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Investigation into possible mechanisms of light pollution flashover of 275kv transmission lines as a cause of unknown outages

Kleinhans, Kevin (2005-03)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The cause of the largest number of faults on the Eskom main transmission system is unknown. It is believed that a non-uniform pollution layer along an insulator string is the reason for these anomalous flashovers. This non-uniform pollution layer results in the highest electric field strength, and thus the highest voltage, across the cleanest and driest discs. There thus exists a strong possibility that the anomalous flashover phenomenon is caused by a combination of mechanisms involving the pollution and air breakdown flashover mechanisms. This research project attempted to prove that flashover of the insulators is possible in accordance with the above model. Various experiments were set up in the high voltage laboratory and at a natural test site with a low source impedance supply attempting to simulate the conditions that lead to flashover in accordance with the hypothesis. All the tests done have not proven the non-uniform light pollution flashover mechanism successfully. However, future research has proposed an air breakdown flashover mechanism in light pollution conditions where the polluted part of the insulator string has a specific non-uniform distribution. Full scale testing in conditions similar to the normal operating conditions is proposed to prove the validity of this new hypothesis.

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