High Voltage in Vacuum: Process & Design Optimization


High voltage performance in vacuum represents a highly debated topic. The challenge of replicating results, coupled with their sensitivity to microscopic variations, complicates the development of a universal model for phenomena like field electron emission and vacuum arc in large-scale systems. These complexities lead physicists to often regard this as a "dirty subject" (quoting from Professor Rod Latham).

At Avalanche Energy, ensuring high voltage reliability is crucial. In this project, our focus is on standardizing processes including conditioning, cleaning, and polishing. Concurrently, we are re-evaluating our understanding of field emission, vacuum arc, surface flashover, and the lifespan assessment of vacuum electronics through experiments and simulations.


MAKO: Compact 300-kV Bushing


There are multiple applications, such as electrostatic fusion reactors, where a strong electric field is required in a vacuum. In the case of Orbitron, hundreds of kilovolts must be reliably transferred from ambient pressure to high vacuum. A "High Voltage Vacuum Bushing" performs this task.

The highest commercially available vacuum bushing is rated at 100kV, which is much lower than what an Orbitron requires. Additionally, the bushing designs proposed in the past are on the order of meters in both diameter and length. The patented design of MAKO, our 300kV bushing, reduces the volume of the bushing by a factor of over 1000 and is easy to manufacture.


Partial Discharge Multiphysics Modeling


Partial discharge is one of the most dangerous degradation mechanisms in electrical insulation systems. It can happen inside a solid or liquid dielectric, at its surface, or in a gaseous medium. Due to the gradual deterioration impact of partial discharge, it is also called the "silent killer".

In this study, a finite-element analysis-based multiphysics approach is employed to model partial discharge. This advanced model facilitates the examination of modern challenges such as electric aviation and the high-frequency, rapid-rise voltage pulses generated by wide bandgap power electronics. These applications are known to escalate the intensity and/or frequency of partial discharges.


Dielectric Online Condition Monitoring System (DOCMS)


The global warming crisis has spurred efforts to reduce emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. While electric vehicles have become increasingly popular, electrification in the commercial aviation industry still faces challenges. A key obstacle is the reliability of electrical equipment in aeronautical applications, as the harsh environmental conditions and high-power density equipment can accelerate the aging of insulation systems. Insulation systems are crucial to electrical equipment, and their failure can lead to system breakdowns.

In this study, researchers developed a deep learning-based framework for monitoring the condition of insulation systems at high altitudes. The Dielectric Online Condition Monitoring System (DOCMS) processes the data, converting it into phase-resolved PD (PRPD) images, and classifying them based on discharge source type. The results show that the proposed approach is highly accurate and fast in identifying potential threats to the health of insulation systems.


Microgrid Optimization


This study investigates the potential role of microgrids in enhancing the resilience of power systems against severe weather events. The focus is on the planning of microgrids in terms of location and to strengthen the network against severe faults.

Multiple optimization approaches were used in this research, including a computationally-efficient heuristic method and a multi-objective mixed-integer linear programming approach, to determine the optimal nodes for the connection of microgrids and the capacity of dispatchable generation units deployed within microgrids. These algorithms satisfy the power balance of microgrids and the main grid and consider operational and topological constraints.


Unconventional Tranmission Line Design

2018 / 03 / 03

The U.S. power transmission system has been the backbone of the country's economic growth and industrial development. However, much of this sector, with most of it being over 50 years old, requires upgrades as the nation continues to evolve, the increasing demand for electricity and the integration of renewable energy sources.

This study challenges the unwritten law of symmetry in a bundle of conductors within a transmission line. By allowing the conductors to assume any mechanically and electrically feasible location, this study has achieved a revolutionary design for transmission lines that maximizes surge impedance loading, while considering requirements such as electromagnetic transients and electric field thresholds for corona. The resulting design has the potential to increase the loading capacity of the line by up to 100% without compromising its compactness.