Design of a High Voltage Arbitrary Wave Shape Generator for Dielectric Testing

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)


The integration of wind and solar energy through power electronic converters has introduced new challenges to High Voltage (HV) equipment in the electrical power system. Switchgear, cables, and transformers are now subject to higher dV/dt stress and complex wave shapes due to solid-state switching. This poses a threat to the reliability of the grid by weakening the dielectric material of these assets. Existing HV test sources face limitations in generating complex wave shapes and have restricted current capabilities. Building a customized test setup is time-consuming when combining multiple HV test sources for complex waveforms.

To overcome these challenges, an Arbitrary Wave shape Generator (AWG) for dielectric testing of HV grid assets is proposed. The Modular Multilevel Converter (MMC) topology is chosen for its modular structure, low harmonic content, and scalability to higher voltage levels. The initial focus is on dielectric testing of Medium Voltage (MV) class equipment, with the ultimate goal being the development of a modular prototype as part of a PhD project.

HV test requirements and procedures for conventional tests of MV class equipment are compiled, along with specifications for non-standard wave shapes in consideration of the hybrid grid. Two main HV test requirements are addressed in the PhD thesis: the output voltage range of 10 kV to 100 kV with a load capacitance range of 50 pF to 10 nF and a large-signal bandwidth up to 2.5 kHz. The second requirement involves generating steep pulses with a rise time of a few microseconds for a voltage magnitude of 250 kV across a capacitive load of 10 nF.

Despite the maturity of MMC technology for HVDC transmission, adapting it for HV AWG applications presents unique challenges. The thesis explores design trade-offs related to MMC parameters such as the number of Submodules (SMs) per arm, arm inductance, arm resistance, modulation technique, SM capacitance, and control system. Design criteria are developed and demonstrated through simulation models and a scaled-down prototype.

The control hardware of the HV AWG is addressed using a commercially available Real Time Simulator (RTS) named Typhoon-HIL. This choice is based on its flexibility to program arbitrary waveforms in the FPGA without coding in any special hardware description language. The performance is demonstrated in the scaled-down prototype, achieving sinusoidal waveforms up to 5 kHz reference frequency with THD less than 5%.

The second HV test requirement, steep pulse generation, is investigated with the MMC topology. It is found that the series-connected SMs of MMC make it challenging to obtain a short rise time across a large capacitive load. To address this, an integrated hybrid circuit of MMC and Marx generator circuit is proposed for complex waveforms with a rise time faster than 100 μs. Proper guidelines for choosing circuit parameters are provided and experimentally validated with a scaled-down prototype.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Vaessen, P.T.M., Supervisor
  • Bauer, P., Supervisor
  • Ghaffarian Niasar, M., Advisor
Award date10 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


KEMA Laboratory, Arnhem, The Netherlands.


  • Dielectric Testing of Grid Assets
  • Arbitrary Wave shape Generator
  • modular multi-level converter (MMC)
  • Marx generator
  • PD measurement


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