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Development of a New Sensitive PD Sensor for XLPE Cable

Mehdi Vakilian and Vahid Parvin Electrical Engineering Department Sharif University of Technology Tehran, Iran Email: vakilian@sharif.edu Trevor R. Blackburn and Toan B. Phung School of Electrical Engineering University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia Email: t.blackburn@unsw.edu.au toan.phung@unsw.edu.au

The PD detection is known as one of the most efficient methods for online monitoring of XLPE cables in power systems. However so far application of an online monitoring scheme seems not to be feasible due to lack of an affordable as well as sensitive sensor for the highly attenuated nature of XLPE cables equipped with semiconducting layers for H.F. signals such as PD pulses. Therefore an offline monitoring is normally employed or at most for very important; for example a very HV and high power cable, just a high frequency current transformer installed temporarily at the joint to monitor the cable condition for life management. In spite of this limitation in implication of this type of online monitoring due to its cost, it is also inefficient since its sensitivity is very low. This paper introduces a new sensor at the joint with a sensitivity of ten times higher than the sensitivity of H.F. C.T., and a minor cost.

present time is the only solution with other sensors while it is with no extra cost, and with a ten times higher sensitivity. This paper presents the application of this sensor to a 20 kV XLPE cable joint and the preliminary measurement results on detection of PD signal. 2.



With a vast increase in application of high and very high voltage underground XLPE cables in distribution, subtransmission and transmission networks of different power networks around the world and the interconnection of these international networks gradually, beside the restructuring of power system, efficient life management of all power equipments as well as these cable to obtain a higher level of reliability and a better cost management is inevitable. With the specific characteristics of XLPE cable insulation and PD signal propagation in it [1], the existing capacitive and inductive sensors are incapable of capturing many PD signals, on time, due to very high attenuation of semiconducting layers. On the other hand the proposed sensor of [2] which has introduced a theoretical solution found unfeasible in the production line of HV XLPE cables at present. That is due to complexity involved in introducing access to outer semiconducting layer of XLPE cable that is shown [2] is a very sensitive sensor of PD along the cable or at specific distances, say every 100 meters. This paper introduce the application of a very similar sensor , however at the joints and it has a very good flexibility since it can be introduce in any specific distance with the cost of an extra joint which for

There are three major parameters involved in this signal propagation in an underground cable; the length of the cable, its load condition, and its propagation characteristics [1]. The propagation characteristic is the major concern here in XLPE cables due to the high attenuation of semiconducting layers on the high frequency PD signals. Fast PD detection by online monitoring is essential, and therefore a detectable signal is needed to be picked up at the monitoring terminals, however attenuation can obscure the detection process, while it is ideal for cable protection against over voltage surges impinging on the cable. Also there are different types of interferences on the cable installed. First the known interferences (such as AM radio broadcasts and exterior impulsive interferences) should be removed. Although for the signals in the range of 100 KHz to 50 MHz the velocity can be assumed constant, the semi-conducting layers cause a significant attenuation, i.e. a 300 meter length of a typical cable expected to have a bandwidth of about 4 MHz [3]. While rapidly developing partial discharge signals (streamer mechanism, the usual one in cable partial discharges) has a pulse duration of about 80 nanoseconds and a main frequency component of about 20 to 30 MHz or even more[4,5].

3. DETECTION AND MONITORING OF CABLE To establish a reliable monitoring system based on partial discharge signal measurement, it is required to select proper means for detection and measurement of signal, be able to analyze and quantify the deformed parameters of the detected signal with reference to its original signal at the partial discharge location. Due to very high attenuation involved in the XLPE cable, the well known sensors of PD (capacitive and inductive)at the terminals do not provide the required sensitivity when a PD occurs relatively far from the terminal (about 300 meters) and in a noisy environment. Some of the

published works in this area reached to a dead-end and claimed that it is impossible to detect PD in the XLPE cable; therefore confined their goal to just detection of PD in the joints or terminals. This paper introduces a sensor that can be employed at the joint or terminal and is much more sensitive and can lead to detection of PD even in the cable.



It is shown that the semicon layers of XLPE cable, while do not let any low frequency signal to pass, they are a path for high frequency signal such as PD signal. [2] Demonstrates the high sensitivity of the semi-conducting layer of sheath conductor of cable, when it is employed as a detector. And since this semi-conducting layer is in far distance from the core conductor and has contact with the sheath conductor of zero voltage therefore it is practical to provide access to that at terminals and even at equal distances along the length of cable. This provides a very sensitive and unlimited means of PD detection which can be employed as a new sensor theoretically. However it is found that no cable manufacturer is interested to change its production line to make access to this semicon layer at different distances along the length of cable. Therefore for the time being it is unreachable, and it is expected that in near future the great interest of utilities may force the manufacturers to change their strategy in their cable production line. However a very similar philosophy can be introduced at cable joint or cable terminal to take advantage of high sensitivity of semicon tapes in the joint which are wrapped over the PE tapes and continued to overlap the cable's semicon layer.

Figure 2 : The layers of semicon tape under copper strip

Then the copper strips are covered by semicon tapes and the sheath conductors are laid down on them in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The copper strips are covered by semicon tapes

The sheath conductor covered the joint and put inside an insulating jacket as shown in Figure 4.


PROVISION OF ACCESS TO SEMICON TAPE Figure 4: The sheath covered the joint and inside a insulating jacket

A 120 mm, 20 kV, XLPE cable, 135 meters long is employed to install a joint 25 meters from one end. This cable has two layers of semi-conducting one over core Aluminum conductor and one under the sheath conductor. There are four major stages in this work as follows: a- The cover layer of the cable at the joint is taken off, and just partly the cable insulator and the external semiconducting layer kept in place to be employed in the shrinkage process. b- The two pieces of the core conductors are connected together by application of an Aluminum pipe, and then a tape of semi-conducting material is wrapped on that (Simulated the internal semicon layer of the cable). c- Then a stress control tape is wrapped on the semicon layer, and then an insulating cover on that (three insulating covers employed by heating around the cable) the first two covers are just insulating, and the last cover has an inner insulating layer and its outer part is a semicon layer, over which the copper strips are installed to represent the sensor as shown in Figure 1. Under the copper strips, three layers of semicon tapes are wrapped in order not to damage the semicon cover by the direct contact of copper strips as shown in Figure 2.

Then this sheath conductor is connected in both side to the cable sheath as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Sheath connected in both side

And finally the joint is covered by an end insulating cover as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Joint covered by end insulating cover

While the wire connected to the copper strips (new sensor) is shown more clearly in Figure 7.

800 700 600 500 v o lta g e (m V ) 400 300 200 100 0 -100 0 -200 Time(nsec) 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000

joint sensor_25m

signal generator

Figure 7: The wire from the copper strips is shown


To evaluate the performance and sensitivity of this new sensor on the joint these steps should be taken: a- evaluation of the new sensor sensitivity b- evaluation of its impact on the joint insulation c- evaluation of the method of implementation on its sensitivity d- reliability of the sensor connection In this paper just the sensitivity of the sensor is evaluated for a 20 kV XLPE cable. In Figure 8, the test circuit is shown. The calibrating signal is applied to the one end of cable which is 25 meters from the joint and the voltage of wire connected to the copper strips of the joint is recorded with respect to ground.

Figure 9: The calibrating signal and the detected signal at joint

Figure 10: PD detection by H.F. C.T.

provide a good connection with the outer semicon of the XLPE cable and a sensitive signal for detection of PD, although further research is required to improve the technique required for application of this new sensor to XLPE cables of different voltage rating.
Figure 8. Measurement circuit of voltage on the Copper strips of the joint (new sensor)


M. Vakilian, T.R. Blackburn, B.T. Phung, and H. Zhang Investigation of PD Signal Propagation Characteristics in XLPE Cables, IEEE Powercon2004, Singapore, Nov. 2004.

The applied calibrating signal at the sending end and the measured signal at the joint are shown in Figure 9. The peak to peak of the detected PD signal on the copper strips is about 100 mV, with a sensitivity which is about 10 times higher than the sensitivity of the measured signal of the high frequency CT in Figure 10. In comparison with the circuit of Figure 8 that has much higher sensitivity, the circuit of Figure 10 cost also much higher. Therefore application of this new sensor is completely feasible.



M. Vakilian, T.R. Blackburn, R.E.James, and B.T. Phung, ``Semiconducting Layers as an Attractive PD Detection Sensor of XLPE Cables,'' IEEE Transaction on Dielectric and Electrical Insulation, Vol. 13, No. 4, August 2006. J.P. Steiner, Digital Measurement of Partial Discharge, PhD Thesis, Purdue University, School of Electrical Engineering, West Lafayette Ind., 1988.



In this paper a new sensor that can be installed at the joint of XLPE cable is introduced. The sensitivity of this sensor which is connected to the outer semicon layer of joint is 10 times the sensitivity obtained by application of a high frequency current transformer at the terminal of cable with a very high cost. While this new sensor cost almost nothing and is feasible on each joint of the cable as well as on the terminals. In this paper it is shown that this joint can be developed by inclusion of two copper strips connected on the semicon cover of the joint to



J.P. Steiner, P.H. Reynolds, and W.L. Weeks, " Estimating the Location of Partial Discharges in Cables," IEEE Trans. on Electrical Insulation, Vol.27, No. 1, Feb. 1992. Y. Tian and et. al., Partial Discharge Detection in Cables Using VHF Capacitive Couplers, IEEE Trans. on Dielectric and Electrical Insulation, Vol. 10, No. 2, April 2003, pp.343353.