The main fields of activity are related to dielectric material characterization and diagnosis of electrical power systems through partial discharge (PD) measurements.
LIMAT has carried out a tight collaboration with the major international labs and companies involved in the field of  electrical insulation systems:

  • Italian universities: Trieste, Roma, Cassino, Napoli, Genova, Palermo, Padova.

  • Foreign universities: Toulouse (France), Bangor, Leicester, Surrey (UK), Delft (The Netherlands), Potsdam (Germany), Linz (Austria).

  • Public and private companies and research centers: Hydro-Quebec, Ontario-Hydro, CNR (Canada); Laborelec (Belgium), CESI, GRTN, Enel, TERNA, Pirelli, Telecom Italia, Ansaldo, ASI-Robicon, FIAR (Italy); Borealis (Sweden); EDF, Alstom, Nexans (France); Dow Chemicals, EPRI (USA).

The main reserch topics are:

  • Electrical characterization, aging investigation and life modelling of polymeric insulating materials (e.g., for power cables) by means of short and long term electric, thermal and mechanical tests. The original methodologies employed, together with new test systems developed, e.g. for space charge measurements, allow test optimization providing the maximum data available in the shortest time.

  • Quality control and on-line diagnostics on the main apparatus of electrical power systems (e.g., transformers, generators, electric motors, cables and accessories, etc.) by means of partial discharge measurements employing artificial intelligence techniques for evaluation of insulation condition (in cooperation with TechImp Srl). Click for details

  • Characterization of new nano-structurated insulating and semiconductive materials which allow to improve electrical, thermal and mechanical performance of electrical insulation systems. Click for details

  • Investigation of properties of new ferroelectric cellular polymers with high piezoelectricity for application in electronic sensors and transducers by means of conductivity, space charge and partial discharge measurements. Click for details

  • Diagnostics of inverter-supplied induction motors, called ASD (Adjustable Speed Drive) by Partial Discharge analysis on winding insulation of motor stator. The research includes the development of UHF sensor for partial discharge, commutation noise filtering and partial discharges characterization for both on-line and off-line motor configurations. Click for details 

  • Characterization of mechanical and electrical properties of HT superconductors for application on power cables. Click for details


Main European Research Programmes:

1) HVDC (“Potential benefits of HVDC links in the European power electrical system and improved DC insulation requirements”): belonging to the5th Framewotk Programme, has been started on 01/01/2003. This project deals with HVDC cables (improved environmental compatibility). Two objectives: 1) to evaluate potential benefits of HVDC systems; 2) to study, in particular,  HVDC cables (insulation modelling, aging and diagnstics). Main partners: GRTN, CESI, Pirelli, Borealis, Univ. Bologna-LIMAT, Univ. Leicester, Univ. Tolosa, Univ. Delft, Univ. Surrey.

2) DURASMART (“DURAble cellular polymer films with giant electromechanical response for SMART transducer applications”): belonging to the 5th Framework Programme, has been started on  01/12/2002. This project deals with the development and characterisation of expanded cellular polymeric materials (smart materials) with increased piezoelectricity (advanced sensors). Main partners: TechImp s.r.l. Bologna, VTT(Technical Research Centre of Finland), Dupont, Emfitech (Finlandia), Univ. Potsdam, Univ. Lienz.

3) ATRIDE (“Advanced TRansmission systems: Innovation in HVDC cable and converter technologies”): belonging to the 6th Framework Programme, waiting for financing (positively evaluated, but not financed at the first stage for lack of founds, having, however, good prospects for future financing). This project deals with HVDC cables, but on the view side of the study of interconnecting problems and power converters AC/DC and DC/AC used for high voltages  (multilevel converters). Main partners: National Grid (UK), Pirelli, Polish Power Grid, Siemens, TechImp s.r.l. Bologna, Univ. Bologna-LIMAT, Univ. Leicester, Univ. Tolosa, Univ. Zielona Gora (PL).

Past European Research Programmes:

1) ARTEMIS (“Ageing and Reliability TEsting and Monitoring of power cables: diagnosis for Insulation Systems”): belonging to the 4th Framework Programme, started in 1998 and concluded in 2002. This project deals with aging, reliability evaluation and diagnositics on HVAC cables (aging models, PEA, TEM, SEM, partial discharges). Main partners: Alsthom, Pirelli, Borealis, EdF, Electrabel, Univ. Bologna-LIMAT, Univ. Leicester, Univ. Tolosa, Univ. Surrey, Univ. Montpellier.

Main National Research Programmes:

1) P.R.I.N. (ex MPI 40%) MISTRAL (“Materiali Isolanti Innovativi a STRuttura Nanometrica per Applicazioni nei Settori ELettrico ed Elettronico”): national and local coordinator, Prof. Gian Carlo Montanari. It deals with composite nanostructured materials with polymeric matrix showing improved properties as electrical insulation for electrical and electronic applications. Partners: Univ. Bologna-LIMAT, Univ. Palermo, Univ. Genova, Politecn. Torino.

2) P.R.I.N. (ex MPI 40%) “Gestione del rischio e della qualità nel mercato dell’energia elettrica”: national coordinator, Prof. Alfredo Testa (Univ. Napoli 2), local coordinator, Dr. Giovanni Mazzanti. Local research topic: “Aging of components of power distribution network”: failure statistic analysis, failure rate evaluation, reliability models of electric components). Partners: Univ. Bologna-LIMAT, Univ. L’Aquila, Univ. Milano, Univ. Reggio C., Univ. Napoli1, Univ. Napoli2, Univ. Palermo, Univ. Bari, Univ. Cassino, Univ. Cosenza, Univ. Pavia.

3) Fondo Integrativo Speciale per la Ricerca (FISR) 1999: “Studio dei meccanismi di degradazione in materiali isolanti polimerici” (Investigation of degradation mechanisms of polymeric insulating materials). Tematic area: “Molecular modelling”).


Research Projects financed by industrial partners:


1) PIRELLI (insulating materials: characterisation and modelling);

2) BOREALIS (insulating materials: characterisation);

3) CESI (diagnostics on components of trasmission and distribution power networks).


Other Projects:

NATO Project: Mobility of researchers  Italy /Est-Europe countries (Romania).