Characterization of Conduction and Polarization Properties of HVDC Cable XLPE Insulation Materials
Abstract: Since its first introduction in 1998, extruded direct current (DC) cable technology has been growing rapidly leading to many cable system installations with operation voltages up to 320 kV. Cable manufacturers invest heavily on technology development in this field and today extruded DC cable systems for operation voltages as high as 525 kV are commercially available.The electrical field distribution in electrical insulation under DC voltage is mainly determined by the conduction physics, therefore a good understanding of the DC conduction is necessary. In case of Cross-linked Polyethylene (XLPE) insulation, the presence of the peroxide decomposition products (PDP) is believed to influence its electrical properties. The PDP are volatile and therefore they may diffuse out of the samples during sample preparation and testing. Besides, the morphology of the XLPE is known to evolve over time even at moderate temperatures. Since the material may change during preparation, storage and even measurement, the procedure during all stages of the study should be chosen carefully.In this work, the physics of the dielectric response and conduction in XLPE is briefly discussed. The existing measurement techniques relevant to characterization of DC conduction in XLPE insulation materials are reviewed. The procedure for high field DC conductivity measurement is evaluated and recommendations for obtaining reproducible results are listed. Two types of samples are studied, i.e. thick press molded samples and thick plaque samples obtained from the insulation of in-factory extruded cables. For press molded samples, the influence of the press film used during press molding and the effect of heat-treatment on the electrical properties of XLPE and LDPE are studied. High field DC conductivity of XLPE plaque samples is measured with a dynamic electrode temperature to simulate the standard thermal cycles.Investigations show that using PET film during press molding leads to higher apparent DC conductivity and dielectric losses when compared to using aluminum foil. The influence of heat-treatment is different depending on the press film. High field DC conductivity measurements and chemical composition measurement of samples obtained from the cable insulation are in good agreement with the results obtained from the full scale measurements. Finally a non-monotonic dependence of apparent DC conductivity to temperature of some samples pressed with PET film is discovered which to the author’s best of knowledge has not been previously reported in the literature.
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