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Shaun M. McCarthy
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

This work has been commissioned by Sinclair Knight
Merz to investigate the processes involved with rigid
busbar system (RBS) and strain busbar system (SBS)
design. This paper deals with the theory behind the
various forces exerted upon these busbar structures and
their corresponding electro-mechanical responses. A
novel method for calculating the final tension due to
temperature change in an aerial conductor and an outline
for modelling concentrated masses on RBS conductors
is presented. To illustrate the processes involved, a
design demonstration comparing RBS and SBS is
conducted. A cost analysis is performed, revealing that
the RBS is the more economical of the two designs.
1. Introduction
Busbar systems are structures within substations that
serve as connections between electric circuits of a power
system and consist of conductors, insulators, supports
and associated connections. These structures account for
a large percentage of the overall substation equipment
investment [1]. Proper design is essential for safe,
reliable and economic operation of the power system.
Of the existing substations today, air insulated
substations (AIS) account for the majority [2]. There are
two main busbar construction types used in AIS designs.
These are rigid busbar systems (RBS), utilising tubular
conductors (Figure 1.1) and strain busbar systems
(SBS), utilising hanging aerial conductors (Figure 1.2).
Regarding RBS, aluminium alloys are commonly used
for the tubular conductors [1][3], which are typically

Figure 1.1: Example of a rigid busbar system [4].

Figure 1.2: Example of a strain busbar system
(adapted from [5]).
connected to vertically arranged porcelain insulators and
steel supports [2]. Selection of the tube dimensions is
frequently governed by mechanical strength
considerations rather than electrical requirements [1].
With respect to SBS, the conductor is usually all
aluminium conductor (AAC) for short spans, and
aluminium conductor steel reinforced (ACSR) for
longer spans [2]. The aerial conductors are attached to
insulator strings (as opposed to vertical insulators for
RBS), which in turn are also connected to steel support
structures. The common case of three phases, arranged
in a horizontal plane, is considered in this paper.
A distinct advantage of RBS is their low and
compact physical profiles, which allow for less required
substation area and more pleasing aesthetics. The
disadvantages lie in the fact that the rigid conductors
and insulators are more susceptible to damage caused by
earthquakes, and more support structures are needed due
to span limitations. The advantages of SBS design are
increased ability to handle earthquake loads and greater
allowable spans, resulting in less number of support
structures required. A disadvantage is the need for large
clearances due to the ability of the conductors to move,
requiring a greater investment in substation ground area.
It is the goal of this paper to present an investigation
into the types of forces these busbar systems are
exposed to during their operational lives, describing the
very different electro-mechanical responses of RBS and
SBS separately. This work has been commissioned by
Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) to develop a better
understanding of the phenomena involved in the design
of RBS and SBS. Other objectives of this work have
included the development of calculation sheets for each
RBS and SBS, and the application of the sheets to a
theoretical scenario, with the purpose of demonstrating
the design process. It has been decided to base the
calculation sheets on the standards of the New Zealand
system operator, Transpower, particularly [3], which
closely follows IEEE standard 605 [1]. Many of the
results and figures presented in this paper have been
created using the developed calculation sheets.
This paper is structured in the following manner.
Section two describes the gravitational and climate
dependent loads that are incident upon the systems and a
novel method for calculating temperature induced sag
increase of a strain conductor is outlined. Section three
is dedicated entirely to short-circuit forces, which is
considered the most critical factor in busbar design.
Section four describes the electro-mechanical response
of a rigid tubular conductor and section five discusses
other design issues including insulator selection,
vibration and topics for further development of this
work. Section six contains a design demonstration to
bring together the presented theory. A cost analysis
comparing RBS and SBS is performed. The paper
culminates in section seven with conclusions.
2. Gravitational and climatic loads
2.1. Dead weight and concentrated masses
A rigid conductor must be designed to withstand the
loads created by the conductors own weight, referred to
as dead weight, and any concentrated masses along the
span, due to, for example, connections down to other
pieces of equipment. In response to these gravitational
loads, the conductor vertically deforms. Vertical
deflection of the rigid conductor is treated in detail in
section four. Th e to the conductor
dead w ght, F
( /
e force per metre du
N m), is
= nw
) (2.1)
where w
is the specific conductor weight, being 26,700
N/m for aluminium [6], t
is the conductor tube wall
thickness (m) and
is the conductor outer diameter
(m). The effect of concentrated masses on deflection
requires more complicated treatment and is also
discussed in section four.
In 1691, mathematicians J akob Bernoulli, Christiaan
Huygens and Gottfried Liebniz each proved separately
that the shape assumed by a string hung freely from two
points is the catenary (Figure 2.1), which is
mathematically described by the hyperbolic cosine
function [7]. A strain conductor hangs as a catenary
under dead weight [8][9]. The sag of the strain
conductor is defined as the vertical distance from the
lowest hanging point of the conductor to the imaginary
horizontal line connecting the two attachment points
(Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1: The catenary curve (adapted from [8]).
In situations where the sag of the conductor is smaller
than one eighth of the span length, a parabolic
approximation of the catenary may be used for
calculating the sag [1][ or same-levelled attachment
points, this appears as
8]. F
where is the conductor sag (m), m is the conductor
unit mass (kg/m), g is the gravitational constant (9.81
m/s), I is the span length (m) and E is the horizontal
component of the tension inside the conductor (N). It is
common practise to refer to conductor tensions as
percentages of calculated breaking strength (%CBL) [8].
Strain conductors are usually installed with an initial
tension of low value, less than 10%CBL [2].
An example provided in [8] shows that for a 300m
transmission line, the sag calculated by the catenary
equation and the parabolic approximation is 6.420m and
6.417m respectively, yielding a difference of only 3mm.
2.2. Wind loads
The strength of forces caused by wind is subject to the
location of the busbar system. The wind is assumed to
act on the structure in the horizontal direction, as this
causes the maximum force [1]. The New Zealand
loadings d ves t sp ed, I
from the r wing
co e [10] deri the si e wind e
egional w d speed, I (m/s), as follo
= IH
I (z,cut s

where the various H and K factors account for the site
terrain and elevation, height of the structure, the
possible effect of wind reduction provided by
neighbouring buildings and so f h. ort
The wind force ,
(N/m), acting on the
nductor is given b
per metre F
= C

. (2.4)
is the drag-force coefficient, which describes how
wind flows around different shapes and is equal to 1.2
for a circular cross-section [10], as is the case for both
RBS and SBS conduct rs e conductor diameter
(m) and q
is the desig ure (Pa) given by
o .
is th
n wind press
= u.6I
. (2.5)
The 0.6 value comes from half times the density of air,
measured in kg/m.

2.3. Ice loads
Ice loading is clearly only applicable to regions
susceptible to ice formation. The ice build-up is
assumed to form around the conductor uniformly
[1][3][10]. The force by the weight of
ice around the cond ven by
per metre caused
uctor, F

(N/m), is gi

= nw

+ ) (2.6) r

where w

is the specific ice weight (N/m), r

is the
uniform ice radial thickness (m) and
is the conductor
diameter (m). As an example, [3] specifies w

and r

be 3924 N/m and 3 cm respectively. Transpower
defines the complete load due to ice to be the vertical
force caused by the weight of the ice, coupled with the
horizontal force due to wind acting upon the augmented
section of ice [3]. In this case, the wind speed used in
(2.5) is equal to 0.9 times that of the wind speed used to
calculate the wind load when ice is absent [10].
The presence of ice on the strain conductor causes an
increase in tension [11] that can be conservatively
calculated using methods in [1].
2.4. Thermal considerations
A rigid tubular conductor responds to an increase in
temperature by elon t T ange in length, I
(m), is described by
gaing [1]. he ch

I = oI(I

) (2.7)
where o is the coefficient of thermal expansion of the
conductor (1/C), equal to 23.1E-06 1/C for aluminium
[1], I is the length of the conductor (m), I
is the final
temperature (C) and I

is the initial temperature (C).

The resulting e ng ermal expansion
force o e con
lo ation causes a th
ductor and insulators, F
= E

) (2.8)
n th
where E
is the Youngs modulus (Pa) and describes the
stiffness of the conductor material. It is equal to 68.9
GPa for aluminium [1]. A
is the cross-sectional area of
the conductor (m). Thermal expansion puts excessive
stress on the conductor and cantilever (bending) forces
on the insulators. One solution is to install a sliding joint
at one end of the RBS span to accommodate the
expansion [1][3]. The presence of a sliding joint affects
1) the vertical deflection of the conductor, 2) the
maximum stress occurring on the cross-section, 3) the
conductors natural frequency and 4) the transmittance
of loads to the insulators. These effects will be discussed
at relevant points in later sections of the paper.
The response of a strain busbar conductor to an
increase in temperature, is an increase in sag [1][8][11].
As temperature rises, the conductor elongates and the
tension within decreases [11]. The general change-of-
state equation that describes this phenomenon is as
+ E

A oI E
- _
] (2.9)
where I = (I

) (C), E
is the final tension (N),

is the initial/installation tension (N), m

is the final
unit mass (kg/m) and m

is the inital/installation unit

mass (kg/m), with all other parameters mentioned
previously. It is noted that the only variable in (2.9) is
. By solving for E
, the final sag can be calculated
using (2.2). Figure 2.2 shows the initial sag at a
temperature of 15C and the final sag at a temperature of
80C for a SBS with a 32m span length.

Figure 2.2: Sags associated with a 32m span length.
Sag and tension calculations are of high importance in
SBS design to ensure that the minimum phase-to-ground
clearance is not violated (Figure 2.2), which if occurs,
can result in the dangerous conditions of electrical
Equation 2.9 is non-linear and is traditionally solved
using iterative techniques like the Newton-Raphson
method, details of which can be found in [12] or any
introductory text on calculus. This prohibits the
convenience that comes with step-by-step progressive
calculation. During the project, the author has developed
a novel method for accurately solving (2.9). This
involves two separate approximation methods that allow
direct calculation of E
. To demonstrate the accuracy of
the approximations (in this case, the quadratic error
method (QEM) approximation), Figure 2.3 shows the
deviation between true sag and approximated sag across
different cross-sectional areas for AAC material. The
different curves correspond to the cases outlined in

Figure 2.3: QEM sag deviations [13].
Table 2.1. The details of these methods can be found in
[13] and a brief summary is provided in the appendix.
Table 2.1: Theoretical case definitions [13].

I (m) 50 150 50 150
I (C) 50 50 100 100

3. Short-circuit forces
Mechanical stresses are especially severe during short-
circuit conditions [14] and so are treated very seriously
in the design of busbar systems. Short-circuit forces
may cause substation failure, particularly due to the
failure of insulators [2], and are the dominant influence
in substation design [15]. The mechanical effects of
short-circuit currents for RBS and SBS are quite
different [2]. This section shall begin by discussing the
underlying theory behind short-circuit forces, followed
by the effects on RBS and SBS respectively. In the
following discussion, the terms short-circuit and fault
are used interchangeably.
When two or more current carrying conductors are
in close proximity, they exert electromagnetic forces
upon one another. The direction of the forces is
repulsive if the currents flow in opposite directions, and
attractive if the currents flow in the same direction [16].
Under fault conditions, the currents within the
conductors can become excessive, and the forces
exerted on the conductors become significant since they
are proportional to the square of the fault current (as
shall be made clear soon). Fault currents consist of an
asymmetric decaying component and an oscillating
symmetrical steady-state component (Figure 3.1). The
instantaneous value of the fault current is affected by the
impedances in the adjacent power system (especially the
synchronous machine reactances), the system reactance-
to-resistance ratio (determines how quickly the
asymmetrical component decays [17]) and the timing of
the fault with respect to the system frequency [18]. The
current may reach a maximum of nearly double the
steady-state value [19].

Figure 3.1: Fault current waveform [20].
The physical laws that relate the current in the
conductors to the electromagnetic forces they create are
1) the Biot-Savart law, which is used to find the
magnetic field caused by the current, and 2) Laplaces
law, which determines the force created by the magnetic
field [16].
For parallel conductors, such as the RBS tubes, the
equation for the electrom netic force per metre, F

(N/m), can be derived
(3.1 )
where I
is the symmetrical RMS fault current (kA), J
is the conductor spacing (m) and k is a corrective factor
which takes into account 1) the type of fault current, 2)
the conductor location (i.e. middle phase or outer
phase), 3) the peak current decay and 4) the mounting
structure flexibility [1]. In deriving (3.1), it is assumed
that since the conductor length is much larger than the
spacing, d, it can be regarded as being of infinite length
[16][21]. Three phase symmetrical faults create the
highest mechanical forces [16][21][22] and so the
current associated with this type of fault is usually
specified for I
in the design.
The assessment of short-circuit forces in SBS is a
problem of higher complexity than for RBS [2][23].
Significant mechanical stresses and deflections occur in
the SBS [2][9][24] and the associated calculations
exceed three dozen equations. For the sake of brevity,
only a descriptive treatment will be provided for the
short-circuit forces associated with SBS. Full details of
the calculations can be found in the IEC standard [25]
and the CIGRE guide to this standard [2]. The SBS
response can be analysed in terms of three phenomena
[26], which will now be discussed in order of their
The first phenomenon is known as the pinch effect
and results from the collapse of subconductors in a
bundle due to the attractive electromagnetic forces
caused by the short-circuit current [2][15][23][24].
Bundles are often used in applications with high load
current requirements where one conductor is not
sufficient. Figure 3.2 shows the pinch effect occurring
for a bundle of three subconductors. One can see that
the bundle has fully collapsed a mere 18ms after the
initiation of the short-circuit event. This is small in
relation to the typical duration of a short-circuit, which
is 15 cycles [15], corresponding to 300ms for a 50Hz

Figure 3.2: The pinch effect [23].
The increase in length of the subconductors as they are
bent inward results in an increase in tension [15].
Spacers are used in conductor bundles to minimize
wind-induced motions and to keep conductors from
entangling [1] (see bottom of Figure 3.2). If it is such
that the subconductor spacing and configuration of the
spacers allow the subconductors to clash effectively, the
pinch effect force is small relative to the other forces
induced and so may be ignored. Tests in [2] have shown
that this condition is described when either of the
following conditions is satisfied:
7u (3.3)
where o
is the distance between the midpoints of
adjacent subconductors (m), J
is the diameter of the
subconductors (m) and l
is the distance between
adjacent spacers (m). The mathematical model used to
calculate the force due to the pinch effect equates the
strain energy in the conductors, coupled with the kinetic
and potential energy in the support structures with the
work done by the electromagnetic forces [2][24].
Removal of the spacers [1][23] and reducing the
subconductor spacing [15][23] decreases the pinch
effect force.
The second phenomenon is known as the swing-out
force, which occurs after the pinch effect [15]. The
influence of the electromagnetic forces cause the
conductors to swing away from one another [24] and
violent motion results [27]. Figure 3.3 shows the
displacement of one of the strain conductors during a
short-circuit test, as documented in [27].

Figure 3.3: Displacement of a strain conductor during
a short-circuit with 47ms interval between dots [27].
During the displacement, the maximum tensile force
which occurs in the conductor, is the swing-out force.
This force can be reduced by using larger phase spacing,
longer spans and greater sags [15].
The third phenomenon is the tensile force caused
after the short circuit, when the conductor falls back to
its original position [26] and is known as the drop force
An area of major concern for SBS design is the
phase-phase clearance reduction caused by the
displacement of the conductors. If the minimum phase-
to-phase clearance is violated, arcing may occur
between the phases [24] resulting in noise, strand
damage and a decrease in ampacity [15]. The minimum
clearance occurs during a line-to-line fault, where only
two conductors are affected, and the electromagnetic
forces cause them to swing away from each other, as
described earlier. Under the worst case scenario, the
conductors will swing the same distance back to the
inside, resulting in the minimum clearance condition
[26]. During a three phase fault, the centre conductor
moves only slightly due to bi-directional forces acting
upon it from the outer conductors [1][2] and so the
minimum clearance does not occur. It is noted that the
stresses due to both the aforementioned faults are
approximately equal [1][2].
To calculate the tensions, angles and displacements
associated with the swing-out and drop force, the
conductor is mathematically modelled as a pendulum
with one degree of freedom [2][24][26] (Figure 3.4).
SBS short-circuit calculations are performed for summer
and winter conditions separately, as results may vary
quite considerably. The large tensions and
displacements are considered a weakness of SBS [15].

Figure 3.4: Pendulum model for the strain conductor
The simplified methods for short-circuit force
calculation in SBS are based on extensive research and
produce results that are in good agreement with tests
[1][2][24][26]. In mentioning this, it is noted that these
methods can lead to over-conservative results [28].
Simplified methods for RBS can over-estimate
experimental results by two to six times [1]. Finite-
element methodology (FEM) provides a more
representative calculation. FEM uses computer software
modelling and involves solving the electromagnetic
diffusion equation for discrete points along the busbar
structure [22]. Experiments using this methodology are
presented in [1][9][14][17][21]-[23][28].
4. Vertical deflection and bending stress of
rigid conductor
A rigid busbar conductor can be mathematically
modelled as a beam [2][3][19]. In response to
gravitational loads presented in section 2.1 and 2.3, the
beam vertically deflects. Utilities provide a maximum
allowable deflection requirement, in order to maintain
pleasing aesthetics [1]. For instance, Transpower
provides this requirement in the form of a deflection-to-
span ratio of 1/300 [3]. A difficulty experienced in this
project, was how to approach modelling a concentrated
mass, such as a span connection to other equipment, as
the considered standards [1][3] only provided means to
model uniformly distributed loads. A mechanics of
materials technique known as the method of integration
[29] provided the solution to this problem. The method
involves integrating the moment equation (4.1) twice to
yield a formula for the deflection of the beam as a
function of the distance alo eam, :(x) (m). The
moment equation is
ng the b

= H(x) (4.1)
where E is the Youngs modulus of the conductor (Pa),
[ is the bending moment of inertia (m)andH(x)isthe
internal moment (Nm) as a function of distance along
the beam, x (m). [ measure of how the beam
deflects. For a circula , [ is given by
is a
r cross-section
[ = n

are the outside and inside diameter of

the conductor (m) respectively. The larger the [, the
larger is the beams resistance to bending. H(x) is the
equation describing the moments (turning forces) that
are created on the beam due to the gravitational forces.
Figure 4.1 shows the deflection of an eight metre long
rigid conductor with and without a 15kg span
connection. The conductor has a diameter of 80mm, a
wall thickness of 4mm and is subject to ice loading. It is
noted from Figure 4.1 (b) that the maximum deflection
has been offset slightly from the centre and that it has
been increased by approximately 4 mm. In this instance,
the deflection would meet Transpowers maximum
requirement of being no more than length/300 mm
During the evaluation of (4.1), the constants of
integration are found by considering the end conditions
of the beam. Bolted connections, as used in Figure 4.1,
are modelled as fixed connections. When a sliding
joint is installed to accommodate thermal expansion of
the tube, as discussed in section 2.4, the vertical
deflection is increased. A sliding joint is modelled as a
roller connection. Figure 4.2 shows the same span
used in Figure 4.1 (b) except with a sliding joint
installed on the left connection. It is noted that the
maximum deflection has been offset quite significantly
in the direction of the sliding joint. The deflection has
increased by approximately 19mm and no longer meets
the criteria specified by Transpower. A solution to this
problem would be to increase the tube dimensions. This
increases [ (4.2), which has the effect of increasing the
conductors resistance to bending.


Figure 4.1: Vertical deflection of an eight metre long
rigid conductor due to (a) dead weight and ice loading
and (b) an additional 15kg span connection located
the way along the length.

Figure 4.2: Effect of a sliding joint (left) on vertical
The stress on the rigid conductor due to the loads
presented in section two and three cannot exceed a
certain value, else the tube may be plastically
(permanently) deformed or completely fail. For
aluminium, it is recommended that the stress does not
exceed 50% of the yield strength. This takes into
account the strength reduction caused by annealing of
the material during welding [1]. It is statistically
improbable that all of the loads will occur at the same
time, so the busbar system is designed to withstand
certain load combinations, as defined by the utility
[1][3]. The flexure formula relates the longitudinal
stress in a beam to the internal bending moment acting
on the beams cross- ctio [29] (Figure 4.4). This
formula is written:
se n
where o
is the maximum stress (Pa), H is the
maximum bending moment (Nm), c is the conductor
radius (m) and [ is the bending moment of inertia (m).
The presence of a sliding joint increases the maximum
bending moment on the conductor, because it causes
more of the turning force to be subject to the
fixed/bolted end. This results in an increased maximum

Figure 4.4: Bending stress in the rigid conductor.
Details of implementing the methods presented in
this section can be found in Hibbeler [29] or any text on
mechanics of materials.
5. Other design issues
5.1. Vibration of the rigid conductor
All structures have a natural frequency. A good way to
visualise this, is by taking a ruler, holding one end on a
hard surface, then pressing the free end and releasing it.
The ruler will move up and down at its natural
frequency. If an oscillating force is applied to a
structure, which is near or at its natural frequency, large
oscillations can occur, leading to damage or failu e. This
is the phenomenon known as mechanical resonan .
The natural frequency of a rigid conductor,
is given by

where K is a constant accounting for the end conditions,
I is the conductor length (m), E is the Youngs modulus
(Pa), [ is the bending moment of inertia (m) and m is
the mass per metre of the conductor (kg/m). K is equal
to 1.25 when there is a sliding joint at one of the span
ends, and 1.51 for two fixed (bolted) ends [1], showing
that a sliding joint causes
to decrease. If
the conductor may be susceptible to vibrations caused
by wind flowing around it [25]. This phenomenon is
known as aeolian vibration. A damping conductor
should be installed inside the tube to minimise this
effect [1][3]. The weight of the damping conductor must
be taken into account during the RBS design.
Short-circuit forces cause rigid conductors to vibrate
[2]. The frequency of these forces is twice that of the
system frequency, (Hz) [16][19]. Natural frequencies
near and 2 should be avoided [1][3].
5.2. Insulator selection
Loads on the rigid conductor are transferred to the
vertical insulators as cantilever (bending) forces [1][2].
Cantilever forces also arise from loads directly on the
insulator, such as wind and wind-on-ice [1]. Commonly,
insulators are made of porcelain, which has high tension
and compression ratings in comparison to cantilever and
torsional (twisting) ratings [1]. For this reason it is usual
to provide the peak cantilever force at the top of the
insulator, to the manufacturer [14]. This force is usually
given in kN and is found by considering the different
load combinations (see section four). It is recommended
to multiply the cantilever rating by a safety factor [1][3].
Utilities have criteria regarding maximum horizontal
deflection of rigid insulators due to thermal expansion.
For example, Transpower specifies a height-to-
deflection limit of 1/200 [3]. Horizontal deflection is
calculated by considering the rigid conductor elongation
(2.7).This is of course not an issue if a sliding joint is
installed. However, the sliding joint does affect how the
loads on the conductor are transferred to the insulators.
It causes 63% of the load to be transferred to the fixed
(bolted) connection as opposed to equal load division
when both connections are fixed [1].
The selection of insulators for SBS is much less
complicated. Since the insulators are connected to the
conductors in the same longitudinal direction (as
opposed to vertically), they need only to withstand the
maximum tensile force occurring in the conductor.
If not designed properly, insulators may be cracked,
causing a loss in mechanical strength, or completely
shattered [2][15].
5.3. Issues outside project scope
The following topics should be considered for further
development of this project.
Ampacity: Involves calculations that verify the
conductor current carrying ability for different thermal
and physical conditions.
Corona: Considers the minimising of effects due to
corona discharge (ionisation of air) at the conductor
surface, which causes electromagnetic interference.
Seismic loads: Design considerations for the
forces created by earthquakes.
Pinned end connections: Modelling of these types
of end connections for the RBS take into account
fixtures that allow some movement.
6. Design demonstration and comparison
It is the purpose of this section to apply the presented
theory, using the developed calculation sheets (see
section one), to a theoretical design scenario,
demonstrating the processes involved in RBS and SBS
design. A cost analysis is performed to identify which of
the two designs is the most economical. A
comprehensive list of the parameters used will be made
available to the reader upon request.
6.1. Scenario outline
The proposed scenario is based on a design provided by
SKM. The electrical requirements for the busbar
systems are 1) 220kV voltage rating, 2) 1600A current
rating and 3) 40kA (3sec) short-circuit current. For the
purposes of deriving climatic loads, the design is
considered at a location similar to the lower North
Island. The aim of this demonstration is to compare a
four-span RBS against a two-span SBS, each totalling a
length of 64m. The proposed designs are shown in
Figure 6.1. The phase-to-ground and phase-to-phase
spacings are in accordance with [30].
The calculation sheet for the RBS has been verified
against an SKM design in collaboration with an SKM
representative. The SBS version has been verified
against the strain design example provided in Annex I of
[1]. As previously mentioned, both sheets are based on
standards [1] and [3].
6.2. Design decisions and justifications
6.2.1. Rigid Busbar System
On each span of the design, a sliding joint is fitted at
one end to accommodate thermal expansion.
A 15kg span-connection is located at the centre of
the span.
To meet the electrical criteria, an aluminium alloy
6063T5 tube with outside diameter 80mm and wall
thickness 4mm (written 80x4mm) was selected from [3].
This tube has a normal current and a short-circuit rating
of 1670A and 52.4kA respectively. However, the stress
within the material exceeded the maximum allowable
stress of half the yield strength (90MPa) in all load
combinations and caused the vertical deflection of the
conductor to exceed the allowable limit of 53mm (span
length/300) by 406mm (Table 6.1). The dimensions
were increased to 140x8mm, but this was still
inadequate. A 200x6mm tube was the minimum size
that met the criteria.
The natural frequency of the conductor was
calculated to be 3.31 Hz, which is above the frequency
to require a damping conductor for aeolian vibration.
Table 6.1: Deflections and stresses associated with the
considered tubular conductors.
Vertical Deflection (mm)
Limit: 53
Tube Dimensions: 80x4mm 140x8mm 200x6mm
- 459 96 47
Bending Stress (MPa)
Limit: 90
Tube Dimensions: 80x4mm 140x8mm 200x6mm
Load Combination:
Dead +Short-circuit 662 114 69
Dead +Wind 109 40 29
Dead +Ice 125 44 31

Figure 6.1: Side elevation and plan views for (a) rigid busbar design and (b) strain busbar design. Dimensions in mm.
The maximum force at the top of the insulators is
5.7kN, provided by the load combination that includes
the short-circuit force. Using a porcelain bending safety
factor of 0.6, in accordance with [3], the minimum
cantilever rating of the insulators used in the design
should be 9.5 kN.
6.2.2. Strain Busbar System
The effect of span-connections on the SBS conductors is
considered negligible as is the case with the example
provided in [1].
To meet electrical requirements, a bundle consisting
of two 415mm AAC conductors was chosen from [3].
This has a normal current and short-circuit rating of
3250A and 48.6kA respectively.
The initial conductor tension was set to 10%CBL,
producing an initial and maximum sag of 0.2m and
0.75m respectively. The height of structure was
increased until the maximum sag of the conductor was
above the required phase-to-ground clearance of 6.64m
[30] and rounded to the nearest half metre at 7.5m. The
sags and minimum clearance are shown in figure 2.2.
The developed QEM approximation (see section 2.4)
was used in the sag calculations and produced a sag
identical to the true result to four decimal places
(nearest tenth of a mm).
The minimum phase spacing due to displacement
during the short-circuit was calculated as 2.93m and
2.17m for winter and summer respectively. The required
phase-to-phase clearance of 2.1m [30] is not violated.
This justifies the design decision to place the conductor
phases 4m apart.
The maximum tensile force acting on the conductor
is 63.5kN due to the drop force during summer. Using a
porcelain tension safety factor of 0.42, as recommended
in [3], the insulator selected requires a minimum tensile
force rating of 152kN.
6.2.3. Supports and foundations
The design of supports and foundations is a structural
task and is considered outside the scope of this work.
For the purpose of attaining a preliminary cost estimate,
supports and foundations have been scaled from similar
designs with guidance from an SKM structural engineer.
It is noted that ground conditions have not been taken
into account during this activity.
6.3. Cost analysis
Table 6.2 shows a breakdown of the estimated costs
associated with each design. The first three entries have
been attained from a local manufacturer and the final
entry is as discussed in section 6.2.3.
The cost analysis shows the aluminium alloy tubes
used in the RBS are more expensive than the aluminium
aerial conductors of the SBS. The costs for the
insulators and fittings associated with both designs are
approximately equal. The large support towers required
Table 6.2: Results of the cost analysis.
Component RBS ($NZD) SBS ($NZD)
Conductors 27,812 5,640
Insulators/fittings 3,040 2,798
Supports/foundations 93,861 408,330

Total 124,713 416,768
for the SBS make up 98% of the total cost as opposed to
75% for the RBS supports. Overall, the strain design is
3.3 times more expensive than the rigid equivalent.
7. Conclusion
Busbar systems require proper design to withstand the
forces in which they are subject to during their
operational lives. The forces considered in this paper
are due to gravity, ice and wind, temperature change
and short-circuits. Relevant theory behind these
loadings is outlined and the electro-mechanical
response of RBS and SBS is discussed. In addition,
vibration and insulator selection is investigated.
Original work includes a novel method for
calculating the final tension in an aerial conductor due
to temperature change and an outline for modelling
concentrated masses on rigid busbar spans.
Based on IEEE and Transpower standards,
calculation sheets have been developed and used in a
design demonstration, with the aim of outlining the
processes involved with each RBS and SBS design. The
demonstration included comparing a four span RBS
against a two span SBS. A cost analysis revealed that
the SBS was 3.3 times more expensive than the RBS.
Topics that should be considered for further
development of this work include ampacity and corona
calculations, consideration of seismic forces and pinned
end modelling for RBS.
The author would like to thank Alistair Williams, from
the industry sponsor SKM, for his valuable technical
advice and Dr. Nirmal Nair for his guidance as the
project supervisor. Thanks go to fellow student,
mechanical engineer Elliott Powell, for his derivation of
the deflection calculations and to Kritesh Kumar and
J oan Rey Lawag, also from SKM, for their assistance
with the creation of the CAD drawings in figure 6.1.
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The change-of-st n uctor tension,
(2.9), can be rearra f cubic equation:
ate equatio for cond
nged to the orm of a
(A.1) E
+b = u
where I - +
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pp. 140-141.
o = E
o E


[8] Sag-tension Calculation Methods for Overhead Lines, CIGRE
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b = -
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pr du e
[10] Code of Practice for General Structural Design and Design
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, (A.2) may be
approximated as
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= _
. (A.3)
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This initial appro matio s refined by applying two
algebraic techniqu n
xi n i
es, produci g
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. (A.5)
where E
is the linear error method (LEM)
approximation of final tension and E
is the
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sag of the conductor with (2.2). (A.5) is more accurate
than the former in most applications, but (A.4) is
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Figure A.1: Minimum temperature change required for
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