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IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 19, No.

4; August 2012 1377

Modified Peek Formula for Calculating Positive DC Corona


Inception Electric Field under Variable Humidity
Mingming Xu, Zhenyu Tan and Kejun Li
School of Electrical Engineering, Shandong University,
Jinan 250061, Shandong, P. R. China

ABSTRACT
The corona on conductors is of importance for ultra-high voltage transmission.
Humidity in air is an important factor of affecting corona inception electric field. Due
to long distances of the ultra-high voltage direct current (dc) transmission, the
transmission line crossing a high humidity area is inevitable, and thus the humidity
should be taken into account in evaluation of the corona inception electric field of
positive dc conductor. In this work a modification of Peek formula of calculating the
corona inception electric field of positive dc conductor has been performed for taking
into account the effect of air humidity. Using the modified Peek formula, the corona
inception electric fields for the conductors with different radii under different humidity
are calculated and compared with the reported experimental results. Reasonable
agreement between calculated results and the experiments is obtained, which shows
that the modified Peek formula is a good one for the effective and easy calculations of
the corona inception electric field of positive dc conductor under different humidity.
Index Terms — Peek formula, corona inception electric field, positive dc conductor,
humidity.

1 INTRODUCTION corona inception electric field. We examine the modified Peek


formula by calculating the corona inception electric field of
THE study of corona produced on the surface of conductors positive dc conductor with different radiuses at different
of high voltage transmission line is a subject of longstanding humidity and by comparing the calculated results with
interest [1-4]. The corona discharge refers to generation of the experiments.
self-sustained discharge around conductor and occurs when the
electric field on the surface of conductor reaches a threshold In this work negative corona is not taken into account. The
value which is defined as the corona inception electric field. reason for this is that the effect of humidity on negative
Main factors to influence the corona inception electric field corona is different from that on positive corona [13-15].
include the radius of conductor, conductor material, surface Therefore, the modification for Peek formula under variable
roughness, ambient humidity, and ambient temperature [5, 6]. humidity in the case of negative corona will be our further
The corona inception electric field can be determined based on work.
the criterion method [7-10]. This method accounts for more
factors of affecting the corona, resulting in complicated 2 DESCRIPTION OF CORONA PHENOMENA
computational process. Peek proposed a formula to evaluate the
For actual conductors, the corona may occur in highly stressed
corona inception electric field on conductor [11]. This formula
region with irregularity surface, but a cylindrically symmetrical
has been widely applied for the past decades because of its
average discharge process is assumed for simplifying analyses on
convenient use, but it does not take into account the influence of
the corona. Furthermore, an infinitely long smooth conductor is
the humidity on the corona inception electric field. On the other
considered in the present work.
hand, in high voltage direct current (HVDC) engineering the
transmission lines may be erected through high humidity areas. Figure 1 presents the cross section of a conductor and the
Therefore, a few theoretical and experimental works have been corona zone around it, where r represents the radius of the
made for determining the corona inception electric field under conductor and ri denotes the radius corresponding to the
humid environment [12-15]. boundary of the ionization layer. The ionization layer around a
conductor is defined as the space region where the electric field
In this work we present a modified Peek formula for
is so high that the Townsend's first ionization coefficient  is
calculating positive dc corona inception electric field. The
greater than the attachment coefficient .
modified Peek formula includes humidity dependence of the
An electron avalanche (primary avalanche) will occur when
Manuscript received on 25 December 2011, in final form 10 May 2012. the electric field in the vicinity of discharge wire reaches the

1070-9878/12/$25.00 © 2012 IEEE


1378 M. Xu et al.: Modified Peek Formula for Calculating Positive DC Corona Inception Electric Field under Variable Humidity

threshold value for ionization of gas molecules. After this, the 3.2 MODIFICATION FOR PEEK FORMULA
development of the avalanche will result in not only more
electrons at its head and more positive ions in the wake of it but 3.2.1 DECOMPOSITION OF EC
also more photons emitted in all directions. When there are In this work, we take the consideration that humid air consists
enough space electrons at head of the primary avalanche, the of dry air and water vapor. Based on this consideration, the
resultant increases of local electric field will induce a successor corona inception electric field of conductor in humid air is
avalanche, and then the discharge transforms into the streamer divided into two parts. One is the corona inception electric field
discharge, indicating the occurrence of the corona. The in dry air and the other is that in water vapor. Thus, we propose
maximum value of the electric field on surface of conductor at the following assumption, i.e.
this time is called the corona inception electric field.
Nd N
Ec  E d   Es  s (3)
N N

where Ed and Es are the corona inception electric field of


conductor in dry air and in water vapor, respectively, Nd and Ns
are the molecule densities of dry air and water vapor,
o respectively, and NNdNs.
At normal atmosphere pressure and temperature, both dry
air and unsaturated humid air are close to ideal gas [18]. Thus,
the humid air, dry air, and water vapor can be regarded as
ideal gas, and thus they will obey gaseous state equation,
which reads
r
P V  N  R  T (4)
ri
where V is volume of gas, T is temperature of gas, and R is
universal gas constant.
Figure 1. Cross section of a conductor and the corona zone around it.
Using equation (4) for dry air, water vapor, and humid air, the
following relations become obvious, i.e.
3 MODIFIED PEEK FORMULA N d Pd (5)

3.1 PEEK FORMULA N P
Peek formula for evaluating the corona inception electric field
Ec on conductor can be expressed as [11] N s Ps (6)

k N P
Ec  m E0 (1  ) (1)
r where Pd and Ps are the partial pressure of dry air and water
vapor, respectively.
with Based on the Dalton's law, the pressure P of humid air can be
P 273  t0 given by
  (2)
P0 273  t P  Pd  Ps (7)
where E0=29.8 kV/cm, k=0.301, r is the radius of the conductor Substituting equations (5), (6) and (7) into equation (3) yields
in cm, m ( ≤ 1) is roughness coefficient of surface of conductor, δ
is air relative density, P is the atmospheric pressure in Pa, t is the P  Ps P
Ec  E d   Es  s (8)
temperature in C, P0 is the reference atmospheric pressure in P P
Pa, and t0 is reference temperature in C. For Peek formula, the
standard reference atmospheric condition is adopted, i.e. According to [18], Ps can be written as
P0=101.3×103 Pa and t0=20 C.
Ps  H  Pw (9)
It is clear from equation (1) that Ec is independent of air
humidity because of Peek’s consideration that air humidity does where Pw is the partial pressure of saturated water vapor and H is
not influence the occurrence of the corona when there is no the air relative humidity.
dewdrop on surface of conductor. Due to this, some improved
Incorporating equation (9) into equation (8), Ec can be
Peek formulas have been used to calculate the corona inception
expressed as
electric field in the humid air [16, 17]. In the following
subsection, we will present a modification for Peek formula  E  Ed Pw 
for including humidity dependence of the corona inception Ec  Ed 1  s   H  (10)
 Ed P 
electric field.
IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 19, No. 4; August 2012 1379

3.2.2 CALCULATION OF Ed AND Es water vapor and according to Abdel-Salam [19] the coefficient
From equation (10), it is clear that to obtain Ec requires , , and  can be expressed as:
knowledge of Ed and Es. Peek formula has not considered air Ps P
humidity, it is therefore used for calculating Ed. For the  s  d d (15)
P P
calculation of Es, the related reports are spare. Here, using
Ew for denoting the corona inception electric field in Ps P
saturated moist air, Ew can be determined by the criterion for
 s  d d (16)
P P
the gas self-sustaining discharge in the ionization layer
around conductor [7, 19]. On the other hand, let H=1 and Ps P
 s  d d (17)
Ec=Ew in equation (10), Ew is given by P P

Es  Ed Pw where subscript s and d denote to water vapor and dry air,


Ew  Ed (1   ) (11) respectively. It should be pointed out that the equations (15)-
Ed P
(17) have been used for determining the corona inception
and thus Es can be calculated through electric field in humid air, and the calculated results are in
good agreement with the related experiments [7, 19, 21].
P P In equations (15)-(17), the ionization coefficient, the
Es  (1  ) Ed  Ew (12)
Pw Pw attachment coefficient, and the absorption coefficient for photon
can be obtained from [19, 21]. In addition, Townsend's second
3.2.3 CRITERION OF DETERMINING CORONA coefficient γp does not vary much with the humidity around
INCEPTION ELECTRIC FIELD Ew conductor, and thus it is taken as 103 for positive corona [20].
As shown above, Ew can be determined by means of the
criterion for the gas self-sustaining discharge in the Give an initial value, Ei, of electric field on
ionization layer around conductor. This criterion will be the surface of conductor
given below.
Electrons induced by photoionisation beyond the
boundary of the corona layer are of a greater probability of Determine the electric field around
conductor
attaching to molecules, and therefore they hardly contribute
to the secondary avalanche. The number of photons out of
ionization layer is small, and most of them are absorbed by
Calculate α, η, μ and g at different
air molecules. Due to the above, only contribution of the
distances of ionization
photons in the ionization layer to the secondary avalanche is
considered. Ei=Ei+ΔE
The number of photoelectron produced in the ionization Calculate Neph
layer of conductor can be calculated via [20]
ri
N eph   p   (r ) N e (r )g (r )e   ( ri r) dr  (13) No
r Neph≥1

where  and γp are, respectively, the first and second ionization


Yes
coefficient of Townsend,  is absorption coefficient for photons
in air, g is geometric factor for absorption of photons, and Ne, the The present electric field is the
number of electron in unit volume in the primary avalanche, is corona inception electric field
given by
r
Figure 2. Flow chart of calculating the corona inception field.
N e r   exp[   r    r dr ] (14)
r
The geometric factors g for absorption of photons is a product
with  the coefficient of electron attachment. of axial component gax and radial component grad [20], i.e.
The second avalanche will occur as long as a photoelectron is g r   g ax r   g rad r  (18)
generated in the ionization layer, namely, the self-sustained
discharge of positive dc around conductor starts to develop [20]. with
Therefore, the criterion for self-sustained discharge becomes 2  2  ( ri  r )
Neph1 and the corresponding electric field on surface of g ax r   exp[  ( ri  r )] exp[  ]d (19)
 0 cos 
conductor is the corona inception electric field.
It is clear from equation (13) that the calculation of Neph and
requires deriving coefficient , , and  as well as the geometric 1 
factor g. Because of the humid air to be divisible into dry air and g rad r   exp[ (ri  r )] exp[ (ri 2  r 2  2ri r  cos )1 2 ]d (20)
 0
1380 M. Xu et al.: Modified Peek Formula for Calculating Positive DC Corona Inception Electric Field under Variable Humidity

where 1/sin(r/r). Here, the emitted photon will travel a Following Peek [11], the corona inception electric field
distance from its emission point to the boundary of the ionization should vary directly with the roughness coefficient, m, of
zone along its emission direction, the radial component refers to surface of conductor, and thus formula (24) can be further
the projection of this distance on the cross section perpendicular expressed as
to the axis of the conductor, and the axial component indicates 0.259
that on axial line of the conductor. Ew ( )  33.37 m(1  ) (25)
r
Based on the criterion of the occurrence of self-sustained
discharge, the procedure of calculating Ew is presented in Figure As shown above, the expressions of calculating Ed, Es, and
2. For surface roughness coefficient m1 and air relative density Ew have been given. Then, substituting equations (1), (12) and
δ1, we have calculated the Ew for the conductors with different (25) into equation (10), Ec becomes
radiuses. Figure 3 displays the calculated Ew versus r1/2. 0.301 1.63 P
Motivated by Peek formula we have made the curve fitting for Ec  E0 m  (1  )[1  (5.76  ) w  H]
the numerical Ew(r1/2), and the resultant fitting function can be
r 0.69  r  0.21 P
expressed as (26)

0.259 Equation (26) is the modified Peek formula which takes into
E w  33.37(1  ) (21) account the air humidity around conductor.
r
4 EXAMINING THE MODIFIED PEEK
80
determined by self-sustained FORMULA
discharge criterion
linear regression Using the modified Peek formula in this work, we have
70
calculated the Ec of smooth conductors with different radiuses
at different humidity. The calculated results are given in
Figure 4, whereas the experiments from [13-15] are also
Ew (kV/cm)

60
presented in this figure for comparison. In addition, the partial
pressure Pw of saturated water vapor was calculated by using
50 the following formula [22]:
Pw  611  10 7.5 t 237.3t  (27)
40
It is shown in Figure 4 that the positive corona inception
1 2 3 4 5
1/2 1/2
electric field increases with increasing humidity for these
1/r (1/cm )
radiuses and the calculations based on the modified Peek
Figure 3. Determined Ew as a function of r1/2. formula in this work are in reasonable and systematical
agreement with the experiments.
3.2.4 CORONA INCEPTION ELECTRIC FIELD OF Figure 5 presents the calculated Ec of smooth conductors
CONDUCTOR IN HUMID AIR with different radiuses (r = 0.0001cm, 0.00445cm, 0.1cm,
and 1.41cm) as a function of relative humidity at a standard
For positive corona inception in saturated moist air and atmospheric pressure. It can be observed that with increase
under air relative density , Ew() can be expressed as [16] of relative humidity Ec decreases for thin conductors and
increases for thick conductors. Based on his experiments
 L  
Ew    E   1  (22) and theoretical evaluations, Abdel-Salam [19] gave the
 r 
corona inception voltage Uc as a function of relative
humidity for thin and thick conductors. The Uc can be
where L() denotes the critical avalanche length, and E() is
converted into the corona inception electric field Ec by
the applied field strength at radius rrL().
using EcUc/[rln(2b/r)] [23], where r is the radius of
According to [16], E      E 1 and L , r   L1, r   . conductor and b is the height above ground for conductor.
Thus, use of these two relations in equation (22) yields The converted Ecs of conductors with radiuses 0.00445cm
and 1.41cm are also given in Figure 5 for comparison. It
 L 1 
E w     E 1 1  
(23) can be seen that the characteristic of the variety of the Ec
 r  with conductor radius due to Abdel-Salam [19] is the same
as that presented by the modified Peek formula. But, it
Comparing equation (21) with equation (23) of fixing 1, the should be pointed out that in the calculation of the Uc,
following results is obvious, i.e. E 1  33 .37 and Abdel-Salam [19] accounted for the effect of ground, and
L1, r   0.259 r . Therefore, Ew() can be rewritten as thus this may lead to the difference between the converted
Ecs and our, as shown in Figure 5. According to the
0.259 (24) characteristic of the variety of Ec with conductor radius
E w ( )  33.37 (1  ) shown above, using the modified Peek formula it should be
r
IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 19, No. 4; August 2012 1381

expected that there is a conductor radius, for which the modified Peek formula
1.2
calculated Ec does not change with air humidity. To this modified Peek formula
end, we determine this radius as r=0.0112/δ (in unit cm) data from [19]
r=0.1cm
and the Ec evaluated at this radius (r0.0112cm for 1) as 1.1 r=1.41cm, b=640cm
a function of relative humidity is also plotted in Figure 5. r=1.41cm

Ec /Ed
This expectation further tests the validity of our modified 1.0
Peek formula. r=0.0001cm
r=0.00445cm r=0.0112cm
Based on the above examinations, it is concluded that the 0.9
modified Peek formula in this work can be used for r=0.00445cm, b=1cm
calculation of the corona inception electric field of conductor 0.8
at different humidity.
0 20 40 60 80 100
76 relative humidity (%)
(a) Figure 5. Calculated Ec/Ed as a function of relative humidity for thin and
experiments from Wang et al. [13] thick conductors.
75 modified Peek formula
Peek formula
5 CONCLUSION
Ec (kV/cm)

74
In this work we presented a modification for Peek formula
for calculating the corona inception electric field of positive
73
DC conductor. The modified Peek formula takes into account
the effect of air humidity. Using the modified Peek formula,
we calculated the corona inception electric fields for the
72 conductors with different radiuses under different humidity
20 40 60 80 100 and compared them with the reported experimental results.
relative humidity (%) The comparison shows good agreement between the
64 calculated results and the experiments, and thus indicates that
(b) the assumption due to equation (3) is reliable and the modified
experiments from An et al. [14] Peek formula is a good one for the effective and easy
63 modified Peek formula calculations of the corona inception electric field of positive
Peek formula
dc conductor under different humidity.
Ec (kV/cm)

62
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