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AIR – BREAK CIRCUIT BREAKER

Air atmospheric press is used as an arc extinguishing medium in Air Break CBs. These CBs employ high resistance interruption principle. The arc is rapidly lengthened by means of arc running and arc chutes and the resistance of the arc is increased by cooling, lengthening and splitting the arc. The arc resistance increases to such an extent that the voltage drop across the arc become more than the supply voltage and the arc gets extinguished. These CBs are used in d.c. circuits and a.c. circuits up to 12 kV and are usually indoor type. There are two sets of contacts, main contacts and arcing contacts. Main contacts conduct the current in closed position of the CB. They have low contact resistance and are silver-plated. The arcing contacts arc hard, heat resistant and are usually made of copper alloy. While opening the contacts, the main contacts dislodge first and the current is shifted to the arcing contacts. The arcing contacts dislodge later and arc is drown between them. The arc is forced to move upwards by electromagnetic forces and the thermal action. The arc ends travel along arc runners and the arc is split by the arc splitter plates. The arc is extinguished by lengthening, cooling and splitting the arc. In some breakers arc is drawn in the direction of the splitter by magnetic field. In such CBs the blow out system is switched on as soon as the arc leaves the contacts and commutes to a pair of arc runners. The blow out coils provide a magnetic field in such a direction that the arc footing is subjected to an upward movement, there by moving the arc in the upward direction.

AIR BLAST (ABCB)

CIRCUIT

BREAKER

The ABCBs need an auxiliary compressed air system, which supplies compressed air to the CBs. For opening operation, air is admitted in the arc extinction chamber. The air blast takes away the ionized gases along with it and assists arc extinction. After a few cycles the arc is extinguished by the air blast and the arc extinction chamber is filled with high pressure air (20 to 30kg/cm²). The high pressure air has higher dielectric strength than that of atmospheric pressure. Hence a small contact gap of a few centimetres is enough. The flow of air around contacts is guided by the nozzle shaped contacts. It may be axial, radial or cross blast type (fig.2). In axial, blast type airflow, the air flows axially to the arc from high pressure reservoir to the atmospheric pressure through a convergent divergent nozzle. The difference in pressure and the design of nuzzle is such that as the air expands into low-pressure zone, it attains almost supersonic velocity. The axial flow of air removes the heat from the periphery of the arc and the diameter of the arc reduces to a low value at current zero. At the same time it drives away the ions or electrons from the contact space, which helps in rapid building up of dielectric strength. The arc extinguishing process in the axial-blast breaker is highly efficient, so much so that at low currents the process may take place before current zero (current chopping) leading to high transient voltage in the system. However, this disadvantage is offset to some extent by the fact that the length of arc and the corresponding distance between contacts need only be small due to the high

Thus an insulating barrier is interposed between the contacts tending to prevent re-striking. THE OIL CIRCUIT BREAKER In this type of C. When the moving contact is with drawn through the lower orifice. The oil serves an additional purpose in that it provides insulation between the live metal parts of the assembly and the structure in which they arc contained.4) type. Also. It is now obsolete. this contact space will break down again before the transient voltage has reached a level. taking with it the ionized arc products and due to the pressure head of the oil. These CBs are used for 11kV to 1100kV systems for various applications.Generated Pressure Type In this type of CB the contacts arc enclosed in a small insulated cylinder inside the larger tank. To overcome this difficulty an additional break is provided in form of a simple isolate switch is series with the main break. This isolating switch is opened automatically immediately after the arc is extinguished and before the air pressure is removed. The pot is then refilled with clean oil through the small vent provided at the top. The tank is not completely filled. This process itself absorbs some arc energy.efficiency of the interruption process at heavy currents. it is replaced by the clean cool oil in the contact space. and accordingly to produce uniform operating conditions at various operating currents externally generated pressure type CB was . it was found that its behavior was somewhat erratic at high currents due to the unpredictable nature of the gas –bubble. it does however. A general disadvantage of this form of CB is that the oil must be contained in a closed tank and the gaseous products during the arcing process get collected at the top of the tank. Pressure is generated in the small chamber by the action of arc itself and this pressure is applied to the arc in order to extinguish it. The first device of this nature to be developed was the explosion pot (shown in fig. mean that there arc two breaks in series for each phase. high enough to damage the system insulation. The arc is actually contained within a gas bubble. if current chopping does take place.3. (b) Self. The main breaking contacts arc then reclosed and the system isolation is obtained by the isolating switch. This short break presents a further problem in that it may not be sufficient to withstand the recovery voltage after final extinction unless the high pressure jet is maintained. the whole being filled with oil. the heat generated decomposes the oil into its constituent gases. This gaseous bubble tends to rise to the free surface of the oil. When the arc forms. They offer faster and repeated operations with auto-reclosures etc. (c) Externally Generated Pressure Type The nature of gas-bubble is unpredictable especially at higher currents.B the contacts arc immersed in oil. Although this was the first type of oil CB to be developed. the pressure generated inside the cylinder causes the arc products to be expelled through it. but even so care must be taken to avoid explosion of the gas-air mixture in this cushion due either to compression or the temperature of the gas. an air–cushion being provided to act as a buffer. Its use is thus limited up to breaking capacity of 150MVA. This is mechanically simple and avoids the necessity of making permanent current-carrying connections to moving parts. The various types of oil CBs are discussed in more detail below. (a) Plain Break Type (Bulk Oil CB) The contact arrangements are shown in the fig. A strong tank is thus necessary and it is useful to provide a vent pipe in the case of CBs above 150MVA rupturing capacity.

Hence. This type of construction requires two porcelain insulators.5 kV. Hence SF6 CBs are suitable for switching conditions involving high rate of rise of TRV. For arc extinction. Non-inflammable. . for equal conductor size. first as an arc extinguishing medium and second.5 times that of air at same pressure.0 to 2. In order to reduce the volume of oil required and hence the physical dimension of the CB. Hence. Due to electro negativity of SF6 gas. S2 F10 are SF4. The oil necessary for extinguishing purpose is about 10% of the total amount of oil. Properties of SF6 gas SF6 gas is prepared by burning coarsely crushed roll sulphur in the fluorine gas in a steel box. Physical properties       Colorless Odorless Nontoxic. the CB contains only the oil required for the extinction of the arc. the low oil content type has been developed. Liquefaction of SF6 gas The gas starts liquefying at low temperatures. the current carrying capacity is relatively more. thermostatically controlled heats are provided which maintain the gas temperature above about 16c in case of high-pressure system. the gas starts liquefying at 10c.developed using a piston to produce an oil movement in the contact space at the instant of current interruption. such as. The pressure generated by the piston is independent of current magnitude. which are further purified. density is about 5 times that of air at 20c and atmospheric pressure. at present they arc generally preferred for voltage above 72. Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) CIRCUIT BREAKER This type of CB is used from 3.6kV to 760kV. Gaseous state at NTP. Density: heavier gas. the lower one providing an insulated support from earth and the upper unit containing the fixed and moving contacts. Pure SF6 is not harmful to health. In this type of CB. At pressure of 15kg/cm². the arc-time constant is very low and the rate of improvement of dielectric strength is high. The gas thus prepared contains other fluorides. Arc-time constant It is defined as the time between current zero and the instant the conductance of contact space reaches zero value. the arrangement is rarely used owing to its mechanical complexity. as an insulation between the live parts of the CB and the earthed metal tank in which they are contained. this type of CB employs the same principle as those of self-generated pressure or externally – generated pressure type CBs. The temperature of liquefication depends on pressure. However. Heat Transferability It is 2. Although the operating time for this form of CB is very nearly constant over a wide range of currents. (d) Low Oil Content CB (Minimum Oil CB) In the bulk oil type of CB the oil performs two functions. and the metal tank is replaced by a bakelised paper cylinder enclosed in porcelain.

Arc extinction in vacuum interrupters The arc interruption process in vacuum interrupters is quite different form that in other types of CBs. . The mass flow is a function of nozzle throat diameter. the arc generally has several parallel paths each arc originating and sinking in a hot spot of current. due to formation of hydrogen fluoride. which repel each other so that the arc tends to spread over the contact surface. Stable up to 500C. They are suitable for outdoor installations and having two or more interrupters in series per pole. causing reduction in the diameter of the arc. 2. The diffused arc gets interrupted easily. which once again recombine upon cooling to form the original gas. Arc Extinction in SF6 CB In SF6 CB. 5. The vacuum as such is a dielectric medium and arc can not persist in ideal vacuum . are SF4 and SF2. Vacuum CBs rated at 72kv and above. 4. During the decreasing mode of the current wave the rate of release of the vapour reduces and after the current zero the medium regains the dielectric strength provided vapour density around contacts has substantially reduced. The arc space is then filled with fresh SF6 gas and the dielectric strength of the contact space gets rapidly recovered due to the electronegativity of the gas. The separation of current carrying contacts draws an arc between them. The vapour density depends on the current in the arc. Vacuum interrupters for indoor switchgear and kiosks. Electronegative gas. Moisture due to influx from outside presents various problems is SF6 CBs. Such an arc is called diffused arc. the gas is made to flow from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone through a contingent-divergent nozzle (fig. Thus the total current is divided in several parallel arcs. and the time of flow. constituting plasma. The gas flow attains almost supersonic speed in the divergent portion of the nozzle. When interrupting a current of the order of a few hundred amperes under high vacuum. the pressure ratio. Finally the arc diameter becomes almost zero at current zero and the arc is extinguished. there by the gas takes away the heat from the periphery of the arc. Vacuum Circuit Breaker They have been developed during last twenty years and can be classified in the following two categories: 1. which attacks the metallic and insulating parts of the CBs. 3. The nozzle is located such that the flow of gas covers the arc.Chemical properties of SF6 gas 1. Inert gas does not react with the metallic and insulating parts of the CB. Products of decomposition due to arc. An intensely hot spot or spots are created at the instant of contact separation from which metal vapour shoots off. Then the contact space is filled with vapour of +ve ions liberated from contact material. rated up to 36kv. 2.6).

The contact geometry is so designed that the root of the arc keeps on moving so that the temperature at one point on the contact does not reach a very high value. The arc does not strike again if the metal vapour is quickly removed from the contact zone. of the order of a few thousand amperes. So soon after natural current zero the remaining metal vapour condenses and the dielectric strength builds up rapidly and the re-striking of arc is prevented. The concentrated arc around a small area causes rapid vaporization of the contact surface. The transition from diffused arc to the concentrated arc depends upon the material and shape of contact. Thus the arc extinction process in vacuum CB is related to a great extent to the material and the shape of the contacts and the technique adopted in condensing the metal vapour. the arc gets concentrated on a small region and becomes self. the magnitude of current and the condition of electrodes. . The interruption of arc is possible when vapour density varies in phase with the current and arc remains in diffused state.sustained arc.At higher values of currents.