Dr. J. Keith Nelson
Chartered Professional Engineer
# 236275

Keith Nelson regularly acts as a consultant to numerous industrial and legal interests requiring analytical, design and diagnostic services, particularly in the physical phenomena underlying the operation of power system equipment.


Forensic Engineering

Tear downIt is not always obvious why electric power equipment fails. Uncovering the mechanism of failure is usually of paramount importance: Analytical services, tear-down analysis, field and laboratory tests are all techniques employed, where appropriate, in this process.
Dielectric Design

Field plotWith 40 years of experience in the design of structures to withstand high electric stress, Keith Nelson is in a position to undertake and advise on design tasks to optimize the use of modern materials by applying a variety of stress mitiaging techniques. All such design inevitably involves some compromise as a result of the constraints of the particular situation and the selection of appropriate materials. These issues not only apply to high-voltage situations, but are also applicable to high stress situations brought about by miniaturization such as occurs in the medical field.

Finite element and cumulative stress analyses are used extensively to assess prevailing stress magnitudes and distributions so as to be able to compare design strategies. This can be done at various levels of sophistication.

In particular, having been involved with dielectric liquids all his professional life, Keith Nelson is in a position to advise on issues such as PCB alternatives.

High-Voltage Technology

HV lab.

Having managed a large high-voltage facility and a short-circuit testing laboratory, a wealth of experience exists to provide consulting services on the generation, measurement and utilization of D.C., A.C. and impulses voltages, including fast pulse-power facilities. This includes safety aspects, RFI shielding, and the analysis of pulse forming networks. Partial discharge detection and other non-destructive techniques (i.e. acoustic and optical) are of particular importance.   

Electrostatic Phenomena


Although electrostatics, as a discipline, can trace its roots back to the year 600 BC, in recent years numerous applications relying on electrostatic phenomena have been commercialized. This has been fueled primarily by advances in materials science. At the same time, electrostatic discharge problems have emerged which require control. Dr. Nelson has been a leading figure in aspects of both of these areas for nearly 20 years. This results from his position as a principal investigator on programs to develop advanced electrostatic precipitator technology, and to understand and mitigate streaming electrification in large power transformers. This has also involved the development of experimental methods and instrumentation.

Diagnostic Instrumentation
PD measurement

Financial investments in large power equipment coupled with the availability of cheap computing power has made it very attractive to use computer-based diagnostic techniques to apply artificial intelligence to determine the state of equipment. Considerable experience has been obtained in assessing the state of an insulation systems through the analysis of partial discharge signatures and the use of acoustic probes. In the research arena, tools such as dielectric spectroscopy, thermally stimulated currents, pulsed electroacoustic analysis and electroluminescence are routinely used in unraveling the interactions between materials and imposed fields. In particular, a capability to assess internal space charge using pulsed electroacoustic analysis is a rare facility in the US.

These methods have also proved valuable in schemes for predicting maintenance needs, end-of-life determinations and for optimal control. Dr. Nelson holds patents in some of these areas.

Nonodielectrics Development


In 2002, Dr. Nelson published the first experimental paper to show some of the special properties that can achieved by applying nanotechnology to polymer composites. Since that time the whole area of "nanodielectrics" has burgeoned to the point where special sessions at technical meetings and issues of archival journals are dedicated to this new technology. With appropriate design and functionalization, this new class of materials can exhibit enhanced electric strength, voltage endurance, erosion resistance and superior mechanical and thermal properties. Dr. Nelson has remained a leader in this field and published the first book on this subject (January 2010).

These new materials are critically dependent on the compounding and processing techniques used to engineer them, and, unfortunately, the methods needed vary widely. Experience has been gained with both thermosets and thermoplastics as well as the tailoring of materials for special applications, such as high temperature films, self-healing and non-linear grading materials. These materials lend themselves particularly to situations where voltage endurance is critical, such as for large generators and motors.





For those who are Big Village (previously ORC International, Guideline and Teltech) clients, Dr. Nelson may be contacted through the Big Village Network

More generally, Keith Nelson may be contacted:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Updated: October 2023
The Rensselaer Electrical Engineering Departmnet site:
J. Keith Nelson's RPI homepage: Homepage RPI