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Comparison of the Erosion Resistances of the Nano-

alumina and Silica Filled Silicone Rubber

High Voltage Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-12, India.

Abstract- Erosion resistance of the weathershed of the polymer property to be achieved. Highly loaded SR performed better
insulaors can directly influence the reliability of the power than SR with lower filler content in terms of erosion resistance
system. Usually weathershed material is compounded with flame [2-4]. Common practice to improve erosion resistance is by
retardants (additives) to enhance its erosion resistance. It is loading heavily (50 to 60 %) with micron- sized ATH filler in
necessary to compound with suitable filler for obtaining the outdoor insulators. The processibility and flexibility of the end
satisfactory performance of the insulator. This paper deals with
studies related to the comparison of the erosion resistance of the
product gets affected by such high loadings of the micron
silicone rubber (SR), SR filled with nano -sized alumina (ALU) sized filler. It has been reported that higher loadings of the
and silica(SIL). Tracking and erosion resistance studies of hydroxide filler for targeted flame retardancy can often lead to
samples were carried out using an inclined plane (IP) T&E poor mechanical properties such as tensile strength and
resistance test apparatus. Results show that the T&E elongation at break [5]. It has been reported that insulators in
performance of the ALU filled (up to 4 wt %) SR was much the field failed due to erosion on the surface of the polymeric
better than the SIL filled (up to 4 wt %) SR. Many of the SIL weathersheds in spite of improving T&E resistance by such
filled samples failed in the IP tests whereas ALU filled samples heavy loading. Hence the current level of improved T&E
performed exceptionally well due to higher thermal stability of resistance at this heavy loading is also not adequate.
nanoalumina composites.
Addition of a few wt % of nano-fillers has a profound impact
on the electrical, mechanical, physical and thermal properties of
the polymer [6-7]. Alumina nanocomposites showed very
Composite polymeric insulators are emerging as promising different dielectric properties [8]. An improvement in the erosion
and reliable candidates for the transmission and distribution of resistance performance has been observed in SR nanocomposite
electrical power. They offer attractive advantages like light at low wt % of silica filler compared to microcomposite [9-11]. It
weight, easy to transport and install and they exhibit good is also reported that oxide nano-fillers improved the thermal
resistance to vandalism. They also provide much better stability and flammability properties of the composites [12].
performance under contaminated environments during initial Hence the performance of the nanocomposites is highly
period of service as compared to that of conventional promising even at low filler wt % loadings.
insulators. If the weathershed does not have adequate erosion The electrical performance of the weathershed depends upon
resistance then polymeric insulators cannot provide the type and size of the filler that is compounded with the
satisfactory long term performance especially under polluted weathershed material. Hence it is necessary to identify the
wet conditions. The T&E occurs on the weathershed due to suitable nanofiller for obtaining the satisfactory performance
dry band arcing taking place on it. Different steps leading to of the insulator. Silica has been used as an additive for the
dry band arcing are briefly as follows. It is possible that during outdoor polymeric insulator. There are different forms of the
service, considerable leakage current can flow on the silica filler available such as fumed and precipitated and hence
contaminated wet surface of an insulator. Leakage current all the forms may not provide the same erosion performance
produces ohmic heating resulting in the formation of dry when they are compounded with SR. This underscores the
bands. The sharp and subsequent increase in local field need to carry out the experimental studies with various types
gradients across dry bands results in arcing across them. of fillers. Literature on studies with nanoalumina and silica in SR
Temperature generated (1200 0C) due to repeated dry band is scarce as this field is still at its infancy. The paper deals with
arcing can be beyond safe limits (≈ 400o C) of organic material the comparison of the erosion resistances of unfilled SR as well as
[1-2]. If the rise in temperature is beyond the safe limit that the ALU and SIL filled SR at 4 % by wt. Studies have been carried
polymeric material can handle, then it can lead to tracking out using IP tests. An attempt has been made to elucidate the
and/or erosion. To mitigate the deleterious effect of possible reasons for the better performance of nanoalumina filled
temperature, flame retardants (micron-sized fillers) are added SR as compared to the precipitated nanosilica filled SR.
to the base polymer in varying concentrations. Hence, even
though SR is considered as a better material for outdoor
insulator applications, it has become necessary to add flame II. CONCLUSIONS
retardants to improve its performance with respect to T&E
resistance. To improve different properties of base polymer, it The erosion resistances of nanoalumina and silica filled
is compounded with various fillers depending upon the silicone rubber samples have been studied in the IP test. It was
found that nanoalumina filled SR performed exceptionally
well even at low wt % of the filler as compared to the unfilled
SR. However, nanosilica filled SR samples are failed in the IP
tests and hence their erosion performance is poorer than even
the unfilled SR. So precipitated nanosilica filled SR samples
may not give satisfactory performance with respect to the
erosion (up to the wt % of the filler studied). This infers that
erosion performance not only depends upon the type and size
of filler but also on its chemical structure. The poor
performance of the silica nanocomposites has been attributed
to the poor thermal stability and poor interaction between the
fillers and the SR matrix. Nanocomposites such as alumina
nanocomposites are promising in terms of the erosion
resistance even at low wt % of filler for the outdoor
applications. Use of lower loadings of filler as in the case of
the nanocomposite can lead to better flexibility, ease of
processing during the product manufacturing and at the same
time better electrical performance.

The above interesting article in detail can be found at National

power system conference 2010, Hyderabad, India.