The paper presents the test results for the microstructure of ZnO varistors comprising high voltage gapless surge arresters. The tests were performed on varistors produced in different periods and by various manufacturers. The research was inspired by different characteristics of changes in values of current flowing through surge arresters as a function of changes in values of system voltage in a 220 kV substation, and the temperature in a multi-year cycle. Furthermore, the effects of varistor microstructure degradation following a failure of an unsealed surge arrester were investigated. The results provided the grounds for assessment of ZnO varistor microstructure parameters in terms of their durability and resistance to degradation processes.
The paper presents investigations of microstructure of varistors of damaged surge arrester counters. A similar ZnO varistor, not subjected before to operation, was a point of reference in this research. The results of investigations of the ZnO varistors show an untypical phase composition of their material, which was characterized by unsatisfying homogeneity and cohesion. The degradation processes of varistor material in the subsequent stages were recognized and described. A harmful impact of humidity inside the untight surge arrester counter on its operation and its ZnO varistors was proved. Some conclusions being the result of the operation checking of surge arrester counters were presented too.