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MAGAZINE FOR CUSTOMERS OF THE PFISTERER COMPANIES IN SWITZERLAND AND SOUTH AFRICA

JunE 2011

Business

Business

Business

IXOSIL ESF/EST:

Tensorex C+:

page 4

page 5

2DIREKT: Transformer TRANSFORM, MEEE, Changes at


connections today
INMR World Congress PFISTERER Holding

New generation

Constant tension

Quality to counter power failures

page 6

HOT SPOT Contact


page 2

Power-double

Medupi Spitskop 400 kV


overhead power line project
page 7

A great step
forward

New PFISTERER LSO (Local


Sales Office) opened in Beijing
page 8

Group

page 9

Group

page 9

Technology

Corona protection for


composite insulators
page 10

Business
Editorial

Jrgen Kraus
Director
PFISTERER IXOSIL AG

Dear readers,

1 / 2011 CONNECT

CoC Components: Contact technology seminar series

Contact quality to counter power


failures
The figures prove it: high quality contacts are the foundation of reliable
power supply. Poor design, manufacture or installation causes the most
power failures. PFISTERER is informing power system engineers worldwide
in a series of seminars on contact technology. In focus: exchange of
experience from the energy markets and the basics of contact technology.

The earthquake in Japan, the tsunami that


followed and its effects have moved all
of us deeply. The suffering of the people
and the destruction of the infrastructure
have reached almost unimaginable
proportions, even though we cannot yet
begin to count the final cost.
Whether the actual cause lies under the
heading of residual risk or, as has been
suggested recently, lack of adequate
planning, will probably never be decided
definitively.
This tragic event has made it clear to all of
us how important and essential a reliable
and safe infrastructure is, especially in the
field of power supply. PFISTERER makes
a significant contribution to this with
its comprehensive product portfolio. To
ensure that this continues requires not
only the constant development of new,
improved and manageable technology
but also robust quality control and quality
improvement.
Even after the events in Japan, the hunger
for energy from a continually growing
population will not be stopped. This offers
us the opportunity for substantial and
sustainable growth. The points have been
set in the right direction.

Alexander Hfliger nominated as


Managing Director
Alexander Hfliger,
who has strenghened
our team since June
2010 as Head of
Business
Services
for the PFISTERER
companies
in
Switzerland,
was
nominated as Managing Director of
PFISTERER SEFAG AG on 1 April 2011. Our
warmest congratulations go to him
on his promotion and we wish him
continued satisfaction and success in his
challenging new task.

A Canadian power supplier wanted to


know precisely and made an in-depth
study of the causes of power failures. The
results of the survey in the year 2009:
just over 40% of all supply interruptions
were caused directly by defective contacts
and a further 9.7% had an indirect link to
the design of the contacts. A groan goes
up from the ranks of the transmission
and
distribution
specialists
when
Martin Schuster presents the figures.
It is no surprise to contact technology
expert. There have been contacts since
electricity began to flow into households
and businesses. They have done their
duty for decades. But for many years now,
knowledge of the basic principles and their
significance has been dwindling. There
are several reasons. In the past, standard
cables dominated the power systems
and there was a connection specialist for
each type of cable. In recent years, the
energy markets have changed rapidly, and
with them the energy supply companies.
Supply areas have grown together, new
cable materials have come to the fore and
the growing demand for power has led
to ever-larger cable cross-sections. Up to
seven different types of cable in a single
distribution system is not a rarity. At the

same time, the fitters today have become


all-rounders in the utility provision areas
of electricity, water and gas.
What are needed now are reliable contacts
suitable for flexible utilization that can be
fitted easily and securely.
Technology in change
Not a new experience for PFISTERER. The
company has based its success on periods
of breakthrough. Such as in the 1950s to 70s
when aluminium cables largely drove out
copper and the company went down new
paths in contact technology. Still today,
PFISTERER adapts its offer to changes in

Causes of power failures

(2009 study by a Canadian power supplier)


1. Loose contacts or contact parts: 
38.3%
2. Moisture: 
17.4%
3. Power line malfunctions
(all except lightning strikes): 
10.4%
4. Defective or inadequate insulation: 
9.9 %
5. Foreign bodies / short-circuits: 
7.3%
6. Overloading / inadequate supply capacity:  2.4%
7. Deposits of dust, sand and oil: 
2.2%
8. All other causes: 
12.0%

Business

1 / 2011 CONNECT

the markets and the technology. With


its patented SICON screw connectors,
for example, the company provides a
convincing alternative for uses that
permit the conversion from compression
to screw connectors.
The compression technique does function
exceptionally well. But it is the cause
of many power failures. The cause: the
compression technique is based on fixed
parameters. Sleeve cross-sections and
tools are specific to each cable crosssection. Cable technologies and markets
have now broken these fixed boundaries.
The cost of cables increases with each
kilometer in length, so cables are produced
more efficiently. The individual strands
are compressed more tightly and cables
become more compact and less insulating
material is required. The consequence:

PFISTERER seminars for power system


engineers The contents at a glance
Introduction: increasing load flow =
higher risk of failure
Basic principles of contact
technology
Mechanisms of the loss of quality of
conductor connections
Improvements in the life expectation
of contacts
Experience in the field with selected
connector designs
Test standards and test procedures
Seminars by PFISTERER for practitioners
PFISTERER
also
offers
contact
technology seminars for practitioners.
Focus: products in use and installation
know-how. Our staff will be happy to
answer any questions you may have
on the seminar series under telephone
number: +41 41 499 72 72.

what is designated a 95 mm2 cable may


have different dimensions in practice.
In addition to the various types of cable
come new cable cross-sections. Sleeves
and tools have remained the same. If the
right one is not to hand, another may be
used. For work on power grids, time is
always pressing .
No network without contacts
In the meantime, demand for energy has
never been higher and the tendency is
rising. Networks that are thirty or forty
years old are now operating at full capacity . And so Martin Schuster has come
to the decisive point in his presentation:
the significance of contact technology
for security of supply. Without networks
there can be no community, its basis
is social contacts. It is no different for
electrical networks. They function only as
well or as badly as their electro-technical
contacts. Despite higher loads on power
systems, the requirements for contact
quality vary from country-to-country, as
failure rates recorded all over the world
demonstrate. The power supply fails for
seven minutes per year and end-customer
in Germany, in the USA it is already nine
hours. Thailand gets it up to even 14 hours
and in Bangkok alone there were around
1'500 medium voltage joint failures in a
single year. That high quality contacts
are worthwhile even in the medium-term
has been calculated by the Association of
European Cable Set Manufacturers using
the total cost of ownership method.

Cheap or worth the money?


In the determination of the total lifecycle costs, the price of the product
is only one item. To it must be added
installation, maintenance and logistics
as well as downtime and compensation
costs.
A product that starts off looking cheap at
Euro 50. with a failure rate of 1 percent
produces a total annual cost of Euro 115..
A higher quality version of the product for
Euro 70. costs only Euro 97. with the same
failure rate. The most cost-effective variant
is a product for Euro 90. and a failure
rate of only 0.5 percent for a total cost of
only Euro 85.. Not peanuts, especially if
we consider that sometimes equipment
worth millions of francs is dependent on a
contact that costs Euro 10..
Not for nothing has PFISTERER traditionally
relied on quality and interprets its knowhow in products as well as in seminars. The
latest series of seminars is seen by Martin
Schuster, Senior Advisor for PFISTERER, as
a commitment to mutual benefit: Each
seminar is also an exchange forum for
experts worldwide. So we gain valuable
impulses at first hand. And, in the end,
we all have the same interest: the security
of the power supply.. At the seminar
in Melbourne, Australia, the flow of
information appeared to be circulating at
full speed. One participant departed with
the words: That was the first seminar
in ten years whose content we can use
immediately in our daily business..
Martin Schuster

BUSINESS

1 / 2011 CONNECT

CoC Cable Systems: Dry cable terminations

New generation. More advantages.


Time is money. And the environment is a precious asset. Simple insights, implemented by the IXOSIL ESF and
EST dry-type cable terminations. Their new generation covers voltage levels up to 170 kV and cable crosssections up to 2'500 mm2. Practical use demonstrates their proven and their new advantages.
No question: insulating oils perform
their functions reliably. But there is
also no question that their use entails
a lot of work and brings risks for the
environment. That is why, several years
ago now, PFISTERER developed unique
cable terminations for the sensitive high
voltage area. Made up of modular silicone
parts which are simply pushed on and
bonded together, they are completely
free of oil. The flexible ESF can be used for
short-term provisional connections. For
example, if installations have to be tested
during building work or if a provisional or
permanent busbar connection has to be
made in a substation. Both testing cables
and building site cables can be simply
and rapidly connected by ESFs with no
constructional modifications. The ESF can
be installed on the ground on-site or in
the workshop. Or PFISTERER can deliver
them pre-assembled and electrically
tested as IXOLINE. Either or: their
flexibility and simple assembly procedure
shortens equipment power down-times
by a multiple. The maximum length for
IXOLINE depends on the cross-section and
voltage.

Saving and protecting with purpose


EST delivers exemplary figures. Designed
for permanent installation, it consists
of an ESF and, to date, three insulator
elements. If conventional terminations are
connected directly to the overhead line,
an additional installation staging will be
required on the mast and the installation
work requires a shut-down time of up to
one month. Its different with the EST
from PFISTERER. As with the ESF, fitters
can install it on the ground and lift it up
to the mast using the cable. Shut-off time
for the overhead line: two to three days
with no staging which greatly reduces the
cost for the end-customer.
The new EST saves even more space as
it is fitted with only one insulator. This
and its dry construction also permit
reliable installation at an angle of up to
30 from the vertical. In the long-term,
ESF and EST are equally valuable. Because
silicone offers better protection for the
environment, people and equipment in
case of damage: where there is no oil,
there is no risk for nature.

Invest with vision


With the attainment of the 170 kV level,
now transformer manufacturers can
also benefit from the advantages of the
flexible ESF in a wider range of voltages.
As IXOLINE with a short testing cable and
a CONNEX plug on the transformer side,
they can test their transformers efficiently
in the workshop prior to delivery. There
is no longer the need for the costly
installation of oil-insulated terminations.
Another advantage that makes conversion
to the dry, plug-in CONNEX connection
system profitable over the long-term.
PFISTERER also thinks sustainably. With
the launch of the new generation,
production has been converted from RTV
silicone to LSR and production capacity
has been increased. The 170 kV voltage
range has successfully passed IEC 60840
type-testing.

BUSINESS

1 / 2011 CONNECT

LSO: First Tensorex C+ integrated into Swiss rail network

Constant tension in most compact form


The first Tensorex C+ in Switzerland was installed on 11 October 2010. The compact product and its rapid
installation procedure delighted the Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway technicians.

The delighted crew from the Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway, l to r: R. Capacchione, H.-R. Isenschmid and a fitter.

were able to install the Tensorex C+ quickly


and with no problems. After just three
hours, the team leader was able to try out
the instructions for the adjustment of the
equipment with the PFISTERER specialists
on site. The uncomplicated, simple and
rapid installation procedure delighted all
concerned.
The installed Tensorex C+ tensioning device inside the
railway gallery at the Oberalp pass.

The Matterhorn-Gotthard-Railway seleced


the spring-based automatic tensioning
device for the catenary system on the
AndermattDisentis line at the Oberalp
pass in the Calmot gallery at an altitude
of around 1'800 m, because of its compact
dimensions. The tight space restrictions
necessitated fitting the equipment
horizontally, instead of the usual vertical
installation. The study for this special
installation was carried out by Furrer +
Frey from Berne. Despite the procedure
being new and unfamiliar to them, the
two fitters, under the leadership of H.-R.
Isenschmid (Team Leader Overhead Lines),

Tensorex C+ the strength and


space wonder
The Tensorex C+ is a further development
of the patented TENSOREX TR system,
which has been in use for more than 10
years and in 20 countries. In contrast
to the usual coil spring packages, the
equalisation of the change in length of the
contact wires caused by the continuous
fluctuations in temperature is performed
by a spiral spring. The Tensorex C+ thus
has a low weight and its very compact
construction requires significantly less
space, whether installed vertically or
horizontally.
A glance over the border...
There are some other very interesting
installation locations for our Tensorex C+ in

the Alpine region. Some years ago in South


Tyrol, the over 100-year old Rittnerbahn
was equipped with the Tensorex C+ as part
of a general renovation. This railway is an
electrically-powered 1'000 mm narrowgauge line at Ritten near Bolzano in South
Tyrol. The Bahnl, as the Rittnerbahn is
called affectionately by the locals, links
the communities of Maria Himmelfahrt,
Oberbozen, Wolfsgruben, Lichtenstern
and Klobenstein on the Rittner high
plateau.
Ren Zrcher

The Tensorex C+ in open-air use with the Rittnerbahn


in South Tyrol.

BUSINESS

1 / 2011 CONNECT

CoC Components: Development of transformer connection technology

Transformer connections in the past-2DIREKT Today


2DIREKT transformer connection clamps provide fitters and power
system operators with numerous benefits. The basis for this: the
improvement of existing technology in response to practical experience.

One of former techniques to connect


distribution transformers with the
electrical net was as follows: The
connection between cable and cable lug
was compressed and the junction screwed
to the brass flag terminal. Between the
cable lug and the brass flag terminal is a
copper extension, screwed at both ends.
This allows earthing outside the tight
housing space. Sounds like a complicated
installation. And it was. If you count along,
you come to three screwing operations and
one compression. A total of four contact
junctions per cable, each a potential source
of failure with each manipulation. And
then the tricks that physics can play. Each
contact junction offers resistance to the
flow of current, each contact resistance
means a loss of performance. And then
the complicated overall construction in a
tight space, that makes it difficult to avoid
accidental contact.
The standard to date
The fitter and maintenance personnel did
everything right. Still in service today, the
distribution transformer has served its
purpose. But it is still a good thing that we
have made progress in the meantime. In
the 60s came the shackle clamp, a forged
connector piece in brass. An innovation
then: The number of contact points was
halved, four contact resistances became
two, the structure was more compact,
the number of variations greater and
many fewer manipulations reduced the
risk of installation errors. The shackle
clamp spread across all markets and
was supplied by many manufacturers
using the same basic technology with
country-specific adaptations. And there
were covers to protect against contact

in accordance with IP 2X. Since security


against accidental contact has been
technically possible, transformers are
able to be cleaned while still in operation.
Cleanliness for safety in substations cost
downtime until then.
The practice demonstrates
the disadvantages
In use, the shackle clamp showed potential
for improvement. Fine wire conductors
could spread out over the edges of the
V-shaped cable bed under the pressure
point so that individual strands were lost
and full conduction performance was
not achieved. The only counter-measure:
the fitter stabilised the cable before the
contact point with a corset of binding wire
or with a wire end ferrule. Disadvantages:
the additional supporting structure
created a new contact resistance, cost
installation time and, as an additional
working step, represented a source
of error. In an atmosphere containing
ammonia, such as close to an agricultural
operation, the brass could corrode and
split and became brittle until it failed. If
the shackle clip is not fully occupied when
connected, a plug has to be inserted to fill
the empty space in the cable bed. A further
additional piece that may not always be
available. If it is not used, the screw path
may be too long to create the required
contact force. Two different clamps are
required for horizontal and vertical taps
from a transformer.
The innovation is in the name
Numerous reasons to improve the
technology. PFISTERER introduced this
to the market eight years ago with the
2DIREKT transformer connection clamp.
Its name reveals the technical innovation:
the clamp channel and thread drilling

are identical and the conductor can be


connected as required horizontally or
vertically. The clamp and the screw can be
re-used. New application variations can
be implemented quickly. Since the launch
of the 2DIREKT XL in 2008, as many as six
400-mm2 conductors can be connected
directly. In addition to versatility comes
better safety during installation and in
operation. The body of the 2DIREKT clamp
is tinned, the steel screw is galvanised
and so both are protected against
environmental influences. The patented
conductor connection prevents individual
strands shearing off. The pressure plate
familiar from the SICON screw connector
transfers the contact force with no loss
to the clamp body while simultaneously
protecting the cable against excess
pressure. The ideal contact is made even
with fine wire conductors with no
danger that they may be damaged.
Better. In the future as well.
Since 2DIREKT, there is no more
compression attachment of cable lugs
and wire, sleeves and compression tools
are no longer needed. Only two contact
points remain, and thus only two contact
resistances per connection. Several
advantages add up to form the bottom
line: less installation work, fewer potential
sources of error and, not least, less
operational losses from the transformer.
But the final chapter in the history of
transformer connection technology has
not yet been written: With 2DIREKT,
we have set a technology with many
advantages against the shackle clamp,
PFISTERER Product Mana-ger Hagen
Berroth reports, but experience also
shows us that if we keep looking forward,
sooner or later we shall see the potential
for further improvement..

BUSINESS

1 / 2011 CONNECT

CoC Overhead Lines (OHL) / PFISTERER (Pty): Medupi Spitskop 400 kV overhead power line project

Twice 192 kilometers of power for South Africa


Overhead power lines play an important role in the development of the South African power supply.
PFISTERER supplied the 400 kV insulator strings, complete with composite insulators, high voltage fittings
and string hardware, to connect the new Medupi Power Station.
The new overhead lines will connect
the Medupi power station in the north
of South Africa to the national grid. Its
start-up is planned for 2012. The two
400 kV overhead lines run in parallel
over a distance of 192 km, side-by-side
in a southerly direction to the Spitskop
substation, located 160 km northwest
of Pretoria. The order covered the entire
400 kV insulator string, complete with
composite insulators and high voltage
fittings, spacer dampers and other string
fittings.
PFISTERER (Pty.) Ltd. also supplied the
stay guys for the pylons. We also
supplied spacer dampers and Stockbridge
dampers for a third line, known as Medupi
Marang, which follows the course of

the new line over large parts of its length.


Medupi Spitskop is part of a five-year
contract signed in March 2009 to supply
equipment to the South African power
generator ESKOM. The material for the
Medupi Spitskop line has been delivered
and installation is progressing at full
speed.

Medupi Spitskop 1 and 2


Length of line: 2 x 192 km
Construction: two single line systems
running in parallel
Phase conductor: Quad ACSR Tern
Guard wire: 1 x ACSR Panther and 1 x
19 / 2.7 mm GSW
Wolfgang Huiber/Stephen Smith

The parallel-running Medupi Spitskop 400 kV overhead power line.

Le p h al al
e
(Medupi)

Spitskop

GROUP

1 / 2011 CONNECT

New PFISTERER LSO (Local Sales Office) opened in Beijing

PFISTERER in China: A great step forward


The first Asian subsidiary company of PFISTERER Holding AG opened for business in 2010. A significant step
for the group: establishment in the booming Chinese market after 15 successful years of doing business
there.
The
core
activity
of
PFISTERER
Power Connection Systems Co. Ltd.,
headquartered in Beijing, is the sales and
marketing of all the groups products
in China. The most successful products
to date include the products from the
competence centres for cable systems and

28.11.2010 Opening speech by Dr Konstantin Papailiou.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the warehouse by Dr


Konstantin Papailiou and Dr Jost Baumgrtner.

catenary power supply systems. Numerous


reference projects testify to their spread
throughout the Middle Kingdom.
Since December 2010, PFISTERER has also
been one of the three leading suppliers
for 220-kV cable accessories to the State
Power Grid of China. Two of the key
parameters for corporate success in China
are reaction times and product delivery
times. In contrast to most other markets,
the country is exceptional in its demand
for extremely short delivery times.
Whatever happens there happens fast.
And a lot happens. Installed generating
capacity increased in 2010 to 962 GW, of
which 73 percent or 707 GW is generated
by combustion. Hydro-electric capacity
reached 214 GW, nuclear capacity 11 GW
and wind power 31 GW. According to State
Power Grid, China is planning to expand
capacity by an additional total of 500 GW
by 2015 to satisfy the growing demand.
That means that every 15 months, the
installed power station output in China
will rise by an amount equivalent to the
entire generating capacity of Germany. The
demand for forward-looking technologies
is commensurately high the best
conditions for the efforts of the PFISTERER
subsidiary in Beijing to flourish. Jan Kuhlefelt
A selection of PFISTERER highlight
reference projects in recent years:

The lions enter! Let business begin!

Landmark Towers and PFISTERER office entrance.

Beijing airport express line


Shanghai EXPO substations
Shenyang Olympic sports centre
Shanghai Yangshan port (main port in Shanghai)
Beijing-Tianjin high speed railway
Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway
Guangzhou-Hong Kong high speed railway
Shanghai-Nanjing high speed railway
Shanghai-Hangzhou high speed railway
Shanghai Metro line 10
Guangzhou Metro line 1
Suzhou Metro line 1
Hangzhou Metro line 1
Nanjing Metro line 1
Tianjin Binhai development zone
Shanghai Jinshan Petro company
SinoPec Shanghai
Tianjin Beijiang power plant
Shanxi Steel works
Ningxia Daba power plant

Activity in the Middle Kingdom


1990s
PFISTERER products enter the Chinese market in significant
quantities for the first time
2004
Sale of the first IXOSIL products in China
2005
Six-fold increase in turnover in China
2006
Opening of the PFISTERER sales office in Beijing, conclusion
of the technology-transfer agreement between the
PFISTERER catenary power supply competence centre and
the XINDI company
2010
Foundation of PFISTERER Power Connection Systems Co.
Ltd. in Beijing

Entrance and product exhibition.

Main office.

To ensure rapid delivery times, the company stocks key


products and individual components on-site in Beijing.

Installation training, February 2011.

GROUP

1 / 2011 CONNECT

PFISTERER International: Trade fairs in Asia and the Middle East

Active presence at the heart of the transformer world

Middle East Electricity Exhibition in Dubai, February 2011.

TRANSFORM in Singapore, mid-April 2011 the leading discussion platform for users and suppliers.

Visitor record for TRANSFORM


TRANSFORM, which was held on 19/20
April 2011 in Singapore, set a new highpoint
for visitor numbers in the ten-year history
of this industry get-together. With 450
guests from 46 countries, more people
attended than ever before. Their focus:
the exhibits and technical lectures of the
TRANSFORM partners MR, Omicron, HSP,
Nynas, PFISTERER, Rchling Engineering
Plastics, ThyssenKrupp Electrical Steel,
Krempel Group, LS Cable-Essex and
GEA Heat Exchangers. Under the title
Sustainable Transformer Technology,
the range of topics covered at the event
stretched from HVDC undersea cables
through special steels for energy-efficient
transformers, and the significance of
connector technology for operational
safety to intelligent system solutions
for future distribution networks. To an
even greater extent than at the previous
conference in Rome in 2009, it was evident
that TRANSFORM has developed to
become one of the leading global platforms
for discussion for users, manufacturers
and suppliers in the transformer industry.
Further information on the event and the
TRANSFORM partners can be found under
www.transform.net.


Peter Kaiser

Presence at fairs in Dubai and Seoul


In February, PFISTERER successfully
presented its innovations at the Middle
East Electricity Exhibition in Dubai. Two
months later, contact was made with more
specialists from the Asian area at the INMR

INMR World Congress in Seoul, April 2011.

World Congress in Korea. Organiser of the


congress entitled Insulators, arresters
and bushings in Seoul was INMR, the
trade journal for insulator technology.

PFISTERER Holding AG
A quarter-century in power

On 1 January 2011,
it was 25 years since
Dr. sc. ETH Konstantin
O. Papailiou joined
SEFAG in Malters as
a young electrical
engineer. With his
know-how,
never-ending
curiosity
for things new, wide vision and
tireless energy, he made a significant
contribution to the development of
SEFAG into the Champions League of
the composite insulator business and to
the alltogether impressive development
of the company. His career reached
its peak in 2003 with his nomination
as CEO of PFISTERER Holding AG,
accompanied in parallel by his
internationally recognised engagement
in CIGRE, in which he has been serving

as Chairman of the Overhead Power


Lines Study Committee since 2010. Our
warmest congratulations to KOP and
we wish him continued full power!
Changes in the board

Dr. Ing. Thomas Klein


has joined PFISTERER
Holding AG since 1
January 2011 and will
become a member
of the board on 1
July 2011. Previously,
he was Managing Director of PFISTERER
Kontaktsysteme GmbH and head of
the Center of Competence (CoC) Cable
System. Thomas Klein will take over as
head of Sales, Production and Technology
from Dr. Konstantin O. Papailiou, who
will be retiring at the end of 2011.

TECHNOLOGY

1 / 2011 CONNECT

10

On the Design of Composite Insulators from


the Perspective of Corona- and Power Arc Protection in
AC Grids Part 1: Corona Protection
Corona protection
Even in a self-regenerating insulating
medium such as air, corona phenomena
are generally undesirable as they have the
following negative effects:
energy loss
acoustic disturbances (in dry conditions
and in rain)
electromagnetic disturbances
light phenomena
ozone formation
damage to string components and insulator housings
From a historical point-of-view there
are certain rules and standards valid for
conventional insulator strings, i.e. for glass
or porcelain insulators, which also tend to
be applicable for composite insulators.
These include IEC 61284 (1st edition 1995),
which defines tests for radio interference
voltages and corona.
Background of the Article
The journal Insulator News and Market
Report by Canadian publisher Marvin
Zimmerman appears about six times
per year with a mixture of technical
and informative articles. Today it has
an audience of some 50'000 readers
in 200 countries. Every 18 months
accompanying symposia concerned
with insulators, surge arresters and
bushings are staged. This years
symposium held at the end of April in
Seoul, South Korea, was extended to
include the thematic area of Cable
Accessories. The convener of CIGREWorking Group B2.21 (Insulators) and
one of this journals active columnists
was also invited this year as guest
speaker on an insulator topic to reflect
the current state-of-the-art. This
subject was chosen due to its latent
topicality and is represented in this
article as Part 1 with extracts relating to
the corona phenomenon.

Moreover, for composite insulators there


are old recommendations by CIGRE
Working Group 22.03 (Use of Stress Control
Rings on Composite Insulators; ELECTRA
August 1992), which were published at
the same time as the release of the first
product standards for composite rod
insulators (IEC 61109, 1st edition 1992).
These recommendations can be
summarized as follows:
Corona rings are to be installed on the
high-voltage side starting from 220 kV,
or for lower voltages, when the shank
diameter of the composite insulator is
less than 20 mm.
When the behaviour is uncertain todays simulation processes and computer performance were not available
in 1992 corona tests simulating the
insulator configuration (suspension or
tension, insulating crossarm) in site conditions are to be performed.
The recommendations in this form have
so far not been anchored in a standard.
As a result, examples and experiences
from common practice world-wide
have shown that the observance of
these recommendations is often not
guaranteed. The risk increases when by
virtue of a division into insulator and string
hardware the responsibility for the design
and operational behaviour of the string as
a whole is no longer defined. In the worst
case there is no check of the maximum
electric field strengths occurring on the
string and continuous corona discharges
during operation are the result.
The two following examples are taken
from the recent past and reflect the
spectrum of possible causes of error
which can lead to the inducement of
continuous corona discharges with firsttime as well as with long-term users of
composite insulators and insulator strings
with composite insulators.

These include:
Cost pressure
Poor specification of the on-site
conditions
Design errors
Installation errors
Example 1 Double Tension String 525 kV
on Lattice Tower
The photographs in Figures 1 and 2 were
taken by a first-time user of composite
insulators on a strategically important
525-kV line using a night-UV camera. The
previously used technology was glass
cap-and-pin insulators. In Fig. 1 the large
shielding rings known as rackets can be
seen, which combined as arc protection
fittings represent the state-of-the-art for
strings with glass cap-and-pin insulators.
Today, it has come to be accepted that
corona rings are seen as a part of the
composite insulator, and are included in
its scope of delivery. This results from the
fact that there are philosophies among
certain utilities, often encountered in the
USA, not to implement any arc protection
devices. Problems develop as in this case,
when the corona rings are forgotten
Racket

Silicone insulators
Fig. 1: Photograph of insulator string with external light.

Continuous Corona

Silicone insulators
Fig. 2: Stable corona discharges on both insulator fittings
on the high-voltage side of the double string.

11

TECHNOLOGY

1 / 2011 CONNECT

Fig. 5: Photograph mit daytime-UV camera.

Fig. 3: Corona test on 525-kV double tension string.

Fig. 6: Retro-fit with corona rings, no repair of damage.

during installation or do not fit into the


existing string. A retrofit of the strings
with corona rings has been implemented
in the meantime and selected composite
insulators with this implementation
history have been removed for detailed
inspection. In this case it was primarily
the composite insulators with corona
rings in a suspension and tension
configuration that had been successfully
type-tested, including a corona- and
interference voltage evaluation (RIV =
Radio Interference Voltage). Corona starts
at the corona rings (Fig. 3), at a value lying
about 18% above the level of the highest
conductorearth voltage (Fig. 4). That
proves that the critical sealing area at the
so-called triple point between insulator
fitting, sealing interface/core and the
surrounding atmosphere is shielded
and released from stress as desired. The
RIV-value of 45 dB/V at 333 kV was also
complied with (46 dB/V was specified,
dashed line ).

degree of pollution in the operational area,


an intensive gray colouring in the first part
of the shank was detectable, apparently
the result of an oxidation-stimulated
crosslinking leading to the formation of
SiOx on the silicone rubber surface. The
locations of the damage on each outward
facing area of the fittings of the left and
right hand insulators in the double string
is due to the fact that the field-controlling
effect of the racket is lowest at these
locations, the field strength therefore is at
its highest.
The insulators were retrofitted with corona
rings, which eliminated the corona, but
could not repair the damage to the sealing
system (Fig. 6). The removal of damaged
insulators and the detailed analysis of the
affected sealing area showed that without
additional measures there was a risk of
additional accumulation of damage. For
this reason all the composite insulators
were replaced and the string design was
adjusted.
The cause of the failure was that in this
case the string had not been tendered
as a complete package, but as individual
components. The requirement for a full
system type test, in which the design
error would have been easily recognizable,

Example 2 245-kV-Double Tension


String at Substation Entry Point
This example shows the photographs
taken with a daytime-UV camera (Fig.
5) in a Europaen 245-kV substation.

Corona extinction voltage

Fig. 4: Trace of interference voltage and value of corona


extinction voltage.

Typical for this camera system is the


portrayal of corona discharges as integral
measurement clouds, the form of
an individual discharge and its precise
position cannot be resolved.
The presence of the measurement cloud
shows without doubt, that the string
design has not been adapted to the voltage
level. The upward-oriented racket is clearly
visible as the only arc protection device,
which due to its position and geometry
is not able to provide a complete corona
protection function. As a result of this and
after an average period of operation of little
more than a year, considerable damage
to the galvanizing and to the sealing
system in adjoining areas was identifiable
(Fig. 6). Furthermore, in spite of a low

TECHNOLOGY

1 / 2011 CONNECT

had been waived.


Are the above-mentioned design
recommendations adequate?
This question can be answered with a
yes and a no. If a composite insulator
or string can be proved corona-free in
tests or in a simulation, then a critical,
operationally relevant cause of damage
can be ruled out because these discharges
from a steel component would exist on a
continuous basis.
On top of this, the phenomenon of water
drop corona due to the very favourable
hydrophobicity of polymer insulating
materials needs to be considered.
Scientific investigations in Germany and
around the world have shown that when
a certain field strength on the surface
of the insulating material is exceeded,
the high coefficient of permittivity of
water relative to air (80:1) can cause
deformation of the drops and the firing
of discharges at their deformed ends. In
unfavourable conditions decomposition
products are formed, which can result
in failure when the materials used in the
composite insulator have been improperly
chosen (cost pressure).
Due to negative experiences of this
problem in the USA (more than 30 failures),
a working group of the IEEE (Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has
responded with a systematic compilation
of operational experience and the
correlation with simulation results and has
derived corresponding recommendations.
These have been published in an IEEEpublication and can be summarized as
shown in the table below.
It is recommended that simulations be
performed as certain electrical field
strengths are very difficult to detect by
Occurrence of
Corona

Duration

Dry conditions

continuous

Wet conditions

discontinuous

Wet conditions
Dry and wet
conditions

discontinuous
continuous /
discontinuous

Part of the Insulator String

Corona- or combined arc


protection ring, insulator
fitting
Insulated housing at shank
Sealing interface*
In insulator (rod, insulating
coating, interface of
the two)

measurement. For this, methods such


as finite element or boundary element
calculations are suitable. Thanks to the
computer speed and performance now
available, these can even be carried out
three-dimensionally with consideration of
neighbouring phases, which increases the
accuracy of the results.
The insulating crossarm in the Randstad
380 compact transmission line presented
in Connect 1/2010 was simulated in
this way, as there was a project-specific
requirement to limit the maximum value
of the electrical field strength to only 2.5
kV/cm (recommendation 4.5 kV/cm) on
a length of only 10 mm on the insulator
shank. This requirement was seen asvery
athletic, as at the same time the aesthetic
appearance of the insulating crossarm
was aiming to be soft, non-technical.
Conclusion
As early as 1992 basic rules for the avoidance
of corona discharges on composite
insulators and strings with composite
insulators were formulated, and rigid
compliance to these could have avoided
a series of failures. A further contribution
to an increase in reliability is brought
by not exceeding the maximum field
strength on the insulator shank defined
specifically for composite insulators on
the basis of scientific investigations and
operational experience. The given value
of 4.5 kV/cm may be regarded as safe in
a conservative sense. Examination of
SEFAG insulators after a 10-year period
of operation in a 420-kV grid have shown
that with highgrade materials this value
can be exceeded without compromising
the operational reliability.
Dr. Frank Schmuck

Threshold of
Maximum Field
Strength in kV/cm
17**21

4.5 on a length of
less than 10 mm
3.5
30

Long-service anniversary of
Manfred Peter
On 1 April 2011, Manfred Peter,
Managing Director of PFISTERER
INTERNATIONAL AG, celebrated 40
years of service with PFISTERER.
He can look back on an extraordinary,
long and successful career.
1.4.1971: joined KARL PFISTERER
Elektrotechn. Spezialartikel GmbH
& Co KG in the Foreign Sales
department.
1.1.1982: Sales Manager for SEFAG
EXPORT AG. The objective of the job:
he had the task of using his technical
knowledge and his personal contacts
to identify, develop and initiate
activities in new markets for the
export business and to undertake all
the steps necessary to achieve this in
the most cost-effective manner for
the company.
1.11.2003: took over the function
of head of Sales and Marketing
as Director International Sales in
the international business of the
Swiss PFISTERER companies. In this
function, he was and is a member of
the Executive Board.
1.7.2010: appointed as
Managing Director of PFISTERER
INTERNATIONAL.
We congratulate Manfred Peter
warmly on this service anniversary and
wish him continued satisfaction and
every success in his efforts on behalf of
PFISTERER customers all over the world.

Publisher

Connect International

Verification by
Test in dry
conditions
x

Simulation in dry
conditions
x

x
x

* For insulator designs having an exposed sealing interface, the so-called overmolding of the fitting or the use of a corona shield
does not apply.
** For highly corrosive environments, as the corona inception voltage can be reduced by rust formation.

12

Magazine for customers of the PFISTERER companies in


Switzerland and South Africa 18th year No 1/2011 published
twice a year
Print run: 1200 copies
Coordination:
Barbara Simeon
PFISTERER SEFAG AG
Werkstr. 7, 6102 Malters
Tel.: ++41 41 499 74 79
Fax: ++41 41 499 74 26
Mail: barbara.simeon@sefag.ch
Final editing/layout: Brigitte Senn, www.amk.ch
Printed by: Engelberger Druck AG
Closing date for 2/11: 30.09.2011