Highly Insulating Polyethylene Blends for High-Voltage Direct-Current Power Cables
Journal article, 2017
The insulation of state-of-the-art extruded high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) power cables is composed of cross-linked low-density polyethylene. Driven by the search for sustainable energy solutions, concepts that improve the ability to withstand high electrical fields and, ultimately, the power transmission efficiency are in high demand. The performance of a HVDC insulation material is limited by its residual electrical conductivity. Here, we demonstrate that the addition of small amounts of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) resin results in a drastic reduction in DC conductivity. An HDPE content as low as 1 wt % is found to introduce a small population of thicker crystalline lamellae, which are finely distributed throughout the material. The change in nanostructure correlates with a decrease in DC conductivity by approximately 1 order of magnitude to about 10(-15) S m(-1) at high electric fields of 30 and 40 kV mm(-1) and elevated temperature of 70 degrees C. This work opens up an alternative design concept for the insulation of HVDC power cables.