ELANTAS: Nanotechnology Based Wire Enamels
The application of nanotechnology to the electrical insulation industry represents a very attractive way to upgrade and increase properties of conventional insulating coatings. ELANTAS Electrical Insulation has been particularly active in the investigation of such novel technology applied to wire enamels over the last decade. Among possible ways to combine nanotechnology with wire enamels manufacturing technology, ELANTAS strategically decided to leave the conventional application of resulting nano-modified products untouched in order to protect customer investments in their enamelling machines.
Deatherm E 641 GL is a nano-modified wire enamel based on polyester-imide (PEI). Developed by ELANTAS, this product is a clear example of the successful application of the 21st century most innovative technology to electrical insulation.
Thanks to its intrinsic nature, such novel nano-modified enamel is characterized by exceptional performance in high voltage environments and by excellent electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. Tests of electrical life run in medium-high voltage fields (3-5 KV) showed excellent resistance compared to conventional PEI. Tests done by accelerated degradation under high frequency AC voltages showed much higher resistance to partial discharge (PD) and voltage overshoots compared to conventional enamelled wires. With the increased thermal resistance typical of Deatherm E 641 GL, the thermal damage caused by heat from high frequency pulses is prevented.
Deatherm E 641 GL has a synergistic effect between the organic and inorganic components. The organic resin was developed to be highly heat resistant and to maintain its flexible structure even after high temperature treatments, while the inorganic material has high affinity for the resin and its excellent dispersion in the binder which provides the necessary homogeneity before (liquid enamel) and after application (cured coating).
By incorporating nano-sized inorganic matter, the hardness and brittleness that micron sized equivalent materials bring to resulting coating is significantly reduced. A well-designed organic resin, in which thermal resistance is combined with excellent mechanical properties, along with crucial cross-linkers and incorporated nanofillers, guarantees the homogeneous distribution of the later ones in the final, cured coating.
By keeping the distance between the inorganic fillers in Deatherm E 641 GL quite small, a very compact texture is formed in the insulator minimizing defects. This results in positive effects for dielectric breakdown strength, which highly depends on internal defects of the cured enamel. Inorganic fillers have the capacity to enhance the resistance against insulation degradation originated by partial discharge (PD), dielectric heating and space charge.
When Deatherm E 641 GL is exposed to partial discharge, the surface erosion is much smaller than for conventional enamels when evaluated by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). This surface improvement is explained by a "ceramization" phenomenon that occurs on the surface of the enamel in the presence of partial discharge activity, creating a barrier against degradation.
Deatherm E 641 GL shows increased service life under Surface Partial Discharges (SPD) aging conditions related to both high frequency sinusoidal and pulsed waveforms.
This behavior makes Deatherm E 641 GL particularly suitable for inverter-fed motors which are exposed to transient surge voltages made of bipolar pulses with the rise time in the micro or nano second order.
The windings of such motors can be exposed to SPD activity by way of over voltages caused by resonance and reflection phenomena.
Tests were run on twisted pairs of Deatherm E 641 GL related enamelled wires manufactured according to IEC 60851-5 at the Department of Electrical Engineering of Genoa University, Italy.
The aging tests were carried out applying to the twisted pair specimens voltage waveforms aimed at reproducing the electrical stress induced by the output of a switching VSD (Variable Speed Drive).
In the testing protocol the specimens (three for each wire) were preheated at 150 °C for 24 hours and kept at such temperature during the measurement. The total breakdown (i.e. the enamel failure) was chosen as end criterion.
The power supply circuit consisted of an arbitrary waveform generator and a linear power amplifier having a bandwidth from 10 Hz to 100 kHz at the maximum output voltage equal to 6 kV peak-to-peak. The aging tests were carried out applying high frequency (HF) PWM-like waveform at 5000 V peak-to-peak with the following characteristics: fundamental frequency 3000 Hz, switching frequency 24000 Hz, rise time 0,67 KV/μs (measured at 5000 V voltage peak-peak), duty cycle 50%. The pulsed voltage (Figure 1) had peaks every rise and fall fronts having amplitude equal to the constant part of each pulse in order to simulate a PWM power supply in presence of reflection and resonant phenomena.
Figure 1: High Frequency PWM-like voltage waveform: time base is 50μs/div.
The outcome of the tests carried out at 5000 V applying the HF-PWM-like voltage waveform showed a 7-fold increase of Tbd (time to total breakdown) versus conventional PEI.
Further electrical aging tests were carried out using the HF-PWM-like waveform. The aim of the tests was to trace lifetime diagrams of the tested enamels and to investigate their medium long-term behavior. Three voltage amplitude levels were considered; the relevant times to breakdown (Tbd) were related to the voltage amplitude by the inverse power law: (1)
where, Vpp is the peak-to-peak voltage amplitude, K is a constant that depends on the material and n is the so-called voltage endurance coefficient (VEC). When plotted in a log-log V versus t plane, (1) results in a straight line, whose angular coefficient is -1/n. The coefficients K and n can then be determined by linear regression techniques.
Deatherm E 641 GL exhibited much better duration than conventional PEI in the same voltage stress range. In an extrapolation of the obtained life curves, the voltage amplitude can be estimated at a corresponding theoretical duration of 20 years (V20). Such an extrapolation results in V20 = 125 V for PEI and V20 = 2050 V for Deatherm E 641 GL. Besides the obvious consideration that the stress corresponds to an expected lifetime of 20 years of Deatherm E 641 GL, exceeding it by more than an order of magnitude to conventional material, it is interesting to compare the esteemed lifetime with the Partial Discharge Inception Voltage (PDIV), measured before the tests. The PDIV of the enamels, considering the actual test voltage waveform, is about 1750 V peak-to-peak. This means that in theory ELANTAS' new, high-tech Deatherm E 641 GL could withstand the exposure of PDs for more than 20 years, resulting in a significant reliability enhancement of electric motors.
It has to be pointed out that an enamel able to work in the presence of PDs for several years at such working voltage (Bipolar square pulses, overshoot factor =2, V >PDIV) has never been recorded so far.
ELANTAS Electrical Insulation produces insulating materials for the electrical and electronics industry. These are found in electric motors, household appliances, automobiles, generators, transformers, capacitors, digital cameras, wind turbines, computers, luminaires, circuit boards and sensors, and help to ensure that product developers can construct ever smaller and more powerful electronic devices, thus saving materials and energy.
Owing to consistent research and development, continuous further development of insulating materials and processes, and the fact that ELANTAS has production facilities around the world, the company has established a leading international position for itself and is the world's leading manufacturer of wire enamels, trickle resins and casting materials. This makes the division the preferred supplier for the electrical insulation industry and the main supplier to large international customers.
The division serves the markets through three business lines: "Primary Insulation" supplies the enameled wire industry, "Secondary Insulation" supplies applications in which the enameled wire winding is insulated and stabilized mechanically, and "Electronic & Engineering Materials" mainly supplies applications that embed or completely encapsulate electrical components.
ALTANA develops and produces high-quality innovative products in the specialty chemicals business. The ALTANA Group, with headquarters in Wesel/Germany, is a genuine "global player" with 84% of its sales generated by international activities. The ALTANA Group has four divisions: BYK Additives & Instruments, ECKART Effect Pigments, ELANTAS Electrical Insulation, and ACTEGA Coatings & Sealants. All of these divisions occupy a leading position in their target markets with respect to quality, product solution expertise, innovation and service.
ALTANA offers innovative, environmentally compatible solutions with the matching specialty products for coating manufactures, paint and plastic processors, the printing and cosmetic industries, and the electrical and electronic industry. The product range includes additives, special coatings and adhesives, effect pigments, sealants and compounds, impregnating resins & varnishes, and testing and measuring instruments.
At present, the ALTANA Group has 41 production facilities and more than 50 service and research laboratories worldwide. Throughout the group 5,350 people work to ensure the success of ALTANA worldwide. In 2011 ALTANA achieved sales of about 1.6 billion euros. Its impressive earning power and high growth rate make ALTANA one of the most successful and innovative chemical groups worldwide.