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Modern Practices of Earthing

Sonjib Banerjee (B.E) Technical Director DM

Member IEEE, NFPA Contact: Sonjib.banerjee@gmail.com

Synopsis:

Before we get to Modern practices of earthing, this paper revisits certain basic concepts. Important concerns of the industry are addressed with energy as perspective. Polar method to increase the computational accuracy of soil resistivity is explained. The variation of grid parameter along with variation of soil resistivity in horizontal plane is detailed. Usage of permanent Earthing compound as per IEEE 80 2000 clause 14.5 d is explained. Caution required while handling high frequency signal during earthing is elaborated. Science of mobile earth is hinted. Earth command and control center is conceptualized. Protection from LEMP and GIC is investigated.

What is Alternating Current?

It is commonly understood; current is

movement of charge or holes . In Alternating

signifying amplitude of the sinusoidal AC waveform.

Current, the charge actually does not travel at
all. It only vibrates in its mean position. The
positive cycle marks displacement of charge
from the mean position towards the load and
the negative cycle signifies its displacement
towards the source. Across a Crossection area,
the vibration begins with one charge and
increases to the maximum number of charges
+ ve Cycle
‐ ve Cycle
What is Tension?

The extent of movement of the particle from the mean position is due to prevailing Tension (similar to force) exerted during positive or negative cycle. More the tension, more the displacement of the particle from the mean position and vice versa. The charge oscillates, hence the net displacement of the charge across the Crossection area of conductor is ZERO.

Low Tension
Hi gh Tension

What is Frequency?

The number of times the charge oscillates across its mean position is frequency.

What MOVES?

It is the ENERGY that is transferred. The Energy is transferred thru vibrating charges across a Crossection to the next adjoining Crossection. Hence current is the movement of the disturbance and not the charge. The Energy transferred is proportional to

the number charges vibrating,

the displacement of the charges from the mean position and

the number of vibrations per second

Series Circuit

In a series circuit, the Number of charges vibrating across the Crossection of the conductor and frequency never changes. The current is constant. The extent of displacement of the charge from the mean position changes, with every passing of impedances. This in normal words is called voltage drop.

IMPEDANCE

Parallel Circuit

In a parallel circuit, the extent of displacement of charge from its mean position across the Crossection of the conductor, and frequency does not change. The tension is constant. The number of charges vibrating in each parallel path changes and is inversely proportional to the impedance offered by that path.

HIGH
IMPEDANCE
LOW
IMPEDANCE

What is earth?

Earth is a huge mass with enormous amount of charges. When energy is applied to earth, the energy spreads, the number of charges vibrating increases, the displacement of charge from the mean position progressively reduces. Finally the Tension becomes infinitesimal. In a bird’s eye view, the charges appear static. The energy is transferred thru huge amount of charges diluting tension.

In normal condition charges in EARTH are stable with hardly any tension.

Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. The energy transferred in the conductor can be diverted impeding the charge vibration.

The loss of energy in a conductor due to reluctance of charge to vibrate causes Impedance due to resistance.

The loss of energy due to inertia to maintaining the number of charges vibrating (current) thru a time domain in a loop causes impedance due to inductance.

The loss of energy thru a dielectric for maintaining the displacement of charge

from its mean position (voltage) across a time domain causes impedance due to capacitance.

The impedances are deliberately used to hinder the energy transfer in the conductor and convert this energy into usable form. These impedances are termed load.

What is Fault?

Any electrical signal can be characterized by

Amplitude (number of charges vibrating),

Frequency (number of oscillations across mean position per second),

Voltage (displacement of charge from its mean position),

Symmetry,

Shape of wave.

All the above definitions have minimum and maximum acceptable limits. Any signal falling outside acceptable limits is termed a fault. Fault can be classified as continuous and instantaneous. Few examples of fault are as follows

Contin uous:

Harmonics

Unbalance

Noise

Instantane ous

Sur ge (Switchin g, Lightning)

Sho rt circuit

LE M P etc

How to use Earth or ground ?

In the e arth, the ch a rges exist n aturally with minimu m vibratory d isplaceme n t. Thus, cha rges on grou n d experien ce least tens ion. Tensio n experie n ced by char ges on any c urrent carr y ing path ca n be evaluat e d wrt. to te nsion of the charges on the grou nd. Thus ear th is used as referen ce.

Infinite n umber of c harges of th e vast earth can dilute i m mense amo unt of tensi on and act a s an infinite l oad trippin g the circuit i n case of a fault, as early as po s sible. Thus e arth is also used fo r protection.

To make an effective ea rth, it is imp erative to know the ch aracter of:

Sig n al to be ear t hed

Co n ductor that will transfer the fault to the earth

An d Soil conditi o n

Various rel a ys identify a fault condi t ion and intentionall y route the f ault to the E arth. In many instan ces Earth ac ts as electri cal sewerage s y stem. Discu ssing operat ion of relay and their co ordination i s outside th e preview of this paper.

Is Tm a s suggeste d in table 1 of IEEE 8 0 2000 for undergrou nd bare co nductor, s afe?

‐‐‐(37)

To tran s fer fault to t he earth, th e calculatio n of Crossec t ion area is v ery importa nt. We need a careful l ook at this f o rmula for a bare undergr ound earth conductor. The material constan t in Table 1 o f IEEE 80 2 0 00 mention s T m as fusin g temperatu re of materi al, where as equatio n 37 of the s ame standa r d rightfully mentio n s it as Maxi mum allowa ble temper ature. Have a look at the enthalpy of vaporiz a tion of wat e r.

After 640 0 C water turns to vapor almost instantaneously. In case the copper or GI conductor is allowed to rise to T m suggested in Table 1 IEEE 80 2000, the moisture round the conductor would escape converting the soil in the immediate vicinity of conductor into an insulator. The Earth grid would fail.

Respite comes from the fact that there are multiple paths thru which the Grid Current

divides. When an above ground earth conductor is connected to the grid, in worst case scenario I G can divide in minimum 2 paths at the point of entry. Crossection area of underground grid conductor can thus be calculated taking the fault current as I G /2, and T m as 95 0 C. Necessary corrections can be also made for ambient temperature T a around the conductor which is appx. 600mm under the ground .

What is Soil Resistivity?

When the energy is dissipated into the ground mass, the tension dilutes 3 dimensionally. The energy faces variable resistance in every infinitesimal cone having height of 1 mt. The resultant resistance encountered by the energy to spread 1mt in all directions from point of

injection is termed as soil resistivity. There are many proven ways of collecting the data of soil resistivity. The Polar method enhances the accuracy of computation to find the net soil resistivity from a point on a given surface.

The steps followed in the polar method are as follows.

Take the soil resistivity by any method as prescribed in IEEE 81 1983 in as many directions as possible

Interpolate the readings to 7.5 0

Draw a Polar curve connecting each point

Compute the area of the Polar curve

Draw a circle of an area equal to the polar curve

The Radius of the circle is the average resistivity

Case St udy

Project : Steel Ind u stry

Interpolation of d ata to 7.5 0

Variation of Soil resistivity on horizontal plane

In a large Area involving Substation, Switchyard or Generating Station the soil resistivity in a horizontal plane varies. In case the variance of Soil resistivity is huge, then an earth grid with

same spacing between conductors is dangerous. We shall look at the above case study.

Problem

The Soil resistivity is seen to vary between 480m to 1018m in a span of 175m X 150m. If we have a grid with equal conductor spacing, then the energy would dissipate more easily in the low soil resistivity area and hardly in high soil resistivity area. This unequal energy

distribution completely distorts the empirical values of tensions at each point. The actual step potential and actual mesh potential is different from calculated value. It safety is fully compromised.

Solution

The layout is divided into multiple zones such that the range of soil resistivity variation in each region is within 30%. Separate Earth grid is designed for each zone. The spacing between conductors in each zone is different in this case.

A second split factor is introduced to cater to

the current distribution in each component grid.

Many other grid parameters can also be varied

in this case to achieve safe potentials.

Result

Actual potential are close to empirical potentials is achieved.

Grid is cost efficient.

A Particle Earth grid is shown below.

20
Earth Pits
10 EP
20
Earth Pits
26 Earth Pits

How to tackle variation of Resistivity with Moisture, Salt and temperature?

IEEE 80 2000 clause 14.5 d fully explains the above problem. The abstract of the clause is mentioned below:

‘’Ground enhancement materials some with a resistivity of less than 0.12m (about 5%of the resistivity of Bentonite), are typically placed around the rod in an augured hole or around

ground conductor in a trench in either a dry form or premixed in slurry. Some of these enhancement materials are permanent and will not leach any chemicals into the ground.’’

What is IEEE 80 2000 14.5 d material

The ingredients comprise of the following compounds in a specific grain size and purity.

Ionic compounds ensures free ions

Dispersion compounds stop the reversal of ions to salt

Hygroscopic compounds can draw water from the surrounding soil

Super absorption compound to store and maintain ground humidity

Expansion compound for internal compaction

Diffusion compound for growing conductive roots in the microscopic pores of surrounding soil.

Application

An example of application is shown below to lower soil resistivity and above all achieve permanency.

How to correct an Earthing of Live Old Switch yar d or Subst ation?

Proble m s

No drawing s of earth gr i d are availa b le.

No knowled ge of earth grid is availa b le with Operat ion and mai n tenance personal

The switch y ard or the s ubstation shutdown i s impossible

The grid earth p its of the su bstation sho w varied re a dings showi ng islanding of t h e grid due t o corrosion .

Spa ce availabili t y is a big co n straint.

Cha nge in Sour c e capacity, N umber of fee ders and dis t ributors wh ich changes the I G values co mpletely

Solutio n –Tier Ea rth

Do adequac y study of th e earth

Find the len g th of cond u ctor require d to correct t h e earth con dition

Do multi or single Tier p eripheral connection at inserting t he conduct o rs at variable s pacing and d epth

Connection of the old gr id to the ne w peripheral g rid every 30 meters

Co n necting the LPS earth pi ts to the mai n grid using an Earth Bo n d.

Exo t hermically welding all n ecessary join ts to achiev e permanen cy.

Che cking if all g rid earth pit s have come to a lmost the s a me value

Applic ation

Result

All Earth Pit values start e d showing similar resis tance witho u t individual correction

Grid resista n ce dropped

Stre ss suffered b y the equip ments red u ced signific antly reduci n g ope ration and maintenance cost.

How to achieve very low resistance for reference Earth or Electronic earth in High soil resistive area?

IEEE 142 1991 Chapter 4 beautifully explains the extent of resistance experienced by the charge as the distance from the conductor increases. These numbers are vital to create sigma Earth where the reflection of the Energy towards the conductor is minimized. This involves some detailed calculation using onion peal method of

applying artificial treatment compound to enable free flow of displacement current (so called). The dissipated energy is thus quickly diluted, immediately reducing the tension around the vicinity of the pit. Discussing the detailed construction and mathematics of sigma Earth is outside the preview of this paper.

Application‐

The drawing shown above is only representative. The Sigma Earth needs detailed calculation looking into Soil resistivity and space

available. In case of the above case, the Sigma

Earth is giving 0.2 ohms in a soil resistivity of

630 m.

Does Efficiency of earthing depend on Frequency?

The Resistivity and Permittivity of soil depends on frequency. Watch the graph carefully

In Order to take care of Low frequency and High frequency signals in the same earth pit, one needs to design it very carefully. High frequency signals like lightning do not enter deep earth. It needs aid of capacitance of the pit. As the current moves into the Dielectric soil, the

Application IAF Critical Command Center (Undisclosed location)

Displacement current is kept high by applying Plates or mesh at the upper end of the earth pit. Stray rods can be used along the plate to increase the dissipation area. Detailed calculation and application techniques are available for specific solutions.

This pit Earths VHF, UHF signal along with –ve terminal of DC . The 22mt deep bore single earth gives 0.17 continuously for last 3 years in a harsh soil resistivity of 830 m rocky soil.

Can Mo bile Earth be created ?

Yes, it is used for de fense applic ations. The Energy i s diluted in an earth ma s s held in a contain e r. The cont ainer is tran s ported with Equipm e nts and ar m aments. At site the

container is placed on t he ground a n d its double wall e d sides are flanged op e n to make contact wit h the ground . After an e x ercise, it is replaced ba ck into the v ehicle.

What i s IRIS Eart h?

IRIS Eart h is the cre a tion of Eart h command and control center. It in v olves

Sensor

Peripheral c ommand ce n ters

Central Co m mand cent e rs

Applicat ion

One earth s e nsor is put inside an ol d or new pit.

Various par ameters like date, locati o n, value etc ar e logged in e very sensor .

The sensor i s programm ed to alarm on few criteria’ s.

There is mu l tiple level o f alarm.

A periphera l command center (PCC) can talk to appr o ximately 1 0 0 earth pits .

A hand held tester is pro vided to ch e ck the earth pi t conditions remotely

The PCC can be locally conn ected to a loca l Laptop an d a remote S erver on LA N or GSM.

Usage

In a practical o p eration of M obile ope rators with i nnumerabl e remote stat ions, the nu mbers of ea r th pits to be maintained a re huge. Th e IRIS earth can significantl y reduce the mai ntenance b u dget by sho wing the con dition of th e earth pits o n screen.

Mu l tiple level o f alarm can p riorities th e mai ntenance an d allocate b udget for the needy.

Car e observatio n of trend c an predict fail u res to take preemptive measure.

A si ngle screen concept give s immense reli e f to the op e ration and maintenance tea m.

S erver
PCC 1
PCC 36
se n sor1
sensor32
sens or 1
s e nsor100

Wireless R emote

Wireless Re m ote

LAPTOP

How to Tackle Ground Induced Currents and EMP?

Earthing is the most effective way of handling surges produced during a high altitude nuclear blast of Solar flare. Three Types of EMP are produced:

E1 Pulse very fast component of nuclear EMP. It is too fast for ordinary lightning protectors and destroys computers and communications equipment.

E2 Pulse – many similarities to pulses produced by lightning. Least dangerous type of EMP because of the widespread use of lightning protection.

E3 Pulse – much slower pulse caused by the Earth’s magnetic field being pushed out of the way by the nuclear explosion or solar storm followed by the field being restored to its natural place. This process can produce geo magnetically induced currents in long electrical conductors (like power lines) which can damage or destroy power line transformers .

The most effective way of handling these surges in the long transmission lines is to create islands and ground the surge effectively. Earth

command and control center, static command control center and Ground switch with auto reclosure can protect the power system.

USA has over 2000 large transformers, which are supposed to be effected drastically taking out the whole power grid in case of High altitude nuclear detonation or Solar flare exceeding 5000Nt. The world’s capacity to manufacture such transformers is only 142 per year.

“In a report regarding threat to United States, the EMP Commission’s assessed that functional collapse of the electrical power system region within the primary area of assault is virtually certain”

“Should the electrical power system be lost for any substantial period of time … the consequences are likely to be catastrophic … machines will stop; transportation and communication will be severely restricted; heating, cooling and lighting will cease; food and water supplies will be interrupted; and many people may die”

The cheapest, viable and most effective solution lies in earthing techniques.

Bibilica

IEEE 802000 IEEE guide for safety in AC Substation Grounding

 IEEE 142 ‐ 1991 IEEE recommended Practices for grounding of industrial and commercial power stations IEEE 665 ‐ 1995 IEEE guide for generating station Grounding

IEEE 811983 IEEE guide for measuring earth resistivity, Ground Impedance, and Earth surface Potentials of a ground system.

Report of the commission to assess the threat to United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

Ground for grounding a circuittosystem handbook by Elay B. Joffe and KaiSang Lock IEEE Press

AN345 (Application Note) Grounding for Low and High frequency circuits by Paul Brokaw and Jeff Barrow