Glass Paper - Idaho National Laboratory

Team Members 
Principal Investigator: Bjorn Vaagensmith
Entrepreneurial Lead: Brad Whipple
Industry Mentor: Layne Lewis

Technology Description

Power transformers, a vital grid component, are vulnerable to premature failure during, and after, a geomagnetic disturbance, which causes elevated temperatures and voltage excursions that compromise internal insulation. Current insulation materials have limited thermal tolerance due to utilizing organic polymers or micro-fibers embedded in a temperature sensitive binding matrix for structural stability. A new high temperature tolerant insulation is needed. This project aims to develop new insulation prototypes with enhanced thermal properties by exploring novel high temperature tolerant ceramic nanostructured composite materials. Electrospinning is a facile fabrication process that can be used to fabricate high temperature tolerant silica nanofibers. The fibers may be used to make a woven or felted ‘glass paper’ proposed to have suitable mechanical properties, improved dielectric properties, and temperature limits of 450 °C. The new insulation can be fabricate into a wide range of form factors mitigating any need to retool power transformer or other electric equipment manufacturing facilities in need of a high temperature tolerant insulation.