In XLPE cables, partial discharge (PD) is often accompanied by the generation of ultrasonic waves, which can be used to estimate the location and size of PD. Studying the propagation law of ultrasound along the cable is of great significance for establishing the mathematical model of PD and the layout method of ultrasonic detection terminal. This article adopted simulation and experiment to study the propagation law of PD ultrasound in cables. The results indicated that the propagation process of ultrasonic waves can be divided into three stages when ultrasonic waves propagate along the cables: the diffusion process with the characteristics of spherical waves, the propagation process which is rather similar to plane waves, and the transition process of both. When propagating along the cable, the ultrasonic amplitude attenuates and exhibits multi-peak characteristics as the distance increases. By analyzing the signal strength of the experimental results, it was found that the ultrasonic amplitude decays exponentially with propagation distance due to viscous heat loss of materials and the air gaps between cable layers, which provided a reference to the placement of distributed ultrasonic terminal for insulation weakness and design of spatial localization algorithm for PD.
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