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International Conference on Control, Automation and Systems 2010

Oct. 27-30, 2010 in KINTEX, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

Selection of Shield Cables to Minimize EMI Transients in Power Plants


Jae Ki Lee1, Yong Goo Choi2 , Chan-Kook Moon3
1

Nuclear Engineering & Technology Institute, KHNP, Daejeon, Korea


(Tel : +82-42-870-5610; E-mail: jaekilee@khnp.co.kr)
2
Nuclear Engineering & Technology Institute, KHNP, Daejeon, Korea
(Tel : +82-42-870-5614; E-mail: dragon9@khnp.co.kr)
3
Nuclear Engineering & Technology Institute, KHNP, Daejeon, Korea
(Tel : +82-42-870-5600; E-mail: ckmoon@khnp.co.kr)
Abstract: Control cables are widely used in power plants for the process of automatic controlling and remote
monitoring. However, the control capability is sometimes hampered by Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) caused by
external electrical surge and power cables. The application of shield cable is very important to prevent EMI related
troubles. Most electrical engineers refer to industrial standards in selecting proper cables, however, such guidelines, in
some cases, do not provide clear enough guidance for low-voltage control cables in terms of shields, thus causing
improper selection of cables. In this paper, an investigation of present cable related industrial guidelines, a case study of
EMI related transients in nuclear power plants and additional experiments are performed to verify the root cause of
some EMI related transients. Finally we suggest more practical guidance for selecting control cables with low-voltage.
Keywords: Control cable, EMI, Shield, Electrical surge
The EMI inducing mechanism in instruments and
control circuits has been well introduced by many
papers and standards. Shield cables are installed and
their shields are grounded to provide bi-directional
attenuation of far-field and near-field EMI on the
shielded path. The shields are also grounded to maintain
the shield at the same potential as that of the circuit
common at a specific point in the circuit, usually at one
end [4],[5]. EMI induced on the cables can be
effectively prevented by this shielding method.

1. INTRODUCTION
Many various control and monitoring devices are
installed in power plants. Associated electrical cables
like power cables, control cables and instrumentation
cables are routed to assist in control and monitoring
capabilities. Control cables are those applied at
relatively low current levels or that are used for
intermittent operation to change the operating status of a
utilization device of the plant systems [1]. These control
cables interconnect protective relays, control switches,
push buttons, and contacts from various devices.
Compared to instrumentation cables for low-level
analog signals and low-level digital signals which have
shielding on them and run separate from all power and
control cables, control cables rarely have shielding and
may be mixed with other low-voltage power cables if
their respective cable sizes do not differ greatly [1].

A recent survey of transients in nuclear power plants


shows that the problem has been occurring more
frequently in alarm and interlock circuits with digital
logics, which have higher possibilities of EMI influence
due to their low-voltage application and high frequency.
The purpose of the study is to determine the cause of
some EMI related transients in nuclear power plants by
a case study and additional experiments and to suggest
more practical guidance in selecting low-voltage control
cables to avoid EMI induced transients.

Due to recent development of instrument and control


technology like digital communication and fiber-optics,
fewer control cables are required. However, many
power industries, including nuclear power plants, are
still using conventional control cables to assure plant
control capability during accidental conditions and to
satisfy their safety requirements. Furthermore, the
recent power industry environment requires life
extension of nuclear power plants to more than 60 years
as stable cost-effective energy sources, so control cables
should be used long in the future. However, high
frequency control devices and digital instruments have
been widely installed recently in power plants by system
modification, thus causing an increase of EMI
susceptible environments in power plants. Actually, a
recent survey indicates that EMI induced incidents are
increasing and that the countermeasures to reduce them
need to be prepared.

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2. REVIEW OF EXISTING CABLE RELATED


IEEE GUIDANCES
The IEEE Guide for the design and installation of
Cable Systems in Power Generating Stations (IEEE-Std
422) was approved and issued. However, the guide was
withdrawn in 1994[2], because the technology of the
station control and protection systems has advanced
significantly and the application of hard wired cable
systems is giving way to networking media, the
information in the guide did not reflect the application
or technology of generating station cable systems [1].
The IEEE Guide for Instrumentation and Control
Equipment Grounding in Generating Stations (IEEE-Std
1050) introduces common practices in shielding cables
for analog signals and digital (dry contact change of

519

status) signals. The guideline, in terms of digital signals,


only introduce the survey results of industry practices
(approximately one-half of the respondents feel that
there is no need for shielding of these circuits, etc.) and
do not provide practical guidance for selecting control
cables[4]. The IEEE Standard for the Design and
Installation of Cable Systems for Class 1E Circuits in
Nuclear Power Generating Stations (IEEE-690) includes
shielding and shielding grounding requirements, but this
standard is not related to control cables, but rather to
medium-voltage power cables and instrumentation
cables [3].

(a)

Consequently, there is no clear IEEE guidance about


how control cables are to be shielded because the IEEE
Guide for the design and installation of Cable Systems
in Power Generating Stations (IEEE-Std 422) was
withdrawn and no other IEEE guidance is available to
suggest practical selection guidance for selecting control
cables. The necessity of cable shielding is determined
by cable design engineers, who consider above
industrial guidelines and the requirements of signal
receiving device manufacturers. Consequently, many
power plants have no shielding on many of their
low-voltage control cables, causing an increase of EMI
induced transients.

(b)
Fig. 3(a) An impulse pulse about 10V to simulate
electrical surge. (b) Output latch-up of PCB due to the
simulated surge [6].
The installation of surge absorbing diodes on the control
relays and surge protecting devices on the control power
supplies were suggested as countermeasures, but the
root cause of the failure was that the engineers did not
use shield cable for the input control cables of circuit
cards and the electrical surge was induced through the
unshielded cables.

3. CASE STUDY OF EMI PROBLEMS IN


POWER PLANTS
3.1 Circuit Card Failure by EMI Surge
A digital logic circuit card for the interlock of power
supply circuit in a nuclear power plant failed when a
transient occurred on the electrical power system. The
cause analysis revealed that a logic component on the
circuit card failed due to a latch-up phenomenon caused
by an electrical surge during the normal power transfer
in the plant [6]. Fig. 2 shows the measured surge on the
electrical circuits during the field investigation. A surge
of about 10V was measured and such a surge can cause
latch-up of the electronic components on printed circuit
cards. Fig.3 shows test impulse pulse and observed
latch-up phenomenon on the printed circuit card, which
shows the possibility of a transient by induced EMI
during verifying test.

3.2 Abnormal alarm due to coupling of AC noise


An earth fault alarm in a new nuclear power plant
was raised repeatedly during plant start-up test. The
insulation resistance and circuit integrity were checked,
but no clear cause was discovered. After a detailed
investigation by experts, the cause of abnormal alarm
was determined to be AC voltage induced on DC alarm
circuit as shown in Fig. 5. The AC voltage about
35Vp-p was induced through the unshielded alarm input
cables which run with low-voltage power cables on the
cable conduits and trays.

Fig. 2 A measured surge induced on the logic circuit.


Fig. 4 AC Voltage coupled on alarm circuit

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4. EXPERIMENTAL RESULT
The transients shown in the above case study were
caused by EMI induced on unshielded control cables
which have relatively low-voltage (48DC). The control
cables can be run on the cable trays or conduits in
power plants with other control and power cables that
have high voltages of more than 110VAC. The
experiment was done while considering this
circumstance in power plants to determine the EMI
influence of power cable to the control cables in terms
of separation distance and sharing length with power
cables. The control cables used in the experiments are
selected among the cables which are commonly
installed on nuclear power plants in Korea (600V
EPR/CR, 2/C, 14AWG, LS CABLE).
(b)
Fig. 6(a) AC Voltage waveform and frequency induced
on control cable by 0.3meters sharing of power cable.
(b) 3.0 meters sharing of length with power cable.
118VAC power cable was used as low-voltage
power and, as can be seen in Fig. 6(a), the 0.3meters
sharing of the length with 118VAC power cable causes
an induction of 1.6VACp-p with 60Hz frequency on the
adjacent control cable. The test was repeated by
increasing the shared length to 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and
3.0meter. The test shows that the induced voltage
increased proportionally as the shared length increased.
3.0meters sharing causes about 10.2VACp-p as shown
in Fig. 6(b) which can sufficiently causes EMI induced
troubles.
Actually, the shared length can be more than 100M
in power plants because the control cables run in the
conduits and trays between remote field sensors and
control rooms.

Fig. 5 Picture of EMI inducing test in the lab.


4.1 EMI induced by increasing the sharing length of
the unshielded cable
This experiment was done to simulate the plant
cable routing environment, which open includes control
and low-voltage power cables in same conduits. If the
cables run in the same conduits, two cables run close
together in all the conduit lengths and there is little
separation distance between them.

4.2 EMI inducing by using shield cable


This experiment was performed to verify the
effectiveness of shield cables. The same methodology
was used with the 2.0meters sharing of control cable
and low-voltage power cable except for the use of
shielded control cables. Fig. 7(a) shows the induced AC
voltage about 6.8Vp-p on the shielded control cables,
for which the shields are not grounded. The results
indicate that the shielded cable cannot be effective if it
is not grounded properly as suggested in the industrial
guideline. However, the induced EMI voltage on the
shielded cable grounded properly was reduced
remarkably to 0.2Vp-p as shown in Fig. 7(b).
Even when shielded cables were selected, if proper
grounding of the shield was not done, the test result is
almost the same as that cables with no shielding. The
experimental results suggest that control cables with
low-voltage have to have shields and be grounded
properly for the reliable operation in the EMI
surroundings of power plants.

(a)

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521

Therefore, the resurrection of the IEEE-422


guidelines, and the addition to those guidelines of
material reflecting recent technology and the EMI
environment, is needed to reduce EMI induced troubles
in the industry. As a complementary practical
methodology, control cables with low-voltage (below
50VDC) should have shields and be properly grounded
because these cables cannot be separated perfectly in
real power plants. The goal can be achieved by
reflecting the results in the internal cable selection
guidelines of plant engineering companies.

5. CONCLUSION
A case study of the EMI problem in power plants,
with experimental results shows the importance of using
shielded cables for low-voltage control cables to prevent
EMI related transients in power plants. Even though
international guidance does not clearly suggest the
guidelines for selecting shields for control cables,
electrical engineers are requested to use shields on
low-voltage control cables for the reliable operation of
power plants.
International discussion to resurrect the IEEE Guide
for the Design and Installation of Cable Systems in
Power Generating Stations (IEEE-422) is needed and
the resurrection of IEEE-422 with additional material to
reflect recent technology and the EMI environment
should be achieved to reduce EMI induced troubles in
the power plant industry.

(a)

REFERENCES
[1]
(b)
Fig. 7(a) AC Voltage wave and frequency induced on
shielded cable with no-ground. (b) AC Voltage wave
and frequency induced on shield-grounded cable.

[2]

The best way to cope with EMI circumstances is to


effect the separation of instrument and low-voltage
control cables from power cables using separate
conduits or race ways. However, the price of shielded
cables is about 40% higher than that of non-shielded
cables and some plants are selectively using shielded
cables for control cables, and the control cables and
low-voltage power cables are mostly run on the same
cable trays or conduits due to physical restrictions in
plants. The reality in power plants is that perfect
separation of control cables from power cables cannot
be achieved, so approximately one-half of power plant
engineers feel that there is no need for shielding of dry
contact input of digital signals [4] without any technical
background. The control cables are normally installed
during the construction phase or system modifications.
Once they are installed, it is very difficult to remove the
installed cables and reinstall them during operation.
Therefore, the selection of cable should be done
conservatively, especially in nuclear power plants.

978-89-93215-02-1 98560/10/$15 ICROS

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

522

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Resurrection of IEEE 422- IEEE Guide for
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in
Power
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IEEE Power Engineering Society, IEEE
Standard for design and Installation of Cable
Systems for Class 1E Circuits in Nuclear
Power Generating Stations, IEEE-690, pp.
5-6, 2004.
IEEE Power Engineering Society, IEEE
Guide for Instrumentation and Control
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IEEE-1050, pp. 68-70, 2005.
IEEE Industry Application Society, IEEE
Recommended practice for Powering and
Grounding Electronic Equipment, IEEE-1100,
pp. 150-153, 2005.
Sung-han Cho, Chang-gyu Jung and
Yeong-Hwa Ji , PCBs Latch-up Phenomenon
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