Light-matter interaction in transformer oil

T. Namihira, D. Wang, A. Neuber, M. Butcher, J. Dickens, H. Krompholz

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Considering highly stressed dielectric liquids, the role of mechanisms such as photoionization in the liquid volume or photoeffect at the cathode for the development of dielectric breakdown is investigated. We used a pulsed 300 W Xenon light source (25 mm output window, 5 degree divergence) with a broad spectral range of 200 to 1100 nm to study the impact of the light beam focused either solely on the high field region between the breakdown electrodes or including the electrodes. Typical field strengths in the electrode gap (∼ 4 mm gap, 3 mm tip radius,) were 15 to 25 kV/cm resulting in a DC current amplitude (without light) of up to 2 nA (apparatus resolution ∼ 10 pA). Standard transformer oil, Univolt 61, and a biodegradable oil, Environtemp FR3 (natural ester fluid), were examined in the present work. Both oils exhibit strong optical absorption in the UV. However, Univolt 61 has its cut off wavelength at 450 nm, while bio oil easily transmits down to 350 nm. Below the cutoff wavelength, virtually all radiation is absorbed within a few mm. When pulsing the Xenon lamp at ∼ 500 microsec no increase in DC current amplitude (increase < 10 pA) could be detected for either oil. Increasing the pulse length to several seconds lead to a distinct increase in current amplitude (up to 300 pA), however, only for Univolt 61. Such an increase in current amplitude can also be achieved by raising the temperature of the dielectric liquid by external heating (∼ 100 pA/K). The temperature levels leading to similar current amplitudes due to heating by the xenon lamp or external heating are comparable. Since bio oil absorbs only below 350 nm, the temperature rise due to the light irradiation was comparably smaller than in Univolt 61. Thus, any heating and increase in current were less pronounced in bio oil. For both oils, the observed behavior can be entirely explained by thermal effects. Both, photoionization and photoeffect have seemingly a minor impact on breakdown development. The detailed discussions are given in the present work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7P45
Pages (from-to)448
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE International Conference on Plasma Science
StatePublished - 2004
EventIEEE Conference Record - Abstracts: The 31st IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science, ICOPS2004 - Baltimore, MD, United States
Duration: Jun 28 2004Jul 1 2004


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