Interest is rapidly increasing regarding the application of partial discharge (PD) diagnostics for the task of condition monitoring of HV plant. Put simply, utilities require the tools and fundamental understanding to interpret on-line PD data and relate it to the health of their assets. This project aims to investigate the PD generated by a specific type of three-phase distribution cable: that of paper insulated lead covered construction (PILC). This specific design of cable is of great interest to the utilities that operate Londons' distribution network as it is widely used and is approaching the end of its operational life - significant increases in failure rates have already been identified. An improved understanding of the relationship between PD activity and the various failure mechanisms associated to this cable design is key to accurate analysis in the future.
An experiment has been designed and constructed with the capability of stressing cable sections in a manner similar to circuits in the field. A number of cable samples have been fabricated with defects that are known to reduce the service life of operational circuits. The hope being that the signals generated by these samples under known laboratory conditions, will exhibit similar characteristics to those generated in the field. Therefore, any discrimination or characterisation algorithms that we develop using the experimental data should be readily transferrable to currently operational systems.