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The subject of this paper is the application of vacuum circuitbreakers for electrical power transmission networks, especially for the 72.5 kV range. The Siemens 3AV1FG 72.5 kV Prototype outdoor circuit-breaker was type tested in full accordance with the relevant standards of the International Electrical Commission (IEC, 62271-1 and 62271-100). RTE, France has agreed to support the first test phase to garner operational experience under realistic grid conditions. Prototype circuit-breakers have been placed in various RTE net configurations. A result report will be issued following the test phase.

switchgear on the transmission networks. Prototype circuitbreakers have been placed in the sub transmission voltage range of 72.5 kV. RTE, one of the pilot customers using Siemens HV vacuum circuit-breakers in Europe and worldwide, has chosen different system configurations for the circuit-breakers and began a three year trial period.

The 3AV1FG - 72.5 kV Prototype is a three pole outdoor circuit-breaker with one common spring drive mechanism (Figure 1).

High-voltage vacuum circuit-breakers, 72.5 kV vacuum interrupters, IEC type test, Axial Magnetic Field contact geometry

Over the last four decades, the vacuum interrupter has conquered distribution networks (up to 40.5 kV) due to their outstanding performance and low life-cycle costs. The other mediums used to extinguish switching arcs have become less important for distribution networks. This sustained success of vacuum switchgear suggests that the technology could be a promising extension of the existing high-voltage switchgear portfolio. The technical feasibility of this kind of application has been provided by several studies and pilot projects [1], [2], [3], [4]. Vacuum switchgear technology easily handles 10.000 operations at rated normal currents and more than 30 full fault operations and this without the need for contact replacement. Long operational life and minimal maintenance are superb features of vacuum circuit-breaker technology. It is unaffected by low temperatures; therefore, it is ideally suited for cold climate areas. Thus, the expansion of Siemens portfolio to include highvoltage vacuum circuit-breakers offers customers a genuine added value. The first step is a prototype of an outdoor circuit-breaker for 72.5 kV using one vacuum interrupter for every pole column. In our case, the vacuum interrupter is responsible for arc quenching purposes and nitrogen gas filling for the dielectric insulation of this vacuum interrupter inside the pole column. Siemens Energy, Berlin and RTE, Paris have started working in co-operation to examine the influence of vacuum

Figure 1: 3AV1FG - 72.5 kV Prototype circuit-breaker in service

The force required to actuate the three contacts in the pole columns is supplied to the pole column corner gears by the spring drive via the operating rod and the coupling rod (Figure 2).

A multicontact system is attached to the moveable contact to enable the transfer of current and heat to the lower base. A side cover with cooling fins, attached to the fixed contact, helps to radiate the heat into the atmosphere.

Cover with cooling fins Base, upper section with fixed contact Porcelain jacket Vacuum interrupter with AMF-contacts

Nitrogen insulation Base, lower section with moveable contact inside and multicontact for current and heat transfer Contact rod with Contact pressure spring Figure 2: Sectional view of 3AV1FG - 72.5 kV pole column with connection to base frame The kinematic chain offers a specific characteristic in comparison to conventional gas circuit-breakers. To ensure that the contacts remain in the closed position, the blowapart forces caused by a current flow through the contact structure have to be balanced by a contact spring (contact pressure spring). The three pole columns are connected by tubes to one gas compartment. The density of the gas in this compartment is monitored by a density monitor and the gas pressure is indicated by a pressure gauge. The vacuum interrupter itself is defined as sealed-for-life. These switching elements are enclosed in porcelain jackets. An additional insulation medium is required because the outer dielectric strength of the vacuum interrupter has to be improved to withstand the dielectric demands. The three pole columns of the circuit-breaker are insulated by nitrogen to withstand this high-voltage stress. The design is dimensioned for a gauge nitrogen pressure of 0.21 MPa. Figure 3 shows a sectional view of one porcelain circuitbreaker pole. Typically, vacuum circuit-breakers do not provide two contact systems for normal current and short-circuit current interruption as with gas insulated circuit-breakers. One contact system masters both demands. At the contact areas, the contact resistance produces energy input. The thermal conductivity of the fixed and moveable contact rods leads this thermal heating out of the vacuum interrupter. Convection inside of the vacuum interrupter is not possible. Figure 3: Sectional view of a breaker pole The inner design of the vacuum interrupter is optimised to withstand the transient recovery voltage after arc interruption and the fundamental high-voltage demands (withstand voltages). The preferred arc control system for comparatively large contact distances is the Axial Magnetic Field (AMF) contact geometry. The second most widely-used system is the Radial Magnetic Field (RMF) contact. The interrupting capability of the RMF-system is much better for lower contact distances. The RMF-system is preferable for a contact stroke of less than 15 mm. The AMF-System provides significant advantages from 20 mm [5]. In our case, an AMF-system with a unipolar, self-induced magnetic field is used. Over the past few decades numerous experiments and theoretical simulations have been implemented to improve the contact design of Siemens AMF-systems [6], [7]. Such experience has been essential in expanding this plasma control system to enable contact strokes of more than 20 mm, which are necessary for high-voltage vacuum applications. The AMF arc extinguishing performance is excellent and the arc behaviour is up to the highest short-circuit current values not in the constricted plasma phase. This reduces local overheating of the contact surface by distributing the arc energy over the entire Copper Chromium (CuCr) contact plate surfaces. Contact erosion, and density of metal vapour

will be reduced by this system, therefore, enabling fast and reliable recovery of the dielectric strength after current zero. Consequently, it was possible to carry out the short-line fault tests (L90 and L75) with a line side time delay of less than 100 ns, even if this exceeds the IEC-standards.

specific rules for sealed-for-life interrupter units.

Rated voltage Rated power-frequency withstand voltage Rated lightning impulse withstand voltage Rated frequency Rated nominal current Temperature range Rated short-circuit breaking current Rated short-time withstand current Rated duration of short-circuit Rated peak withstand current (2,7 p.u.) Rated first-pole-to-clear factor Capacitive voltage factor Capacitive current switching Insulating medium 72.5 kV 140 kV 325 kV 50 Hz 2500 A -30 ... +40 C 31.5 kA 31.5 kA 3s 85 kA 1.3 / 1.5 p.u. 1.4 p.u. Class C2 Nitrogen


Pilot customers will enjoy maximum reliability although the test phase for pilot vacuum circuit-breakers is for a limited number of units. Siemens offers the same technical test documentation as with their other high-voltage switchgear product portfolios. The 3AV1FG - 72.5 kV Prototype was fully type tested and certified by the independent institute PEHLA in accordance with the latest standards of the International Electrical Commission (IEC), e.g. power, dielectric, mechanical, temperature rise, low and high temperature tests.

IEC 62271100 (2008), IEC 62271-1 (2007)

Figure 5: Ratings for 3AV1FG 72.5 kV Prototype When applicable, the test duties were performed with a nitrogen pressure at minimum functional level, in our case 0.15 MPa (gauge pressure). Additionally, the insulation properties of the circuit-breaker after the test duties in open position were demonstrated by a voltage test as a condition check. Visual inspections are sufficient for gas circuit-breakers; however, for sealed-for-life interrupter units the above condition check procedure is required. For circuit-breakers directly connected to overhead-lines, the type test has to be carried out with higher transient recovery voltage (TRV)-values. In accordance with IEC 62271-100 (2008), we successfully met class S2 requirements for rated voltage of 72.5 kV. This type of circuit-breaker is in accordance with IEC 622711 (2007) with respect to the theoretical possibility that vacuum interrupters emit X-rays. Additionally, the vacuum interrupter itself is type approved by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt fr Strahlenschutz - BfS). This procedure is necessary for highvoltage electrical equipment which can produce X-rays as an unintended by-product.

Figure 4: PEHLA Type Test of 3AV1FG 72.5 kV Prototype circuit-breaker Figure 4 shows the Prototype circuit-breaker connected to the high-power test circuit. These tests were predominantly carried out for a power frequency of 50 Hz and for non-effectively earthed neutral systems as well as for effectively earthed neutral systems (first-pole-to-clear factor of 1.3 and 1.5 p.u.). Initially, the capacitive current switching performance was realised for line- and cable charging currents. The type test demonstrated a very low probability of restrikes and the capacitive class C2 was achieved. The applied capacitive voltage factor was 1.4 p.u. The relevant ratings of the circuitbreaker are listed in Figure 5. One particular characteristic of this prototype is the segregation of insulation and arc extinguishing mediums. The vacuum interrupter is a sealed-for-life component. Due to the compact vacuum interrupter design, an additional insulation medium between the porcelain jacket and the interrupter is required to ensure the outer dielectric strength. Nitrogen, with a pressure of 0.21 MPa (gauge), has been determined to withstand the demands of lightning impulse voltage. For the type test, the relevant test duties for gas insulated switchgear were carried out with taking into account the


Within the framework of the sustainable development policy led by RTE, the commissioning of pilot circuit-breakers without sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) represents a real opportunity. It is in this context that RTE and Siemens agreed on the installation of three 72.5 kV vacuum circuitbreakers in the French electrical power transmission network. To determine where circuit-breakers were to be installed in the network, some assumptions had to be taken into account. RTE was interested in installing the circuit-breakers on frequently operated feeder bays without disturbing the network. This requires: o A sufficiently meshed network o No industrial clients in the vicinity o A line that is frequently stricken down

Moreover, some applications were not conceivable for the demonstrators, such as the installation near capacitor banks or inductances due to lack of studies concerning the behaviour of the breaker and the impact on the substation equipment with these applications. These considerations led RTE to define three criteria for choosing the feeder bays able to receive the 3AV1FG 72.5 kV Prototypes (in order of importance): o Non-critical feeder bay o No capacitor bank or inductance in the vicinity o Frequently operated feeder bay

To gain feedback
The second main objective of RTE is to gain feedback on this new technology in order to: o Improve RTE knowledge and understanding of the phenomena related to arc breaking in vacuum o Study how the circuit-breaker works in a full-size network o Adapt the operating regulations and the maintenance schedule to this new technology The related question is how to gain feedback on this technology. For the time being, voltage and current on each feeder are recorded on the standard substation fault recorder when a fault occurs. RTE intends to analyse fault interruption duty after each event. By the end of the year, pilot circuit-breakers will be equipped with more-advanced devices able to record each operation: periodical switching and fault switching. For the moment, RTE has a global positive feedback on switching and fault clearance events, even if no detailed elements are yet available. RTE also intends to gain feedback on the adaptation of the circuit-breakers to RTE standards. The commissioning and the initial months in operation of the three vacuum circuitbreakers have been carefully analysed and some points have to be adapted to consider the installation of vacuum circuit breakers on a larger scale: o Adaptations of the breakers to RTE standards (electric diagram, outline drawing, safety distances) o Considerations regarding inspection and maintenance procedures of the circuit-breakers (gas pressure handling, maintenance schedule)



Figure 6: Locations of pilot circuit-breakers in France Circuit-breakers have been installed on 63 kV network. The feeder bays have been selected in three double busbar substations situated in different electrical regions: in the North of France; in the West of France and near the Paris region (Figure 6).The three circuit-breakers were installed at the following times: o November 2010 o January 2011 o July 2011

RTE prospects can be summed up as follows: o To observe these circuit-breakers in order to characterize the behaviour of this new technology in different applications (transformer, capacitor bank, inductance switching), notably by carrying out tests o To determine if IEC type tests are applicable to this new technology or if new type tests have to be defined o To consider whether a widespread installation of vacuum circuit-breakers within a few years at 72.5 kV and 100 kV ranges is likely to reduce costs of this equipment and maintenance costs Further to this pilot project, RTE is looking forward to installing vacuum circuit-breakers at higher voltages, 100 kV and 245 kV within a few years.

As a result of the pilot project in its network, RTE has had the opportunity to show its interest in promoting new and less polluting technologies. Moreover, RTE has two main objectives: to reduce SF6 emissions and to gain feedback on this new technology.

To reduce greenhouse gases

The first main objective of RTE is to reduce SF6 emissions of the electrical equipment in substations. Like most utilities, RTE has to cope with the growing concern of SF6 emissions in its substations, principally due to ageing equipment. Vacuum circuit-breakers appear to be a potentially viable solution to this issue. Moreover, compared to SF6 circuit-breakers, this new technology allows for significant reduction in the risk of explosion thanks to reduced gas pressure inside the circuitbreaker and eliminates health risks related to SF6 use. Beyond the reduction of SF6 emissions, life cycle analyses are in progress to confirm the environmental interest of such a technology.


3AV1FG - 72.5 kV is Siemens first prototype high-voltage vacuum circuit-breaker. The 3AV1 passed all relevant tests to ensure the reliability of a fully type tested product. Additionally, the 3AV1 offered the opportunity to realise a product without the usage of greenhouse gases. RTE and Siemens agreed on a joint test phase of three years to gain operational experience under realistic grid conditions. Both parties determined differing net configurations for three circuit-breakers with a focus on frequently operated feeder bays. For this test phase, critical applications like capacitor bank

switching and switching of small inductive currents were avoided. The results of the first operating period will be given in a second mutual publication after completion of the test phase. REFERENCES [1] Giere, S.; Krner H. C.; Knobloch, H., 2001, Dielectric Strength of Double and Single-Break Vacuum Interrupters Experiments with Real HV Demonstration Bottles, IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 43-47 Giere, S.; Krner, H. C.; Knobloch, H., 2000, Switching Capability of Double and Single-Break Vacuum Interrupters - Experiments on Real HighVoltage Demonstration-Tubes -, XIII Conference On Gas Discharges And Their Applications, Glasgow Somei, H.; Sasage, H.; Shioiri, T.; Homma, M., 1997 Ohshima, I.: New 72/84 kV Vacuum Interrupter for CGIS, 10th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering, August 25-29, Montreal, Canada Shinmon, Y., Seki, T., Nakanishi, R., Jj, T., 1982, 72.5 kV Outdoor VK Type Vacuum Circuit-Breakers, Meiden Review, Series No. 66, No. 3, 19-23 Renz, R., 2000, On Criteria of Optimized Applications of AMF- and RMF-Contact Systems in Vacuum Interrupters, XIX International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum, Xian, China Renz, R, 2006, Thermodynamic Models for RMF- and AMF-Vacuum Arcs XXII International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum, Matsue, Japan Hartmann, W., Hauser, A., Lawall, A., Renz, R., Wenzel, N., 2010, The 3D numerical simulation of a transient vacuum arc under realistic spatial AMF profile, XXIV International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum, Braunschweig, Germany, 285-288







GLOSSARY AMF: Axial Magnetic Field BfS: Bundesamt fr Strahlenschutz CuCr: Copper Chromium IEC: International Electrical Comission PEHLA: Prfung Elektrischer Hoch-Leistungs-Apparate RMF: Radial Magnetic Field SF6: Sulphur hexafluoride TRV: Transient Recovery Voltage