Insulating gas for the electric power industry

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Make a meaningful change for the future of our planet. Choose 3M™ Novec™ Insulating Gases as an alternative to sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆), the potent greenhouse gas commonly used to insulate and protect medium- and high-voltage electric transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The electric grid is the conduit for our rapidly improving quality of life, and its reliability is critical with little margin for error. But while the electrical power industry makes people safe, comfortable and productive, if leaks or unintended releases of SF₆ occur, this results in a significant greenhouse gas impact on the environment.

That’s why at 3M, our scientists have focused on the insulating gas needs of the electrical power industry, where SF₆ is used. The results of this extensive development and testing are 3M Novec Insulating Gases, which are used in gas mixtures to achieve comparable levels of performance with a dramatically reduced environmental impact compared to SF₆. If you’re looking to create a greener electric grid, we can help.


Power electricity substation silhouette with bright sunset in the background.
Powering a sustainable future.

  • Two workers in safety vests and hard hats outside looking at National Grid g3 gas insulated line (GIL) SF6-free high-voltage power transmission equipment using 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Dielectric Fluid

    An SF₆ alternative designed to help reduce greenhouse gas impact by >99%

    • The electric industry has been willing to accept the challenges of using SF₆ as an insulating gas because of its dielectric properties and reliability. But SF₆ is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 23,500 times that of CO2 when compared over a 100-year period. In fact, it is the most potent greenhouse gas that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ever evaluated. With an atmospheric lifetime of approximately 3,200 years, the concentration of SF₆ continues to increase in the atmosphere. This led 3M to collaborate with industry leaders to come up with alternative solutions using Novec Insulating Gases. Tests demonstrate greenhouse gas reductions of more than 99% in on-grid commercial equipment.
    • g3™ (Green Gas for Grid):
    • Developed by General Electric using 3M Novec 4710 Insulating Gas, g3™ meets requirements for high-voltage switchgear and gas insulated line (GIL) applications

    • Eco-efficient gas insulated switchgear with AirPlus™:
    • Developed by ABB using 3M™ Novec™ 5110 Insulating Gas, AirPlus™ meets requirements for medium-voltage and high-voltage switchgear and gas insulated line applications.

    • Explore the 3M™ Novec™ Insulating Gases Family Brochure. (PDF, 1.06 MB)
    • Watch a comparison of SF₆ and Novec Insulating Gases

Mission-critical performance for electric power transmission and distribution

The electrical power industry has no margin for error, so Novec-based insulating gas mixtures perform within stringent safety and reliability specifications.

  • Image of a city skyline at night

    Exceptional performance

    Novec insulating gases are typically mixed with inert gases where the mixture offers comparable dielectric strength to SF₆.

  • Two workers in safety vests and hard hats outside looking at National Grid g3 gas insulated line (GIL) SF6-free high-voltage power transmission equipment using 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Dielectric Fluid.

    Reliability for critical infrastructure

    Can be utilized in gas insulated switchgear, circuit breakers, gas insulated lines (GIL) and more.

  • ABB AirPlus™ SF6-free medium-voltage power transmission equipment using 3M™ Novec™ 5110 Dielectric Fluid.

    Lower total cost of ownership

    Reduced administrative burden to report SF6 greenhouse gas emissions.


About 3M Novec Insulating Gases

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Novec Insulating Gases combine excellent dielectric performance and with a wide margin of safety for workers. Used as part of a gas mixture, Novec Insulating Gases are suitable for both medium- and high-voltage applications and are non-flammable and non-ozone-depleting. As sustainable alternatives to SF₆, Novec Insulating Gases help reduce the GHG impact in on-grid commercial equipment more than 99% and therefore provide a significant and meaningful reduction of the environmental impact.

  • 3M Novec 4710 Insulating Gas

    This product was specifically developed to be a sustainable alternative to SF₆ when used in its pure form or as part of a gas mixture, providing excellent dielectric properties over a wide range of operating temperature.
     

    • Dielectric breakdown voltage approximately 2 times that of SF₆ at a given pressure (in pure form)
    • Wide margin of safety for workers when used as designed for intended applications
    • Helps enables significant and meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from gas-insulated equipment using SF₆.

    Download Novec 4710 data sheet (PDF, 161 KB)

    Learn more about Novec 4710 Insulating Gas

  • 3M Novec 5110 Insulating Gas

    This product is an ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) alternative to SF₆ developed to be mixed with other carrier gases when used for electric power equipment applications.
     

    • Dielectric breakdown voltage approximately 1.4 times that of SF₆ at a given pressure (in pure form)
    • Wide margin of safety for workers when used as designed for intended applications
    • Virtually eliminates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from gas-insulated equipment

    Download Novec 5110 data sheet (PDF, 161 KB)

    Learn more about Novec 5110 Insulating Gas


Case studies: Putting Novec Insulating Gases to the test

  • General Electric’s g³™ using 3M Novec 4710 Gas

    g3™, (pronounced "g" cubed) is GE's environmentally friendly alternative to SF6 gas, developed for HV electrical transmission equipment and using 3M Novec 4710 gas. g3™ products feature the same ratings and same dimensional footprint as the state-of-the-art SF6 equipment, with a drastically reduced environmental impact.
     

    • g3™ products operate with no restriction under the same temperature range as SF6 products (down to -30°C).
    • GE’s g3™ products are type-tested and available for live-tank circuit breakers and gas-insulated substations up to 145 kV, gas-insulated lines (GIL) up to 420 kV and instrument transformers up to 245 kV.
    • More than 20 leading utilities have decided to use equipment with g3™ incorporating more than 100 bays in total.

    GE, the GE monogram, g3 and g3 logo are trademarks of General Electric Company.

    Download an overview of case studies (PDF, 288 KB)

    View the g3™– SF6 Alternative for High Voltage Applications case study

  • AirPlus™ using 3M Novec 5110

    AirPlus™ using 3M Novec 5110 gas has been developed by ABB as an eco-efficient alternative to SF6

    • Environmentally sustainable with a GWP of less than 1
    • Compact equipment design
    • Retains key benefits of established GIS technology

    First pilot installations of medium and high voltage applications are successfully running in EWZ in Zurich Switzerland since 2015. Today, AirPlus™ is being used in these applications:

    • Medium Voltage – ABB:
      • MV Primary GIS up to 40.5kV
      • MV Secondary GIS and AIS up to 24kV
    • High Voltage – Hitachi-ABB Power Grids
      • High Voltage GIS for 145kV, 380kV substation upgrade to be completed in 2026

    AirPlus is a trademark of ABB Ag & Hitachi-ABB Power Grids.

    Download the flyer (PDF, 1.6 MB)

    SF6 - free medium voltage switchgear case study

    ewz Oerlikon substation, Switzerland case study

    ABB eco-efficient substation in Germany case study

     


3M Novec Insulating Gases tools and resources

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