Positive and negative streamer inception voltages from ultra-sharp needle tips (with tip radii below 0.5 μm) are measured in TiO2
, ZnO and C60
nanofluids. The experiments are performed at several concentrations of nanoparticles dispersed in mineral oil. It is found that nanoparticles influence positive and negative streamers in different ways. TiO2
nanoparticles increase the positive streamer inception voltage only, whilst ZnO and C60
nanoparticles augment the streamer inception voltages in both polarities. Using these results, the main hypotheses explaining the improvement in the dielectric strength of the host oil due to the presence of nanoparticles are analyzed. It is found that the water adsorption hypothesis of nanoparticles is consistent with the increments in the reported positive streamer inception voltages. It is also shown that the hypothesis of nanoparticles reducing the electron velocity by hopping transport mechanisms fails to explain the results obtained for negative streamers. Finally, the hypothesis of nanoparticles attaching electrons according to their charging characteristics is found to be consistent with the results hereby presented on negative streamers.
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