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An Overview Of Short Circuit Current (part 1)

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An O ve rvie w O f Sho rt Circ uit Curre nt (p art 1)

T here are essentially f our types of f aults: three-phase, single line-to-ground, double line-to-ground, and lineto-line. Each of these types of faults can result in different magnitudes of fault current. In all types, however, there is a common element: an abnormally low-impedance path or shorted path f or current to f low, hence the name short circuit current. Such a condition can lead to extremely high currents. By Ohms Law, voltage equals current times impedance (resistance). T heref ore, when the impedance becomes very low and the voltage does not change, the current becomes very high. Large electrical currents produce a lot of heat transf er, which increases the temperature of cables, transf ormers, etc. T he increase in temperature can cause insulation damage. T hese currents also produce high magnetic f orces, which can actually bend buses in switchgear. High fault currents cause magnetic forces that are proportional to the square of the fault current.

Mat hemat ical background, X/R rat io and t ype of f ault current
T he treatment of electrical f aults should be carried out as a f unction of time, f rom the start of the event at time t = 0+ until stable conditions are reached, and theref ore it is necessary to use dif f erential equations when calculating these currents. In order to illustrate the transient nature of the current, consider an RL circuit as a simplif ied equivalent of the circuits in electricity distribution networks. T his simplif ication is important because all the system equipment must be modeled in some way in order to quantif y the transient values which can occur during the fault condition . For the circuit shown in Figure, the mathematical expression which defines the behavior of the current is: e(t) = L di + Ri(t) This is a differential equation with constant coefficients, of which the solution is in two parts: ia (t): ih (t) + ip(t) Where: ih (t) is the solution of the homogeneous equation corresponding to the transient period. ip (t) is the solution to the particular equation corresponding to the steady-state period. By the use of dif f erential equation theory, the complete solution can be determined and expressed in the f ollowing f orm:
RL c irc uit as a s imp lifie d e q uivale nt o f the c irc uits in e le c tric ity-d is trib utio n ne two rks


the closing angle which def ines the point on the source sinusoidal voltage when the f ault occurs = tan-1(L/R) or = tan-1(X/R) T he second term in the equation f or f ault current is recognized as the DC component of the current, and has an initial maximum value when: - = / 2, and zero value when = .

Not es:
Here we introduce the concept of X/R ratio . We can very well see that since L = XL or simply X hence DC component of f ault current to large extent depends upon = tan -1(X/R) or simply X/R ratio . T he X/R ratio is important because it determines the peak asymmetrical fault current. In X/R ratio when X equals zero, there is only symmetrical current with no DC component. With R equals zero , the DC component would never decay. One can say there will always be both resistance and reactive components in the system. T he resistance and reactance of a circuit establishes a power f actor. T he power factor (p.f.) is given by the f ollowing equation: p.f. = cos(tan -1(X/R)) this equation means that the power f actor and X/R ratio are related. Therefore, system power factor and system X/R ratio are different ways of saying the same thing . Please note that as power f actor decreases, the X/R ratio increases. It is impossible to predict a that is at what point the f ault will be applied or take place on the sinusoidal cycle and theref ore it is not possible to determine exactly what magnitude the DC component will reach.

Symmet rical f ault current

If in a circuit mainly containing reactance a short circuit occurs at the peak of the voltage wave, the shortcircuit current would start at zero and trace a sine wave which would be symmetrical about the zero axis. T his is known as a symmetrical short circuit current.

Asymmet rical f ault current

Right after a fault occurs, the current waveform is no longer a sine wave. Instead, it can be represented by the sum of a sine wave and a decaying exponential. Figure below illustrates this phenomenon. Please note that the decaying exponential added to the sine wave causes the current to reach a much larger value than that of the sine wave alone. T he wavef orm that equals the sum of the sine wave and the decaying exponential is called the asymmetrical current because the wavef orm does not have symmetry above and below the time axis. T he sine wave alone is called the symmetrical current because it does have symmetry above and below the time axis.

Hence we can def ine

Sine wave , d e c aying e xp o ne ntial and the ir s um

asymmetrical f ault current in the f ollowing way: If , in a circuit containing only reactance, the short circuit occurs at any point at the peak of the voltage wave, there will be some of f set of the current. T he amount of of f set depends upon the point on the voltage wave at which the short circuit occurs. T his is known as asymmetrical short circuit current. Maximum asymmetry occurs when short circuit takes place when voltage is zero. Asymmetrical f ault remains only f or few cycles after which it becomes symmetrical fault. Decay of asymmetrical component depends on the value of X/R. More the value of R, f aster is the decay of asymmetrical f ault current. Magnitude of asymmetrical fault current is more than that of symmetrical fault current. If the short circuit current does not include DC component it is called symmetrical short circuit current. If the short circuit current contains DC component it is called as asymmetrical component. Figure above represents the short circuit current with and without DC component. Will be continued soon