2012 Paris Session

A3 - 205

21, rue d‟Artois, F75008 PARIS
http : //www.cigre.org

Condition Assessment of EHV class Circuit Breakers using
Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement Technique
N.S.Sodha, Sanjeev Singh, S.Victor, R.K.Tyagi
Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, India
Email id: victor@powergridindia.com



Circuit Breakers (CBs) are the most critical switching elements in Power System. They are the only
means of interrupting fault currents in EHV Transmission system. Fast and Secure fault
interruption is critical not only to the protection of Transmission System Equipments but also to
overall operational stability of power system. CBs are required to interrupt rated current under
loaded conditions and up to rated symmetrical/ asymmetrical fault currents under fault conditions.
Interrupting large fault currents at high voltages involves high thermal and dielectric withstand
stresses being placed on a circuit breaker. In POWERGRID network, about 2700 Nos. of 800kV,
400kV, 220kV & 132kV Circuit Breakers are in service at various substations. Age of these
breakers is upto 27 years depending on date of commissioning of various Substations. There have
been failures of about 75 nos. EHV Class CBs due to various reasons and largely due to
mechanical failures of various components. However, about 11 nos. circuit breakers have failed
due to high dielectric stresses during inductive & capacitive switching duties. The failures of
components of CBs like bell crank lever, loosening of coupling bolt, loosening of various nuts &
bolts in the moving contact assembly have led to contact misalignment and subsequently contact
erosion. The misalignment and contact erosion led to burning of contact fingers and ultimate
failure of CBs. Some of the CB failures were on account of mal-operation of operating mechanism.
Generally manufacturers recommend overhauling inspection of circuit breakers after about 10
years of service or at specific number of operations. As EHV network breaker operations are not
very frequent, it is expected that no special care is required for the interrupting chambers of the
Circuit Breakers in normal circumstances for a minimum of 10 years. However, in POWERGRID,
there have been failures of breakers due to damages in components in the interrupting chambers
much before 10 years i.e. before carrying out the first major overhaul. An exercise was carried out
in POWERGRID to open few breakers before completion of 10 years service life and defects were
noticed in the components. In contrast, few circuit breakers were opened for internal inspection
after about 17-20 years of service and no abnormality was noticed in the components indicating the
health of the Circuit Breakers. In view of the above, it was considered prudent to develop
condition monitoring technique which can assess healthiness of contact assembly including arcing
contact and other components of circuit breakers. Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement
(DCRM) was considered to be the appropriate method for condition assessment of circuit breaker
components in addition to other condition assessment tests.


main contacts open first followed by arcing contacts. the decision regarding overhaul or internal inspection is taken only on the basis of evaluation of DCRM signatures. technical details of Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement (DCRM). breakage of levers etc. Signature. Since DCRM test has been extensively used for condition assessment of these CBs. The defects observed were loose coupling bolts. Conventional contact resistance measurement indicates condition of main contacts and erosion and wear of arcing contacts are not reflected. When CB undergoes „Close-Open‟ operation. the decision regarding internal inspection and overhauling of circuit breaker is taken based on DCRM signature evaluation and not as per number of operations or any fixed time. Now with the development of multi-channel DCRM kit. 2. Apart from this. contact speed.In DCRM test. both main and arcing contacts are in close position and system current flows through main contacts. The travel of the Circuit Breaker is also measured using a separate travel transducer to get additional information such as main and arcing contact insertion. Switching. KEYWORDS Interruption.0 DCRM –BASIC PRINCIPLE Interrupters of EHV class Circuit Breakers normally have Arcing and Main current carrying contacts. there are about 1000 nos. few CB interrupters were opened for trial internal inspection. misalignment. Based on such recommendation. . About 80 nos. all these CBs require major overhaul. arcing contacts close first then main contacts are closed during closing operation while during opening of the CB. Breaker. contact resistance of main and arcing contacts is measured during closing and opening (CO) operation. contact travel etc. This has so far proved very useful tool for condition assessment of circuit breakers. During „close‟ condition. nuts. It was found that main contacts were found without any erosion (Exhibit. In POWERGRID. of circuit breakers out of total about 2700nos EHV class Circuit Breakers which have completed 10 years of service. As per manufacturers‟ guidelines. the technique is adopted for 765kV breakers also. This method was introduced in POWERGRID in 1998-99 for 400kV & 220kV Circuit Breakers. heating and ablation of contacts due to pre-arcing or post arcing takes place in which Arcing Contacts undergo erosion. In this paper. Hence. Hence manufacturers recommend opening of the CB interrupter for major inspection either after a fixed interval or based on number of CB operations. Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement. experience of POWERGRID in implementation of DCRM and benefits derived are brought out with few case studies. The contact resistance of main contacts is very low around 30-40 µΩ whereas arcing contacts have about 5001000 µΩ. As most of the EHV breakers do not operate very frequently. they need to be opened after a fixed interval. say 10 years. Travel transducer. defective circuit breakers have been identified and rectified at initial stage of deterioration so far using DCRM technique which otherwise would have failed. loose arcing contact.1&2).

Efforts were made to develop Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement (DCRM) kit. Each break of the CB may have different DCRM signature and therefore data bank of test results is must from precommissioning stage but normally signature of a particular make of CBs are comparable. there were few CB failures due to erosion of main contacts even before the prescribed inspection periods (Exhibit-3). Figure-1 Measurement Schematic . which was then trial tested in field and gradually implemented as a routine condition-monitoring test for EHV circuit breakers. Contact resistance of arcing and main contacts is plotted along with the current injected. 100Amp DC current is injected across the break of the CB and „Close-Open‟ operation is carried out. A typical DCRM schematic is given in Figure-I. Some CBs interrupters were opened after about 7 years and found that the contacts were eroded due to arcing. Normal CB operating time measurements and static contact resistance measurement could not detect these defects. The variations in the measured resistance versus time signature will be seen as a “finger print” for the breaker contacts and can be used as benchmark for comparing with future measurements on the same breaker.Exhibit-1 Moving Contact after 17 years of operation Exhibit-2 Fixed Contact after 17 years of operation In contrast. This provides information on the condition of the breaker contacts and associated mechanism. As soon as CB closes and contact resistance in dynamic condition of the CB is recorded by measurement of milli-volt drop across CB contacts. Exhibit-3 Erosion of Fixed Contact after 7 years In DCRM test.

The Analyzer has six analog channels. A typical DCRM signature/ plot is given in Figure-2. contact resistance of arcing contacts is recorded and after 5-8 ms. resistance values of arcing contact is recorded after opening of the main contact. healthiness of damping mechanism and speed at which the breaker closed/ opened. Apart from the crucial information on contact condition.Measurements are recorded with a resolution of 100 s to record resistance values with precision as well to record transfer of current from arcing to main contacts and vice versa. resistance drops down to a very low value. Similarly during trip operation. It is our experience that any minor defect in Circuit Breaker gets amplified in the signature and that makes the analysis simple even earlier signatures are not available. As indicated in Figure-2. Initially. Figure-2 Typical DCRM Signature 3. trip/ close coil currents. The travel graph superimposed over the resistance and injected current graphs help in determining the length of the arcing and main contact insertion. injected current and contact travel etc. This requirement is vital for computing arcing contact insertion. total contact travel.0 DCRM Signature Analysis DCRM is a signature analysis and it comes with an analysis software where facilities are available to do all necessary measurements from the graph. From the graph. before opening of the CB contacts. Test kit uses typical analyzer (with sampling frequency of 10kHz). A separate travel transducer is also inserted in the moving operating mechanism of the breaker to capture the movement of the Circuit Breaker. Recorded data/ files are communicated to remote Control Centers/ offices through Internet/ Intranet. following defects in CBs can be detected by analysis of the DCRM signatures: . which may be used for recording contact resistance. zoom a portion of the graph for ease of measurement using cursors and superimpose earlier signature to find deviations. length of arcing contact is also computed which may be helpful in assessing erosion of arcing contacts. 100 Amperes DC current injection source and PC with two serial and one parallel ports. The time interval between Close and Trip operation is kept 300ms to have a reasonably good signature. contact resistance is high when CB is in open condition and after closing of the CB. resistance of main contact is recorded which is almost equal to static contact resistance value. a window based software was developed which can record DCRM signatures. For Analysis of DCRM signatures.

contact resistance variations are shown. trip operation is initiated . In the DCRM signature. to conclude the cause. injected current. type of operating mechanism and other parameters like contact speed etc. operating drive travel. After the gap of about 300ms. Analysis of DCRM signatures requires a little knowledge of circuit breaker design. operating mechanism. contact wipe.a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) i) j) k) Contact misalignments Contact wipe of main and arcing contact Erosion of Arcing Contact Erosion of main contact Healthiness of linkage mechanism Main & arcing contact resistance Healthiness of damping system Contact travel & speed Misalignment of moving contact assembly Misalignment of piston of the driving mechanism & operating rod Mechanical integrity of various components. A typical analysis and the measurements that can be carried out on the DCRM graph are presented below. Figure-4 Analysis of DCRM Signature The complete cycle of close-trip operation of circuit breaker can be co-related with the DCRM signatures as given in Figure-4. The shape of DCRM signature depends on the contact configuration. interrupter assembly etc. Normally the closing and tripping signatures are very important for the analysis: Figure-3 Measurements on DCRM Signature DCRM signatures are unique for a particular make of Circuit Breaker.

Point H to I: At point H. healthiness of arcing contacts. there will not be abnormal bounces in the resistance values of arcing contacts. The time taken from F to G indicates proper functioning of various components of tripping assembly. arcing contact opens and resistance value becomes high. The plunger of closing coil operates various valves so that hydraulic/pneumatic/ spring pressure is applied to the operating piston of the operating mechanism and operating rod starts moving upward. Point A to B: Closing command is given to the circuit breaker at point A. insertion of arcing contact takes place. . main contact closes as the contact resistance reduces further. control valve etc. main contacts will close and resistance will reduce. Point F to G: At point F. At point D. During this period the resistance value should remain almost constant with no bounces. till opening of main contacts at point H. Point C to D: At point C. Trip coil plunger will actuate various levers/valves to move the piston of the driving mechanism. Initially arcing contact closes at point C where current injected. till movement of operating rod takes place. In-case of healthy arcing contacts. Main contact insertion will continue till point E where circuit breaker will be in fully closed position. The time taken between I to J indicates healthiness of operating mechanism. However. there may be some bounces at the time of contact touch. The time taken between B to C will indicate healthiness of operating mechanism. main contact opens and only arcing contacts remain in closed position. trip command is extended to the circuit breaker trip coil. Point B to C: At point B operating rod starts moving upward which in-turn moves arcing and main contacts in interrupter housing. The time taken between A to B will indicate proper functioning of various components of mechanism. Dynamic contact resistance plotted along with travel and injected current indicates condition of arcing contacts. moving contacts start gliding by the pull of operating rod. Any abnormal bounces during this period indicate erosion or misalignment of arcing contacts. operating rod starts moving downwards. From point G to H. Point G to H: At point G. The signature between H to I indicates. Various points are marked on the travel graph for ease of explanation. Point E to F: From point E to point F. The graph between A to B indicates time taken for actuation of closing coil. Point D to E: At point D. Operating rod continues moving downwards pulling along moving contact assembly till full opening of circuit breaker contacts. Point I to J: At point I. the circuit breaker remains in closed condition for almost 300ms as per the set time delay.and arcing & main contact separation is indicated. This period is required for damping of vibrations.

The interrupter was opened and all the components were inspected carefully.0 Case Studies DCRM technique is being used in POWERGRID for Circuit Breaker Condition Assessment for over 12 years and several breakers have been opened based on DCRM Signature analysis and defects have been identified. Few typical examples are presented here. We shall present few typical case studies below to understand how the DCRM signature has helped in identification of breaker trouble. more information is recorded during closing operation. The coupling bolt assembly which connect the link to the moving contact was found loose and came out of the threaded grew and loose screw and scratch marks on the bus end interrupter were also noticed in the internal inspection as shown in the picture below: Exhibit-4 Loose Coupling Bolt Exhibit-5 Loose screw . As closing of circuit breaker is slower than tripping.1 Case Study-1 When DCRM test on Circuit Breaker was carried out in May 2007 abnormality in signature was observed in one end of a Circuit Breaker as shown below: Defective Y Pole Line Figure-5 Healthy Y Pole Bus end Figure-6 Defective Y Pole Line End As only one end of the interrupter has shown abnormal signature. 4. that interrupter was taken for investigation.Thus by carrying out the analysis a complete picture of the Circuit Breaker is known. 4.

there developed a very high resistance that the full 100A current could not be injected through the arcing contact. From the analysis it indicated that there is problem with the arcing contact which requires opening of the interrupting chamber for rectification. then normal current was injected. On opening it was noticed that there was not much erosion on the arcing moving contact but erosion of the arcing contact fingers was noticed as it was found loose as shown in the pictures below: Exhibit-6 Erosion of arcing contact fingers Exhibit-7 Loose contacts leading to arcing . 4. The breaker was taken up for immediate rectification. It is noted here that the current channel gives an abnormality indicating that when the contact touches each other. The defects were not detected by any of the other normal condition assessment tests but have not missed the DCRM signature test. few CBs have blasted due the loosening of coupling bolts in our system.All the defects were attended in that interrupter and assembled and put back into service. Before introduction of the DCRM test.2 Case Study-2 A strange DCRM signature was obtained when tested a Circuit Breaker on B phase CT side. The DCRM signature taken after rectification has shown a clear signature indicating the healthiness of the interrupter assembly. When the main contact touched each other. The Isolator end signature was normal. Both the signatures are presented below: Abnormal Signature Figure-7 Isolator end DCRM Figure-8 CT end DCRM The close up zoomed graph on the closing of the Circuit breaker is inserted for better clarity.

Similar incident was also reported in one of the Circuit Breaker after the site overhauling was carried out in another location.8 mm as against 28mm. The rectification was carried out by replacing the arcing contact and the DCRM signature after the rectification has become normal. 5. DCRM test has proved very effective in detection of the following defects at manufacturer works: . There was much reluctance from the manufacturer in accepting that there is problem as the overhauling was carried out by them. DCRM signature was taken during commissioning and found to be normal.3 Case Study-3 The 400kV SF6 make Circuit Breaker was commissioned in the year 2003 in one of the Substation of POWERGRID. If this is left in use the contact may develop heating and leading to failure. DCRM was carried out after the adjustment and the signatures were found normal. In one of the measurement after about five years in operation. the breaker may not behave properly during fault clearing as the fault current will produce enormous heating on the arcing contact due to the high resistance and leads to failure of circuit breaker. The adjustment was carried out at site and the total wipe was made 28mm. This test is routinely carried out for all circuit breakers purchased by POWERGRID to have initial signature. If this problem is left in the breaker.0 Detection of defective assembly at Manufacturers works DCRM test has also been implemented at circuit breaker manufacturers works. On the measurement of the contact wipe by slow manual closing of the circuit breaker the total contact wipe was found to be 21mm as against 27-28mm. The total wipe of the contact was found 16. The wipe was adjusted and the signature became same that of other poles.The loose finger contact was not in a position to pass the full current. 4. As reported. the R&B phase signatures were found normal but the Y phase signature was found distorted on both the line side and the bus side which are produced below: Figure-9 Y Phase Bus end Figure-10 Y Phase Line end As the signatures of both the line and bus end indicated problem the search was made on the common parts for the pole. This means that the main contact was not actually closing fully to make proper contact.

Caron.0 Conclusion Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement for Circuit Breakers is one of the fine tools for Condition Assessment of Circuit Breakers. “A New Measurement Method of the Dynamic Contact Resistance of HV Circuit Breakers. Rajotte. G. 7. C. Besides bringing down the failure rate of Circuit Breakers considerably. USA [4] N.K.a) b) c) d) Assembly mistake like fitting of 31. Sweden 2004 [3] Umesh Chandra. Mercier. Sodha.0 References [1] M. A. Sodha & R.K. 2001 Doble Client Conference. “Controlled Switching of High Voltage SF6 Circuit Breakers for Fault Interruption”.S. Goteborg. 6. applying adequate torque while fixing nuts and bolts.Tyagi. This was detected by DCRM test at manufacturer works. Tyagi. Roy & Fouad Brikci.5kA arcing contact has been fitted in place of 40kA arcing contact. Department of Electric Power Engineering Chalmers University of Technology. M. CIGRE Session 2004 [2] RICHARD THOMAS. The authors are thankful to POWERGRID for granting permission for publishing this paper. If adopted along with other tests on Circuit Breakers shall help in identifying defects which otherwise are not detected unless an internal inspection is carried out on the Circuit Breaker. a 31. however the views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and not necessarily that of the company. A3-112. DCRM technique has also helped manufacturers in improving manufacturing quality like proper assembly of various components. 2006 Doble Client conference. Ouellet. etc. USA . there is also a huge financial savings to POWERGRID as overhauling of Circuit Breakers are not carried out periodically but based on condition.5kA arcing contact in place of 40kA arcing contact Loose contact assembly due to improper torque Misalignment of contact assembly Fitting of 220kV arcing contact assembly in place of 400kV arcing contact assembly In Exhibit-8. Exhibit-8 Wrong assembly of arcing contact Use of DCRM technique at manufacturer‟s works has helped in detection of defects before dispatch of the circuit breakers to site. Landry.S. N. “POWERGRID‟s Experience on predictive maintenance of EHV class circuit breakers using Dynamic contact Resistance Measurement technique”. J. “Condition-Based Maintenance Techniques for EHV Class Circuit Breakers. R.

22. Stenstrom “Comparison of UHV and 800kV specifications for substations equipment”. M. 2008 [6] R. 6th Southern Africa regional conference.Bhowmick. Tyagi.Victor & R. “Dynamic Contact Resistance Measurement for EHV Class Circuit Breakers.A Powerful Diagnostic Tool.Van der Merwe.N. CIGRE WG A3.Riechert. U. C. Nayak. A.C.N.Ito. Seventh International conference on Switchgear & Control gear. Dufournet.Yamagata. 2009 . Bhatnagar.K.Tyagi “1200 kV Transmission system and status of Development of Substation Equipment/Transmission Line Material in India” Second International Symposium on Standards for Ultra High Voltage Transmission”. SWICON. L. S.Filion. D.[5] N. Y. Janssen.K. 2009 [7] H. Sodha. B.S.De. R. Y.