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Transformer oil-based nanofluids (NFs) with 0.03 g/L FeO nanoparticle content exhibit 11.2% higher positive impulse breakdown voltage levels than pure transformer oils. To study the effects of the FeO nanoparticles on the space charge in transformer oil and to explain why the nano-modified transformer oil exhibits improved impulse breakdown voltage characteristics, the traditional Kerr electro-optic field mapping technique is improved by increasing the length of the parallel-plate electrodes and by using a photodetector array as a high light sensitivity device. The space charge distributions of pure transformer oil and of NFs containing FeO nanoparticles can be measured using the improved Kerr electro-optic field mapping technique. Test results indicate a significant reduction in space charge density in the transformer oil-based NFs with the FeO nanoparticles. The fast electrons are captured by the nanoparticles and are converted into slow-charged particles in the NFs, which then reduce the space charge density and result in a more uniform electric field distribution. Streamer propagation in the NFs is also obstructed, and the breakdown strengths of the NFs under impulse voltage conditions are also improved.


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