Metal-graphene composites for electrical contacts used in high voltage applications swegrids-logo

SweGRIDS research area Materials for Power Grid and Storage
SweGRIDS project code MTL8
Project type PostDoc
Status completed
Researcher Robin Elo   (webpage)
University UU
Project period 2020-03-01 to 2021-12-31   
Project supervisor Staffan Jacobson   (webpage)
Industrial sponsors Hitachi Energy

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Project abstract

For the next generation of smart distributed power systems, switching devices must be capable of handling more frequent switching operations. For current contact materials, this would lead to a reduced service life or increased maintenance costs. However, with better contact materials, these consequences can be mitigated.

It has been shown that metal/graphene composites can be used to produce electrical contacts with low contact resistance and low friction, in combination with excellent resistance to wear and corrosion. However, to better understand and exploit these findings, more fundamental understanding is required. This includes understanding how the electrical properties, as well as friction and wear properties depend on the composition and microstructure of the contact material. Here it is very important, but less known, how the microstructure of the two contacting surfaces will be modified during use. Such modification is most dramatic close to the surface, and often has decisive influence on the performance.

The experimental evaluation will include reciprocating sliding contacts. We will evaluate the electrical response, the friction, the wear and surface modifications of contact materials. We will run experiments to isolate the effects of sliding motion from those of electric current. Scanning electron microscopy and other techniques for advanced materials analysis will be used to generate fundamental knowledge of how metal/graphene composites behave in the electrical contact – contributing to the optimization of the materials for the application.

Summary of work

The work up to this point has focused on preparations and litterature review to prepare for the experimental evaluation. Samples from component level tests have been investigated to indentify the wear mechanisms that must be replicated when scaling down to material level tests. These results together with the gathered knowledge of what the materials undergo in the application will be used to tune the mechanical and electrical load in the experiments. Samples of appropriate materials are being produced, chemicals to mimic the application environment are procured and the test rig is adapted to suit the needed conditions. The experimental evaluation of the materials will commence early in 2021.

Event log

2020-06, 2020-09, 2020-10, 2020-12. Meetings with Hitachi ABB Power Grids and partners online.

2020-11. Pitch presentation, SweGRIDS annual conference 2020 (digital).

Project reference-group

Staffan Jacobson,  UU
Urban Wiklund,  UU
Andreas Friberg,  Hitachi Energy
Henrik Hillborg,  Hitachi Energy

Publications by this researcher

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Publication list last updated from DiVA on 2024-01-10 15:22.

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Page started: 2020-03-01
Last generated: 2024-01-10