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Mixtures Of Insulating Liquids For

Pulsed Power Applications


I. V. Timoshkin, S. J. MacGregor, M. J. Given, M. P. Wilson
Institute for Energy and Environment, University of Strathclyde,
204 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1XW, United Kingdom
e-mail: igor.timoshkin@eee.strath.ac.uk

AbstractThe main objective of the present work is the


measurement and comparison of the dielectric properties of
mixtures of two insulating liquids: synthetic ester liquid Midel
7131, used in the power industry, and THESO high permittivity
oil developed by Tetra Corp. for pulsed power applications. It is
shown that these two liquids can form stable mixtures with
tailored dielectric properties. The dielectric characteristics of
Midel 7131/THESO liquid mixtures such as their low frequency
dielectric permittivities, DC conductivities and breakdown volttime characteristics have been measured and will be discussed.

II.

Studies of the dielectric properties of Midel 7131 and


THESO insulating liquids have been carried out previously
and reported in [3]. It was shown that Midel 7131 ester liquid
has a static permittivity of H ~ 3.8 and the THESO oil has
higher static permittivity of H ~ 15. The DC conductivity of
Midel 7131 ester liquid (~6.5610-12 S/m) is lower than the DC
conductivity of THESO oil, which is a relatively conductive
with conductivity ~ 510-7 S/m. Both AC and impulse
breakdown voltages for Midel 7131 liquid are higher than
those for the THESO oil. It is proposed that mixing the high
permittivity THESO oil with the lower permittivity
Midel 7131 ester liquid in different proportions could produce
insulating liquids with a range of static permittivities lying
between those of the constituent oils.

Keywords-dielectric liquids; electrical properties

I.

INTRODUCTION

In some high voltage and pulsed power engineering


applications, it may be desirable to vary the relative
permittivity of the insulating liquid to, for example, vary the
impedance, energy storage and peak current capability of pulse
forming lines. Recently, a new insulating oil (THESO, Tetra
Corp.) with a reported high relative permittivity of Hr ~15 has
been developed for pulsed power applications [1]. Potentially,
THESO oil can be mixed with another dielectric liquid in order
to achieve a specific permittivity. It is reported in the present
paper that THESO oil and MIDEL 7131 synthetic ester fluid
can form stable mixtures, and the main aim of this work was to
investigate the dielectric properties of such mixtures. The
dielectric permittivity, DC conductivity and impulse
breakdown characteristics have been obtained for
MIDEL 7131/THESO mixtures and compared with those of
pure liquids. It has been found that mixing the high
permittivity THESO oil with the lower permittivity
MIDEL 7131 (Hr ~ 3.2, [2]) ester fluid in different proportions
can produce insulating liquids with a range of static
permittivities lying between those of the constituent oils. The
DC current-volt characteristics of the mixtures have been
measured from room temperature up to +70qC, and the
corresponding values of electrical conductivity have been
calculated. Impulse breakdown volt-time plots have also been
determined. Based on these results it was concluded that by
mixing these two dielectric liquids in different proportions it
will be possible to produce an insulating liquid with specific
dielectric properties required in practical pulsed power
applications such as pulsed forming lines.

978 -1-4244-7129-4/10/$26.00 2010 IEEE

MISCIBILITY OF THE LIQUDS

To determine whether the Midel 7131 and THESO


insulating liquids were miscible, a range of samples of
different concentration were mixed and observed. To create
the mixed samples, the Midel 7131 liquid was placed into
cylindrical polypropylene vessels using a syringe. The syringe
was cleaned and the THESO oil was added to the samples.
The sample was then shaken by hand to mix the two liquids
and placed in ultrasounic bath for 30 minutes.
Several samples were produced with concentration ratios
of 10/90, 30/70, 50/50, 70/30, 90/10 (Midel 7131 % /
THESO %). The samples have been observed over a long
period of time (a few months) and no separation has been
detected. The conclusion was made that Midel 7131 and
THESO dielectric fluids can create a stable mixture and may
therefore be suitable for combining in order to achieve specific
permittivity.

III.

DIELECTRIC PERMITTIVITY

Measurements of low frequency dielectric permittivity have


been conducted using an electronic Video Bridge 2160, an
instrument that can be used to determine various electrical
properties of a sample. A test cell with parallel-plane electrode
geometry was used. The body of the test cell was made of
nylon and the parallel-plane electrodes and contacts were
made of stainless steel. Each electrode was connected to either
terminal of the Video Bridge 2160 in order to determine the

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capacitance of the test cell when containing various fluids.


The dielectric permittivity was calculated using the measured
values of capacitance taking into account the fringe stray
capacitance.

of the HV electrode was 58 mm, and the diameter of the


earthed electrode was 36 mm. The distance between the earth
electrode and the guard ring (also at earth potential) was
0.5 mm. The test cell was placed in a metal box to provide
screening from external electromagnetic noise. The earthed
electrode was connected to the electrometer (acting as a virtual
earth) and the guard ring was connected directly to earth. An
NI LabView application was programmed to increase the
voltage from the HVDC source in steps. At each voltage step
an average voltage and current measurement was recorded
over a number of intervals of a certain length of time. Each
voltage step was applied over 60 intervals of 2 seconds, with
an output averaged over 20 values taken at the end of each
interval. The conductivity of the mixture or pure liquid has
been calculated as an average over 3 samples for each
concentration. The voltage-current (V-I) cures observed in
these tests were straight lines for all samples which suggests
an ohmic conduction mechanism, hence the conductivity of
these liquids can be calculated using the expression for Ohms
law, I=V/R.

The dielectric permittivity has been measured at


frequencies of 5, 10 and 15 kHz for five samples of mixtures
and pure oils and the results of these measurements are shown
in Fig.1. The low frequency relative permittivity of pure
Midel 7131 obtained in the present study is a3.7-3.8.
According to the manufacturer data, the relative permittivity
of Midel 7131 is 3.2, [2]. The permittivity of mixtures reduces
from a15.5 (permittivity of the pure THESO oil) to a3.8
(permittivity of the pure Midel 7131 liquid) with increase in
concentration of Midel 7131 in the mixture.
18
5 kHz
10 kHz
15 kHz

14

1000

12
10

100

Conductivity, nS/m

Static dielectric permittivity

16

6
4
2
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Concentration of Midel 7131, %


Figure 1. Dielectric permittivity for Midel 7131/THESO mixtures at
different frequencies. Solid symbols - experimental data; dashed
line - the analytical fit, (1).

10

0.1

0.01
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Concentration of Midel 7131, %

A polynomial fit to the 10 kHz experimental data allows an


analytical expression for the static dielectric permittivity of the
Midel 7131/THESO mixtures, Hmix, to be obtained as a
function of the Midel 7131 concentration, M, (%):

Hmix=15.422-0.17729M+1.1910-3M2-5.767510-6M3

Figure 2. Conductivity of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures as a


function of the Midel 7131 concentration at room temperature. Solid
symbols - experimental data; dashed line - the analytical fit, (3).

The solid symbols in Fig. 2 show the experimental values


of conductivity of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures as a
function of the Midel 7131 concentration. A power fit to these
data is also shown in Fig. 2 by the dashed line. The analytical
expression for the power, n, which is required to calculate the
conductivity of the mixture as a function of the Midel 7131
concentration, M (%), is given by (2). Equation (3) shows the
final expression for the conductivity of the mixture,V, (nS/m).

(1)

These results show that it is possible to vary the static


dielectric permittivity of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures
according to the concentrations of these fluids in the mixture in
order to achieve a desirable static dielectric permittivity, with
the required concentration of the two oils calculated by (1).
IV.

DC CONDUCTIVITY

n=2.70487-0.02415M +5.8590910-4M2-8.1227210-6 M3

A. Conductivity at room temperature


To measure the DC conductivity of Midel 7131/THESO
mixtures at room temperature, the parallel-plane test cell with
a guard ring has been used. The body of the test cell was
made of nylon, the electrodes and guard ring were made of
stainless steel. The electrode spacing was 5 mm. The diameter

(2)
V = 10n

(3)

The conductivity of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures


decreases with an increase in the concentration of the

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Midel 7131 liquid from 442 nS/m (pure THESO oil) to


0.0069 nS/m (pure Midel 7131 liquid). These conductivities
are close to the values for the pure THESO and Midel 7131
liquids reported previously in [3], 510 nS/m and 0.0065 nS/m
respectively. However, a lower values for the conductivity of
the pure THESO oil, 10 nS/m, was reported in [1]. Elevated
DC conductivity of the THESO oil, although unusual for
typical insulating oils, could be an advantage in some practical
pulsed power applications, and mixtures of THESO with lowconductivity fluids will allow a desirable conductivity to be
achieved.

The DC conductivity values of the Midel 7131, THESO, and


Midel 7131/THESO mixture (50%/50%) at different
temperatures have been approximated by (4). Equations (4)(5) allow calculation of the DC conductivity, V (nS/m), of the
pure Midel 7131 insulating liquid to be performed as a
function of the temperature, T (qC):

B. Conductivity at Elevated Temperatures


The DC conductivity of the Midel 7131/THESO liquids at
elevated temperatures has been measured using a custom-built
coaxial test cell. This test cell has a central coaxial electrode
that is connected to the voltage source and which is separated
from the internal surface of the outer coaxial sensing electrode
by a gap of 2 mm. The external coaxial electrode has two
guard rings at the top and bottom of the test cell which are
used to minimise fringing effects. The body of the test cell
was made of glass-reinforced nylon-66, and the electrodes and
guard ring were made of stainless steel. The diameter of the
central HV electrode was 50 mm, and the internal diameter of
the sensing electrode was 54 mm. The test cell was placed in
an external aluminium cylinder filled with oil, and was
designed to operate at elevated temperatures, enabling V-I
measurements at temperatures up to 70qC. The test cell
equipped with a K-type thermocouple was placed in a water
bath in order to achieve elevated oil temperatures.

V (nS/m), of the 50%/50% Midel 7131/THESO mixture and

n = - 2.6329+0.02678T

(4)

V =10n

(5)

Equations (6)-(7) allow calculation of the DC conductivity,


the pure THESO oil to be performed as a function of
temperature, T (qC):
V = - 63.75574 + 4.7577T (Midel 7131/THESO, 50%/50%)
(6)
V = - 194.0885 + 23.24459T

MIXTURES

It is necessary to characterise the impulse breakdown


behaviour of the insulating liquids which could potentially be
used in pulsed power applications. A cable-based pulsed
power system was used in order to obtain the impulse
breakdown characteristics of the Midel 7131/THESO
mixtures. The breakdown voltage was monitored using a
resistive copper-sulphate high voltage probe and commercially
available Tektronix HV probe with division ratio 1:1000. The
Tektronix probe being attached to a tap-off point on the
copper-sulphate voltage probe. The voltage signals were
monitored using a Tektronix TDS 3054B digitising
oscilloscope.

100
Midel 7131/THESO mixture, 50%/50%
10

70

100% Midel
75% Midel 25% THESO
25% Midel 75% THESO
100% THESO

65
0.1

Midel 7131 100%

Breakdown voltage, kV

Conductivity, nS/m

(7)

IMPULSE BREAKDOWN OF MIDEL 7131/THESO

V.

THESO 100%

1000

(THESO, 100%)

0.01
25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

Temperature, C
Figure 3. Temperature behaviour of the DC conductivity of the
THESO and Midel 7131 liquids and their mixture. Solid symbols experimental data; lines without symbols - the analytical fit.

60
55
50
45
40
35

V-I curves for Midel 7131 liquid, THESO oil and Midel
7131/THESO mixture (50%/50%) have been obtained for
room temperature (a25qC), and for temperatures of 50qC and
70qC. The results of these measurements show a linear
dependence, indicating Ohmic conduction. Calculated DC
conductivities are shown in Fig.3.

30
40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

Pre-breakdown time, ns
Figure 4. V-t plot for pure Midel 7131 and THESO liquids and
their mixtures. Solid symbols show experimental data.

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161

VI.

120

120

100

100

80

80

60

60

40

40
0

25

50

75

100

Midel 7131 concentration, %

Figure 5. Pre-breakdown time and breakdown voltage as functions of


concentration of Midel 7131 in the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures.

Equation (8) provides an analytical expression for


calculation of the time before impulse breakdown, tpre-b, (ns)
for the breakdown voltage Vbr-imp=53.85 kV as a function of
the Midel 7131 concentration, M (%):
tpre-b =49.246+0.37115M+0.00321M2 (ns)

(8)

Equation (9) provides an analytical expression for


calculation of the breakdown impulse voltage, Vbr-imp, (kV) for
the pre-breakdown time tpre-b, 86.31 ns, as a function of the
Midel 7131 concentration, M (%):
Vbr-imp =36.212+0.28163M +5.3333310-6 M2 (kV)

CONCLUSION

It has been shown in the present paper that Midel 7131 and
THESO insulating fluids can form stable mixtures with
tunable dielectric properties. Such mixtures may be used in
practical high voltage and pulsed power applications where a
liquid with a specific dielectric characteristic is required. In
order to characterise these mixtures their dielectric properties
have been studied in this work. It has been found that the low
frequency dielectric constant of the Midel 7131/THESO
mixture reduces steadily with an increase in the concentration
of the Midel 7131 liquid from a15 to a3.7-3.8. Analytical
equations for the low frequency dielectric permittivity as a
function of proportion of the Midel 7131 liquid in mixture
have been obtained by using polynomial fits to the
experimental data.
DC conductivity measurements of the Midel 7131/THESO
liquids have been conducted at room temperature and at
elevated temperatures up to 70qC. It has been shown that an
increase in the temperature results in an increase in the DC
conductivity of the pure Midel 7131 and THESO liquids and
of their mixture. Both liquids and their mixtures demonstrate
linear V-I curves which satisfy Ohms law for all the
temperatures used in the present study (from room
temperature to 70qC). It was found that the DC conductivity of
the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures increased steadily from
0.0069 nS/m at room temperature (a250C) for the pure
Midel 7131 liquid up to 442 nS/m for the pure THESO liquid.
Polynomial fits to the experimental data allowed analytical
equations to be obtained which describe the DC conductivity
of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures as a function of the
Midel 7131 concentration.
Impulse breakdown studies of the Midel 7131/THESO
mixtures performed during the present project showed that the
values of the breakdown voltage for the Midel 7131/THESO
mixtures increase steadily with an increase in the proportion of
the Midel 7131 liquid in the mixtures. The V-t curves for the
pure Midel 7131 and THESO liquids and their mixtures have
been measured. This study shows that by changing the
proportion of liquids in the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures their
dielectric properties can be tuned, which provides an
opportunity for practical applications of the Midel
7131/THESO mixtures in pulsed power systems.

Breakdown voltage, kV

Pre-breakdown time, ns

Breakdown voltages and pre-breakdown times have been


measured for the samples of the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures
and the pure Midel 7131 and THESO liquids. The test cell
used in these tests had needle-plane electrode geometry. The
inter-electrode distance was set to 1 mm. Each sample was
subjected to 5 impulses. The values of the breakdown voltages
and the pre-breakdown time delays are shown in Fig. 4 as a
volt-time (V-t) plot for the pure insulating liquids and their
mixtures. The dashed lines in Fig. 4 show polynomial fits to
the experimental data.
Fig. 5 shows the time to breakdown and the breakdown
voltage as functions of the Midel 7131 concentration derived
from the polynomial fits in (8)-(9). Both values increase
steadily with an increase in the concentration of Midel 7131
insulating liquid in the Midel 7131/THESO mixtures.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This work was carried out as part of the UK MoD
Electronic Systems Research Programme.

(9)

Although the impulse breakdown voltage of the pure


THESO insulating liquid is lower than the breakdown values
for the Midel 7131 liquid, the impulse breakdown strength of
the mixtures of these two liquids increases with the proportion
of Midel 7131. A similar tendency can be observed for the
pre-breakdown delay time: this time is longer for the higher
concentration of Midel 7131 synthetic ester in the Midel
7131/THESO mixtures.

REFERENCES
[1]
[2]
[3]

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W.Moeny, Development of a High Dielectric Constant Insulating Oil,


IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference , 2005, pp.1141-1142.
http://www.midel.com/English/properties.html.
I.V. Timoshkin, R. A. Fouracre, M. J. Given, S. J. MacGregor,
P. Mason, and R. Clephan, Dielectric Properties of Diala D, Midel
7131 and THESO Insulating Liquids, IEEE Conf. on Electrical Insul.
and Diel. Phenomena, 2009.