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Bushing (electrical)

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An electrical bushing is an insulated device that allows the safe passage of electrical energy through an earth
field.

Contents
[hide]

1 Function

o 1.1 Porcelain Insulation

o 1.2 Paper Insulation

o 1.3 Resin Insulation

2 Bushing failure

3 References

[edit]Function

All electrically conducting materials generate an electric field when energised with a voltage. In the case of DC
the field remains positive, in the case of AC, the field is alternating between positive and negative.

When an energized conductor passes near any part of material that is at earth potential, its electric field can be
affected and distorted by the shape of the earthed material. Voltage from the conducting material can be
attracted towards the earthed material, and if the electric field becomes of sufficient strength, this can lead to
the formation of a leakage path.

When conductive material passes through a space without any earthed material the device is known as
a busbar. When conductive material is insulated, preventing the passage of electrical energy through the
insulation, and passes through a space without any earthed material, the device is known as an insulated
busbar.
When the conductive material is insulated and passes through any earthed material, it is known an electrical
bushing.

This significant operational difference requires the design of a bushing to be considerate of the electrical field
strength produced in the insulation, when any earthed material is present. As the strength of the electrical field
increases, it may be attracted to the earthed material and if sufficient voltage is present leakage paths may
develop within the insulation. If the energy of the leakage path overcomes the dielectric strength of the
insulation, it may puncture the insulation and allow the electrical energy to conduct to the nearest earthed
material causing burning and arcing.

A typical bushing design has a 'conductor', (usually of copper or aluminium, occasionally of other conductive
materials), surrounded by insulation, except for the terminal ends

In the case of a busbar, the conductor terminals will support the busbar in its location. In the case of a bushing,
a fixing device will also be attached to the insulation to hold it in its location. Usually, the fixing point is integral
or surrounds the insulation over part of the insulated surface. The insulated material between the fixing point
and the conductor is the most highly stressed area.

The design of any electrical bushing must ensure that the electrical strength of the insulated material is able to
withstand the penetrating 'electrical energy' passing through the conductor, via any highly stressed areas. It
must also be capable of enduring, occasional and exceptional high voltage moments as well as the normal
continual service withstand voltage, as it is the voltage that directs and controls the development of leakage
paths and not current.

Insulated bushings can be installed either indoor, or outdoor, and the selection of insulation will be determined
by the location of the installation and the electrical service duty on the bushing.

For a bushing to work successfully over many years, the insulation must remain effective both in composition
and design shape and will be key factors in its survival. Bushings can therefore vary considerably in both
material and design style.

[edit]Porcelain Insulation
The earliest bushing designs use electro porcelain for both indoor and outdoor applications. Porcelain is
impervious to moisture once sealed by fired glaze and is low cost and flexible to manufacture. The main
disadvantage with porcelain is that its small value of linear expansion has to be accommodated by using
flexible seals and substantial metal fittings, both of which present manufacturing and operational problems.

A basic porcelain bushing is a hollow porcelain shape that fits through a hole in a wall or metal case, allowing a
conductor to pass through its centre, and connect at both ends to other equipment. Bushings of this type are
often made of wet-process fired porcelain, which is then glazed. A semi-conducting glaze may be used to assist
in equalizing the electrical potential gradient along the length of the bushing.
The inside of the porcelain bushing is often filled with oil to provide additional insulation and bushings of this
construction are widely used up to 36 kV where higher partial discharges are permitted.

Where partial discharge is required to conform to IEC60137, paper and resin insulated conductors are used in
conjunction with porcelain, for unheated indoor and outdoor applications.

The use of resin (polymer, polymeric, composite) insulated bushings for high voltage applications is common,
although most high-voltage bushings are usually made of resin impregnated paper insulation around the
conductor with porcelain or polymer weather sheds, for the outdoor end and occasionally for the indoor end.

[edit]Paper Insulation
Another early form of insulation was paper, however, paper is hydroscopic and absorbs moisture which is
detrimental and is disadvantaged by the inflexible linear designs. Cast resin technology, has dominated
insulated products since the 1960s, due to its flexibility of shape and its higher dielectrical strength.

Typically, paper insulation is later impregnated either with oil (historically), or more commonly to day with resin.
In the case of resin, the paper is film coated with a Phenolic resin to become Synthetic Resin Bonded Paper,
(SRBP) or impregnated after dry winding with epoxy resins, to become Resin Impregnated Paper or Epoxy
Resin Impregnated Paper (RIP, ERIP).

SRBP insulated bushings are typically used up to voltages around 72.5 kV. However, above 12 kV, there is a
need to control the external electrical field and to even out the internal energy storage which marginalises the
dielectric strength of paper insulation.

To improve the performance of paper insulated bushings, metallic foils can be inserted during the winding
process. These act to stabilize the generated electrical fields, homogenising the internal energy using the effect
of capacitance. This feature resulted in the Condenser/Capacitor bushing.

The condenser bushing is made by inserting, very fine layers of metallic foil into the paper during the winding
process. The inserted conductive foils produce a capacitive effect which dissipates the electrical energy more
evenly throughout the insulated paper, and reduces the electric field stress between the energised conductor
and any earthed material.

Condenser bushings produce electric stress fields, which are significantly less potent around the fixing flange
than designs without foils, and when used in conjunction with resin impregnation, produce bushings which can
be used at service voltages over one million with great success.

[edit]Resin Insulation
Since the 1960s, resin materials have been used for all types of bushing up to the highest voltages. The
flexibility of using a castable form of insulation has replaced paper insulation in many product areas and
dominates the existing insulated bushing market.
As with paper insulation, the control of electric stress fields remains important. Resin insulation has greater
dielectric strength than paper and requires less stress control at voltages below 25 kV. However, some
compact and higher rated switchgear designs, have earthed materials closer to bushings than in the past and
these designs may require stress control screens in resin bushings operating as low as 12 kV Fixing points are
often integral with the main resin form, and present fewer problems to earthed materials than the metal flanges
used on paper bushings. However, care must be observed in resin insulated bushings designs which use
internally cast screens such that the benefit of electrical stress field control is not off set by increasing partial
discharge caused by the difficulties of eliminating micro voids in the resin around the screens during the casting
process. The need to eliminate voids in resin becomes more sensitive as voltages increases, and it is normal to
revert back to resin impregnated, foiled paper insulation for bushings rated over 72.5 kV.

[edit]Bushing failure
Bushings sometimes fail due to partial discharge. This is due to the slow and progressive degradation of the
insulation over many years of energised service, At present, there is great interest by the electricity supply
industry in monitoring the condition of high voltage bushings. However, most bushings failing early in service
are due to failures to control voltage or carry out essential maintenance. This view is evidenced by the minority
of bushings failures world wide.

Dry bushing

Oil filled capacitor bushing

Oil filled capacitor bushing

Bushings on small ferroresonant transformer


Large bushings on high voltage transformer at utility substation

Bushings on single phase distribution transformer

Bushings on 380 kV transformer in Iraq

Bushing on 1,000,000 volt AEG utility transformer, Germany, 1931

[edit]References