Epoxy resin is widely deployed as a high voltage electrical insulation material when compounded with inorganic fillers. However, in the laboratory, the filler prevents visual observation of the long-term degradation known as electrical treeing. To date therefore, much laboratory testing has been conducted on unrepresentative unfilled materials. Here, the impact of micro-sized fillers on the treeing phenomenon in an epoxy system has been explored. Sub-micrometre resolution 3D reconstructions of electrical trees are reported from X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) using an advanced ‘pink beam’ synchrotron light source imaging system. The role of filler particles between 1 and 10 µm in size on tree channel propagation is reported. In highly filled materials (30% by weight) a radical change in tree growth behavior is seen, leading to bush tree rather than branch tree growth. The dielectric breakdown time at constant stress was also found to increase as the square root of the filler level. The change in geometry of tree growth may explain the extended life of filled materials in high voltage applications.
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 31 Jan 2020|