The University of Southampton

A third environmental chamber added to the laboratory

Published: 22 May 2013

Our on-going programme to enhance facilities in the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory has recently led to the commissioning of a new climate controlled facility to join our Salt-Fog chamber and Faraday Cage.

The temperature and humidity chamber has been the latest acquisition of the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory (TDHVL). A European Union grant, EU FP7 SPABRINK, recently aware will involve using the temperature and humidity chamber.

It has a temperature range of up to 50°C with relative humidity variation from 10% to 80% making it capable of simulating a great majority of climates. Currently it is being used commercially for sample pre-conditioning, thermal resistance tests and safety clothing testing. The working space area of 3.6m2 in combination with the versatile feedthrough panel allows electrical tests to be conducted under strict environmental conditions.

An industrial collaborative work with Wolfson Electrostatic is also planned to test some powder handling equipment (sieves, tubing, tools etc) for safe use in Zone O flammable atmospheres, to the European Standard EN13463-1 (Non-electrical equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres). The test involves artificially generating the maximum surface charge density on the test piece and then quantifying the magnitude of the resultant ESD’s using an electrical test probe. The standard requires testing at controlled temperature and low humidity conditions (23C, 30%RH).

The Environmental\Salt-Fog chamber, which conforms to the latest British standards for wet tests (IEC60060), has also just been refurbished to increase its efficiency and set-up time. It is currently capable of simulating fog and rain with a temperature range of up to 30°C, using voltages up to 80kV at 1Amp and also switching impulse tests of up to 200kV. Over the past decade it has been used extensively for commercial testing of switchgear, bushings and cable terminations.

The Faraday Cage which has been within the lab since its beginning completes the set of large control chambers available at the TDHVL. The working space area of 3.75m2 and its ability to attenuate electro-magnetic noise by approximately 80db has made it ideal for partial discharge research projects as measurement sensitivity is around 200fC. It is also used for highly sensitive measurement experiments such as conductivity measurements of impurities in insulating transformer oils.

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