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Electrical Power and Energy Systems

Statistical Analysis of AC Breakdown Voltage of Mineral Oil

and Palm Oil Based CNT Nanofluid
N. S. Suhaimi, M. T. Ishak
National Defence University of Malaysia, Sg. Besi Camp, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Nanofluids can be regarded as next generation heat transfer fluid whichfluid, which could possibly have
enormous potential to enhance the performance of insulating oil in transformer. In this study, the breakdown
voltage of new colloidal mineral insulation oil and natural ester oil (palm oil) was systematically investigated
and compared. Therefore, carbon nanotubes (CNT) nanofluid is formulated by dispersing CNTs in mineral
and palm oil. The AC breakdown voltage test is performed accordingly with proper procedures and precaution
according to IEC 60156. As for a successful forecast, instead of refers to the average and lowest possible
breakdown failure data, there are few types of distributions (Weibull, normal, Gumbel, Frechet and GEV)
used in order to represent better probability of breakdown failure. It was shown that, in most cases, the
experimental results followed Weibull and GEV distributions rather than other distributions. Thus, Weibull
and GEV distributions were used to indicate the probability of breakdown failure of CNT nanofluids. The
results indicated that CNT is considered as a potential material that possible to enhance the performance of
mineral oil but with the appropriate concentrations of CNTs. However, oppositely results occurred for CNT
based palm oil, where the trend of breakdown voltage seems lower than the reference oil value.

Keywords: nanofluids; carbon nanotube; mineral oil; palm oil; statistic.

1. Introduction

Transformer oil contribute major role in ensuring the best quality and maximum lifespan of transformer.
Transformer oil serves mainly with purpose to dissipate heat produce from the winding in transformer and
also as insulation liquid. Since decades, mineral oil is used as transformer oil due to its properties which is
high electric field strength, low dielectric losses and good long term performance (Heathcote, 2007).
Nevertheless, even if mineral oil is represent as an excellent technical view, its environmental performance
always being an issue. Thus, there are a few countries begin to use the natural ester oil such as palm based oil
instead of mineral oil (Abdullahi, Bashi, Yunus, Mohibullah, & Nurdin, 2004). Mineral oil and natural ester
oil have different properties and chemical structure. Recently, a lot of efforts have been devoted over the years
for improving the electrical breakdown strength and heat transfer of mineral oil and natural ester oil by using
nanoparticles as the modifying agent. The dispersion of nanomaterials in both types of oil sample would
possibly cause the difference results and unique behavior. The mixture or called as nanofluid can be regarded
as next generation heat transfer which may enhance the breakdown performance of transformer oil and have
enormous potential to transfer heat flow in the transformer (Jin, Morshuis, Smit, & Andritsch, 2014).
Previous researchers have investigates various types of nanomaterials such as TiO 2, CeO, Al2O3 and others
dispersed in insulating oil (Chen et al., 2011; Li et al., 2015; US Research Nanomaterials, n.d.).

In this paper, the influences of carbon nanotubes synthesized with mineral and palm oil was investigated
and observed statistically. Carbon nanotube (CNT) is applied in various applications in medical, electronics,
energy storage devices and etc (Endo, Hayashi, Kim, & Muramatsu, 2006). The application and behaviour of
CNT are too wide and the doping properties between CNT and oil are still unknown to the industry. CNT is
known for conducted heat and cold really well whichwell, which mean that CNT has high thermal
conductivity. Thus, this paper expected can an enhancement of the breakdown performances of CNT
nanofluids and better heat transfer for transformer application. As for a successful forecast of average and
lowest possible breakdown failure levels from the dispersion of the experiment data, it is mandatory to make
assumption based on a certain distribution. Probability distributions have been applied to breakdown failure
data previously (Bani, Abdul-Malek, & Ahmad, 2016) and useful in order to determine the voltages that
insulating oil most likely to breakdown at predefined or extreme conditions.

2. Experimental Works

2.1. Preparation of Nanofluids

The mineral/ palm oils were are firstly filtered through a membrane filter in order to remove the impurities
and unwanted particles. in order to meet the demand of clean oil. The mineral oil used in this experiment was
supplied by Hyrax Oil Sdn. Bhd while the palm based oil was produced by Alif Oil Sdn Bhd. CNTs properties
were described in the Table I below.

Table I. Properties of Carbon Nanotubes.

Parameter Value
Outer Diameter < 8nm
Inner Diameter 2 5nm
Length 10 - 30m
Purity 95%
Supplier Chengdu Organic Chemical Co. Ltd., Chinese Academy of Science

The CNTs were weighed based on three concentrations (0.01, 0.05, 0.2g/L) by using an analytical balance
and mixed with CNTs by using magnetic stirrer equipment with 520 rpm for 30 minutes. The CNT
nanomaterials were dispersed through ultra-sonication process for about two hours. In order to disperse CNT
nanomaterials, the sound energy with frequency less than 25 kHz was applied towards the CNT nanofluids/
mixture. The ultra-sonication technique was implemented according to proper procedures and outlines using a
Q700 Sonicator with 700W power rating and a inch probe. The amplitude of the ultrasonic transducer was
set at 10% and the dispersion timing cycle was set up to 5seconds on; 3 seconds off intervals for duration of
60 minutes. The mineral and palm oil based CNT nanofluids were prepared in a fume-hood to prevent the
exposure to potentially harmful doses of CNTs to eyes and lungs. These procedures of producing nanofluids
were similar to these researchers (Jin, Andritsch, et al., 2014). After sonication process, in order to minimize
the humidity contained in nanofluids which can cause degradation the quality of oil, the nanofluids were dried
in an oven at temperature 85C and free the unwanted gas in a vacuum oven at pressure less than 5 Mbar for
48 hours. Then, the sample was cooled to ambient temperature over a period of 24 hours under vacuum

2.2. AC Breakdown Voltage Test

AC breakdown voltage experiment was performed using BAUR oil tester DTA 100C with proper procedures
and precautions according to IEC 60156 standard (IEC, 1995). The rate of rise voltage was set at 2kV/s and
initial standing time of 2 minutes was fixed before voltage applied.

Fig 1. AC breakdown tester with mushroom-mushroom electrodes.

The BAUR breakdown voltage analyzer consists of a test cell with 400ml capacity of oil samples with
mushroom-mushroom shaped electrodes with 2.5mm gap distance as shown in Fig. 1. The CNT nanofluids
samples were carefully filled into the test cell in order to avoid the air bubbles formation. There were total of
50 readings of breakdown voltage were measured for each samples.

3. Statistical Analysis

The comparison of average AC breakdown voltages and standard deviations of based oil and CNT
nanofluids are shown in Table II and Fig. 2. With the increment of concentrations, the breakdown voltage
dropped -19.19% for mineral oil and dropped as much as -61.26% for palm oil. It was figure out that when the
concentrations wasconcentrations were further increased, the breakdown voltage tends to dropped. The
agglomeration of CNTs in dielectric liquid samples might occur as concentrations being added (Du, Lv, Zhou,
Li, & Li, 2010). However, 0.01 g/L and 0.05 g/L mineral based CNT nanofluids showed better performance
compared to reference mineral oil. There were slightly improvements toward breakdown voltages behaviour
for mineral oil. The standard deviations of all types of dielectric liquid samples were less than 6 kV which
indicate the breakdown voltages were predictable.

Table II. Average AC Breakdown voltages and other parameters of CNT nanofluids.
Insulating Concentrations of Average (kV) Standard Standard Minimum (kV) Maximum
Oil CNT (g/L) Deviation (kV) Error (kV)
Mineral Oil 0 29.75 4.64 0.66 21.2 40.1
0.01 51.68 5.85 0.83 36.5 61.9
0.05 43.25 3.6 0.51 35.4 49.9
0.2 24.04 1.19 0.17 21.6 26.9
Palm Oil 0 77.12 5.55 0.78 62.8 85.5
0.01 61.0 3.99 0.56 50.5 66.7
0.05 57.34 4.61 0.65 40.7 64.4
0.2 29.88 4.49 0.63 24.4 45.1

Fig 2. Comparison of average AC breakdown voltages.

In this paper, a few types of distributions were used in order to analyse the breakdown voltage data from
the dispersion of CNTs in mineral oil and palm based oil. For manufacturing a transformer, a designer
requires to refer the minimum withstand voltage level of the insulating oil rather than based on average
breakdown voltage produce. Thus, there are two popular types of statistical analysis used to interpret the
probability distribution of breakdown failure which are normal distribution and Weibull distribution (Liu &
Wang, 2007). Therefore, this paper focused on the determination of the average and lowest breakdown
voltage, accordingly another five probability distributions (Gumbel, Frechet, normal, Weibull and Generalized
Extreme Value (GEV)). Statistical distributions have been formulated to represent better probability of
breakdown failure in variety of forms. Equation (1) shows the probability density function for the 3-parameter
of Weibull distribution while equation (2) shows the formula for normal distribution.


= scale parameter
= shape parameter (slope)
= location parameter


The generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution is a family of continuous probability distribution developed
from combination of Gumbel, Frechet and Weibull distributions. The probability density function of GEV
distribution is given by the equation (3):


The experimental data obtained was tabulated as histogram as shown in Fig. 3. Probability density plot of five
types of distributions for mineral oil (MO), palm oil (PO) and another three concentrations of carbon
nanotubes (CNT) disperse in insulating oils were illustrated and compared along with histograms.

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

(e) (f)

(g) (h)

Fig 3. Probability density plots of breakdown voltages at five types of distributions for
(a) mineral oil,
(b) 0.01g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil,
(c) 0.05g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil,
(d) 0.2g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil,
(e) palm oil,
(f) 0.01g/L CNT mixed with palm oil,
(g) 0.05g/L CNT mixed with palm oil,
(h) 0.2g/L CNT mixed with palm oil.

Basically, there are three types of goodness of fit tests called as the Anderson-Darling, Kolmogorov-Smirnov
and Chi-Squared tests in order to assist in analyzing how well the data fits. However, these tests cannot be
used to pick the best distribution, but rather to reject possible distributions. In this test, the Anderson-Darling
test was used as a tool for comparing distributions due to the ability to reach sufficient statistical power. Based
on Fig. 3, it seems like Weibull 3-parameter, GEV and normal distributions fit the breakdown distribution
well. However, for further and detailed confirmation, the conformity results of the breakdown voltage to the
five distributions were calculated as shown in Table III.

Table III. Goodness of fit according to Anderson-Darling test.

MO 0.01g/L 0.05g/L 0.2g/L PO 0.01g/L 0.05g/L 0.2g/L
GEV Weibull GEV GEV GEV Weibull Weibull Weibull
0.2424 0.1774 0.1887 0.1685 0.2397 0.8226 0.38442 0.3035
Weibull GEV Weibull Weibull Weibull Normal GEV GEV
0.2660 0.3808 0.2890 0.1739 0.4078 2.1732 0.3955 0.4887
Frechet Normal Normal Normal Normal Frechet Normal Frechet
0.3400 0.5614 0.5657 0.1801 0.5500 3.6187 0.8661 0.5204
Normal Frechet Frechet Frechet Frechet Gumbel Frechet Gumbel
0.4198 1.8198 1.4025 0.5248 1.0115 6.1628 2.7417 0.5426
Gumbel Gumbel Gumbel Gumbel Gumbel GEV Gumbel Normal
0.5950 2.8601 2.7808 0.9763 2.4736 8.0793 3.5184 1.3109

As shown in Table III, the experimental data fit better between two types of distributions Weibull and GEV.
0.01g/L CNT nanofluid based mineral oil has distinct behaviour compare to mineral oil and other
concentrations. However, the error difference between GEV reference mineral oil and 0.01g/L CNT+MO are
0.065 which is very small. Thus, the comparison of breakdown voltages performances analyses was estimated
based on GEV distribution. For palm oil cases, GEV distribution ranked first while Weibull 3-parameter
obtained second place with 0.1681 error difference. This difference also considered small and because of all
concentrations of palm oil mixed with CNT obtained Weibull at first place in the ranking, thus, Weibull 3-
parameter was used to estimate the value of expected breakdown voltage for palm oil. The experimental data
obtained were tabulated as shown in Fig. 4 (mineral based CNT nanofluids) and Fig. 5 (palm based CNT





Fig 4. Quantile-quantile distribution plot of

(a) mineral oil,
(b) 0.01g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil,
(c) 0.05g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil,
(d) 0.2g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil.

Table IV. Parameters and breakdown voltages of mineral oil and CNT-mineral nanofluids.

Insulating Oils Shape scale location U10% U50% U90%

Mineral Oil -0.15801 4.356 27.836 23.66 29.05 36.10

0.01g/L CNT+MO -0.55445 6.4287 50.397 43.16 52.55 57.85

0.05g/L CNT+MO -0.49788 3.98 42.34 37.63 43.70 47.48

0.2g/L CNT+MO 2.8171 3.4109 20.999 22.57 24.1 25.5

Fig. 4 illustrated the GEV distribution plots of the AC breakdown voltage for four types of oil samples with
different amount of concentrations. Table IV shows the corresponding parameters, correlation coefficient and
breakdown voltages of the GEV distributions. It can be seen that proper amount of CNTs help to improve the
breakdown performance of mineral oil. However, at certain limits, CNTs tend to degrade the performance of
breakdown and become conductance. At minimum probability of breakdown failure, it was figure out that
0.01g/L and 0.05g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil achieved higher breakdown voltage as 82.42% and 59.04%
compare to mineral oil. There were also same pattern recognized for 50% and 90% breakdown probability,
while for 0.2g/L CNT mixed with mineral oil got breakdown voltage less than reference mineral oil. Thus, it
is important to investigate the proper sonication process and amount of concentrations for producing
nanofluids in order to enhance the insulation properties of insulating oil.





Fig 5. Quantile-quantile distribution plot of

(a) palm oil,
(b) 0.01g/L CNT mixed with palm oil,
(c) 0.05g/L CNT mixed with palm oil,
(d) 0.2g/L CNT mixed with palm oil.

Table V. Parameters and breakdown voltages of mineral oil and CNT-palm nanofluids.

Insulating Oils shape scale location U10% U50% U90%

Palm Oil 29.47 133.15 -53.531 69.86 77.70 83.92

0.01g/L CNT+PO 2.1686E+8 6.0451E+8 -6.0451E+8 54.43 62.25 64.98

0.05g/L CNT+PO 763.64 2743.1 -2683.7 50.73 57.45 63.11

0.2g/L CNT+PO 1.2139 5.8777 24.361 25.21 28.8 34.97

Looking into the modelling weibull 3-parameter results, the withstand voltage at low breakdown
probability for CNT mixed with palm based oil seems decreased gradually along with increased
concentrations. There was -63.91% reduction obtained at the lowest breakdown voltage value which was
calculated by Weibull distribution. Hence, based on the overall experimental analysis, it reveals that the
presence of CNT nanomaterials might inappropriate with the palm oil. The results were highly opposite with
the CNT mixed with mineral oil might be due to the chemical properties of mineral oil was different with
ester oil. Thus, the reaction and results were unexpectedly differs. These might also happened due to the
behaviour of CNT nanomaterial which is highly entangled products and difficult to disperse uniformly in
palm oil (Hilding, Grulke, George Zhang, & Lockwood, 2007; Mao, C., Zou, H., 2014). However, the
suspension or better procedure with stable condition may lead to better performance. Thus, the suitable de-
agglomeration techniques for CNTs might be generating better dielectric fluid.

4. Conclusions

This paper shows the comparison between Hyrax mineral oil and Aliff palm oil as reference transformer
oils and three different concentrations of CNT nanofluids. The sonication technique has been used in order to
disperse CNT nanomaterials in the mineral oil and palm oil. The influences of carbon nanotubes synthesized
with mineral and palm oil was investigated and compared statistically based on AC breakdown performance.
There were five types of distributions involved in this paper; Frechet, Gumbel, Normal, Weibull and GEV
distribution. The Anderson-Darling test was used as a tool for comparing distributions due to the ability to
reach sufficient statistical power. Based on the experimental and statistical results, GEV distribution was
selected to compare the performance of mineral oil based CNT nanofluids AC breakdown while Weibull 3-
parameter distribution was suitable for palm based CNT nanofluids. Refers to the GEV distributions, certain
amount of CNTs concentration can improve AC breakdown performance of mineral oil. It was also figure out
that as concentrations increase, the probability of breakdown failure gradually decreased. The same pattern
were observed for palm based CNT nanofluids, but it seems that presence of CNTs were inappropriate for
palm oil. This is because the results probability of AC breakdown palm based CNT nanofluids were dropped
slightly for 0.01g/L and 0.05g/L and fall significantly at 0.2g/L concentration. Further investigation is needed
in order to explain the trends and behaviour of CNTs in mineral oil and palm oil

The authors would like to thank Ministry of Education and National Defence University of Malaysia for
the funding under FRGS scheme (FRGS/2/2014/TK03/UPNM/02/2) and RAGS scheme

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