Electric Field Stress:

Electric Field Stress – In modern times, high voltages are used for a wide variety of applications covering the power systems, industry, and research laboratories. Such applications have become essential to sustain modern civilization. High voltages at applied in laboratories in nuclear research, in particle accelerators, and Van de Graaff generators. For transmission of large bulks of power over long distances, high v es hi ages are indispensable. Also, voltages up to 100 kV are used in electrostatics precipitators, in automobile ignition coils, etc. X-ray equipment for medical and industrial applications also uses high voltages. Modern high voltage test laboratories employ voltages up to 6 MV or more. The diverse conditions which a high voltage apparatus is used necessitate careful design of its s insulation and the electrostatic field profiles. The principal media of insulation used are gases, vacuum, solid, and liquid, or a combination of these. For achieving  reliability and economy, a knowledge of the causes of deterioration is essential, and the tendency to increase the voltage stress for optimum design calls for judicious selection of insulation in relation to the dielectric strength, corona discharges, and other relevant factors. In this chapter some of the general principles used in high’voltage technology are discussed.

Like in mechanical designs where the criterion for design depends on the mechanical strength of the materials and the stresses that are generated during their operation, in high voltage applications, the dielectric strength of insulating materials and the Electric Field Stress developed in them when subjected to high voltages are the important factors in high voltage systems. In a high voltage apparatus the important materials used are conductors and insulators. While the conductors carry the current, the insulators prevent the flow of currents in undesired paths. The Electric Field Stress to which an insulating material is subjected to is numerically equal to the voltage gradient. and is equal to the electric field where E is the electric field intensity, Φ is the applied voltage, and Δ (read del) operator is defined as

Electric Field Stress

where ax, ay, and az are components of position vector r = axx + ayy + azz.

As already mentioned, the most important material used in a high voltage apparatus is the insulation. The dielectric strength of an insulating material can be defined as the maximum dielectric stress which the material can withstand. It can also be defined as the voltage at which the current starts increasing to very high values unless controlled by the external impedance of the circuit. The electric breakdown strength of insulating materials depends on a variety of parameters, such as pressure, temperature, humidity, field configurations, nature of applied voltage, imperfections in dielectric materials, material of electrodes, and surface conditions of electrodes, etc. An understanding of the failure of the insulation will be possible by the study of the possible mechanisms by which the failure can occur.

The most common cause of insulation failure is the presence of discharges either within the voids in the insulation or over the surface of the insulation. The probability of failure will be greatly reduced if such discharges could be eliminated at the normal working voltage. Then, failure can occur as a result of thermal or electrochemical deterioration of the insulation.