GRINHELEC: Developing and characterizing a greener insulation for high-voltage cables

In a context where European regulations will eventually require a massive restriction of the use of fluorinated polymers, GRINHELEC (GReen INsulation for High power ELECtrical harnesses) project intends to make possible the use of a bio-sourced insulation in effort to supplant the fluorinated insulators of the cables dedicated for electric propulsion.

GRINHELEC aims at meeting the needs of future electric aircraft by substituting the fluorinated insulation used in the current cables with a greener, partly bio-sourced, and more sustainable high-temperature insulation developed by Arkema.

Project background

The aerospace industry mainly uses cables with fluoropolymer-based insulations. These polymers, which possess high temperature performance (used up to 260°C in engine areas), are so resistant that their lifespan is several times longer than that of the aircraft where they are applied. However, they have the disadvantage of being bio accumulative, very persistent and dangerous for living organisms.

The switch to electric propulsion will not require such high temperature levels, as the maximum junction temperature of the silicon in the electronic components used for propulsion cannot be exceeded.

The project comprises several key milestones:

  • A comparative aging study of a greener insulation and a fluorinated insulation,
  • The characterization of the greener insulation,
  • The design and fabrication of cables with a greener insulation
  • The characterization of the manufactured cables
  • The characterization of a new high-performance thermoplastic, PEKK, which has the advantage of being processed by 3D printing thereby enabling cost and time savings for aeronautical manufacturers. Aging campaigns are planned to determine the aging patterns of PEKK as well as those of the silicone used in the connectors.
  • The study of surface arcs under aeronautical conditions with the aim of proposing new design rules for higher voltage connectors.
  • The exploration of non-destructivemethods for assessing the aging state of harnesses in service, i.e., after their installation and operating in aircraft.
GRINHELEC: Developing and characterizing a greener insulation for high-voltage cables
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