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Unveiling High Voltage Laboratories: From Small to UHV

A panoramic view of the interior of a high voltage laboratory.

High Voltage Laboratory

Evolution of high voltage laboratory technology has continuously propelled groundbreaking advancements in our technological world. This article aims to explore various types of high voltage laboratories and their crucial applications in the expanded metal sheet domain. By delving into these technologies, we gain a better understanding of their pivotal role in innovation and development.

Small Laboratories

A small laboratory, in the context of high voltage testing, typically accommodates d.c. or power frequency test equipment with a rating of less than 10 kW / 10 kVA and impulse equipment with an energy rating of about 10 KJ or less. The voltage ratings range from approximately 300 kV for AC (single unit) to 500-600 kV AC for cascade units, ±200 to 400 kV DC, and less than 400 kV impulse voltage. These laboratories, with dimensions of 15 m × 10 m × 8 m or a room of height 5 m to 6 m, are ideal for engineering colleges and universities seeking high voltage testing capabilities within limited resources for research, training, or tests.

Medium Size Laboratory – An Industrial Laboratory

A Medium Size Laboratory, serving as an industrial facility, primarily conducts routine tests, aligning with anticipated production targets. It typically features a power frequency testing facility (200 to 600 kV) for equipment like cables and transformers, with a higher kVA rating (100 to 1000 kVA). The impulse voltage generator is rated at 20 to 100 kJ or more. Additional equipment, such as impulse current generators for surge arrester testing and d.c. facilities for cable and capacitor testing, may be present. Notably, industrial labs prioritize routine testing over research, offering limited flexibility for new equipment.Careful planning of such laboratories should include:

  • ground transport
  • handling equipment like cranes etc.,
  • rationalization of test procedures by making instruments easily accessible
  • providing room for the possibility of increasing the maximum voltage rating etc.

Large Size Laboratories

Large laboratories are designed for extensive testing and research, encompassing a comprehensive range of high-voltage laboratory classifications and high-current testing equipment. These laboratories feature a substantial amount of testing equipment with significantly high ratings. The infrastructure includes workshops, cranes, ladders, air cushion platforms, and extensive control and power supply facilities, reaching up to several kVA or MVA. The available facilities include:

  • One or more high-voltage (h.v.) test halls.
  • Corona and pollution test chambers for environmental impact assessments.
  • Outdoor test area designed for tests on large-sized equipment, transmission lines, and towers.
  • Controlled atmospheric test rooms/chambers for precision testing.
  • Comprehensive computer facilities, conference halls, and a library equipped with extensive resources.
  • Provision for overnight tests and accommodation.

The personnel associated with such laboratories comprise a director or manager, several group leaders, and section heads overseeing research, testing, measurements, electronics, computer facilities, etc. Supporting staff includes test engineers, technicians, librarians, office personnel, as well as skilled and semi-skilled workers. This integrated setup ensures a robust environment for both advanced testing and cutting-edge research activities.

UHV Laboratories

Ultra High Voltage (UHV) laboratories are specifically designed for conducting tests crucial to the fundamental design of experimental transmission lines with voltage ratings of 765 kV and above. These laboratories also play a vital role in conducting full-scale outdoor testing of conductors and insulation structures. A well-equipped UHV laboratory should include the following components:

  • An outdoor experimental line dedicated to conducting corona and vibration studies.
  • An outdoor corona test cage to simulate real-world conditions.
  • An erection bay for practical assessments of equipment assembly and functionality.
  • A pollution test chamber to evaluate the impact of environmental factors on components.
  • Indoor laboratories tailored for conducting essential basic research.

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