New material promises to prevent power pole-top fires

The new insulation material for electricity poles (left) next to silicone after a fire resistance experiment (Photo: RMIT)

May 1, 2024 – Scientists of Australian RMIT have found a new way to make power-pole insulators resistant to fire and electrical sparking, promising to prevent dangerous pole-top fires and reduce blackouts. Pole-top fires pose significant challenges to power providers and communities worldwide. In March, pole-top fires cut power from 40,000 homes and businesses in Perth alone.
The newly developed material is a silicone rubber composite consisting of ground fiberglass, aluminium hydroxide and a clay derived from volcanic ash as additives. It could serve as a protective coating or paint for ceramic and glass insulators, providing additional protection against environmental factors such as moisture, pollution and fire.

The research was recently published in the journal Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials under the title ‘Enhancing flame and electrical surface discharge resistance in silicone rubber composite insulation through aluminum hydroxide, clay, and glass fiber additives’.

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