New insulation could save a nuclear power station

Researchers at the University of Southampton are engaged in a research project that aims to improve high voltage electrical insulating tape to a point that if deployed in generators across Europe, it should save a minimum of 1000MW, comparable to the output of a nuclear power station or €1.5billion.

Professor Alun Vaughan, Dr Paul Lewin and Dr Gabriele Gherbaz in the University's Electrical Power Engineering group are leading the University's role in the €3 million European Union funded ANASTASIA - Advanced NAno-Structured TApeS for electrotechnical high power Insulating Applications - project.

The aim is to replace the current insulation tapes used with products integrating nanofillers that will enhance field strength resistance and thermal conductivity. To this end, three approaches are to be investigated.

The first is to be a polymer route based on polymer/inorganic nanoparticle blending including a novel mica paper structure involving dielectric nano-flakes. The second is a polymer route based on in situ growth of dielectric nanoparticles. Finally the teams are to investigate a sol-gel inorganic-based matrix.

The most promising route will be selected at project mid-term, its process optimised and a demonstrator produced.

The Southampton team predicts that, on a European scale, a 0.2% gain in generator conversion efficiency could save the equivalent of 1000MW which is comparable to one nuclear power plant or €1.5billion.

The other consortium members are: Von Roll Switzerland, Alstom Hydro, Laborelec-Electrabel, Politecnico di Torino, University of Montpelier 2, Institut de Recherche Hydro-Québec and Nottingham Trent University.

Tom Shelley

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