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University of Technology Aachen Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Armin Schnettler


Power Engineering Practical Course I Experiment 11

Generation and measurement of direct voltages

11.1 Introduction
The simplest way to generate high direct voltages is to rectify alternating voltages by high voltage rectifiers. During the experiment, you will mainly use half-wave rectifiers. To measure direct voltages, you will use a simple DC voltage measuring instrument, an electrostatic voltmeter and a sphere spark gap. High direct voltages are used as test voltages for HVDC ( high-voltage direct-current transmission) components or cable, furthermore as supply voltages for technical applications, e.g. monitors, electromedical equipment (x-rays), electron microscopy, capacitor charging devices, precipitation and filtering of exhaust gases, electrostatic painting and powder coating.

11.2 Physical and technical basics

11.2.1 Generation of direct voltages

To generate high direct voltages, you usually apply alternating (AC) voltages to rectifying circuits, because the required power is low. Periodical functions are often superposed to direct voltages. Therefore,

DIN VDE 0432 [133] defines the arithmetic mean value as DC testing voltage.
U = = u (t )

The ripple factor describes the ripple of the voltage:

du 1 2 (umax - umin) ) = U= U=

For test voltages the ripple factor should not exceed 5%. In HVDC transmission systems multiple pulse rectifiers generate direct voltages. In DC test fields the required power is low, so the direct voltage is either generated by half-wave rectifier circuits or by electrostatic generators.

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High voltage rectifier

Today rectifiers mainly consist of thyristors. In lab-circuits, series connections of semiconductor-diodes or high vacuum valves built up rectifiers. In cases of higher currents (not under a few amperes ) and voltages lower than 10 kV, mercury vapor converters come into consideration. High vacuum valves are performed for peak reverse voltages up to 100kV. Due to their comfortability (no cathode heating), diode valves took the place of high vacuum valves in general lab work. In contrast to high vacuum valves semiconductor rectifiers are not real valves, because they also transmit a finite current in barrier directions. The values indicated in the following table are guidelines for barrier voltage and forward current of most commonly used semiconductor-rectifiers: Semiconductor material: Selenium (Se) Germanium (Ge) Silicon (Si) 150 - 300 50 - 150 1000 - 2000 50 - 150

Peak reverse voltage per cell [V] 30 - 50 Current-carrying-capacity barrier [A /cm2] of 0,1 - 0,5

Se-valves require a larger construction volume than Si-valves, their degree of efficiency is lower. Laboratories usually require only currents of some 100mA. Therefore Se-valves optimally suit for such devices. Due to a high barrier layer capacity it is possible to build units with peak reverse voltages up to 600kV without additional capacitors for voltage control. 11.2.3 Simple Rectifier Circuits

The simplest rectifier-circuit is the so called half-wave rectifier as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1 : half-wave rectifier

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The valve filters negative parts of an alternating voltage, positive half-waves are transmitted. The result is a rippled direct voltage. The capacitor C is charged to maximum voltage + U max of AC voltage. The output voltage is smoothed. Multiple pulse rectifier circuits enable direct voltages higher than the peak values of the rectified alternating voltage. The best known are represented in the figures 2-4.

Figure 2:

Villards Doubling circuit

Figure 3:

Circuit of Greinacher

Figure 4:

Greinachers cascade (3 steps) 4 / 15


Rectifier Circuits under load

The voltage characteristic of a half-wave rectifier with smoothing capacitor under load shows figure 5.

Figure 5:

Rectifier circuit under load

U represents the temporal average value of voltage u(t)!

The current flow duration tv through the valve depends on superposed voltages (ripples). It decreases with more smoothed voltage. The interfering voltages can easily be calculated assuming

tv << T = 1 , DU << U f In this case, a linear course satisfactorily represents the exponential discharge of C during the barrier duration of the valve. From the load change of the smoothing capacitor during barrier duration, you get:

D U C = i g ( t ) dt = i T

DU = ig

1 fC

A different way to determine DU shows figure 6.

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Figure 6:

Graphical determination of DU

Due to mathematical laws about rays, following equation can be performed:

T DU 1 = = $ t f RC U

From that follows:

DU = U f R C

R is the total ohmic load of the circuit, C the sum of all smoothing capacitances. Therefore the data of the circuit (R C and f) determine DU. Alternatively, you perform a peak value measurement. Then DU is the sum of positive and negative peak value. Approaching the voltage course with a linear time base, the r.m.s-value of the alternating voltage is calculated as follows:
U weff 1 = T

( f (t )) dt
2 0 T 2

t 1 DU = 2 - DU T dt T 0 DU = 2 DU = 2 = 1 T 1 T

t t2 1 - 4 + 4 2 dt T T 0

2t 2 4 t 3 + t 3 T 2 0 T

U weff

DU 4 1- 2 + 2 3 DU = 2 3

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Designing a circuit, you have to consider that valves deviate from the ideal behaviour. While current flows in forward direction, voltage drops caused by valves. This leads to a non linear dependence between the direct current i g and the direct voltage U , depicted in figure 7:

Figure 7:

Load line

In cases of ig = 0 , the ideal open circuit voltage is U io = U Z according to transformer voltage. However, the real open circuit voltage U 0 results from straight extending the high current load curve. Each barrier reduces U i 0 for the current independent value U cell (Selen 0,6 V). With n barriers:

U io - U 0 = n U zelle
The ratio defines the quality G of a rectifier: G= U0 U io
Electrostatic Generators


In electrostatic generators charged particles move opposite to the force of electric fields. The most commonly used setup of an electrostatic generator is the belt-driven generator indicated by R.J. van de Graaf in 1931. Rolls move an insulating belt through high voltage and low voltage side. At the low voltage side, an excitation device electrostatically loads the belt. This excitation device is performed as a strongly inhomogene electrode arrangement, charge carriers are formed at tip electrodes by impact ionization. The belt catches these carriers on their way to counter electrode. A similar arrangement on the high
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voltage side discharges the belt. If there is an excitation device with polarity opposite to the downward running belt, a doubling of the current occurs. Belt-driven generators have already been performed as pressure tank setup for voltages over 10 MV where currents of less than 1 mA are usual. High insulating fluids or dusty firm materials can also be used to carry electric charges instead of the insulating belt. Different constructions of electrostatic machines with drum-shaped or disk-shaped runners were built for voltages up to a few 100 kV. Among other advantages, their output voltage is well controllable with high constancy and their sown capacitance is small. This leads to an extensively harmless high voltage device (Felici 1957).
11.2.6 Measuring high DC-Voltages

Simultaneously measuring high DC voltages and high AC voltages ( exp. 1 ), the problem is that you cannot directly supply the measuring voltage to the measuring system. Similar to capacitive dividers in cases of high AC voltages, you have to use ohmic voltage dividers to measure DC voltages. Alternatively, you can measure high DC voltages using spark gaps or electrostatical measuring instruments like Starke-Schroeder and Thomsons voltage balance. Using electrostatical instruments, you have to consider possible space charges in front of the electrodes. Space charges falsify the measuring result, because both measuring methods are based on field strength measurements.

Figure 8:

Measuring of high DC-Voltages, generator principle

Space charges can also falsify the measuring result of voltage measurements according to the generator principle. The measuring voltage is applied to two plate electrodes. Two half discs rotating in front of a semicircular opening exchange their generated charges through the opening. The floating current is proportional to the applied measuring voltage. This measuring method is powerless, an important advantage.
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11.3 Experiments and tasks

11.3.1 General

Using elements of a "high voltage modular system" the experimental setup is very easy. However, experiments with high DC-Voltages require quite special caution. Working with DC-Voltages, not-earthed parts can have very high potential caused by capacitive charging, even if they are not connected to high voltage. Therefore not required capacitive equipment has to be short circuited. The perfect grounding of the whole installation is necessary. Familiarize yourselves with operating desk and safety system before beginning the experiments. While entering the test setup, you urgently have to earth the whole system with the grounding bar, especially before starting any other job! Fundamentally test setups should not be performed in a hurry. If you already studied the circuit diagrams of the test setup during the preparations, please avoid mistakes while performing.
11.3.2 Experiments with an half-wave-electric rectifier circuit

Recording calibration curves for different DC-Voltage measuring instruments according to the circuit shown in figure 9.

Figure 9:

Circuit for recording the calibration curves of different DC-Voltage measuring instruments 9 / 15

Perform the measuring circuit according to picture 9 using the following elements: CM CS RM Measuring capacitor 100 pF Supporting capacitor 6000 pF Measuring resistance 280 MW

The low voltage capacitor CM as well as the low voltage resistance RM are integrated in the respective measuring instruments. Fixed devices: PT Test transformer, double-pole isolated with centre tap of the high voltage winding,

nominal transmission ratio 220 V/50-100 kV GR SM Selen rectifier, peak blocking voltage 140 kV Peak voltmeter with low voltage capacitor

Measuring instruments to be examined:


DC voltage measuring instrument to connect to RM Electrostatic voltmeter sphere spark gap, diameter 100 mm

For different gap distances (s = 5, 10, 15, 20 mm) slowly rise the AC-voltage until breakdown of KF. Write down the breakdown values of U , U= and UEM. Repeat every experiment twice, because measuring results disperse. The chosen gap distance determines UKF , please take UKF from the added calibration curve.

Graphical evaluation of the calibration curves

UKF/=/EM = f(U)

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11.3.3 Setup

Recording the loading characteristic of a selenium rectifier

Figure 10:

Circuit diagram to record the loading characteristic of selenium rectifier

GR ig RB

Selenium rectifier with cell-locking voltage US = 0,6 V Load current of the rectifier Load resistance

(for other designations, look at

Measurement and evaluation

Requiring constant transformer voltage U = X, measure load voltage U= and load current Ig for two different loads (RB = / 20 MW). The subsequent evaluation implies: Determinating the real open circuit voltage U0 graphically by extrapolating the load lines up to Ig = 0 Calculating the number of the installed cells per electric rectifier as well as the quality of the rectifier Explaining the function of the high voltage protection for the current measuring instrument

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11.3.4 Setup

Determination of the ripple of a half-wave-rectification by different loads

Figure 11:


Data of components: CS= 6000 pF CB= 1200 pF RM= 280 M W RB= / 20 MW

Measurement devices to read off: A GM SM KO Ampere-meter for DC-current Ig DC-voltage measuring instrument Peak voltage measuring instrument for AC-voltage components Cathode ray oscillograph for AC-voltage components

Measurement and evaluation

Requiring constant DC voltage value U= = 50 kV, measure the following data for two operating cases (RB= / 20MW): - the peak value of the superposed voltage D U with SM and KO - DC current value Ig Please consider the asymmetric superposed voltage ( v. oscilloscope presentation): now the indicated value of the peak voltage measuring instrument depends on the position of its polarity switch. Regarding the function principle of SM ( exp 1), measuring is explicit.
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Evaluation: Calculate the ripple for RB = / 20 MW from the data of the circuit with the aid of the DUdetermination by oscilloscope, peak value readout, and the DC current measurement. Discuss the calculated ripple values, give reasons for different results and examples for applications of the specific determination methods. Explain the measurement of DU for asymmetric interference using the peak voltage measuring instrument.
11.3.5 Setup of a one step Greinacher-Circuit

Recording the characteristic curve of the Greinacher-Circuit


Figure 12:

Circuit diagram

Data of components: CM CS1, Cs,2 RM KO = = = 100 pF V1, V2 rectifier valves UT UG effective transformer voltage real voltage of Greinacher

6000 pF 280 M W

Cathode ray oscilloscope

Measurement and evaluation

Measure the DC-Voltage UG of the Greinacher-Doubling-circuit according to figure 12 for no-load setup and each transformer voltage UT = 10, 20, 30 kV.
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Evaluation: Calculate the theoretical voltage of Greinacher, i.e. assuming ideal components. Plot both theoretical (ideal) and measured (real) voltages of Greinacher in one diagram U G = f U Teff

( )

Oscilloscope display of the transient phenomenon

Transient phenomenon

Figure 13

Graphical plot of the ideal transient phenomenon

The ideal transient phenomenon is plotted over t = three steps up to 1,625 U.

Measurement and elaboration

9 T in figure 12. DC-Voltage rises in 4

Observe and explain the divergences between oscillogramm and figure 13. Evaluation: Describe the transient phenomenon for each time period: 0 t1 t2 t3 t4

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11.4 Literature:
Kpfmller Einfhrung in die theoretische Elektrotechnik; Springer-Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong 1990.

Beyer, W. Boeck, K. Mller, W. Zaengl Hochspannungstechnik Springer-Verlag; Berlin, Heidelberg 1986.

D. Kind, K. Feser; Hochspannungsversuchstechnik; Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn Verlagsgesellschaft GmbH Braunschweig, Wiesbaden, 1995.

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