SF6: The Perfect Gas for the Southern California Utilities Industry


WestAir Specialty Gases and Equipment seen as a key producer of dielectric gases – also called insulating gases – for the Southern California electrical utilities industry. Such gases are used routinely to either prevent or swiftly extinguish electrical discharges, for which their dielectric attributes make them most suitable. The most notable of these gases and the one most in demand from us is sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Utilities use SF6 to electrically insulate high-voltage transformers, sulfur hexafluoride circuit breakers, switchgear, and other analogous types of devices.

Relevant to SF6 circuit breakers, they’re generally swapping out oil-filled circuit breakers (OCBs), which, given the fear of their being polluted with now-banned, environmentally toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have fallen out of favor.

The extensive use of SF6 under pressure in gas-insulated switchgear is because of its manifesting a dielectric strength signally higher than air or dry nitrogen (the latter one more gas used extensively by our utilities industry customers).

One very real perk of SF6’s high electronegativity and density is that it lets the utilities industry shrink the size of electrical gear. This makes it possible to install such gear in more-tractable indoor environments, instead of air-insulating it outdoors. Gas-insulated gear located indoors is, of course, less prone to suffer the damages inflicted by climate and pollution. Besides that, a controlled environment also helps ensure greater system dependability and longevity.

If for whatever reason you’re still not acquainted with SF6 and would like to understand more about its advantages in utilities industry application, contact WestAir Specialty Gases and Equipment, your Southern California PurityPlus® Partner, today.