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Advance High Voltage Engineering

LECTURE - 5

Prof Dr. Suhail A. Qureshi


"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 1

BREAKDOWN IN SOLID AND LIQUID DIELECTRICS


BREAKDOWN IN SOLIDS
i). ii). iii). iv). v) INTRINSIC BREAKDOWN. ELECTRO-MECHANICAL BREAKDOWN. STREAMER BREAKDOWN. THERMAL BREAKDOWN. EROSION BREAKDOWN.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 2

BREAKDOWN IN SOLID AND LIQUID DIELECTRICS

BREAKDOWN IN LIQUID
I). II). ELECTRONIC BREAKDOWN. CAVITATIONAL BREAKDOWN (BUBBLE FORMATION). SUSPENDED PARTICLE MECHANISM.

III).

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics


Breakdown in Solids
The physical mechanisms leading to the destruction of insulating properties of gases discussed previously involve a rapid growth of current through the formation of electron avalanches.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Breakdown in Solids


Under certain experimental conditions the breakdown of solids may be accomplished by the same process as breakdown of gases, but here in addition several other distinct breakdown mechanisms have been recognized. The experimentally observed breakdown values are dependent upon the method and conditions of the measurements and the actual values will depend on the breakdown processes which operate under the Particular conditions.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 5

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Breakdown in Solids

A number of detailed theories have been put forward in the past which aim to explain quantitatively the types of breakdown which solid dielectrics undergo and the findings of the various workers have been summarized in recent publications. In this chapter the presently accepted mechanisms are described in a Qualitative manner.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Breakdown in Solids
The mechanism of failure of a solid dielectric changes as the time of voltage application increases and it is convenient to divide the time scale of voltage application into sections in which different mechanisms operate, as shown in Fig. 3.1.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Breakdown in Solids

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Intrinsic Breakdown
Under voltages applied for very short time the electric strength of a solid material increases rapidly to an upper limit which is called the Intrinsic Electric Strength. Experimentally this value would be obtained under the best experimental conditions when all extraneous influences have been removed so that the value is dependent only on the material and the temperature.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Intrinsic Breakdown


Intrinsic breakdown is accomplished in times of the order of 10-8 sec and has, therefore, been postulated to be electronic in nature. The stresses required for intrinsic breakdown are in excess of 106 V/cm. The intrinsic strength is assumed to be reached when electrons in the dielectric gain enough energy from the applied field to cross the forbidden energy gap from the valency to .the conduction band.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Intrinsic Breakdown

The criterion condition is formulated by solving an equation for energy balance between the gain of energy by conduction electrons from the applied field and its loss to the lattice. Several approaches have been made to predict the critical value of the field which causes intrinsic breakdown but no completely satisfactory solution has yet been obtained.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Intrinsic Breakdown
The models used by the various workers differ from each other in the proposed mechanisms of energy transfer from the conduction electrons to the lattice, and also by the different assumptions made concerning the energy distribution of the conduction electrons.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electromechanical Breakdown
Substances which can suffer appreciable deformation, without fracture may collapse when the electrostatic compression forces on the test specimen exceed its mechanical compressive strength. The compressions forces arise from the attraction between surface charge switch appear when the voltage is applied. The pressure exerted in most materials when the field is about 106 V/cm is several kg/cm2.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
Under certain controlled conditions, in strictly uniform fields with the electrodes truly embedded in the specimen, breakdown may be accomplished after the passage of a single avalanche. An electron entering the conduction band of the insulator at the cathode will drift towards the anode under the influence of the field gaining energy between collisions and losing it on collisions.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Streamer Breakdown


On occasions the free path may be long enough for the energy gain to exceed the lattice ionizing energy and an additional free electron is produced on collision. The process is repeated by the two electrons and may lead, to the formation of an electron avalanche as observed in gases. Seitz suggested that breakdown will ensure if the avalanche exceeds a certain critical size, and derived an expression for a single avalanche breakdown strength. The concept is similar to the streamer developed by Loab and Meek for gas breakdown.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 15

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
In practice the simple system with electrodes perfectly embedded in solid is rarely obtained and the solid material is stressed in conjunction with one or more other materials.
One of the materials is, for example gas or liquid, then the measured breakdown voltage will be influenced more by the weak medium than by the solid.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
A section of a simple test arrangement is shown in Fig. 3.2, where the dielectric slab tested between spherePlane electrodes. On applying a voltage V between the electrodes a fraction V1 of the voltage appears across the ambient, and at a distance x from the point of contact its value is given approximately by;

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Streamer Breakdown

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Streamer Breakdown

Where d1 and d2 represent the thickness of the media 1 and 2 shown in Fig. 3.2 and 1 and 2 are their respective permittivities. The gaseous ambient medium will be of lower permittivity than the specimen and will consequently experience higher electric stress.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 19

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
As a result the ambient will breakdown before the intrinsic strength of the solid is reached. A charge is deposited at the site on the surface of the specimen on which the discharge falls (site A, Fig. 3.2) and grossly distorts the local field. The charge from breakdown of the ambient medium thus essentially transforms the initially uniform field conditions to non-uniform ones such as are found in a point plane arrangement.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
The charge concentration at the tips of a discharge channel has been estimated to be sufficient to give rise to local fields of the order of 10MV/cm, which is much higher than the intrinsic breakdown field. A local breakdown at the tips of the discharge is likely therefore, and complete breakdown is the result of many such breakdown channels formed in the solid and extending step by step through the whole thickness.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Streamer Breakdown


The breakdown in general is not accomplished through the formation of a single discharge channel but assumes at tree-like structure such as is shown in Fig.3.3, which can be readily demonstrated in the laboratory by applying an impulse voltage between point-plane electrodes with the point embedded in a transparent solid, e.g. Perspex. The tree pattern shown in Fig 3.3 was recorded by cooper with 1/30 sec impulse voltage of the same magnitude.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown
After application of each impulse, the channels were observed with a microscope and new channels recorded. Not every impulse will produce a channel. The time required for the breakdown under alternative voltage will vary from a few seconds to a few minutes.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Streamer Breakdown

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Thermal Breakdown
When a field is applied to a dielectric at room temperature conduction current is in general very low, but its value increases rapidly with the lattice temperature. The heat genated by the current will be partly conducted away to the surroundings and partly absorbed to raise the lattice temperature, which in turn will increase the rate at which heat is developed.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Thermal Breakdown

If the rate of heat generation at any point in dielectric exceeds that at which heat is conducted away from it, a condition of instability may result and the specimen may undergo a thermal breakdown. The conservation of energy i.e heat, input into the element of volume of specimen which must equal the heat conducted away plus the heat used to raise the temperature T of the volume, is governed by the expression.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 26

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Thermal Breakdown

Where CV is the specific heat per unit volume, k is the thermal conductivity and is the electrical conductivity for a stress E.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
Insulating system invariably contain some cavities or voids within the insulation or on boundaries between the solid and the electrodes. These cavities are generally filled with a medium (gas or liquid) of lower breakdown strength than the dielectric.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown

Cavity/Void Solid Diclectric

Electrodes.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Erosion Breakdown


Moreover, the dielectric constant of the filling medium is often lower than the dielectric constant of the insulation, which causes the field intensity in the cavity to be higher than in the dielectric. Accordingly, under normal working, stress of the insulation the voltage across the cavity may exceed its breakdown value and the dielectric breaks down. The state of the present knowledge on the subject of erosion breakdown has been recently reviewed by mason and Kreuger.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
Figure 3.5 shows a cross-section of an insulating slab of thickness d containing a cavity in the form of a disc of thickness t, together with an analogue circuit. In the analogue circuit the capacitance CC corresponds to the cavity which is discharged, and Cb corresponds to the capacity of the dielectric which is in series with Ce.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Erosion Breakdown

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Erosion Breakdown


For t d which is usually the case: and assuming that the cavity is filled with gas, the voltage across CC is given approximately by the expression.

Where r, is the relative permittivity of the dielectric.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
Under an applied voltage Va when Vc reaches the breakdown value of the gap t, the cavity may breakdown. The sequence of breakdowns under a sinusoidal alternating voltage is shown in Fig:3.6.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Erosion Breakdown

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
The dotted curve shows the voltage that would appear across the cavity if it did not breakdown. As Vc reaches the value V+ a discharge takes place and the voltage drops down (Fig.3.6) and the gap extinguishes. The voltage across the cavity then starts again increasing until it reaches V+ when a new discharge occurs.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
Thus several discharges may take place during the rising part of the applied voltage. Similarly, on the decreasing applied voltage the cavity discharges as voltage across it reaches V-. In this way groups of discharges originate from a single cavity and give rise to positive and negative current pulses on raising and decreasing the voltage respectively.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown
When the gas in the cavity breaks down the surfaces of the insulation provide instantaneous cathode and anode. Some of the electrons impinging upon the anode are sufficiently energetic to break the chemical bonds by positive ions may cause damage by increasing the surface temperature and produce local thermal instability. Also channels and pits formed on the cavity surface will promote conduction. Additional chemical degradation may result from active discharge products, e.g. O3 or NO2 formed in air which may cause increased dielectric losses.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 38

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Erosion Breakdown

Whatever is the deterioration mechanism operating the net effect is a slow erosion of the material and a consequent reduction in the thickness of the solid insulation.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Erosion Breakdown


The rate of the deterioration increases with the applied stress and the life of many forms of insulation is found to be proportional to (Vi / Va)n, where Va is the applied terminal voltage and Vi is the terminal voltage at which discharges are first observed, and is known as the discharge inception voltage; n varies between 3 and 10 depending on the type of insulation and the ambient conditions. The breakdown by erosion may take place in times ranging from a few days to many years.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 40

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Breakdown in Liquid Dielectrics

Electrodes Liquid

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Breakdown in Liquids
The general state of knowledge on the electrical breakdown of liquids is less advanced than is the case of gases or solids. Many aspects of liquid breakdown have been investigated over the last decades but the findings and conclusions of the many workers cannot be reconciled and so to produce a general theory applicable to liquids, as the independent data are often at variance and sometimes contradictory. The principal reason for this situation is the lack of comprehensive theory concerning the physical basis of the liquid state which would form the skeleton structure in which observations could be compared and related.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 42

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Breakdown in Liquids


Comprehensive reviews of the published data on the subject have been recently given by Lewis, Shadbush and Watson and by Swann. The work falls broadly into two distinct schools of thought. On the one hand there are those who attempt to explain the breakdown of liquids on a model which is an extension of gaseous breakdown (discussed in Chapter2) based on avalanche ionization of the atoms induced by conduction electrons in the applied field.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Breakdown in Liquids


The electrons are assumed to be emitted from the cathode either by field emission, in which case they are assumed to tunnel out through the surface aided by the applied field, or by the field enhanced thermionic effect (Schottky effect).
On the other hand, the formation of bubbles in the liquid and its effect upon breakdown strength has long been recognized and a mathematical model for bubble breakdown based upon experimental observations have been put forward by Kao.
"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 44

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Breakdown in Liquids
In another approach the breakdown of liquids is suggested to be brought about suspended foreign articles. It is well known that the presence of minute particles in insulating liquids drastically lowers the breakdown strength. In this treatment the) articles are assumed to be polarizable spheres of relative permittivity higher than the liquid.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Breakdown in Liquids
As a result they experience an electrical force directed towards the place of maximum stress. With uniform field electrodes the movement of particles is presumed to be initiated by surface irregularities on the electrodes, which give rise to local field gradients. The accumulation of particles continues and tends to form a bridge across the gap which leads to breakdown.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
Both the field emission and the field enhanced thermionic emission mechanisms have been considered for the current at the cathode. Conduction studies in insulating liquids at high fields showed that most experimental data for current fit well into Schottky's equation which is of the form Equaiton-3.7

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Electronic Breakdown


Cathod Anode

Electrodes Liquid

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
Where Jt = AT2 exp (-/kT) and it represents the thermionic current density. The field enhancement due to the surface roughness is taken into account in equation (3.7) by making the substitution E = MEa in which M is the multiplication factor and may be as high as 10 for polished surfaces and" Ea is the applied field.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
Equation (3.7) shows that the current (within the Jt term) is very temperature dependent. However breakdown measurements over a wide range of liquid temperatures show little dependence on the breakdown upon temperature. This suggests that the cathode process in the breakdown mechanism is a true field emission.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
Once the electron is injected into the liquid it gains energy from the applied field. In the electronic theory of breakdown it is assumed that some electrons gain more energy from the field than they lose in vibrational collisions with molecules. These electrons are accelerated until they gain sufficient, energy to ionize molecules on collision and initiate an avalanche.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
The condition for the onset of electron avalanche is obtained by equating the gain in energy of an electron over its mean free path to that required for ionization of the molecule.

Equation 3.8

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Electronic Breakdown
Where E is the applied field, the electron mean free path, hv quantum of energy lost in ionizing the molecule, c is an arbitrary constant. The electronic theory satisfactorily predicts the relative magnitude of breakdown strength of liquids. However, it is less satisfactory when it is used in predicting the breakdown time lags in liquids are much longer than predicted by electronic theory.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Cavitations Breakdown
Experiments have shown a strong dependence of liquid breakdown strength upon the applied hydrostatic pressure, in indicating that a change of phase may be involved at the critical stage in the breakdown process. Kao has put forward a bubble breakdown mechanism.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown

Bubble

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown


The bubble is suggested to form by anyone of the following processes: I. II. Gas pockets on the electrode surface; Electrostatic repulsion of space charges which may be sufficient to overcome surface tension;

III.

Dissociation of products by electron collisions


giving rise to gaseous products;

IV.

Liquid vaporization by corona-type discharges

from points and irregularities on the electrodes.


"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi" 56

The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown


Once a bubble is formed it will tend to become elongated in the direction of the field in order to minimize its potential energy in the field. To obtain the breakdown criterion Kao assumed that the volume of the bubble remains constant during its elongation and that breakdown occurs when the voltage drop along the bubble reaches the minimum value on the Paschens curve for a given gas in the bubble

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown


The expression for the "bubble" breakdown field strength is of the form

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Cavitations Breakdown
Where is the surface tension of the liquid, 1 and, 2 are the permittivities of the liquid and the bubble respectively, r is the initial radius of the bubble (initially assume a sphere), Vb the voltage drop in the bubble. This expression indicates' that the critical electric field strength required for breakdown of liquid depends upon the initial size of the bubble which is affected by the external pressure and temperature.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Cavitations Breakdown
Figure 3.7 compares experimental and theoretical results obtained from equation (3.9) for n-hexane. The agreement is not very good and the theory omits to take account of the production of the initial bubble.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Cavitations Breakdown


Watson find Sharbaugh proposed a thermal mechanism of breakdown under pulse conditions. This mechanism is based upon the experimental observation of very large currents just before breakdown. The current is assumed to originate from asperities on the cathode surface giving Localized high densities. The input of large energy into the liquid may lead to a vapour bubble.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Cavitations Breakdown
Once the bubble is formed breakdown follows either as a result of the bubble's growth to a critical size or by its bridging the gap. In either case the spark follows the low dielectric strength vapour. The mechanism predicts a marked dependence of breakdown strength. On the pressure as well as it explains the dependence of breakdown strength on molecular structure, e.g. for nalkanes it predicts the observed dependence of breakdown strength on the chain length.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics

Suspended Particle Mechanism


If we consider spherical particles of radius r of high permittivity to be suspended in a dielectric of permittivity 0, 'then in a field the particle will become polarized and it can be shown that the force acting an it in non-uniform field is given by

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Suspended Particle Mechanism


If this force is directed towards a place of maximum stress if > 0 but for gas bubbles < 0 it has the opposite direction. As a result the particles become aligned head-to-tail to form a bridge across the gap and gapand breakdown follows. The movement of particles by the electrical force is opposed by the viscous drag and by diffusion.

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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The Breakdown in Solid and Liquid Dielectrics Suspended Particle Mechanism

"Prof Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi"

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