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Syllabus for

Academic year
MTT035 - High voltage engineering
Högspänningsteknik 1
Syllabus adopted 2021-02-10 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPEPO
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Electrical Engineering

Teaching language: English
Application code: 21124
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: D
Maximum participants: 70

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0107 Examination 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c    

In programs

TIELL ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING - Electrical Engineering, Year 3 (compulsory elective)


Jörgen Blennow


General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Course specific prerequisites for MPEPO in the Admission Regulations


For the student this course represents the first contact with the diverse subject of high voltage engineering. It mainly aims at: i) introducing fundamental concepts and providing basic understanding within the area of classical experimental high voltage engineering; ii) familiarising the student with the electric power system on a component level and iii) preparing the student for the second course High Voltage Technology which is essential for the student wishing to achieve a broader and deeper understanding of the subject. After successful completion of the two courses in high voltage engineering as a part of the electric power programme the student is well prepared for a carrier e.g. as a R&D-engineer of high voltage design and laboratory activities or as a qualified engineer dealing with various aspects of the components in the power system. In addition, the two courses together constitute a solid base for post-graduate studies in electric power engineering.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

  • perform analytical calculations of the electric field distribution in insulation systems having plane-parallel, coaxial and spherical geometries.
  • point out un-suitable geometries where the field locally will be very high and suggest improvements of design.
  • explain the mechanism of electric breakdown in gases under low pressures by using a simple ballistic collision model (Townsend's breakdown mechanism).
  • define mean free path, Townsend's first and second ionization coefficients and the breakdown criteria.
  • explain, from an engineering point of view, and point out parameters important for obtaining high electric withstand strength.
  • apply the Paschen curve for estimating the electric strengths of short homogenous gas gaps under low pressure and varying ambient conditions.
  • explain the influence of time lags on breakdown voltage and explain the implications on insulation coordination.
  • demonstrate familiarity with the characteristics of laboratory equipment for generation and measurement of high voltages by making a well-motivated choice for a specific test situation or test purpose.
  • plan and physically arrange a high voltage test set-up in a safe way and be able to minimize and assess risks with respect to personal safety and integrity of measuring circuits and instruments.
  • use high voltage test procedures for finding breakdown and withstand voltages.
  • statistically evaluate such performed test sequences and make necessary atmospheric corrections.
  • identify electric power components in a substation and explain their role in the station and their characteristics, and, give examples on how digital solutions might change the classical substation.
  • compare and discuss advantages/disadvantages of using equipment of different design or working principles.
  • identify and explain different construction elements of overhead and cable lines.
  • calculate the probable number of annual faults for an overhead line due to direct hits to the line according the Rolling sphere theory and considering the risk of back-flashovers.
  • calculate overvoltages caused by travelling waves and reflections in the power system and demonstrate how surge arresters can be used to limit these.
  • explain and schematically illustrate different origins of switching and temporary overvoltages and their characteristics.
  • demonstrate insight in, and under guidance of an experienced engineer be able to coordinate the insulation level of specific apparatus with respect to over voltages occurring at a specific position in the system with the use and appropriate choice of protective measures in order to achieve (calculate) a technical/economical acceptable risk.
  • identify and discuss technologies that might have a negative impact on environment and human health. Such examples can be choice of insulation media, exposure to electromagnetic fields, acoustic noise and visual appearance.
  • reflect on opportunities and challenges of an international working environment.


The course starts with fundamental electric field calculations (Laplacian fields) in insulation systems of simple geometries followed by an introduction to gas discharge physics, Townsends theory for electric breakdown in air and Paschens law and its implications on gas insulation strength. A central area of the course is experimental techniques which is applied and put into practice during laborations. The concept of insulation coordination connects in a natural way the different topics and constitutes the theme through out the course. In addition, knowledge of components in the power system and their characteristics is also of vital importance for a professional engineer and is therefore dealt with.

Lectures and tutorials cover the following topics:
  • Fundamentals of electric fields: boundary conditions, meaning of Gauss- law, analytical calculations of field distribution in plane-parallel-, coaxial- and spherical geometries under ac-stress, field control.
  • Electric breakdown of gases under low pressure: gas kinetics, collision ionisation, the electron avalanche, Townsend's breakdown mechanism, Paschen's law, time lag, voltage-time characteristics, influences and corrections of ambient conditions (pressure, temperature and humidity).
  • Overvoltages: the lightning stroke mechanism, the Rolling sphere theory for assessing exposure for a direct hit, back-flashovers, annual probability for power line failure due to lightning, wave impedances, travelling waves, protection of power lines and sub-stations, characteristics of atmospheric overvoltages, origin and characteristics of switching and temporary overvoltages.
  • Dimensioning electrical stresses.
  • High voltage laboratory techniques: generation and measurements of high voltages i.e. transformer-, resonance- and rectifier circuits, impulse generators (e.g. the Marx generator), voltage measurements using sphere gaps and voltage dividers, current measurements using coaxial shunts and Rogowski coil.
  • Experimental test methods: the multilevel method, the up-and-down method and the extended up-and-down method).
  • statistic evaluation of measured data series: diagram with normal distribution scaling, U50%, standard deviation, breakdown probabilities for system of objects.
  • Insulation co-ordination: reduction of over-voltages, travelling waves, reflections, surge arresters (SiC and ZnO), protective range for arresters, deterministic-, statistic- and semi-statistic insulation co-ordination.
  • Components and apparatus in the power system: overhead lines, cables, cable accessories (terminations and joints) power transformers, bushings, instrument transformers including ratio and angular errors, breakers, disconnectors, fuses, capacitors, reactors, substations, gas insulated systems (GIS). Development and solutions towards digitalized substations.
Two laboratory experiments (compulsory) are included in the course, which deal with:
  1. Lightning impulse testing - the Marx generator, influences and correction of ambient conditions, evaluation of impulse tests, voltage-time characteristics. Resistive voltage divider: Importance of controlling the electric field in order to reducing the response time and thereby the amplitude error when measuring a chopped impulse voltage.
  2. Overvoltages in cables - wave impedances, reflections, effects of surge arresters, measurements of impulse voltages and impulse currents.
Short reports should be handed in adjacent to each laboratory experiment.

A compulsory lecture deals with work in an international environment and is followed by a compulsory workshop on strategies for work in an international working environment, with focus on group work.


The course comprises of ca 20 lectures, 18 tutorials, two laboratory exercises (4 h). A compulsory lecture and a compulsory workshop (3 h) deal with work in an international environment.

Relatively early in the course a voluntary trial exam is offered which can give bonus points on the final written exam.


1. Andreas Küchler, High Voltage Engineering, Fundamentals - Technology - Applications. ISBN 978-3-642-11992-7 or ISBN 978-3-642-11993-4 (e-book)
2. E. Kuffel, W. S. Zaengl, J. Kuffel, High Voltage Engineering Fundamentals, Newnes 2000, 2nd ed, ISBN 0 7506 3634 3

Examination including compulsory elements

Written examination. Grades: Fail, 3, 4 or 5. Approved laboratory exercises including short laboratory reports. Written reflection on international work environment.

The course examiner may assess individual students in other ways than what is stated above if there are special reasons for doing so, for example if a student has a decision from Chalmers on educational support due to disability.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.