Impulsive breakdown of mineral oil and natural and synthetic ester liquids when containing varying levels of moisture

Williamson, Chris and Timoshkin, Igor V. and MacGregor, Scott J. and Wilson, Mark P. and Given, Martin J. and Sinclair, Mark and Jones, Aled (2021) Impulsive breakdown of mineral oil and natural and synthetic ester liquids when containing varying levels of moisture. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, 49 (1). pp. 466-475. ISSN 0093-3813 (

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This article reports and discusses the results of impulse breakdown study of different insulating liquids under highly divergent electric field conditions. Samples of a natural ester (Envirotemp FR3), a synthetic ester (MIDEL 7131), and a naphthenic mineral oil (Shell Diala S4 ZX) at different levels of relative humidity were exposed to HV impulses with a nominal 7-\mu \text{s} rise time and 150-kV peak voltage of both positive and negative polarity. A strong dependence of the breakdown voltage and time to breakdown of the investigated dielectric liquids was observed with respect to the polarity of the applied HV impulses. It was shown that the FR3 natural ester liquid has a higher dielectric strength when exposed to positive impulse than when under negative impulse stress. The opposite breakdown behavior was observed for the synthetic ester MIDEL 7131 and the naphthenic oil Shell Diala S4 ZX which exhibited lower breakdown voltage under positive energization as compared with the negative energization. The breakdown voltage and prebreakdown time obtained in the present tests of the naphthenic oil, Shell Diala S4 ZX, lie between that of the ester liquids irrespective of impulse polarity. It has been established that no statistically significant variations exist in the breakdown parameters (breakdown voltage and time to breakdown) of the studied dielectric liquids as their relative humidity is increased under either impulse polarity. The obtained results will help in coordination of practical applications of low environmental impact dielectric fluids in power and pulsed power systems and components.