Discharges between water drops are important in the ageing of hydrophobic outdoor insulators. They may also be important in the processes leading up to flashover of these insulators in high pollution conditions. This paper considers discharges between drops when a limited alternating current is available, as experienced by an ageing insulator in service. A phenomenon is identified in which the length of a discharge between two drops is reduced through a particular type of distortion of the drops. This is visually characterized as a liquid protrusion from each of a pair of water drops along the insulator surface. This process is distinct from vibration of the drops, general distortion of their shape and the very fast emission of jet streams seen in very high fields. The process depends upon the discharge current, the resistivity of the moisture and the hydrophobicity of the insulation surface. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.
- Water drop, electrical arc, discharge, stability