The development of high-voltage pulsed power systems for both research and commercial applications has created a tricky design problem related to electrical insulation. Ceramics would be the traditional choice for bushings that insulate the metal electrodes in these systems, but ceramics are bulky and expensive to manufacture.
Intech Power-Core™ has emerged as compact, cost-effective alternative to ceramics. This gravity-cast nylon 12 polymer offers a combination of electrical and physical properties that make it uniquely suited to high-voltage pulsed power applications. These include:
- High dielectric strength
- Robust mechancial properties
- Low outgassing under vaccum
- Chemical resistance.
- Low-cost manufacturing capability
When used in a recent experimental design for a pulsed electron accelerator, the Power-Core insulation was cast over the system’s stainless steel electrode to form an insulating bushing. Often these bushings will have to separate different insulating media—for example, vacuum on one side and transformer oil on another. So both low-outgassing and chemical resistance can come into play simultaneously.
One advantage of casting in this application has to do with the interface between the polymer insulation and steel electrode. Casting the polymer over a knurled surface on the electrode creates a seamless mechanical interface that helps produce a stable vacuum around the electrode and prevents any leak paths between the different insulating media.
To date, we’ve helped design and test insulation for pulsed electron sources up to 400 kV with pulse durations from 20 to 30 nanoseconds in vacuum, oil and gas environments. However, our experimental data suggests that Power-Core insulation bushings could withstand pulsed voltages to 1 MV. With more development work, Power-Core bushings could go even further—to voltages in the 5 to 10 MV range.