The November/December Issue of the Electrical Insulation Magazine has been released. Use the accordion headings below to explore this issue’s content, and visit the IEEE Xplore for full magazine access.
Lightning Protection of Wind Turbine Blades—How Supersizing Has Created New Challenges for Nanodielectrics Research
Orestis Vryonis; Antonio A.M. Laudani; Thomas Andritsch; Igor O. Golosnoy; Alun S. Vaughan
Testing Challenges in the Development of Innovative Extruded Insulation for HVDC Cables
M. Albertini; S. Franchi Bononi; S. Giannini; G. Mazzanti; N. Guerrini
A Review on the Relevance of Standards for Silicone Insulating Liquids Used in Cable Sealing Ends
Soumya Thakur; Allison Shaw; Thomas Andritsch; George Callender; Paul L. Lewin; Oliver Cwikowski
DEIS AdCom Member-At-Large Dr.E.Foley@ieee.org
Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Genetic diversity is required for a population to adapt and thrive as external factors change—whether it be disease, natural disaster, or a boom in predator populations. It turns out that this is not unique to species in the natural world. In 2018 McKinsey and company  published an article that showed a correlation between diversity in a company’s workforce and the company’s overall financial performance. As this paper noted, correlation is not causation. Currently, there is not enough data to say that increasing diversity causes improvements in financial performance. However, they do note that most companies only increase diversity when there is a strong initiative to do so. Although DEIS is not a company with the goal of financial gain, it stands to reason that there are benefits to having a diverse membership. April 2020 PNAS published an article that correlated increased diversity with increased innovation . As a Society dedicated to the advancement of dielectrics and electrical insulation, it would be in our best interest to promote diversity within our membership.
Besides the self-serving interest mentioned above, there is a moral component to implementing diversity initiatives as well. The very basic idea of fairness and equality is that everyone should have a chance to participate if they have the interest and, in some cases, the aptitude to do so. Factors beyond an individual’s control, or factors irrelevant to the opportunity at hand, should not be used to exclude anyone. While in theory this seems like an easy position for an organization or person to adopt, the reality becomes a bit more complicated when things like human nature, cultural differences, and systemic biases come into play. Overt or malicious behavior that excludes spe-cific groups is fairly easy to identify and address. The more challenging step is when there is nothing overtly preventing anyone from participating and yet the diversity found in the overall population is not reflected in a smaller group. This phenomenon is true within DEIS; the statistics show that the numbers of women, students, and young professional members are significantly lower than the general population.
To address this concerns, AdCom formed a new ad hoc committee to specifically look at what the Society is doing to promote diversity and inclusion for all participants (or would be participants!) in the dielectrics and insulation community. The first thing this committee did was to clarify and state what exactly the Society is trying to achieve. To this end, a Diversity and Inclusion Statement was drafted and approved by AdCom in May 2021. The statement is as follows:
The IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS) is committed to providing equal opportunity to students, scientists, engineers and professionals, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity or gender expression, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Diversity is fundamentally about valuing human differences and recognizing diverse talents, and inclusion is embracing and welcoming these differences. Our policy is to continually improve our practices in order to build and maintain an environment that reflects the rich di-versity of the community in the field of dielectrics and insulation. In support of these ideals, this society will not tolerate harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment or bullying behavior.
The statement quite simply reflects that we welcome all people to participate in our community and expect everyone to treat each other with respect and dignity.
As a society with members across the globe, defining what exactly diversity means can be tricky. A minority group in one locale might be the majority in another region. An ethnic distinction in one country does not necessarily hold the same meaning or challenges in another. To that end, the approach taken is to encourage underrepresented groups to participate in DEIS. The advantage to focusing on underrepresented groups is that there is some flexibility in the definition. At a global level, students, young professionals, and women are underrepresented in our Society. However different regions and chapters of DEIS can identify additional underrepresented groups unique to their locale.
The committee has been working on identifying some initiatives that can be implemented to improve diversity. As conferences are one of the bigger events where members have the opportunity to participate and interact with our Society, it makes sense to look at how to increase accessibility and diversity at conferences. This can be through a variety of means, whether it is financial assistance or other means of support such a child care, or interpreters, or activities targeting a particular group. Besides conferences, there could be opportunities to engage members through online webinars, summer schools, and volunteer opportunities. The team is still working on what is feasible and most likely to be effective, but there are some exciting proposals in the works.
On an organizational level, conferences can provide opportunities for underrepresented groups. For example, the Electrical Insulation Conference has held a student lunch in previous years and is holding a virtual panel discussion for students this year. Other societies have implemented mentoring programs to pair younger members with experienced professionals. These initiatives are wonderful and rely on a formal top-down approach, where the leaders and organizers implement opportunities to promote inclusivity. There are plenty of other opportunities where individuals can make a difference. Asking students questions about their posters or oral presentations, research interests, or career goals are a few ways to reach out. Another way is to casually chat with someone standing alone during coffee breaks, social meetings, or banquets. Members can reach out to one another in between conferences to stay in touch. Taking the chance and reaching out to someone new for volunteer opportunities is an additional way to diversify participation and promote inclusion. For many members, this is second nature and much appreciated. Finding occasions to consciously make an effort to promote a culture where everyone feels welcome is something that everyone can look for.
Along those lines, all suggestions and ideas on how we as a Society can continue to grow our membership, promote diversity, and cultivate inclusion would be appreciated. They can be sent to me at Dr.E.Foley@ieee.org. Please send a note if you are interested in participating in this initiative. Finally, I wish to thank you for your time and consideration in reading this article.
Best Regards, Elizabeth Foley
 V. Hunt, S. Prince, S. Dixon-Fyle, and L. Yee, Delivering Through Diversity. McKinsey&Company, Jan. 2018. Accessed: May 31, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/ media/mckinsey/business%20functions/ organization/our%20insights/delivering%20through%20diversity/delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx.
 B. Hofstra, V. V. Kulkarni, S. M. Galvez, B. He, D. Jurafsky, and D. A. McFarland, “The diversity–innovation paradox in science,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., vol. 117, no. 17, pp. 9284–9291, Apr. 2020, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1915378117.
From The Editor
While at least some of us have been given more freedom again, we are thinking of how to prepare for a world postCOVID. You may remember that a few months ago we started a survey on conference attendance of DEIS members before, during, and after COVID-19. The results of this survey are presented and analyzed in this issue of the Magazine and can be used by the DEIS leadership to fine-tune our conferences. It seems likely that the conference landscape will change.
This issue of the Magazine contains three featured articles on a variety of topics.
The first article in this issue, “Lightning Protection of Wind Turbine Blades—How Supersizing Has Created New Challenges for Nanodielectrics Research,” is authored by Orestis Vryonis, Antonio Laudani, Thomas Andritsch, Igor Golosnoy, and Alun Vaughan, University of Southampton, UK. In this article an interesting link is made between supersizing in lightning protection of wind turbine blades and polymer nanocomposites. It is shown how nanocomposites with improved electrical and thermal performance may be used to effectively mitigate some of the issues related to lightning protection of very large wind turbines. First, it is described how this supersizing has led to an increased probability of lightning impact on the wind turbines. It is shown that one has to deal with both the electrical and thermal properties of the materials used in wind turbine blades. Next, it is described how polymer nanocomposites may be used in addressing these issues. The emphasis is on graphene oxide (GO), and the most suitable synthesis of GO is discussed. Then, the authors present the results of simulations of the current, electric field, and temperature profile in a turbine blade when it is hit by lightning. It is shown that the use of GO in the epoxy resin of the blades significantly reduces the peak current density and the associate Joule heat. The authors conclude that the positive effects of GO-filled epoxies on system performance present clear benefits that, combined with a simple design and low-cost manufacturing, outweigh any additional complications related to the introduction of nanoparticles in such components.
The second article, “Testing Challenges in the Development of Innovative Extruded Insulation for HVDC Cables,” is the result of a collaborative effort of Marco Albertini, Stefano Franchi Bononi, and S. Giannini, Prysmian SpA, Italy; Giovanni Mazzanti, University of Bologna, Italy; and N. Guerrini, Prysmian Câbles et Systèmes, France. The article starts with introducing the drivers for the fast development of HVDC cable systems and then lists the different HVDC cable technologies currently available. The current standards for testing such systems are described, as well as the test equipment required. Next, the attention is focused on the quest for HVDC cables with improved performance, specifically XLPE-based insulation developed for DC and polypropylene-based HPTE insulation. For newly designed insulation systems, the authors then present their electrical testing approach, from research tests to eventually development tests. Finally, some examples are given of research and development tests on new extruded insulation for HVDC application.
The third article, “A review on the Relevance of Standards for Silicone Insulating Liquids Used in Cable Sealing Ends,” is written by Soumya Thakur, Allison Shaw, Thomas Andritsch, George Callender, and Paul L. Lewin from the University of Southampton, UK, in collaboration with Oliver Cwikowski of National Grid Electricity Transmission, UK. In this article, the authors discuss standards relevant to silicone liquids used in cable sealing ends from the standpoint of theoretical and empirical research. In a critical review of existing standards, six key properties of silicone liquids are singled out and discussed in detail, i.e., sample handling, viscosity, dielectric parameters, breakdown voltage, DC conductivity, and moisture content. For each key property, the most important deviations between the standards and actual experimental values and observations are highlighted. Based on common observations, an extensive list of suggestions is presented to improve the current practices.
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