Water treeing is one of the main deterioration phenomena observed in the polymeric insulation of extruded crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) cables, which can affect the service life of power cables. In this work, we investigated the effect of grafting of a silane (vinyl trimethoxysilane, VTMS) on the resistance of XLPE to water treeing. A series of water-treeing tests, the mechanical and dielectric measurements indicated that the silane-grafting could significantly improve the water tree resistance of the conventional XLPE cable insulation with little influences on its dielectric properties, e.g., the dielectric breakdown strength, dielectric constant and loss tangent, and its mechanical performance. It was found that there exists an optimum value of VTMS concentration (about 0.6 phr) corresponding to the minimum water tree length. The water tree resistance mechanism of silane-grafted XLPE was proposed on the basis of the process of silane hydrolysis and crosslinking. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2010
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