Imaging and analysis techniques for electrical trees using X-ray computed tomography

Roger Schurch, Simon Rowland, Robert Bradley, Philip Withers

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    Electrical treeing is one of the main mechanisms of degradation in polymeric high voltage insulation, a precursor of power equipment failure. Electrical trees have been previously imaged mostly using two-dimensional imaging techniques; thereby loosing valuable information. Here we review the techniques that have been previously used and present the novel application of X-ray computed tomography (XCT) for electrical tree imaging. This non-destructive technique is able to reveal electrical trees, providing a threedimensional (3-D) view and therefore, a more complete representation of the phenomenon can be achieved. Moreover, taking virtual slices through the replica so created brings the possibility of internal exploration of the electrical tree, without the destruction of the specimen. Here, laboratory created electrical trees have been scanned using XCT with phase contrast enhancement, and 3-D virtual replicas created through which the trees are analyzed. Serial Block-Face scanning electron microscopy (SBFSEM) is shown to be a successful complementary technique. Computed tomography enables quantification of electrical tree characteristics that previously were not available. Characteristics such as the diameter and tortuosity of tree channels, as well as the overall tree volume can be calculated. Through the cross-section analysis, the progression of the number of tree channels and the area covered by them can be investigated. Using this approach it is expected that a better understanding of electrical treeing phenomenon will be developed. © 2014 IEEE.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6740725
    Pages (from-to)53-63
    Number of pages10
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


    • 3-D
    • Electrical trees
    • Imaging
    • SBFSEM
    • SEM
    • SS-SEM
    • Three-dimensional
    • Tomography
    • X-ray
    • XCT


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