 3.27

Fill 3.27

11 30.6 28.8 29.6 29.666 1.803 9.07 0.551

Fill 9 32.2 33.3 32.2 32.566 0.635 9.1 0.177 3.58

ATH 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 0 2.4477 0 3.35

HUB 3.5

19 29.6 27 25 27.2 2.306 7.7714 0.659

FUP 3.42

046 28.8 27 30 28.6 1.509 8.36 0.441

FUP 3.30

047 26.5 28.2 28.2 27.633 0.981 8.37 0.297

FUP 3.75

01 27 26.5 27.6 27.033 0.550 7.2088 0.146

98
FUP 3.75

08 28.2 27 28.2 27.8 0.692 7.41 0.184

FUP 3.73

10 26.5 29.6 27 21.191 1.664 5.6812 0.446

FUP 3.47

3 27 25.7 25.7 26.133 0.750 7.53 0.216

FUP 3.47

2 32.2 33.3 34.7 33.4 1.252 9.62 0.361

FUP 3.58

1 33.3 32.2 36.1 33.866 2.010 9.45 0.561

NG 0.964 3.35

07 7.3 9.1 8.8 8.4 2.5 0.287

2.450 3.35

B&G 25.7 28.2 30.6 28.166 8.4 0.731

Table A.4.Table shows the values for a moisture test for 37.5 mm Epoxy, Polyester,

Phenolic and Polyurethane sample.

Standard Thickne

Average Standard Average( deviation ss(mm)

Name test 1 test 2 (kV) deviation kV/mm) /mm

99
Fill 1 28.2 19.2 23.7 6.363 7.24 1.9496 3.27

Fill 11 29.6 27 28.3 1.838 8.65 0.5622 3.27

Fill 9 17.8 23 20.4 3.676 5.7 1.027 3.58

ATH 12.9 12.9 12.9 0 3.85 0 3.35

HUB 3.5

19 19.2 23.6 21.4 3.111 6.11 0.8889

FUP 3.42

046 24.2 24.2 24.2 0 7.07 0

FUP 3.30

047 27 25.7 26.35 0.919 8 0.2785

FUP 01 19 21 20 1.414 5.33 0.3771 3.75

FUP 08 30.6 28.2 29.4 1.697 7.85 0.4525 3.75

FUP 10 25.7 28.2 26.95 1.767 7.22 0.4739 3.73

FUP 3 28.2 29.6 28.9 0.989 8.32 0.2852 3.47

FUP 2 29.6 28.2 28.9 0.989 8.32 0.2852 3.47

FUP 1 16.6 20.3 18.45 2.616 5.15 0.7307 3.58

4.525 3.35

NG 07 6.5 12.9 9.7 2.9 1.3508

7.424 3.35

B&G 32.2 21.7 26.95 8.04 2.2162

100
Table A.5. Table shows the values for a normal test for Glued Epoxy, Polyester, Phenolic

and Polyurethane sample.

Name Average (kV) Average (kV/mm)

Fill 11 38 9.17

Fill 9 27 7.54

HUB 19 33.3 9.51

FUP 046 33.3 9.73

FUP 01 28.2 7.52

FUP 10 34.7 9.3

FUP 2 29.6 8.53

FUP 1 21.7 6.06

NG 07 17.7 5.28

B&G 37 11.04

Table A.6. Table shows the values for a Moisture test for Glued Epoxy, Polyester,

Phenolic and Polyurethane sample.

101
Name Average (kV) Average (kV/mm)

Fill 11 34 10.4

Fill 9 25 6.98

HUB 19 29.6 9.56

FUP 046 30.6 8.94

FUP 01 27 7.2

FUP 10 32.2 8.63

FUP 2 27.6 8.03

FUP 1 20.3 5.67

NG 07 17 4.94

B&G 33.3 10.3

Table A.7. Table shows the values of weights of different 67.5 mm samples before and

after moisture test (Trial1).

Material Thickness(inch) Weight (Before) in gms Weight (After) in gms

W.L 0.116 17.8614 17.9490

S.P 0.193 28.8302 28.9693

BNN 0.193 18.1146 18.6967

BDD 1 0.126 21.5439 21.5564

N.F 0.128 15.1912 15.7520

102
HUB 1 0.123 18.3822 18.6070

Ark 12 0.126 21.2561 21.2752

BDD 2 0.127 21.1505 21.1659

BNX 0.127 21.0985 21.1112

AOC 0.123 18.9902 19.1350

BAS 0.123 20.7976 21.0863

Table A.8.Table shows the values of weights of different 67.5 mm samples before and

after moisture test (Trial2).

Material Thickness(inch) Weight (Before) in gms Weight (After) in gms

S.P 0.193 29.1389 29.2660

BDD 1 0.126 21.6545 21.6720

N.F 0.130 17.3795 17.7974

Ark 12 0.126 21.5528 21.5828

BDD 2 0.127 21.1495 21.1701

BNX 0.127 21.3334 21.3497

AOC 0.123 18.6824 18.8467

BAS 0.123 20.8932 21.2045

Elect 403 0.122 18.7060 18.9424

Elect 08 0.124 18.3088 18.5238

Elect 09 0.124 18.3344 18.5012

103
Table A.9.Table shows the values of weights of different 37.5 mm samples before and

after moisture test (Trial1).

Material Thickness(inch) Weight (Before) in gms Weight (After) in gms

Fill 1-13 0.129 9.0847 9.0927

Fill 11 0.129 9.0357 9.0436

ATH 0.132 8.7278 8.8322

Hub 19 0.138 9.1670 9.1774

FUP 046 0.135 9.1582 9.1726

Fill 9 0.141 9.2225 9.2378

FUP 01 0.148 9.0850 9.0932

FUP 08 0.148 9.0801 9.0912

FUP 10 0.147 8.8518 8.8624

FUP 3 0.137 9.1015 9.1094

FUP 04 0.130 9.1506 9.1636

FUP 1 0.141 9.1287 9.1418

FUP 2 0.137 9.1020 9.1120

B&G 0.132 8.6153 8.6220

NG 07 0.132 8.3104 8.6828

104
Table A.10.Table shows the values of weights of different 37.5 mm samples before and

after moisture test (Trial2).

Material Thickness(inch) Weight (Before) in gms Weight (After) in gms

Fill 1-13 0.129 9.1090 9.1163

Fill 11 0.129 9.0470 9.0555

Ath 0.132 8.7178 8.8397

Hub 19 0.138 9.1741 9.1857

FUP 046 0.135 9.1522 9.1678

Fill 9 0.141 9.2268 9.2411

FUP 01 0.148 9.1471 9.1779

FUP 08 0.148 9.1129 9.1222

FUP 10 0.147 8.9938 8.9432

FUP 3 0.137 9.1126 9.1236

FUP 04 0.130 9.1643 9.1763

FUP 1 0.141 9.1470 9.1575

FUP 2 0.137 9.1096 9.1194

B&G 0.132 8.7671 8.7741

NG 07 0.132 8.2795 8.6855

105
Table A.11.Table shows the specifications of the 100K resistor

Category Resistors
Family Wire wound
Series RS
Resistance In Ohms 100K
Power (Watts) 5W
Tolerance ±1%
Lead Style PC Pins (Through Hole)
Case Axial
Packaging Cut Tape (CT)
Composition Wire wound
Temperature Coefficient ±20ppm/°C

Table A.12.Table shows the specifications of the 100M resistor

Category Resistors
Family Metal Oxide Film
Series SUPER-MOX
Resistance In Ohms 100M
Power (Watts) 10W
Tolerance ±1%
Lead Style PC Pins (Through Hole)
Case Axial
Packaging Bulk
Composition Metal Oxide Film
Temperature Coefficient ±50ppm/°C

106