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TechTopics No.


While current chopping is not a 5. The reignition produces a high-

significant problem with Siemens vacuum frequency transient current, as the
interrupters, there are certain switching source-side and load-side voltages
situations where special consideration are brought back together. If the
should be given because of the possibility magnitude of the high-frequency
of multiple reignitions. Even though they component is large enough, a
are rare, if multiple reignitions do occur, current zero will be produced that
excess voltages are possible on does not coincide with a natural
downstream (primarily inductive) current zero.
equipment. Multiple reignitions can occur
6. The vacuum circuit breaker can
on almost any type of interrupting
interrupt the current at a high-
technology, including air magnetic, oil,
frequency current zero.
air blast, vacuum and SF6.
This process, once begun, repeats until
Multiple reignitions can occur if the
the contact gap becomes sufficiently
following sequence of events occur
large that the dielectric strength of the
gap exceeds the voltage imposed across
1. A motor is switched OFF during the gap. At this point, further reignitions
starting, or while stalled (locked rotor will not occur.
current flowing)
If multiple reignitions do occur, the
2. The interrupter contacts part just downstream voltage can escalate and
before (less than 1 ms) a natural damage the protected equipment. Figure
current zero 3 of the paper entitled “Surge Limiters for
Vacuum Circuit Breakers” by S. H.
3. The breaker interrupts at the natural
Telander, et. al., shows the escalation of
current zero, but before the contact
voltage that accompanies multiple
gap is large enough to withstand the
reignition, and Figure 4 of this paper
recovery voltage following
depicts the zone of conditions where
multiple reignition might occur. As
4. The circuit has a certain combination discussed in the paper, the region of
of load-side and source-side concern involves rotating machines,
capacitances and inductances that because of their large inductance and
results in a high-frequency transient relatively weak insulation structure.
recovery voltage (TRV) across the
interrupter contacts. If the “right”
circuit parameters exist, the rate-of-
rise of the TRV can exceed the rate-
of-rise of dielectric strength in the
contact gap. If this occurs, the arc
will reignite.

Surge limiter application recommendations for metal-clad

switchgear up to 15 kV

Answers for energy.

Rated voltage kV 3.6 6 7.5 11 15
MCOV of ZnO element kV 2.9 3.6 5.4 9.0 11.0
Series gap sparkover voltage
kV 8 10 15 25 31
1.2 μs x 50 μs wave
Surge limiter data 0.5 kA switching surge
discharge voltage kV 8 10 15 25 31
8 μs x 20 μs wave
1.5 kA switching surge
discharge voltage kV 8.3 12.4 16.5 28.9 33.0
8 μs x 20 μs wave
Solidly grounded wye system 2.4 6.9 12.47
kV 4.16 7.2
4.16 4.8 12.47
System applications Delta system applications kV 2.4
4.8 6.9

Low resistance or high 12.0

4.16 4.8 12.47
resistance grounded wye kV 2.4
4.8 6.9
system applications 8.32

Surge limiter part 18-665-161-xxx -001 -002 -003 -004 -005

Fig. 1: Surge limiter selection according to system type

To protect against the overvoltages Zinc oxide surge arresters, with their 4. For motors with locked rotor current
caused by multiple reignitions, we higher energy absorption capability, can over 600 A, no additional protection
recommend that surge limiters be applied also be used. They are more expensive is needed.
on those circuits with conditions that fall and, if they are not needed to protect
Selection of surge limiters for use in
within the zone. Essentially, this means against lightning or switching surges, are
equipment up to 15 kV can be made
that surge limiters should be applied for not necessary.
using the application chart in Figure 1.
all applications in which a circuit breaker
In capsule form, our recommendations
is used to supply a motor that has a If applied in accordance with these
are as follows:
locked rotor current of 600 amperes (A) recommendations, Siemens vacuum
or less. This recommendation applies to 1. For transformers of full BIL rating, no interrupters will impose dielectric stress
full-voltage starting applications. It also additional protection is needed. on load equipment that are not
applies to reduced-voltage starting significantly different from the stresses
2. For transformers of reduced BIL
applications, as the circuit breaker can associated with traditional air magnetic
rating, add some form of protection
interrupt the locked rotor current if the or oil circuit breakers.
(either surge limiters at the
driven load jams or stalls.
switchgear, surge capacitors at the
Surge limiters should also be applied transformer, or surge arresters at the
when any load has less than full transformer).
insulation integrity, such as open dry-
3. For motors with locked rotor current For more information, please contact
type transformers, which frequently have
under 600 A, add some form of your local Siemens representative.
less that full BIL capability.
protection (either surge limiters at
the switchgear, surge capacitors at
the motor or surge arresters at the

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