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Jerry Johnson POWER Engineers, Inc. Hailey, Idaho, USA (208) 788-3456

Presented at the POWER Engineers Substation Conference

September 1999

......................................................................................................................................................0 SOIL RESISTIVITY ................1 CALCULATION OF SF ..................... 11 HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 i .................................................................................................................Table of Contents ABSTRACT..................................................................................................................... 6 4...................................1 EFFECTS ON THE HUMAN BODY ....................0 BASIC GROUNDING CONSIDERATIONS................0 FAULT CURRENT ..................3 EFFECTS ON TOLERABLE STEP AND TOUCH POTENTIALS.............................................................0 SUMMARY ............................................................. 6 4.......................... 1 2........................................................................................................................... 11 REFERENCES.............. 6 4........................2 HIGH SPEED FAULT CLEARING .............................................................. 10 6....0 INTRODUCTION................... 1 3.............................................................................................................................2 DECREMENT FACTOR DF ..................................... 7 5.. 8 5..................................................... 1 1..... 9 5............ 3 4...............................0 FAULT CLEARING TIMES..

This current flow can also cause a potential difference between metal structures and various points on the surface of the soil. This paper discusses how each of these three factors can affect the design of a substation grounding system. 2. 1. Engineers do not wish to “over design” grounding systems. This can produce a potential difference or Step Voltage between the feet of an individual standing on the surface of the soil.Factors that Affect Substation Ground Grid Design Abstract This paper discusses three major factors that influence substation grounding system design: 1) Soil Resistivity. 2) Fault Clearing Time and 3) Ground Fault Current. interest in substation grounding system design also increases.0 Basic Grounding Considerations Line-to-Ground faults occurring in or near a substation cause a current to flow from the energized line through the buried ground grid in the station back to the source. The flow of current also causes the potential (voltage) or Ground Potential Rise (GPR) to vary at different points in the substation. This difference results in a Touch HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 1 . Personnel safety is primary. This current flow causes the grid to “rise in potential” above remote areas that are considered to be at zero potential.0 Introduction As available fault currents increase on today’s electrical power grid. but the economics are also a key factor. but they do want to design systems that protect personnel and equipment while providing an optimized economic solution. Each must be considered along with short-comings of the analysis software and alternative designs to develop a safe and the most economic solution.

The values of maximum allowable step and touch potentials for a person weighing 50kg or 110lbs is defined as: Estep = (1000 + 6Csρs)0. Usually the ground grid design will require a layer of high resistivity crushed rock placed on the surface of the substation to act as an insulator between a person’s feet and the substation grid and to raise the tolerable voltages. this value must be below the level that will cause the heart to fibrillate. this feature can be used to decrease the amount of buried conductor used or to increase the HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 2 .116 ts Eq 1 [1]. When the station grid is designed. Etouch = Where: Eq 2 [1].Voltage between the hands of an individual touching a structure and the individual’s feet on the surface of the soil as illustrated in Figure 1. For a worker to be safe within a substation.5Csρs)0. Cs = the reduction factor for a high resistivity layer of crushed rock. Figure 1: Basic Shock Situations The human body can withstand considerable voltage for a short period of time. ρs = the resistivity of the surface material in Ω-m ts = the duration of the shock current in seconds.116 ts (1000 + 1.

the resistivity rises linearly on the log scale as the temperature drops. Figure 2: Soil Resistivity Variation with Moisture and Temperature As Figure 2 inicates.safety margin in the design. 3. temperature and state (frozen or unfrozen). the cost of the crushed rock layer should be considered since high resistivity rock may be difficult to find in certain areas. The higher the moisture content. the higher the resistivity becomes when the soil is in the frozen state and lower HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 3 .0 Soil Resistivity The potential differences within a station result from the ground current flowing from the grid conductors into the surrounding soil (earth). but after passing the frozen state it rises rapidly with the falling temperatures. Figure 2 shows how a clay soil was found to vary with temperature and state for three different moisture contents. The percent moisture also has a strong influence on the resistivity. However. The Canadian Electrical Association conducted an extensive study of various types of soil under a variety of conditions [2]. All soils have some resistance to electric current flow which is measured as “resistivity”. The electrical resistivity of the various layers of soil have a great influence on the resulting step and touch potentials within the substation. density. The study found that the resistivity of the soil varied with soil type. moisture content.

They also need to keep in mind the frost depth and whether the ground rods penetrate unfrozen soil year round. It is important for the engineer/designer to determine moisture content and temperature the soil can experience in the area of the substation when the station grid is being designed. The results of the case runs show that for the 25 Ω-m case. Figure 3 shows the ground grid that was used in the analysis.000 Amperes 0. The values were taken from Figure 2. Curve 2 for temperatures of 5°C (41°F) and -5°C (23°F). CDEGS Program [3] using a uniform soil model of 25 Ω-m and 100 Ω-m. the station meets IEEE 80 standards for both step and touch potentials as illustrated in Figures 4 and 5. The following parameters were used: Station Size Conductor Burial Depth Conductor Size Grid Mesh Size Fault Current Fault Clearing Time Soil Resistivity Insulating Layer 180 ft by 80 ft 18 inches 4/0 AWG Copper 20 ft by 20 ft 10.25 seconds 25 Ω-m 4” of 3000 Ω-m Crushed Rock 180 ft 80 ft Figure 3: Substation Grid Layout Analysis of the grid was done using Safe Engineering Services. However.in the unfrozen state. for the 100 Ω-m case. allowable touch voltages are exceeded throughout the station grid as shown in Figure 6. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 4 .

Figure 4: Step Potential Plot for 25 Ω-m Soil Case Figure 5: Touch Potential Plot for 25 Ω-m Soil Case Figure 6: Touch Potential Plot for 100 Ω-m Soil Case HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 5 .

The probability of shock is significantly reduced by a fast clearing time in contrast to faults that persist for several minutes. duration and frequency of the current. or in some cases. muscular contraction. High speed fault clearing has two main advantages: 1. that of the backup relaying.1mA can be lethal. The human body is very susceptible to the effects of current at power frequencies (50Hz and 60Hz). 4. Experience as well as tests show that the chance for serious injury or death is reduced if the duration of current through the body is very brief. resulting in stoppage of blood circulation. unconsciousness.2 High Speed Fault Clearing Another means to reduce the dangerous fault circumstances is to modify the fault clearing time. The allowable current values may be based on the primary relaying or protective devices. respiratory nerve blockage and burning [1]. Currents of approximately 0.Possible solutions would be to add additional conductor and/or ground rods to lower the potential differences to allowable values. heart fibrillation. 2. The most common effects of electrical shock on the body are perception. Alternative means to achieve safety include equipment platforms electrically connected to the equipment or 6” buried mesh around the equipment.1 Effects on the Human Body The effects of an electrical current passing through vital parts of the human body depend on the magnitude. 4. The most serious consequence from exposure is ventricular fibrillation. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 6 .0 Fault Clearing Times 4.

0 sec. in the previous 25 Ω-m case analyzed. 4.0sec.IEEE 80 states that a good case can be made for using the primary protective device clearing time to calculate the maximum allowable step and touch potentials.3 Effects on Tolerable Step and Touch Potentials Equations 1 and 2 show the relationship of the fault clearing times to the allowable values of step and touch potentials. additional ground conductor (smaller grid spacing) would be required for the substation to meet IEEE 80 standards for touch potential.0 second Clearing Time To design the station to meet backup relaying contingencies. Since ts is in the denominator of each equation. Using fault clearing values of 0. and 1. Figure 7: Touch Potential Plot for 25 Ω-m Soil Case 1. shows that the allowable touch potential is exceeded for the 1. the smaller the clearing time the larger the allowable values of step and touch. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 7 .25sec. case along the perimeter of the station as shown in Figure 7. This is due to the low combined probability that the primary relay malfunctions will coincide with all other adverse factors that are needed for an accident [1].

0 Fault Current The determination of the maximum grid current to be used in substation grounding design has been receiving a lot of attention. Cp = 1 is for zero future growth. Computer analysis and other techniques can be used to determine the value for the maximum grid current. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 8 . Eq 3 [1]. For many years. Eq 4 [1]. engineers have been using the maximum line to ground fault values in their designs.5. Sf = current division factor relating the magnitude of fault current to that of the grid current. The design value of the maximum grid current is then defined as: IG = CpDfIg Where: IG = maximum grid current in Amps. This approach is being looked at more closely. Cp = projection factor for the increase in fault current during the station life-span. If = rms value of the symmetrical ground fault current in Amps. ts. Df =Decrement factor based on the fault clearing time. These increasing currents have a direct relationship to increasing the GPR making it difficult and expensive to protect communication circuits [4]. Another reason for determining a more accurate value of the grid current is the increasing magnitudes of fault currents. This can result in a more cost-effective substation ground grid that still meets IEEE 80 standards [1]. The symmetrical grid current that flows between the ground grid and the surrounding earth is defined as: Ig = SfIf Where: Ig = symmetrical grid current in Amps.

which can be used to approximate Sf [4].000 or 7. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 9 . The information required to use these graphs is the number of transmission and distribution lines at the substation and the substation grid resistance.1 Calculation of Sf Computer programs are available to calculate the current division factor Sf. A typical graph is shown in Figure 8.75*10.5. if one transmission line serves the station and two distribution feeders exit the station and the calculated grid resistance is 0. In some situations this approximation value is sufficient for designing the grounding system. Figure 8: Percent Grid Current Versus Substation Grid Resistance For the case run previously. Figure 8 can be used to determine Sf .500Amps.75. but they require a considerable amount of data to be input into the program. an approximation can be used to estimate the value of Sf. the symmetrical grid current Ig is equal to 0. Using this value of Sf .3 Ω (from the output of the CDEGS Program). This value is approximately 75% or 0. Southern Company Services and Georgia Power Company developed a set of curves. In many cases. These programs accurately calculate the actual maximum ground fault current flowing in the grid.

Df is derived to take into account these asymmetrical components. tf = fault clearing time in seconds.10)(7.5 or longer 30 or more Decrement Factor 1. Table 1: Typical Decrement Factors Fault Duration (sec.25 sec. The decrement factor can be computed by using Equation 5.000 Ampere value used previously.008 0.5 0.2 Decrement Factor Df The maximum grid current IG.5. Df = 1 + Where: Ta (1 − e − tf tf Ta ) Eq 5 [1]. is the maximum asymmetrical ac current that will flow between the station grid and the surrounding soil. Typical values of the decrement factor are provided by IEEE 80 for an assumed X/R ratio of 20 and are shown in Table 1. therefore a Decrement Factor.) Cycles (60Hz ac) 0. a growth projection factor of 15% and data previously calculated yield IG as: IG = (1.0 Using the typical value of the decrement factor for the fault clearing time of 0.25 1. the transient and subtransient ac components.10 1.15)(1. Both the ac transient and subtransient as well as the dc component decay exponentially.. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 10 .487A This value would be used in the final design of the substation grid instead of the 10. Ta = equivalent system subtransient time constant in seconds.500) IG = 9.65 1.1 5 0. This current is defined by Equation 4 and includes the symmetrical current Ig as well as a correction factor for the dc component.25 15 0. The design of the station ground grid must take into account the asymmetrical current.

3. G. 1998. PWRD-2. Calculation of the current division factor is important. Many factors are involved in the design of a substation ground grid. July 1987. These variables need to be taken into account in the design and analysis to ensure the station grid meets IEEE 80 standards for the varying soil conditions. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. and Patel. Montreal Canada. Much of the station’s ground fault current may be carried out of the station by overhead static wires or system neutral wires. Safe Engineering Services. Inc. New York. an economic station ground grid that meets or exceeds IEEE standard can be designed. IEEE Standard 80-1986. pp. Myers.0 Summary The soil’s electrical resistivity can vary with the temperature and moisture content. 1986. J. Quick clearing of faults also allows higher permissible touch and step voltages. HLY 22-731 (09/20/99)lj 148900-00 11 . Research Report 143 T 250. D. No. These factors determine the extent and amount of ground conductor required for the substation grid design. “Determination of Maximum Substation Grounding System Fault Currents Using Graphical Analysis”. July 1988. “IEEE Guide for Safety in Substation Grounding”. S. IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery. Vol.. 725-732. so that the station’s grid is not over designed. References 1. Canadian Electrical Association. Garrett. CDEGS User Manual. When these factors are optimized. High-speed fault clearing is essential to minimize the exposure time to the levels of fault currents available in most substations. “Earth Resistivities of Canadian Soil”..6. 2. 4. G. 3. The human body can withstand exposure to high current levels for only a short period of time. The maximum grid current must also be considered. L.

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