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Interruption performance at frequency 50 or

60Hz for generator breaker equipped with

vacuum interrupters
D. Gentsch1, S. Goettlich1, M. Wember1, A. Lawall2, N. Anger2 and E. Taylor2
ABB AG, Calor Emag Mittelspannungsprodukte, Oberhausener Str. 33, 40472 Ratingen, GERMANY
Siemens AG, Rohrdamm 88, Berlin, 13629 GERMANY

Abstract – Vacuum interrupters are serving worldwide in arc behaviour under vacuum and the interaction between
distribution circuits, meeting the electrical and the arc and contact material, led to the development of a
mechanical requirements specified in the IEC and/or safe system based on “transverse magnetic field“ (TMF)
ANSI standards for low and medium voltage contact systems for generator circuit-breaker
applications. applications.
Generator circuits require special generator circuit- Here the constricted arc column is forced by the self-
breakers and are tested according to IEC 62271-37.013 / generated radial or axial magnetic field to reduce the
ANSI/IEEE C37.013. Traditionally, generator circuit-
breakers have been very large devices based on air- or
SF6- blast interruption technology.
Over the last 35 years, the short circuit interruption
performance of vacuum interrupters has been
dramatically increased due to continuous development,
especially of contact system design and contact Fig. 1: Basic single line diagram of a generator circuit, on the left the
materials. These improvements allow the application of generator and the generator circuit breaker, on the right the
vacuum interrupter technology to generator circuit- transformer to feed the power into the high voltage network [1].
breakers. time at which the arc-root is acting on the contacts.
Three phase vacuum circuit-breakers are available for The VIs based on an optimized TMF or “axial magnetic
this application in generator circuits at 50 and 60 Hz. To field” (AMF) contact systems, are designed to interrupt
fulfil the required short circuit interruption ability, the high short-circuit current ratings of a short-current of
test has to be performed at 50Hz for IEC markets and at 50kA or higher with a compact generator circuit
60Hz / 50Hz for ANSI markets. When the short circuit breaker. The designs are able to meet all requirements
interruption ability is tested at 50Hz, the results can be and covers all needs in generator circuits, both to protect
transferred to 60Hz because the arcing time is reduced, the generator and the connected system.
while the di/dt is slightly steeper at current zero. Four
main factors related to vacuum technology are
investigated: The influence of the arcing time duration
before current zero (CZ), the transferred charge I x dt,
di/dt steepness at CZ, and finally the transient recovery
voltage (TRV).

Index Term– Circuit-breaker, Generator

circuit-breaker, Contact system, Vacuum Interrupter
(VI), Delayed Current Zero (DCZ), Out of Phase (OoP),
Frequency 50/60Hz.
In low, medium and high voltage applications the short-
circuit interrupting capability of vacuum interrupters VIs
has been increased significantly over the past years. The
Fig. 2: Image of compact generator circuit breaker (15kV-50kA-
short circuit interrupting ability was mainly developed 3150… 4000A-50/60Hz), Type: ABB
for the requirements of the low and medium voltage Compared to the well-known applications in the low and
range. Further research and development of the VI- medium voltage range, in generator circuits the VI has
physics, e.g. more detailed understanding of the plasma to cope high short-circuit currents with high
asymmetrical components at long time constants. This asymmetrical component of the short-circuit current can
can cause long arcing times and is accompanied with be considerably higher, reaching up to 110 % (step A;
steep Rates of Rise of Recovery Voltage (RRRV) and a TD5) or 130 % (step B; TD6). This fault characteristic
high TRV peak value after the current interruption. with high asymmetrical currents is due to the type of
A three-phase vacuum circuit-breaker with a fast spring generator, operating conditions and the complex short-
drive actuator is already designed and tested to cover all circuit impedance of the generator. This can lead to
demands to single and three phase tests according to superimposed DC component with more than 100% of
ANSI/IEEE C37-013-1997 and the IEC 62271-37.013 the peak value of the related AC current. The short-
currently in CDV state [1,2]. circuit current becomes that high that no current zero
This paper focuses on the properties of the VI design crossing (CZ) will occur during the first several tens of
itself and on the impacts from VI testing under those milliseconds. This effect is called “delayed current zero”
severe conditions especially when the short circuit (DCZ). In case of an arc voltage generated by the
interruption ability is tested at 50Hz, and how results circuit-breaker in a range of 50 to 150 V the time
can be transferred to 60Hz. The high power tests constant ( = L/R) of the network is decreased and the
presented here were carried out at the KEMA High first CZ is forced to happen earlier (this is valid for all
Power Laboratory. types of generators).
Out of phase condition is a short-circuit interruption
II. GENERATOR CIRCUIT BREAKER (GCB) AND producing the high stress for the generator circuit-
CIRCUIT CONFIGURATIONS breaker and especially for the VI. If the generator and
The basic design of the generator circuit configuration is the circuit is closed into the maximum opposite of 90°
displayed in Fig. 1. The generator circuit-breaker (GCB) (electrical) the short-circuit current in the circuit is
is very often located between the generator and the step- increased.
up transformer of the high voltage network.
TABLE 1: Main test values of the generator circuit breaker (GCB)
In generator circuits two different faults are possible assembly to meet all requirements for the rating 15kV / 50 kA
with a combination of high short-circuit current at high according to the both mentioned standard [1,2].
asymmetrical components: The system-source fault Example 50kA - GCB step A) step B)
(fault on the generator side, Fig.1 a) and the generator-
System-source TD1 TD2
source fault (fault on the transformer side, Fig.1 b).
interrupting capability  
In case of a “bad” synchronisation a generator circuit-
Symmetrical [kA] 50 50
breaker may close into a condition that is known as
“out-of phase” (OoP). If this occurs, with a phase angle asymmetrical component 0% 75 %
of up to 90°, the generator circuit-breaker has to TRVpeak [kV] 27.6 27.6
interrupt short-circuit current values nearly as high as Rate of rise of recovery voltage 3.5 3.5
the system source fault (see [2] and Table 1, incl. the RRRV [kV/µs]
test duties (TD)). This in contrast to the values of the tdelay < 1s < 1µs
short-circuit current under OoP-conditions according time constant  133ms 133 ms
IEC 62271-100, which is 25 % of the rated short circuit Generator-source (DCZ) TD4/5 TD6
current. interrupting capability  
If a system-source fault occurs, the short-circuit current Symmetrical [kA] 31.5/(50) 23.5/(37)
is established at high magnitudes and the breaker is asymmetrical component - /110 % 130 %
located close to the generator. The energy of the system TRVpeak [kV] 27.6/32.2 31.5
feeds the fault from the system through the transformer. RRRV [kV/µs] 3.4/1.84 1.84
Only the impedance of the transformer and the tdelay < 0.5 s < 0.5 s
impedance of the short bus conductor connection limit time constant  133 ms 133 ms
the current. The asymmetrical component during arcing
Out of Phase (OoP 90°) OP1 OP2
can be up to 75 % at short-circuit current (Table 1,
interrupting capability  
step B).
Symmetrical [kA] 25 25
As an example some values are displayed for the GCB
asymmetrical component -% 75 %
for 50kA. To clear the current, the generator circuit-
breaker must be tested at the asymmetrical current TRVpeak [kV] 39 39
combined with long arcing times and with a faster Rate RRRV [kV/µs] 3.3 3.3
of Rise of Recovery Voltage (RRRV) than usual in tdelay < 1 s < 1 s
medium voltage distribution circuits tested according to time constant  133 ms 133 ms
The OoP-values based on a phase difference of 90°,
In case of generator-source fault, the fault occurs
were done according to the IEC 62271-37.013 OoP with
between the circuit breaker and the transformer. The
the specified test duties OP1 and OP2.
short circuit current coming from the generator-source
The needed values to perform all three fault conditions
produces nearly 31.5 (50 kA) (Table 1; step A; TD5)
are presented in Table 1 according to the standard.
respectively 37 kA (step B; TD6). However, the
To reduce the area for the arrangement and to reduce A)
power losses, a compact breaker design with low
resistance and a short bus conductor connection is
preferable. A compact design of the circuit-breaker with
an optimized arrangement at high efficiency and low
impedance is feasible. Vacuum circuit-breakers enable
such a compact design, and are able to carry continuous
currents up to 6300A.
The VIs under consideration are equipped with an
optimized TMF or AMF contact system [3].

Fig. 4: Image of a vacuum interrupter (17.5kV and 72kA) in a GCB,
Three phase vacuum circuit-breakers are available for
application in generator circuits at 50/60 Hz. To fulfil
the required short circuit interruption ability, the test has
to be performed at 50Hz for IEC markets and at 60Hz
for ANSI markets.
When the short circuit interruption ability is tested at
50Hz the transferred charge after contact separation is
investigated by a simulation of a three phase direct
generator circuit. The chosen generator is a cylindrical
rotor machine with a power of 198MVA and an
Fig. 3: The chosen generator has two poles with a power of 198MVA
excitation current of 828A. The simulation result can be with an excitation current of 828A. Three phase direct DCZ
taken from Fig. 3 50Hz; A) and 60Hz; B). The interruption simulation: At 50kA short circuit current and 110% DC:
simulation allows a direct comparison of the short A) done for 50Hz and B) for 60Hz frequency. The transferred charge
circuit current under nearly the same severe condition during arcing is shown as the area according to A) as A50 and B) as
A60. At A50 the transferred charge in [C] = 1281As and in case B) =
for both frequencies. The three phase direct “delayed 840As. C) TD4 – Single phase testing: TRV 27.6kV; RRRV
current zero” (DCZ) current interruption simulation 3.5kV/µs; Current 50kA, 50Hz done at KEMA laboratories.
done at 50kA, giving information regarding the resulting
During the short circuit interruption at 50Hz under the
arcing time and the occurrence of the transferred charge
above mentioned condition Fig. 3 A), phase L2 has the
following the equation:
maximum transferred change at the vacuum interrupter
of about 1281As according to the area A50 the integral
of I x dt after the contact separation. The interruption
Coulomb C: [As] and the current I: [A] and the arcing time t: [s].
will be done under similar condition Fig. 3; B) with the
After contact separation the arc voltage inside the same generator breaker at 60Hz. The arc duration time
vacuum interrupter is taken into account with 50V at the during the interruption operation is much shorter, with
current interruption operation. When a higher arc the result that the integral I x dt is about 840As.
voltage is applied, the simulation current zero crossing At current zero the “transient recovery voltage” (TRV)
will occur earlier during the current interruption across the vacuum interrupter can be held easier with
operation. less transferred charge history which results in a
temperature heating up effect inside the VI of the GCB. history at current zero the TRV can be withstood more
This was observed during a large number of interruption easily with the lower transferred charge for 60Hz.
validation tests of VIs done at high power laboratories. In contrast to DCZ, testing under Out-of-phase
The current crosses the point of “current zero” for conditions with a short circuit current e.g. at 50kA rating
interruption at a frequency of 60Hz with the di/dt being and RRRV value up to 3.3kV/µs [7] produces shorter
a factor of 1.21 higher compared to 50Hz. arcing times, but also severe for the VI. The result of
In general the interruption operation at higher frequency three phase direct tests performed at 60Hz is illustrated
has a minor influence at the interruption performance in Fig. 3; C). The successful interruptions were
especially at frequencies between 50 … 100Hz [4]. demonstrated at TD4. After arcing up to 10.1ms, the VI
All the interruption performance investigation and type saw TRV values up to 27.6kVpeak. The steepness of the
tests were done using TMF or AMF based contact RRRV is observed with more than 3.4kV/µs.
systems with copper-chromium material. The thickness Nevertheless, higher values of the RRRV were
of the contact material and the dimensions overall are interrupted successfully in direct or synthetic tests at the
minimized [5] for the GCB application to keep the high power laboratory.
dimensions of the VI as small as possible.  Vacuum circuit breakers are able to meet the
requirements for generator circuit breaker for example at
IV. CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION values up to 15kV - 50kA - 50/60Hz and GCBs are
Generator circuit breaker (GCB) developed VI´s are available up to 72kA according to the standard IEC
62271-37.013 / ANSI/IEEE C37.013.
able to fulfil the requirements for 50 and 60Hz based on
 A robust system for GCB ratings is available in a
the presented simulation results and a number of type compact design and able to use for 50 and 60Hz based on
test which are performed on same vacuum interrupter at the simulation results.
50 or at 60Hz and according to [4]. The short-circuit  One of the main limitation factor at DCZ is the
interruption performance of the GCB were investigated transferred current, which is reduced in case of 60Hz
and type tested mainly at the KEMA high power application.
laboratory (HPL). The short circuit interruption tests  As shown at the test duty TD4 interruption at 50Hz after
were carried out with single- (depending on the rated crossing the current zero and an arcing time of 10.1ms
voltage and current) and three phase direct test up to the “Rate of Rise Recovery Voltage” (RRRV) up to
50kA at KEMA and with a synthetic circuit test at 3.4kV/µs can be applied.
higher ratings. The GCB is able to interrupt the required
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840As (60Hz) for the same interruption operation. It E-mail of the author(s):
turns out under that condition and the arcing period