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104 Journal of International Council on Electrical Engineering Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.

104~109, 2012

A Study on Dielectric Strength and Insulation Property

of SF6/N2 Mixtures for GIS

Su-Youl Woo†, Dong-Hoon Jeong*, Kyoung-Bo Seo* and Jin-Ho Kim*

Abstract – SF6(sulphur hexafluoride) is the gas most commonly used in high voltage power equipments.
Due to the fact that SF6 is a greenhouse gas with a very high global warming potential, alternatives have
been searched for over the last years.
This paper presents the fundamental insulation characteristics of SF6/N2 mixtures(50% SF6_50%N2,
20%SF6_80%N2) in sphere-plane and rod-plane configurations. The electrode gap spacing and the
relative gas pressure were varied within the range of 10~50mm and of 3~7bar respectively. To get the
50% breakdown value under lightning impulse of both polarity and AC, the up and down method was
applied. In addition, both mixtures were tested in earthing switch and disconnecting switch sections of
GIS model. The test result is applied to make design criteria for mixtures.

Keywords: SF6 gas, N2 gas, Breakdown voltage, Dielectric strength

1. Introduction 2. Detailed Formats of Manuscript

Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is widely used in the electrical 2.1 Gas mixture
equipments such as gas insulated switchgear (GIS) and gas
circuit breaker (GCB), due to its excellent insulation and We considered two methods to make gas mixtures. They
arc extinguishing characteristics and thermal stability. are methods by ratio of gas pressure and gas mass. The first
Despite its important advantages, SF6 gas became the focus method is to make gas mixtures by checking the gas
of environmental influence, because SF6 gas causes the pressure gauge during gas injection. This method has higher
serious green house effect by its emission in the atmosphere. error number than the second method because of human
Due to this problem, SF6 gas was classified as regulated gas errors and environmental factors such as temperature and
on Kyoto Protocol(1997) and many countries are studying atmospheric pressure. So, we used the method by ratio of
it for reduction of SF6 gas. gas mass and measured the ratio of each gas through Korea
Reduction of using SF6 gas in electrical equipments has Research Institute of Standards and Science(KRISS) for the
been going in various methods. Japanese makers developed more exact experiment.
72/84kV SF6 gas-free switchgear using dry air and solid
insulation. [4] Korean makers are also developing the Table. 1 The ratio analysis result of gas mixtures
product using them. And studying about gas insulated line Ratio Manufacturer KRISS
(GIL) using SF6/N2 gas mixture rated 20:80 are active by 20% (SF6 gas) 20.01% 19.92%
50% (SF6 gas) 49.92% 49.52%
the manufacturer. It is already developed up to 550kV GIL.
LS cable corporation are testing the long-term overvoltage
test after developing 362kV GIL in Korea. [3] 2.2 Test setup in uniform and non-uniform field
In this paper, we will report the test result and the design
criteria for SF6/N2 gas mixtures through studying on Fig. 1 shows layouts of lightning impulse voltage test
insulation properties of 2 kinds of SF6/N2 gas mixture and AC withstand voltage test. We measured the breakdown
(50%SF6_50%N2,20%SF6_80%N2) as a basic step for voltage using the up and down method with 5kV step. LI
developing environmental friendly products. breakdown voltage was measured 15 times and AC
breakdown voltage was 10 times every case.
Fig. 2 shows the shape of each electrode with radius of 2,
† Corresponding Author: Switchgear Research Team, R&D Center, 5, 8, and 25 mm. All electrodes are made of aluminium.
Hyosung Corporation, Korea (
* Switchgear Research Team, R&D Center, Hyosung Corporation,
Korea (
Received: December 26, 2011; Accepted: December 28, 2011
Su-Youl Woo, Dong-Hoon Jeong, Kyoung-Bo Seo and Jin-Ho Kim 105

before tests. The simulation data were made as equations

each case. These equations were used for checking each
electric field [kV/mm] during test. Fig. 3 shows the simu-
lation results about each electrode.

Fig. 1. Experiment layout for LI and AC test.

Fig. 2. The shape of electrodes.

The cases of LI test and AC test were classified as table.2

and table.3.

Table. 2 The case of LI test

Fig. 4. The results of simulation about sphere electrode(up)
Ratio of Mix Gas Pressure Radius of
(SF6/N2) (guage) Electrode
Gap Distance Polarity and rod(R 2mm) electrode.
20:80/ 3/4/5/6/7 2/4/5/8/25 10/20/30/ Positive/
50:50 (%) (bar) (mm) 40/50(mm) Negative Table. 4 E-field equations by changing gap distance be-
tween electrodes
Table. 3 The case of AC Test R(mm) Gap(mm) E-field(kV/mm)
Ratio of Mix Gas Pressure Radius of 10 y = 0.43667x + 1.8267e-4
Gap Distance 20 y = 0.3462x – 5.52532e-4
(SF6/N2) (guage) Electrode
20:80/ 10/20/30/ 2 30 y = 0.29702x + 0.00224
3/4/5/6/7 (bar) 2/4/5/8/25 (mm) 40 y = 0.27985x + 0.00224
50:50 (%) 40/50(mm)
50 y = 0.26244x + 0.00107
10 y = 0.2812x – 0.0012
2.3 Simulation
20 y = 0.21185x + 4.45261e-4
4 30 y = 0.18635x + 0.0011
40 y = 0.16962x – 8.94468e-4
50 y = 0.15983x – 5.37087e-4
10 y = 0.21082x – 4.97684e-4
20 y = 0.16463x – 4.34216e-4
5 30 y = 0.14202x – 3.68367e-4
40 y = 0.12964x – 4.65046e-4
50 y = 0.12164x – 4.80372e-4
10 y = 0.19203x – 6.84509e-4
20 y = 0.13821x – 2.69001e-4
8 30 y = 0.11905x – 4.70693e-4
40 y = 0.10767x – 7.6008e-5
Fig. 3. Simulation of electric potential and electric field 50 y = 0.10142x – 2.37238e-5
about sphere-plane electrode(left) and rod-plane 10 y = 0.12813x – 0.12786e-5
electrode (right). 20 y = 0.07919x + 3.57503e-4
25 30 y = 0.06377x – 5.764e-5
40 y = 0.05564x – 1.6757e-4
We checked the dielectric strength between electrodes 50 y = 0.05105x – 1.47308e-4
and predicted the breakdown voltage through the simulation
106 A Study on Dielectric Strength and Insulation Property of SF6/N2 Mixtures for GIS

The electric field data from simulation applying the

voltage values from 0V to 600kV is presented as the
simulation graph shown in Fig. 4 and the formula shown
table. 4. The formulas presented the linear function are used
for calculating the electric field with 50% breakdown
voltage each gap distance. We could analyze the test results
comparing with these calculated electric fields on test.

3. Result

The breakdown strength in electric system is determined

by the characteristics of the electrically lowest part in
insulation breakdown phenomena. The statistical method
like Weibull distribution is widely used for analyzing its
insulation breakdown phenomena. We analyzed 50%
breakdown strength in accordance with Weibull distribution
and used equation.1 for them.

V50 = V1{-ln(1-p)}1/m (1)

p : Cumulative Breakdown Probability in Voltage V

V1 : Scale Parameter (64% Probability Strength)
m : Shape Parameter (Deviation)

3.1 Gas pressure

50% breakdown voltage increases with pressure but the

slope of the curve decreases steadily in both sphere-plane
electrode and rod-plane electrode.(Fig. 5) These effects
indicate deviations to Paschen’s law. Breakdown strength
(Vs) of gas medium under ideal gas condition is the
function for only N(gas density) and d(gap distance). So,
dielectric strength((E/N)lim=Vs/Nd) having fixed d should
be independent of sufficiently high value of N.
Consequently, breakdown strength on ideal gas have to be
linear in theory. But, deviations to Paschen’s law related to
decreasing the slope of the curve about breakdown voltage
are influenced by the shape, structure, and surface of
electrode. The change of the electric field uniformity
Fig. 5. Graphs of 50% breakdown voltage.
caused these factors increase more effective ionization
(1) 20%, 10mm gap (2) 50%, 10mm gap
coefficient(ā/N(=(a-η)/N)) than ineffective ionization
(3) 20%, 30mm gap (4) 50%, 30mm gap
coefficient(a/N). As the reason, the attachment coefficient
(η/N) decreases and the electron energy move to the higher
3.2 Impulse polarity
energy with improved electric field strength. The influence
of these reasons is getting increase when gas pressure
In negative polarity, electrons or positive ions by first
increases. Therefore, the slope of the breakdown voltage
streamer corona, flow in rod electrode and negative ions
curve is decreased by increasing gas pressure.
remain in front of rod electrode. Diffusion and extinction of
space charges(negative ions) are suppressed according to
the increasing gas pressure. It makes to be easy the creation
Su-Youl Woo, Dong-Hoon Jeong, Kyoung-Bo Seo and Jin-Ho Kim 107

and the progress of leader pulse. So, the breakdown voltage utilization factor(η) was used as comparing data under tests.
is decreased. On the other hand, the breakdown voltage is
increased by corona stabilization effect in positive

Fig. 7. The electric field utilization factor of 50% breakdown


Fig.6. The comparison of 50% breakdown voltage between 3.4 GIS model test
polarities (1) 20%, 10mm gap (2) 20%, 30mm gap
Fig. 8 are the layout and the sections of GIS model for
3.3 Electric field utilization factor testing. We performed the electric field simulation before
test and could predict the weak points of each section. Fig.
We derived the electric field utilization factor(η) of 9 and Fig. 10 show the weak points under simulation and
various electrode shape through the test result applied the the flashover points under test and the position of each
confidence level of 95%. The electric field utilization point was similar. We measured the breakdown voltage
factor(η) is presented a ratio of mean electric field and using the up and down method with 10kV step. The
maximum electric field as a calculated result about the breakdown voltage was measured 15 times every case.
electric field strength and distribution. The factor(η) is
independent of the voltage and is determined by the shape
and the arrangement of electrode. So, the electric field
utilization factor of the similar electrode arrangements
should be almost same. The value of each factor(η) is 1 in
the uniform field and 0<η<1 in the non-uniform field.[2]
Fig. 7 show graphs of calculated factor(η) using Eq. 2.

η = Emean/Emax (2)
Fig. 8. The layout and the sections of GIS model.
Emean: Mean electric field
Emax : Maximum electric field The breakdown voltage of each SF6 gas mixture was
measured up to 120% of rated voltage (1050kV). The
Next, we performed insulation tests about SF6 gas mixtures breakdown voltage of 50% SF6 gas mixture is about 8~12%
under an earthing switch section and a disconnecting switch higher than 20% SF6 gas mixture, although each ratio of gas
section of 245kV GIS. The graphs of electric field pressure is different. (Fig. 11) The slope of 50% breakdown
108 A Study on Dielectric Strength and Insulation Property of SF6/N2 Mixtures for GIS

voltage according to gas pressure is similar to the test Through the analysis of the test data and the electric field
results between electrodes. Negative breakdown voltages utilization factor in uniform field and non-uniform field, we
are also lower than positive breakdown voltages. could calculate the breakdown strength of SF6 gas mixtures.
And it was verified by GIS model test and was finally used
make the design criteria about SF6 gas mixtures shown Fig. 12.

Fig. 9. The weak point under simulation.

Fig. 12. The graph of insulation design criteria.

20% SF6 gas mixture BDE = 0.974·P0.4 (3)

50% SF6 gas mixture BDE = 1.228·P0.324 (4)

BDE : Breakdown E-Field [p.u.]

P : Gas Pressure

4. Conclusion
Fig. 10. The flashover points under test.
This study is performed to make the insulation design
criteria about mixtures of SF6 gas and N2 gas, as the
fundamental step to develop the environmental friendly
product of HV class level.

1) The dielectric strength of 50% SF6 gas mixture is about

8~12% higher than 20% SF6 gas mixture.
2) The more non-uniform field, the slope of breakdown
voltage is decreased.
3) When the gas pressure is increased 1 bar, the breakdown
voltage is increased about 10%.
4) The breakdown Voltage of positive polarity is higher
than the breakdown voltage of negative polarity under
lightning impulse test.

We established the process about the insulation design

criteria through this study using test chamber. And we also
performed the electric test about the effect of metallic
particle and the temperature rising test for the application of
products using this design criteria. Now, we are reviewing
Fig. 11. 50% breakdown voltage. the results. Finally, we think the results will be used as the
basic data of SF6-N2 gas mixtures to develop the
(1) 20% SF6 gas mixture (2) 50% SF6 gas mixture environmental friendly power equipments.

3.5 Design criteria

Su-Youl Woo, Dong-Hoon Jeong, Kyoung-Bo Seo and Jin-Ho Kim 109

References Jin-Ho Kim received B.S degree in

electrical engineering from Kyungbook
[1] L. G. Christophorou et al., “SF6/N2 Mixtures”, Trans. National University. His research in-
of IEEE, Vol. 2 No5, pp. 952-1003, 1995. terests is HV switchgear development.
[2] Ozcan Kalenderli et al., “Computing the Corona Onset
and the Utilization Factor of Rod-Plane Electrode by
Using Charge Simulation Method” Trans. of IEEE,
[3] X. Waymel,“Low SF6 concentration Sf6/N2 mixtures
for GIL” Gaseous Dielectrics VⅢ, pp. 345-351
[4] D. H. Jeong et al., “Insulation characteristic of HV
switchgear applied dry air”, Trans. KIEE, Vol. 57, No.
10, 2008.
[5] A Quenin et al., “Lightning impulse withstand of SF6-
N2 mixtures with low SF6 content under homo-
geneous and divergent field”, Trans. of IEEE, 2000.
[6] T.Ishii et al., “Non-uniform field flashover charac-
teristics in SF6 gas under negative steep-front and
oscillating impulse voltages” Gaseous Dielectrics VI,
pp. 239-246

Su-Youl Woo He received B.S degree

in electrical engineering from Chun-
gang University. His research interests
is insulation medium in switchgear.

Dong-Hoon Jeong received B.S and

M.S degree in electrical engineering
from Pukyung National University. His
research interests is insulation medium
in switchgear.

Kyung-Bo Seo received B.S degree in

electrical engineering. His research
interests is HV switchgear development.