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Title: Electrical tracking over solid insulating materials for aerospace applications
Author: Zhang, Lei
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 9303
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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The concept of More Electric Aircraft, where is to utilize the electrical power to drive more or all aircraft subsystem instead of conventional combination of pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and electrical power, can be recalled to World War II. It has been proven to have more advantages for decades in terms of energy efficiency, environmental issues, logistics and operational maintenance. It can also enhance aircraft weight, volume and battle damage reconfigurability.Thanks to the new electronics technologies and the emergence of new materials, It becomes feasible for high power density electrical power components to drive the majority of aircraft subsystem. However, sustaining the transmission of hundreds of kilowatts of electrical power at low voltages is not feasible owing to the penalties incurred due to high cable weights and voltage drop may become critical. It is very easy to come up with the solution of the increase of voltage. However, higher voltage will introduce other problems such as the reliability of insulation coordination on the aircraft due to the increased probability of electrical discharge. For aircraft designers, it is very important to understand the rules of insulation coordination on the aircraft including determining clearance and creepage distances, and also have a clear investigation of the phenomena and mechanism of electrical discharges. Past research has identified a number of the concerns of operating electrical systems at higher voltages in an aerospace environment, especially for dimensioning of clearances. However, there is little study on dimensioning of creepage distances and relevantly flashover and electrical tracking on solid insulating material surfaces. This thesis firstly discusses the rules for determining clearances and creepage distances. The experimental validation work was done for breakdown in air gap and on the solid insulating material surfaces under dry condition so that some standard recommended values can be evaluated not only with theoretical values such Paschen's law. Suggestions of application of those standards were provided. Secondly, the complex electrical discharge under wet condition on solid insulating material surfaces was discussed. A mathematical model to predict this type of electrical failure -electrical tracking (the electrical discharges on solid insulation materials which will lead to physical damage in the materials) with the consideration of different environmental conditions including air pressure, ambient temperature, and pollution degrees was developed. A series of electrical tracking tests were carried out on organic materials to find out the mechanism of electrical tracking and validate the finding by the mathematic model. Finite element analysis simulations were also conducted to find out the background thermal transfer mechanism to support our explanation of those phenomena of electrical tracking. Different test techniques have ben developed for specific impact factors. Finally, the suggestions for utilization of the standards and feasible test techniques for electrical tracking under wet conditions were provided.
Supervisor: Cotton, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Electrical breakdown ; Electrical tracking ; Clearances ; Creepage distances ; Aerospace applications ; Organic insulating materials