Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Surface-Textured High Voltage(ST11053-1)

Clarkson University


The high-voltage insulator is one of the fundamental components of the electric power delivery system. The insulators are typically designed with a self-cleaning hydrophobic surface where dirt and debris are removed by rolling water droplets. Under harsh conditions, such as repeated exposure to salt fog and particulate contamination, the hydrophobicity of these insulators diminish over time. As this occurs, the insulators gradually develop a conductive film that causes an increase in current leakage and arcing. The insulator surface degrades via pyrolysis and the formation of irreversible conductive paths lead to final component breakdown.

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Project Description

The project will focus on the fabrication and aging testing of textured polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) material, using three different fabrication techniques. Each technique will explore the preparation of textured PDMS surfaces, with emphasis on evaluating the hydrophobicity derived from each insulator molding. This molding will be subjected to water vapor and the contact angle will be measured for the different PDMS samples. With the completion of the three fabrication techniques (Micromolding, Silicon Oxide colloid templates and Spraying PDMS colloids), a comprehensive comparison of each technique will be provided. The final task will study the effect of molecular structure, using textured PDMS slabs, to determine sustaining hydrophobicity of the PDMS samples with different chemical properties.


1. The reduction in leakage current reduces power loss over the T&D network 2. Reductions in leakage current can increase the service life of insulators, improve system reliability and reduce maintenance costs. 3. Future product development for a NY State manufacturer

Project Results


Clarkson University
Attn: Comptroller's Office Po Box 5546
Potsdam, NY 13699

Principle Investigator

Paul McGrath

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Electric Power Delivery

NYSERDA Contact Information

Gregory Pedrick


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 9/1/2009 1
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST11053-1

Last Updated: 4/17/2012