Abstract

Abstract of report at 1998 IEEE International Symposium on
Electrical Insulation, 7-10 June 1998, Washington, DC, USA.
Full text of presentation.

The results of computer simulation of the streamer growth in three-dimensional space are presented. Six models with "physical" time have been examined. Various growth criteria and different methods of including the "physical" time into the models are discussed.

The streamer propagation is considered as step by step
formation of conductive phase elements in dielectrics. The
streamer shape is represented by a connected graph consisting of
conductive bonds. The generation of new bonds obeys simple
stochastic rules in each time step. The probability of streamer
structure growth is proportional to the function of local
electric field ** r(E)**. The electric field
potential is obtained by solving the Poisson equation. Charge
transport along the streamer branches is calculated according to
Ohm's law for each conductive element.

An implicit finite difference method for solving the system of equation for the graph was developed. The continuity equation for charge transport is taken into account to ensure the charge conservation.

The models considered can be divided into two groups. The first group consists of models in which only one new bond is added in a time step. The second allows generation of several bonds per time step. The first group includes the Biller model [1], the algorithm proposed in [2], the scale stochastic time model [3] and some its modifications. The fluctuation model [4] and the new modification of the Biller model proposed in the present work belong to the second group.

A great number of numerical experiments was carried out for different magnitude of voltage. Two types of streamer shape were obtained in simulation, namely, bush- and tree-like streamers. The differential fractal dimension of streamer structures was used to compare the results obtained within the framework of the above-mentioned models. The maximum streamer length, the total charge of the streamer structure, and the maximum electric field in front of the streamer tips were computed.

The fluctuation model and the model proposed by Biller were
shown to be essentially equivalent provided that the function ** r(E)**
is the same. These models give the results qualitatively similar
to the well-known experimental data on nanosecond dielectric
breakdown in liquids in a strongly divergent field.

This work was supported in part by the Russian Foundation for
Basic Research under grant No. 97-02-18416.

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