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Hello, Electric Arc Fans:

In this blog I discuss localized polarization and dielectric breakdown within a dielectric and show how to use Ansys Maxwell to calculate inception and breakdown voltages. A dielectric is an electric insulating material and every dielectric has voltage limits. Inception voltage is the voltage if exceeded across the dielectric will cause localized ionization within the dielectric. Breakdown voltage is the voltage limit which if exceeded will cause dielectric breakdown and electric arcing within the dielectric. Inception voltage is less than or equal to breakdown voltage and whether these voltages are equal depends on the dielectric material properties. 



The Ansys Maxwell Electrostatic solver is used in this example. The model consists of a copper electrode at 1 kV potential, a copper disc at 0 kV, a post processing rectangle for plotting the E Field and Field Line Traces (Arc Lines), and a model region boundary not shown.


Right click on Analysis and select "Add a Solution Setup". Right click on Setup1 and select "Analyze".


Right click on the post processing rectangle and select Fields >> Emag. Next, right click on the post processing rectangle and select Fields >> Markers >> and choose "Add Markers". Repeat this step many times as desired and place the markers in locations of interest. The markers define where we want the starting points for the stream lines (arc lines) to be. The position of the markers may be edited. In this example five markers were selected with 1mm separation and one marker at the center of the electrode tip. 

Then add a Field Line Trace, select the region volume, and select all markers that were added to the model.

The Field Line Traces (Arc Lines) are Superimposed on the Electric Field magnitude distribution over the post processing rectangle.


Right click on the Field Line Trace plot and choose "Inception Voltage Evaluation".

Highlight all the rows corresponding to the markers and select "Evaluate". Adjust the dielectric properties as needed. The streamer constant "k" depends on gas type and is a value between 0 and 1. As k approaches 1 then the Inception Voltage and Breakdown Voltage becoming closer in value.





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Post by David A. Giglio, PhD, PE
March 27, 2024