CORDIS - EU research results

Plastic nanocomposite insulation material enabling reliable integration of renewables and DC storage technologies in the AC energy grid

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - GRIDABLE (Plastic nanocomposite insulation material enabling reliable integration of renewables and DC storage technologies in the AC energy grid)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

In the GRIDABLE project we will introduce novel thermoplastic polymer composite materials to enhance performance of essential components of smart grid infrastructure. We have proven in laboratory scale that the polypropylene-silica nanocomposite brings considerable improvements especially in operating-voltage breakdown reliability. When applied as insulator in high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable and in DC capacitors, the composite will bring enhancement at device level compared to the state-of-the-art. Cost and physical size of the capacitor-based systems will be reduced.
Additionally, enhanced termomechanical properties will increase HVDC transfer capacity. Moreover, thermoplastic composite will enable cost effective production of cables by extrusion. This will result in more efficient use of energy and materials, as well as recyclability. In the GRIDABLE project we will up-scale production of novel dielectric nanocomposite for electrical insulation applications. We will transfer material’s high performance from laboratory scale to pre-production scale. This will be proven by relevant demonstrators and prototypes. The technical advances gained with novel dielectric material will facilitate to enhance power supply reliability. The new level of dielectric characteristics will help to manage volatility of the grid considering variety of power sources. Thus grid efficiency can be increased. The new HVDC cables will allow efficient electricity transfer over very long distances, e.g. from remote low-carbon power plants. This will also ease utilisation of distributed and intermittent renewable energy sources.
GRIDABLE project has successfully produced thermoplastic cable insulation formulations that have suitable thermo-mechanical properties for MVDC and HVDC cables. Additionally thin nanocomposite capacitor films have been successfully produced on an industrial film line. The material characterization has revealed new phenomena that can at least partially explain the beneficial behaviour of nanocomposite insulation materials over the neat polymers. The main experimental challenges are related to the handling of agglomerations and nano-dispersion in large scale processing when optimisation of the formulations is beeing done for several different material combinations on a tigh schedule.
Thin nanocomposite capacitor films were produced on an industrial film line in hundreds of kgs without any film processing issues. New thermoplastic DC-cable insulation materials were developed with suitable thermomechanical properties especially for MVDC and later potentially also for HVDC applications. The original project goals are still valid with the aim to create new thermoplastic nanocomposite insulation materials with better reliability and cost effeciency due to lower required insulation thicknesses. This would enable more cost efficient components, which secure the quality of energy for the ever evolving smart energy grid. Thus we would eventually contribute to enabling lean connection of new energy sources like solar and wind into the energy grid at the same time providing stronger energy grid for the electrifying transport sector.