Author Topic: HV transformer isolation  (Read 2030 times)

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Offline Neukyhm

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HV transformer isolation
« on: April 21, 2018, 10:35:41 pm »
Hi there, I have built a 5.5kV transformer using AWG30 wire. I used epoxy resin to fix the windings and isolate the transformer.

I applied the resin to the secondary using a brush. The problem I have is that the curing time is very much and the resin will slide and fall from the transformer. Heating it won't help because the heat will speed up the curing process but the resin will become less viscous and slide anyway.

The question: is there a better sealant/adhesive/resin to use?
 

Offline Hero999

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2018, 10:40:23 pm »
Try applying the resin in more than one layer, so it's not thick enough to drip off.

Note: this is not an easy thing to do. Making the insulation between the windings good enough to hold off 5k5V, is not easy. Take care to ensure the voltage between each layer is no more than a few hundred volts and keep the wire clean and dry. If you wind by hand, then use cotton gloves.
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2018, 10:46:58 pm »
Place in a vacuum chamber, submerge in a pot of resin or varnish, pull vacuum, wait to stop bubbling, release vacuum.  (You may need a long cure resin (hours, or thermally activated) to do this.)  If there's time, cycle vacuum once or twice more just to be sure.  A vacuum pump is desirable here, not just a venturi kind (which is hard pressed to do better than 1/10th atmospheric).

Painting it on the outside isn't going to do very much (assuming you need it at all).  Or if you've used enough tape to deal with it as-is, it'll be fine -- at least in the short term, until corona and partial discharge eats it up.

If that's your concern, then all the more reason a vacuum is required, to fill the voids that PD occurs in. :-+

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Offline David Hess

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2018, 04:05:00 am »
I agree with T3sl4co1l; pot it under a vacuum.  For an air wired voltage multiplier, I might accept brushing on corona dope and then potting in wax under atmospheric pressure but not for a high voltage transformer.

T3sl4co1l, what do you think about applying a couple atmospheres of pressure after vacuum potting?

 

Offline GerryBags

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018, 04:17:07 am »
Also, it might be worth opting for one of the low-viscosity, infusion grade epoxies. They are used for making carbon fiber items, laying up the fiber in a plastic bag in a mold, then sucking the air out of the bag and letting this thin resin in. Because of the low viscosity it is able to penetrate the weave of the carbon fiber, under vacuum, and make a solid matrix with no trapped air. This would make it ideal for getting right into the windings of a transformer. I think the temp requirements for most CF layup are generally more stringent than potting resins, but you'd have to check that.
 

Offline Jeroen3

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 04:28:52 am »
applying a couple atmospheres of pressure after vacuum potting?
That’s is called vacuum impregnating and the process isn’t easy.
 

Offline David Hess

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 08:02:02 am »
applying a couple atmospheres of pressure after vacuum potting?

That’s is called vacuum impregnating and the process isn’t easy.

What is the difficulty?  Use a pressure vessel instead of a vacuum chamber, apply a vacuum, release the vacuum, apply pressure, release pressure, and then remove the item from the bath of potting material.
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2018, 02:01:02 pm »
Pressure would have to be maintained until the material cures.  Which would work for resin, just heat the pressure vessel to activate, and let it sit until solid.  I guess there might be some oddness about heating a pressure vessel, just make sure it's good for it.

Then you have trapped bubbles under pressure, which will eventually diffuse back to ~atmospheric depending on material properties, though that could take very long indeed.  Well, at least if they're under pressure, they'll have higher breakdown voltage, which is a good thing.  Although they'll be smaller too, but, that means more E-field, which still works out.  Preferable to remove voids of course, but una-void-able (ha) ones under pressure is better than not.

It wouldn't work so well for varnish, where the pressure will reduce evaporation rate, and that's if you have ventilation in the chamber at all (say, a cold trap off to the side?).

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Offline Jeroen3

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2018, 08:33:24 pm »
You evacuate the chamber before submerging it in resin. Then you apply pressure. And remove left over resin to prevent curing it as a block.
 

Offline fcb

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2018, 08:52:55 pm »
As others have said, vacuum impregnation of a resin will help.  But transformer design is also very important, if you are just randomly adding wire to the bobbin, then you risk having a potential between adjacent wires that exceeds the breakdown voltage of the wire enamel (in reality polyurethane or polyester), no amount/grade of resin is going to stop that happening.

You're probably close to the voltage where I would vacuum pot the whole transformer in RTV silicone or similar - it doesn't sound very big, probably just use a small potting box.


Offline Neukyhm

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 12:47:43 am »
if you are just randomly adding wire to the bobbin, then you risk having a potential between adjacent wires that exceeds the breakdown voltage of the wire enamel
All turns are well placed just next to the previous one. I have also tested the enamel to ensure it will resist the voltage between every turn.

Well the epoxy is now cured and the transformer is complete, I will test it today, but the resin has a lot of bubbles. I hope that won't be a problem, I don't know if 5kV is enough voltage to cause ionization of the bubbles. I forgot to say that the frequency ~110kHz, that will probably be a problem.

Edit: and the transformer is a ETD59, using its coil former.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 12:54:48 am by Neukyhm »
 

Offline jbb

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2018, 06:06:38 am »
Sorry, should have said earlier: if you've got a large solid mass of epoxy over ferrite, you can get cracking of the ferrite due to CTE mismatch (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion).  Epoxy on the windings and bobbin is probably fine for CTE.
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2018, 07:41:32 am »
Sorry, should have said earlier: if you've got a large solid mass of epoxy over ferrite, you can get cracking of the ferrite due to CTE mismatch (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion).  Epoxy on the windings and bobbin is probably fine for CTE.
That's one reason to use gel type potting compounds. Not sure how they compare to the solid type for dielectric strength.
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Offline David Hess

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 11:58:57 am »
Then you have trapped bubbles under pressure, which will eventually diffuse back to ~atmospheric depending on material properties, though that could take very long indeed.

Trapped bubbles of what?  Trapped bubbles of the remaining air from when vacuum was initially applied?  If so, then the same bubbles would exist from only using a vacuum.

I thought there might be some advantage if atmospheric pressure was not enough by itself to push the resin into the areas under vacuum inside the assembly.
 

Offline Decapitator

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2018, 02:32:49 pm »
There's a wealth of practical information about building transformers (and many other electronic topics) on Manfred Mornhinweg's ludens.cl website.

https://ludens.cl/Electron/Electron.html
https://ludens.cl/Electron/trafos/trafos.html
https://ludens.cl/Electron/tek310/tek310.html
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2018, 01:16:10 am »
Trapped bubbles of what?  Trapped bubbles of the remaining air from when vacuum was initially applied?  If so, then the same bubbles would exist from only using a vacuum.

I thought there might be some advantage if atmospheric pressure was not enough by itself to push the resin into the areas under vacuum inside the assembly.

Yes -- there will always be bubbles, because there's no perfect vacuum, nor perfectly nonvolatile resin (though a separate degassing step might help, also, I suppose the components could be degassed with heating to remove volatiles efficiently?), or perfectly permeable assembly (how much gas will exit in the time given, how much resin will flow in?).

The question is, is it good enough?  For sure, using vacuum at all is a big start, and the bubbles should be very small indeed after pressurization (reduced by whatever the pressure ratio is).  I wonder if they might even disappear, because of surface tension and solubility.

It's probably down in the realm of empirical results at this point: how good is good?  Do a burn-in test for different conditions, and there you go.  Of course, that only helps if you need a known lifetime, for a production run.  One-offs? :-//

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Offline David Hess

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2018, 01:43:15 am »
Yes -- there will always be bubbles, because there's no perfect vacuum, nor perfectly nonvolatile resin (though a separate degassing step might help, also, I suppose the components could be degassed with heating to remove volatiles efficiently?), or perfectly permeable assembly (how much gas will exit in the time given, how much resin will flow in?).

We did this when potting the cavities in load cells where the strain gauges are mounted although I an not sure what the justification was.  Degassing the epoxy gel after mixing produced crystal clear instead of a fogged translucent result but I think we did the same thing for non-transparent epoxies implying that it was for more than aesthetics.

Quote
The question is, is it good enough?  For sure, using vacuum at all is a big start, and the bubbles should be very small indeed after pressurization (reduced by whatever the pressure ratio is).  I wonder if they might even disappear, because of surface tension and solubility.

I suspect if you did it right that the gas remaining after a vacuum is applied would completely dissolve in the degassed epoxy.  Most of the advantage however comes from applying a vacuum since the ratio of pressures (gas volumes) will be much greater.  I was more concerned with getting the epoxy to completely displace as much of the free space as possible.

Quote
It's probably down in the realm of empirical results at this point: how good is good?  Do a burn-in test for different conditions, and there you go.  Of course, that only helps if you need a known lifetime, for a production run.  One-offs? :-//

I have been anticipating very small production runs, accelerated testing at higher than operating voltage under worst case conditions, and destructive testing on samples in lieu of a long term testing program.  The last time I did destructive testing like this I could not get the assembly to fail but I am sure that would not be a problem when high voltages are involved.



 

Offline Neukyhm

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2018, 03:17:57 am »
The transformer died almost instantly with a visible arc inside the epoxy  :'(

I have to find a better insulator. I got that epoxy from RS Components, so it is supposed to be high quality, but it was very difficult to apply it to a ETD59 coil former, it had lots of bubbles.

Notice the core I'm using: ETD59.
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2018, 07:25:10 am »
The transformer died almost instantly with a visible arc inside the epoxy  :'(

I have to find a better insulator. I got that epoxy from RS Components, so it is supposed to be high quality, but it was very difficult to apply it to a ETD59 coil former, it had lots of bubbles.

Notice the core I'm using: ETD59.
Did you have layers of insulating material between winding layers?  This is standard practice.  You wind a layer on the coil form, then lay down a layer of insulating paper.  Then, wind the next layer of windings, and repeat.  This creates an additional amount of insulation between each winding layer.  The insulating paper is longer that the circumference around the winding, so the ends of the paper overlap.

Jon
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2018, 02:02:45 pm »
Hmm, "paper" sounds very old fashioned, but then I remember, there are plastic fiber products (usually polypropylene felt, I think?) intended for transformer winding -- the fiber allows resin in.

Just don't forget that this exists, and fall back on ordinary (cellulose) paper -- those days are long over! ;D

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Offline fcb

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2018, 06:58:15 pm »
Not all enamelled wire is the same (!)

These guys make the dogs-danglies of transformer wire: http://www.tex-e.com/

Offline jbb

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2018, 07:15:39 pm »
If higher leakage inductance is OK, a special bobbin with a sectioned winding (I.e. split the winding into multiple smaller lumps) might help.
 

Offline Neukyhm

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2018, 09:22:58 pm »
The transformer died almost instantly with a visible arc inside the epoxy  :'(

I have to find a better insulator. I got that epoxy from RS Components, so it is supposed to be high quality, but it was very difficult to apply it to a ETD59 coil former, it had lots of bubbles.

Notice the core I'm using: ETD59.
Did you have layers of insulating material between winding layers? 
Yes, I left a film of epoxy dry before applying the second layer of wire, but that film failed, see picture, where I have removed part of the epoxy.

The arc I saw happened at the burnt area, It's a critical part because the highest voltage between the first layer of wire and the second happens there.

Not only that, It's also the area with less epoxy, because as I said, part of it drifted and fell from the transformer, leaving that zone (the upper part) with less epoxy than other parts of the coil.

Also notice the bubbles   |O

I'm going to try again, I will remake a new transformer but this time I'm going to apply more layers of epoxy between the first and second coil.

« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 09:25:18 pm by Neukyhm »
 

Offline Gyro

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2018, 09:55:49 pm »
Is that ptfe plumbers' thread sealing tape that I see?
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Offline Neukyhm

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Re: HV transformer isolation
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2018, 11:52:34 pm »
Is that ptfe plumbers' thread sealing tape that I see?
Yes, I put a bit of it to make easier to wind the second layer of wire, so between the first and second layer of wire I had that and epoxy.
 


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