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Higher Ampacity Of Busbars

HISTORY When low temperature rise and rectangle, poses difficulty in

higher current ratings were manufacturing, assembly
In the initial days, Power Control specified, switchboard and maintenance.
Centres (PCCs) were connected manufacturers started:
to the transformers and through
- if the busbar thickness is
feeders of the PCCs, various - increasing the cross section
increased, its current
Motor Control Centres were of busbar conductors
carrying capacity doesnt
being fed. This led to duplication
increase proportionately. So,
of feeders, extensive cabling and - trying with different geometry
choosing a conductor of
higher costs. In LV switchgear, of conductors for busbars.
rectangular cross section,
most of the power transformers
with minimum thickness,
used to be 1000 kVA or - Simultaneous study of
which is adequate for
1600kVA.. Thus, the maximum different variables under
required mechanical strength
currents were of the order of stipulated conditions
provides the best alternative.
2000-2500A. revealed that:

When PMCCs were introduced, - ampacity of busbars is - above 1600A rating,

larger transformers were governed by: ventilating louvers help in
connected directly to the Motor increasing ampacity of
Control Centres through ACB material of busbars busbars.
incomers. Last decade has seen (aluminium/copper)
the transformer rating going up
cross section of busbars Inductive reactance of the
(upto 2500kVA) and thereby the
busbars results in higher
current rating of the busbars also profile of the conductors
temperature rise.Even the
increasing. For a medium size
spacing between the conduction losses in
industrial plant, busbars of
conductors of same phase switchboards have a cumulative
3500A current rating have
effect. They result in higher
become a normal requirement. spacing between two phases
busbar temperature, burdening
Earlier specifications used to
total busbar zone volume the airconditioning system. It
specify ambient temperature as
also means loss of power for
40 deg.C. Later, it was also type of ventilation
which the user has to pay. Thus,
realised that the tropical
- beyond a certain cross effective steps taken to reduce
conditions in our India may lead
section, adding to the cross these conduction losses will not
to an ambient of 45 deg.C. or
section of the conductor does only save the users money but
even higher at a few places. This
not increase ampacity of the it will also make the system
awareness on the part of
busbar at all. ecofriendly!
customers brought temperature
rise limits on the busbars in - different profiles of
switchboards. It was also conductors of same cross In the next few paragraphs, we
realised that for paper bonded section give different bring you the analysis of this
insulators, the insulating ampacity under the same inductive effect on the ampacity
properties deteriorate rapidly at conditions. of busbars and a probable
higher temperature, resulting in solution to achieve higher
- any profile, other than
arcing fault in the busbar zone. ampacity of the busbar.
lnterleaved busbar system for a.c. applications
An effective solution for achieving higher ratings

Temperature rise (TR) is an Why does non uniform distribution indicates effective resistance
important consideration for busbar result into higher losses and thereby (Rac) offered by a configuration
installations. As far as required high temperature? in relation to the actual
ampacity of busbar system is below resistance (Rdc). Ideal
To understand this, take the case
1600 A, it can be conveniently (minimum) value of this ratio is
of a flat shaped conductor assumed
achieved by using one or more 1 i.e. Rac = Rdc.
conductors of suitable size and
What is interleaving?
shape. The problem lies in
designing an a.c. busbar system for For increasing busbar system
higher ampacities. Test results ampacity, conventionally one
show that increasing cross section tends to add a conductor or a
beyond certain limits in a group of conductors adjacent to
conventional manner (say by existing conductors / groups and
adding a conductor or increasing ends up placing all conductors /
the thickness) gives marginal groups together. (Refer to table
increase in the ampacity. The 1, configuration 2) This results
reason is skin and proximity effects in widely non uniform current
or in other words, inductive effects distribution due to skin effect and
due to a.c. currents. proximity effect. Proximity effect
Direct current distribution over a is dependant on the distance
cross section depends only on the between conductors. Hence, this
resistance and hence current Figure 1 problem can be overcome by
density is uniform irrespective of arranging individual conductors
to be comprising several smaller
shape, size and arrangement of in specific geometries.
conductors of equal area in parallel,
conductors. However, a.c. Interleaving is one such
carrying total current of 10 A as
distribution is controlled more by arrangement. (Refer to
shown in figure 2. In the case of
inductive effects than by resistance. configuration 5).
uniform distribution, watt loss
Effect of current in the conductor works out to 20W. For non Interleaving means arranging
itself is known as skin effect. This uniform distribution, conductors/groups in the
causes the current to concentrate elementwise currents differ not alternate fashion (R Y B R Y B).
in the outer parts. Effect of current only in magnitude but also in In the configuration 5, two
in the adjacent conductor is known phase angle (Note that groups of three conductors each
as proximity effect. Inductive effects arithmetic addition is 11.2 A). per phase have been arranged
result in non uniform current Watt loss in this case is 30.8 W. in this fashion. One can go even
distribution over a cross section (i.e. As watt loss is more, steady beyond this and make three
inefficient use of conducting state temperature will be higher groups of two conductors each
material); consequently making for the same value of current; or to increase the rating further.
busbars to run at a higher for the same steady state
temperature. Table 1 gives ratios for various
temperature, it will have lower
configurations of three phase
Figure 1 gives current distribution ampacity.
busbar systems with wide and
pattern over round conductors in
The ratio of a.c. to d.c. watt loss moderate/close interphase
various configurations where each
is known as Rac/Rdc ratio. spacings. One can note the
dot represents a unit quantity of
(Hereafter termed as ratio). This difference between the ratios for
wide spacings and close spacings (2) Effect of changing the (3) Use of TubeslChannel section
for configurations 2, 3 & 4. material from aluminium to (configurations 3 & 4): These are
Effective resistance (relative) is copper: For configuration 2, often suggested for busbar
given in the last column. copper is having higher ratio as systems as they are ideal shapes
compared to that of to counter skin effect. This is
Discussion on Table 1
aluminium. This is because for evident from ratios for wide
copper, inductive effects spacings at which interphase
(1) Effect of increase in busbar
distort current more due to proximity effects are negligible.
cross-section in a conventional
lower resistance. This reflects However, for close spacings,
manner: Configuration 2 is having
in the effective resistance configurations 3 and 4 are
double the cross-section as that
(Rac) which is not lower in the marginally better than
of configuration 1. However,
same proportion as that of configuration 2. These sections
effective resistance for middle
Rdc. Considering the fact that are also not desirable as



4.5 1.27 1.27 1.34 1.27 2 2.68

AI 1.54 1.85 2.71 1.77 1 2.71

Cu - 2.34 3.54 2.25 0.55 1.95

9 Al 1.05 1.68 2.73 1.52 1 2.73

9 Al 1.1 1.57 2.54 1.45 1 2.54

Al - 1.32 1.31 1.34 1 1.31

Cu 1.54 1.61 1.56 0.55 0.86


Table 1
heating is proportional to the processing on machines, making
phase is more and so is the heat
square of the current, rating with joints etc. is difficult.
produced at same current. Thus,
copper would be only 19%
increasing the cross-section has
more. Thus, for large (4) Interleaved System
not given any benefits.
crosssections, changing the (configuration 5): For same cross
Configuration 2 will carry more
material from aluminium to sectional area, interleaved
current only because more
copper gives marginal configuration 5 enjoys much
number of flats are available for
increase in the ampacity at a better ratios than configurations
dissipating the heat.
very high cost. 2, 3 & 4. This is due to substantial
Figure 2 Figure 3

improvement in current Other advantages of equalizers are not required if

distribution as proximity effects interleaved system each load is tapped from both
tend to cancel each other. packets.
(i) It offers lower and balanced
Comparing this with configuration impedance. This becomes (iii) For busduct applications,
2, effective resistance for middle important for long busducts phase cross-over chamber may
phase is less than half. Therefore, where voltage drop is critical. become essential to facilitate
ampacity would be more by passing all bars (of a phase)
around 35 to 40% for aluminium (ii) Figure 3 gives instantaneous through CTs.
and 40 to 45% for copper or in (at the instant of 105 kA peak
other words, the losses will be current in the R phase) values Conclusion
less in the same proportion. of short circuit current and force
for configurations 2 & 5. For the Considering all pros and cons,
One can also note that for interleaved arrangement, forces optimum solution for reducing
interleaved system, ratios for all due to short circuit current are loss of energy and achieving
phases are uniform; while for much lower. This enables high ampacity busbar system
other configurations, ratios for redesign and reconsideration of would be interleaving. As
middle phase are much higher. the busbar support system. Also, interleaved system needs less
Thus, ampacity is limited by TR it can enable the existing support material and use of aluminium is
on this phase even though outer system to withstand much higher possible for very high ratings,
phases run cooler. fault levels. this system is better suited for
Indian conditions.
Results of TR test Disadvantages of the
interleaved system
A test was carried out on a 2.5
metre long busduct (IP54) with (i) Phases see each other at
configurations 2 & 5 with greater number of places. This
aluminium at 3150 A. Average may increase size of busbar
rise for configuration 2 was 66 chamber.
deg C and that for configuration 5
was 36 deg C. (ii) Putting equalizers between
groups is difficult. However