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GEI 85803F Reviewed, March 2001 Reformatted, February 1992

GE Power Systems
Generator

Shaft-Grounding Brushes
I. INTRODUCTION Shaft-grounding brushes are supplied on turbine-generator units to prevent damage to bearings by electrical discharge through the oil films. Because of their small oil film thickness, bearings most susceptible to damage are the centrifugal oil pump thrust bearing (or the worm drive for the main oil pump) and the turbine thrust bearing. Damage to the main turbine generator bearings, hydrogen seals, gears, and other equipment has also occurred and can be prevented by shaft grounding brushes. Shaft-to-ground voltages occur on a turbine-generator shaft in three ways. First, charge separation in wetsteam stages of condensing turbines can cause a buildup of electrostatic voltage (dc) between shaft and stationary parts. Second, on units with static excitation systems, the output of the three-phase full wave bridge rectifiers is not pure dc, but contains a 360 Hertz ripple of appreciable magnitude. Under certain conditions this ripple can cause currents to flow through the capacitive circuit consisting of the field insulation, the bearing oil films, and the distributed capacitance of the excitation system transformers and rectifiers. Finally, asymmetries in the generator magnetic circuit induce a stiff source of shaft voltage between the collector and turbine ends of the generator. Shaft-grounding brushes provide a low-impedance path to ground so that: A. Buildup of electrostatic voltages is prevented. B. Current flow due to static excitation voltage ripple flows harmlessly to ground, bypassing the bearings. C. The brushes ground the shaft at the turbine end of the generator so the voltage from magnetic asymmetry does not impact the turbine end generator bearing and the turbine bearings and other low clearance components. The grounding-brush assembly consists of a bracket or yoke carrying one or more constant-pressure brush-holders and is located at the turbine end of the generator shaft. Note that the outboard bearing (and seal housing on hydrogen-cooled generators) are deliberately insulated from ground to prevent the flow of currents due to a loop-type voltage along shaft and through bearings which may be produced by minor dissymmetry in the generator stator magnetic paths. Therefore, the grounding brushes must never be located at the outboard end of the generator. The brushes used in this grounding assembly are like those used on collector rings. The bracket or yoke should be electrically connected to the same station ground as the turbine and generator casings.

These instructions do not purport to cover all details or variations in equipment nor to provide for every possible contingency to be met in connection with installation, operation or maintenance. Should further information be desired or should particular problems arise which are not covered sufficiently for the purchasers purposes the matter should be referred to the GE Company. 1991 GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY

GEI 85803F

Shaft-Grounding Brushes

In operation, the voltage from shaft to ground should be checked at least once per week to insure that the shaft-grounding brush assembly is functioning properly. The method of checking voltage is described in the following paragraphs. II. INSTRUMENTATION In order to obtain meaningful data, high-impedance instruments must be used, preferably those having an impedance of at least one megohm. The reason for this is to prevent loading down the source voltage through its own internal impedance. Electronic voltmeters, digital voltmeters, and oscilloscopes in general will satisfy the requirement for high impedance. Another consideration is the wave shape of the shaft-to-ground voltage, which may depart considerably from a sine wave. Even under the best conditions when the voltage appears as a basic square wave, there may be high-voltage spikes on the order of microseconds in duration due to rectifier commutation. Since even a short-duration spike of sufficient magnitude can initiate the flow of current through a bearing, it is the peak value of voltage, rather than the average or RMS value, that is of interest. As an example, if the shaft voltage is 40V peak to peak, a comparison of the shaft voltages measurement by different instruments typically could be as follows: Oscilloscope Electronic or digital voltmeter* 40 17 6 1.4 volts peak-to-peak volts peak-to-peak (peak reading voltmeter **) volts ac,rms scale volts dc scale

*With input impedance one megohm or greater **Voltmeter with a peak voltage measurement function Thus the reading taken on a rms reading voltmeter should be multiplied by a factor of about 7 to correlate with peak-to-peak voltage observed on an oscilloscope. The factor 7 is probably typical, but it might be less if the wave shape contained no spikes. An oscilloscope or peak reading voltmeter is recommended if available. III. PROCEDURE FOR MEASURING SHAFT-TO-GROUND VOLTAGE The voltmeter or oscilloscope should be connected solidly to ground on one terminal, the other terminal to an insulated probe containing a metal-graphite or bronze brush. To read shaft voltage, press the probe firmly against the shaft at a point adjacent to the grounding brush assembly, but preferably not in the track of the grounding brush. The dc component of shaft-to-ground voltage is usually below 2 volts, and this dc component is not greatly affected by the type of meter used. Be sure to connect the meter to get an upscale reading. The 0-to-peak voltage is of greatest interest. If the true 0-to-peak voltage is 6 volts or less, the indication is that the grounding brush assembly is functioning satisfactorily. A 0-to-peak voltage above 6 volts indicates that maintenance is required. IV. MAINTENANCE Whenever an unsatisfactory indication is obtained on the shaft-to-ground voltage check, the following steps should be taken: A. Remove the brushes from their holders, one at a time. Clean brush and holder so brush may move freely.

Shaft-Grounding Brushes
B. Scrape brush face with a knife to remove glaze.

GEI 85803F

C. Use a soft brush seating stone or a canvas-padded board to remove excess film from shaft. D. Clean brush clip contacts. E. Check spring force. It should be at least 3 3/4 pounds (1.7 kg); an even higher force may be advisable in some instances. Machines using a shaft voltage monitor should use a spring force of 7 1/2 pounds (3.4 kg). F. Replace brushes before the pigtail is in contact with top of brush box. G. Check for corrosion or damage on the bracket mounting surface. Clean the surface if necessary. H. If replacing brush holder, check gap between brush holder and shaft. Gap typically should be adjusted to 0.12 to 0.25 inch.(3.0 to 6.4mm) During turbine inspections, all bearings and hydrogen seal rings should be carefully checked for any signs of electrical pitting, which will appear to be an etched or frosted surface, but at a magnification of 25x will show numerous individual small pits or craters. The thrust bearings deserve particular attention during inspection. The amount of taper on tapered land thrust bearings should be checked with a micrometer or feeler gauge in addition to making a visual inspection for pitting. Some idea of the importance of keeping the shaft grounded can be gained by considering that a failure of one or more bearings might be expected within a year if the shaft voltage is allowed to rise to approximately 50 volts 0-to-peak. As the shaft-to-ground voltage is reduced, bearing life is increased, and it is expected that the bearings will suffer no damage from shaft currents as long as the shaft-to-ground voltage is held to 6 volts 0-to-peak or less.

GE Power Systems
General Electric Company One River Road, Schenectady, NY 12345 518 385 2211 TX: 145354