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 often used in a gas mixture to achieve comparable or improved levels of performance with a dramatically reduced environmental impact compared with that of 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 reduce greenhouse gas impact by up to 99.99%

    • 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. This led 3M to collaborate with industry leaders to come up with alternative solutions using Novec Insulating Gases. Tests indicate greenhouse gas reductions of up to 99.99% are attainable when used in an insulating gas mixture when compared with equipment applications using SF6.
    • 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
      • When used in a gas mixture, the greenhouse gas impact can be dramatically reduced by up to 99% compared with SF6
    • ABB eco-efficient gas insulated switchgear with AirPlus™:
       
      • ABB manufactured medium-voltage switchgear insulated with a gas made with 3M™ Novec™ 5110 Insulating Gas, matching SF6 performance with dramatically less environmental impact
      • When used in a gas mixture, the greenhouse gas impact can be dramatically reduced by up to 99.99% compared with SF6
    • 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

    Higher dielectric strength than SF6 and a wide operating temperature window.

  • 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 safety with exceptional environmental properties. 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.

  • Close-up of National Grid g3 gas insulated line (GIL) SF6-free high-voltage power transmission equipment using 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Dielectric Fluid.

    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 and a wide margin of safety.
     

    • Dielectric breakdown strength approximately 2 times that of SF6 at a given pressure
    • When used in a gas mixture, the greenhouse gas impact can be dramatically reduced by up to 99% compared with SF6
    • Versatile for medium- and high-voltage applications
    • Wide margin of safety for workers when used as designed for intended applications
    • Wide range of operating temperatures and environments
    • Compatible with a wide range of equipment components

    Download Novec 4710 data sheet (PDF, 161 KB)

    GWP and 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Insulating Gas (PDF, 142.56 KB)

    Learn more about Novec 4710 Insulating Gas

  • ABB AirPlus™ Equipment using 3M Novec 5110 Insulating Gas to replace SF6 in power industry applications

    3M Novec 5110 Insulating Gas

    This product is a low global warming potential (GWP) alternative to SF6, with strong dielectric properties and a wide margin of safety, developed to be mixed with other carrier gases when used for power equipment applications.
     

    • Dielectric breakdown strength approximately 1.4 times that of SF6 at a given pressure
    • When used in a gas mixture, the greenhouse gas impact can be dramatically reduced by up to 99.99% compared with SF6
    • Dependable dielectric properties for medium- and high-voltage applications
    • Wide margin of safety for workers when used as designed for intended applications
    • GWP of less than 1
    • Ideal for indoor applications
    • Mixed with inert gases for power equipment applications

    Download Novec 5110 data sheet (PDF, 161 KB)

    Learn more about Novec 5110 Insulating Gas


Case studies: Putting Novec Insulating Gases to the test

  • National Grid: First g3 gas insulated line (GIL)

    The first SF6-free 420kV gas insulated line (GIL) solution was installed at Sellindge, England, in 2016, with an insulating gas mixture using 3M Novec 4710 Insulating Gas. The installation follows years of research and collaboration, and demonstrates the commitment of GE, National Grid and 3M to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with use of SF6 in high-voltage power transmission equipment.

    • Uses GE’s g3 gas mixture
    • Low GWP and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP)
    • Meets the corporation's health and safety requirements
  • ABB AirPlus™: First SF₆-free medium-voltage gas-insulated switchgear

    The brand new gas insulated switchgear (GIS) with AirPlus™ is a revolutionary eco-efficient SF6 alternative for medium-voltage applications. With a GWP of less than 1, it is the world’s first medium-voltage GIS with a new gas molecule incorporating 3M’s Novec 5110 Insulating Gas. The result — maintaining compact switchgear dimensions and all GIS advantages.

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

    AirPlus is a trademark of ABB AG


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