You are on page 1of 30

I il



Principles o f Circuit-breaking
N the occurrenceof a short-circuit within a system,a particular
breaka in the aftectedline will l* ttippud oB.6nautomatically

fuaction of this breaker is to carrsethe fault curreirt to oeaseflowing

assoonaspossible,and to dp so without harmful effeqtgeitlier to the
systemor to itsdfi It was shown in Cbapter IV that contact separa- '
tion merely creates an arc discharge i'ithofit caueing appreciable
altercion oJ the current initially. This is perfectly desiaSle becagse
any suCden cut-off of the current at that stage might give rise to
harmful induecd voltages in the circuit.
The function of the breaker is tihen, more epecificalln to intro-
ducea high impedanceinto the circuit in such a rnanner as to force,
or allow,tte current to reach zero without possibility of the arc being
res'truckthereafter, and without causing the current to r€ach an
abnorsralrate of decrase. The possibility of daoage to thb breaker
hasbeen mentioned because,as well as being subjected to hating
and electromagaeticforce in common with the other componentsof
the alfectedline, the breaker is also the 'nain receptacleof ttre shoft-
cirnrit energy becauseof the resistive nature of the dischargewithin
it A primary factor in high power circuit-breaker design is the
Prwision of mechanical strength sufrcient ts withstand the sudden
Qeleascof large quantities of eiergr of the order of, say 500 kilopatt-
eeconds(i.e. more than 100,000 calories). Early extinction of the
arc helpsto keep tlis eneg5r releaseie 3 minimum.
D.G" Circuit-brea&lng. Fig 5.1c rqrresents a eimple d.c.
*.u! *-prising a'geneoior, rdi"tor, teacior and circuit-breaker.
t-he latter is assuued to break the lmd curreotr I - ElR. -la
diagramb, the line t is the currenf-voltage characteri*ic.'bJ-the arc
u'hen'its current is decreasing; line 2 is a resistanceline and repre-
seilq.lhe voltage E-;& thai, is, tlrc: e.m.t'. remaining when the
drop is:heducted.. 5he initial current at contart'$:innrtiol
. r riJ l

ir thc frrll veluer, and it is clearfrom thc diagram'l thst thc src I
uostablcd qtrrents betw.ccnr an{ 11 ei"ce tni voitages ,.q;rd b I

:: 11:ijg qr greater
TTj howcver, thantheamounts.iil.ui"", (.4_r").
tte arc currenttdndsto i"cre"s;
rmcethis sectionof!::Iine
11-T,:""9 -!tb
! lics-berowrine2, andin ruch conditionr
tJ"ryp":l of thc fault currentis not possible.UnAer
circuit-hhing oonditions, howcycr,ttc arcis bciig tengtncnJti
tihescparetioaof tlrc contacrs,
andtlc ecot'is;d;,fr;*;;,:
voltagccts*crsistic so ttst it lies abovdthc !*istanac ti;Thl



Fig.5.l. D.C. qc choactsisth-+otatt deaca4nE

progrcssivelengthening,yh$ qly be assisrcdby etectromagnaic
forcein cstain designg,is.a basic'r.equircment
oi th" d";;il|r.
i; th" t;;rA;;;iA;G* ;;;;;
nalntainth9,arcwhishresuttsin the rai-sing.f til';h;;illtl
rnr{any adon which brings this about ,*} i_pro*;;;;;
performance.Thus, any m-eans',r'hi"hin"""a.e thc.r.ate
of enercy
try. pg unir'teFthof'gc'arc'cotumn
-. -..--.
to thc lengthpning. .
The grnerarcfi.ectof thc circuit inducranccduring
nrption ie of spccialimeresr. While the *I"1, thc inter.
to d whcrethc zolace-.a--r,Rir ressd -q,r;ftb i"j"-iir";;;l:
,"L bahncbof voltsgeir
gdl up by c, - fup,doo..hi" iil nqativc with dc.
crc$ng curEcnt
an4 in a@rdance'*frti;r,; I;;A;;;
qcndto. 4fnraintlrso'rcnt Til ;Jrt"gaa.b";'"ti.fiJ
.rsis6 ia istcrrustion, but ir ad G'to increascite indud
volageehthc u;bblerangce .u-*l--l
Morcovcr, dcarfron diaeranC.
m ec'ount d ol s.t"f *t-.t"F"io. .r"*iffiTi#
frl1#,ntnt_o *rr*o.[J"* r6i-o highvetucr
Idcaun thcd.c" u'.,r",g"rrJg.p*# iiln "*y
;tri"HJ.f,Xfll#:fr *
F rlrilcdlelcarof thoscristrnc!tiilil";dt* oo ,qioo bcrpca


L andf" should vanish, and such that induced toltagesjust prior to

*tinaio" are g Einimum. Note that alteration of the generator
Ir.f. giuo a correponding elteration of the positioi of the reietancc
tine2 iho"e slope, however, remainsfixed by the circuit resistance'
iii* ,ft" hish;r-the circuii e.m.f. the morl eficient'must be the
iJoi.f thelreaker in lengthcning and de-ionizing the arc to raiee
thscharactsistic abovethc resistanceline.


Fig.5.2. D.C. oc cnaactl**laawt dadc&h'g 6td I^Su


[ig. 5.?.a shows the arc characteristic 6E it might bc- when

nodified by lengthening during the brarLing-opgetign- .fh9 orc
voltagcie At piiou greatcr than the ahount-E+? anCthc batancc
!r grveuVy t. il4at wnicn i" proPortignal t9 lhc gradie$ o{ the
orrenrtirie curvc. Thie curvc msy therefore be deduccd, el
rhownin.fig. 5.?,h,and prondes thc totd arcing timcr Pgibd
ney b€ an-appreciable-fraction of the total time of bhort-circuit
crrrrentflow and must be kept as ehort ss possibla Fig. 542showB
thartlu arcingtime may be reducedby incrcasiogthc retesof Gurrent
frlt but this i;volve nigber ralues of tlhc indued voltagec,ca, and a
orrcapondinglyhighcr-poaition of thc chrracteri*ic" - In thc-typicel
casei[uatratcd-by fig. 5.2t thc e*tincion voltage of th. arc h ebcut
tnicc the generaior-voltagq ehowing that thc dielectric etrcngth of
thecontactq'apat ertinction has rcachedan adequatelevcl
Summiizing, euccessfuld.c. circuit-prca&'in! must-involve s
ostrin amountof-compromise.'fhe nccessriryfunction of th9 9t q.t
il to raise the arc' charasteristic iufficiently to avoid rtability. - Dy
increasingihe e$gctubeyond the minimtrm neccssary,a shot!3r-
' r'
Iri.rg :ii". and,-tieiefoie less.lcverc heating and eleetronnsg3t€Bic'

78 swrrcucgaR pn.tNctplEs
. str6scr' will bcobained
fthough the rikefihoodof ovcrvortagcsua!
a.isa In goeral tlre minimumir-ciog e-e p.r_ioi[i. -*ti"p*i
upon the 2r''ount of inductanccin tf,c circiia
: A.C Circuit-brea&ing. In atternatiai_curlent cy*erns
-.1* tfu
whole probtem.of circuir.f,seakiogi" difiHt-i;
sFtems. This is becar.seo.6...h"nEesdirectico t"ice l"-;"G;; G
andis therdoreinsangleoylf zdo twicep*.y"d l" i,nort,
ac" circuit-brealer til
gdoits th6 poperty bi pd;ddttre c'rrcn
from rising again afti d ?Ero&"i.. It i,l.neithcr i"""o"ry ,i,
desirablcto crrt ofi the anrrcot at any otherpoint""
' trr" Jrr"i",{
wavebecausesucha distoriion of the nattrrar--"o"1i*"*"a
produceorervoltages.Idealy, tn" *tre"t.sni rru u"-"ri*"a a*
normallyto zero,at whichiiiant Oe aiU""t lirt to r.u
between'the circuit-breakercontactsrnourJ rapiary"il""o*"
""gO;ilh;;; *c
prever:tre-strikingof the ar',c"The aim of desigtrerj
tni"*."", i, i
brea&erwriichcao-invariably accomplish tni" irr" cirt *rredt zcm
after contast separation, "t
c,r.,ent *i$hi' t" ,d;?;I
caplgiry'and without harur"tto"ny
it"er. rn" pfid;;""
problernin designis srtremelydifr"olq;A-;;" ;fihi
lf ;;y;[rd
would not probablybe economical
Efucts gf.pouer-Futot. The ac. circuit-breaker
preve-ntre-striking of the arc after the fault atte'pts b
and the contacr gap must theiefore ;h;;-.h",'ctJuit it"u "'orq
appearing there at the" zcro instlnl This vorag.
dcpendsopg1 tl" po\rer factor of the circuii
is relativeryrigt, tLetreaker -"y r,""" a tn" i"-"fa f tn
aJ-""1v,lii.ome natul
of voltjrgc appreciably tess ttai .h"
Nevert'eless,in setecing a breakerr*'" ;-J;,-t""".lrr"r,r, ono.
fzults and associatedpoier f"d; o"*r*iar";'* possibh,
n r"t i" in any
event,it shouldbe rimeurbered "Uor"Ji*
o", O" a"*rl-ii*l", "nd,,
..contend gapms
iT,t\.p*t d +hst *.n" oni**iiiii", intemrs
r tion, if not ii*""t (rssuming,
\ &equeocy ".tra$, of course,
the 50c./r
*ppti). t -*y et"u.,-breakeclocationson
'Erstems, the1fpoira
factorunderf""tt *;Jttdd-#;;iearty.zao;
grvi"g virt'a,Iy pcakvorageJ*r*a
zero.s;this is.beca'scof tro
tr Hf.ry *. olaiin,c"Eciary-"uirl.lTgl"ilt"g
*"* .,"ffu?"ffi llf*il:ffi
caseof aslmnetdcal ffi$?r#"TiH
*d;-R"f;;;-d:%:"rn ,"1"
and uninorlco-ps.f q
i""r currcnt on 50 c/s sgcms lgrc
i gsears
i ,,i,j--
-'-:_: :
P R I N C I P I , . E SO F C I R C U I T . B R E A K I N C 79
.cur€nt zerosdo not thereforecoincidewith p&ks of vottage. This
phasedisptacementdccrcases,of cource, as ihe d.c. comp-onentof
thc. asrynmetrical current decays. The apparent -to phase shift
associated with asymmctrical current tends give an easier
inrcmrption and breaker duiy. illuch of this benefit-man however,
bclost-bgcauythe asymmetrydecaysappreciablyduring ihe opening
time of the circuit-breaker. Even with ; power factor Is low as'0.1,
for-examplgmost of the asymmetrydiesaway dudng the 6rst q or L
' g!!o: and this irrterval may be
ehort comparadrpith that ffom fr.rlt
initiation to contact separation. Much depends,howevei upon the
ipfting characteristicsof the protectivl scheme, and-uiorn tfie
breakermechanismand gontact d*ign, and partially asym-metriel
currentsoftcn occur during arcing.
A circuit-breaker has to deal with normal load currents, as well
asfaults, and since the former are generally aseociated.with high
powerfactorsthe interruption duty is then rit"tivety easy: The;.
load-breakingsrvitch dso always-benefitsfrom tais condition, of
Current Zero Period. After contact eeparation in an ac.-
circuit-breaker,an ars is drawn but and its curient alternatessuch
that an instantaneouszero (rccurs periodicafly according to the
supplyfrequency. Final extinctionofthe arc is onty po*ib=l" at one
ot theie current zeros and will occur if the volage availatle at Buch
an instant is not enoughto break dowa the de-iinizea i.esidual arc
column. The possibilitiesof breakdownor final --xtinction occurring
at any current zero depend upon the phyisical conditions cxisting
then. 'I'his does not mean tlat the ..cirtient zero period'; on Uu
rcgardetlas being independent of conditions existing prwiously.
rYe.-navealready shown.tb* power loss and rate of current fall,
IT:r_tg zero, havea markedefrect upon the t€mperaturc
of ioniCationof the irc,at the z;C imt nL 'The all-imfortot
Plyt:g state of the contact g-apat cun€fit zero thus dependsupon
:lho,l* beenhappcniagto tf,e'arcjust pleviously and thus includes
1! 9f grrryit conditionsaswell asde-baizingand ionizing
in thecontacr
Bap.erists when the current.reacheszero. 'f,he next stageis tho
riseof voltagefrom zero(at the cprrent zeroinetant)t what
3;el appropriateto the circuit'conditions.It is Ois rlSng
whigh_nray or-inaynot.breakdowrrthe gap and re-strikethi
arc. Just as the inpoiant in determining

the conductivity state of tle column ^t ?.arc,,the very s$ort perid

of rising voltageimmediatelyaften'ards is widently equally cdtical
The generalaatureof arcing conditionsin circuh-breakss hasbeen
describedin ChapterIV and we uray now prcaeedto a closeretrrdy
of the relationshipb'etweenthe arc aad the circuit conditionsarouni
current zero. This involvesa consid€ratiorrof: (i) dre efrectsofan
vob.rgeonthe currentwave-form;(2) the efieoof circuit capacitancc
in parallel t'ith the breakergn'current wave-form; (3) .the nanncr
in which the volage acrosst.hebreaks dfes frdm ao to tte circuit


iI r

ack war.d "eurnen t, i6

I'ig..5.3.Distortbnof A.C. currcn,ttax,cb1'urcevltuge

value appropriateto thc current zero instant; and (4) the current
zero period in relation ro sone of the physical lrrosessesoccurring
in the residualcolumn in the contactgap.
. Arc Vollage and Curreat \[ave-form. It is convenientto
.think of the a.c. arc ail a circuit dement whoseresistancegenerally
variesin an inversernannerwith the current during any half-cycli
Thus.the powerfactor of the circuit in which a Urdf,erib oper;ting
may changesomeqriatduring any half-cycleof arcing. For instanrr;
an arc of 1,000A r.m.s., iri oil" severalco in tength,iiU havea total
resistanceof a fraction of an ohar.ovs moet oia naf-"yae p€rio4
but asth:eqnreot falls towardszero, tbe resistancemay'rise Lpidty
to sr,veralhun&edsor thcusandsof ohms. The effectsoi this deirmi
v.erX-nuch_upon circuit conditions. Coileiaer a sinple inductivc
drcuit as shownin 69. 53. Thd cirsrit-bree&sr ts elced and tb
currqrt is sinusoi&I,
llthen loqS,nq90" electrically behind thc gcnerstor
e'.f. the circuit-breatcr opcnsand an arc is €stabtishcd
voltage eo thc
arc" pn u; rehtion .f;;;;;;i
voltaga The efiect is comparativetysmall while tbe *-";i,;li;;
. rnd arc resistane is low, but a m"rked efiect
can;;; ;;JJ"?;
approachezergt An irnpott ot tourtl" tan" zero is ehiftcd from
its naturalposition in tirire and so coincides*ith
lessthan + p*k This distortioo of thu *r-"r-;;;""j
displacementof rhe ?Ero,:n y b" 9f iittfi-p;;;;
h.v. systems, rcurrenl
but on l.v. s1'stemswheri the
;i t
compamblewith the supply the "re"g "Jdg;
currerit _"y-b,
-"?lqg", J;;a
crmpletelyforcedintg nhxe wittr th-esupptyr.rrg"
Thiecondition considerabryeasesthe di..y ; th;;;;;;;;1't" oi.
volugeavailablet is-iclatively.v"ryr'_"[
"*,ro -
lrc is the more readily achieved. ""d;Ae;ffi;;
.Fr.orn-fig..53 the-true current during arcing may be
. esilv
ea_arcvoltage characteristic.
-The actual current l. wilt be the
difrcrencebetrveenthe- no,rmal *o"rrt-r, which floil *t"i
breaker-is closed,andthe.,backwarJi tfr".
*iL*t ,;,
intt e circuitif thearcingroltage,"pro"oiJif,J *n "l-,'r"finli
IT "yrt voltageand;'backJardit;;;-; rehtedasindicated.
in thediagram.Summarizing, we-"y oy tlrt t" g*;a;;;;;
controlledover the.remainderof the half-cycl* ;ill:
hhs Th;*"*,
{r leenexaggerared i, fic.";;tffi.-'-
Cgac-itanJg.The*"airio* shownin fig.5.3bavc
oeensontewha.ldrlized for simplicity; in practicetno?"
cenainamountof c-Facrtancein parallel fu;;
to (a)thecapacit"""Jt * iitt" mu andonnections
onthegenerator sideof thebrea&awhenaneartl r""rt]ol*"- oilil
ddu:"g (Dltp *pu"l.** u"irlccnli sonact
untbanoil circub-brealcr.. andthet"nk
queto +"
capacrtaae c, tu t'ilara " stuh
theeanhfrn* on the"F;;;
lmd side.itff".ry i_**;ffi
'ot parallet
capacianciare its innuenl on the;vorage acrocc
gap aft r corrTt zero,with.wniin we tac
.o shsll deal later on,
S,lrltn:. th. *ro"i j; b"f;r thezcro. is rcachcd.
. -8. "ry "r"
).) shosBttre circuit_of
omple !g. S.l in eimplified for*-T;;
equations rqrresent the b€heviorr
vorqges"I.e*,;. .-,i. o{ t[c currcDts and
*r"o..i; t: ;6"; *rroo. (thlougb th3
lnductang); l], - cafacitanoe curr?nt; c ' E sis,sa - aryptt
c.m.f., and c. - aie voltsge. Ttc arc dl instsatsrcou! velucsof
the variablcs. Thc equetionof thc voluges is: c'- L "dinldt 1- c,
The equationof currcntsis: i. 1- in .- l, The voltagcequafon nry
slso b€ wittaz.ttri.ltlt - (c -. c.lfl.

F4.5.4. Capacitances
h ?oalh, @irhc*adt-bteahaoc

Let us study the eventsoccurringfrgm the time when eobeginl

to riee appreciablyastlrc current approacheszso. The current and
voltage curves in fig. 5.5 are shownnfor clarity, on a somewhd
expandedtime-scde. As in the previoussimple exampl.e,the riein6
arc voltageforcesthe main current t,oto collapsemore quickly thm
if the breaker had remained closed. This is clear also from tlc
exprcs.siontot di-ldt, as e at rtris period of the cqrrcnt cycle ii
ncgativeand the arc vohagee. is addedto the generalorvoltrgq d
giving a iorreslonding increasein the rate of current fall. Thl
rising arc vottagi also causesa divcrsionof currcnt into the capach.
ance, the value.o{ this current at any rnstant bcing given byr
io - C . dc"lilt. current is positive(clockwisein hg.-S.S1 d4
sincc i - i- ; it is obtainedat the expenseofthe arc currd
which therefore starts to fdl more rapidly than does ,L. As th!
instant a is approachedthe rce of fall of .li" diminishes eincei, it
nowdecreasingwith eoapproachingite pok value. At the instanta .
:0, r, - 0, and in - i-i this condition is illustratcd in 69;
*rle 'Immediately
5.54. afterwards,the capaciance darts to discharsd
giving a negitive (anti-clocftnuise)currcnl: The 'nain and rrc,
currens Tg podtivc,s9 rtrat the ar! is eupplicil both by tho
by the capacitahce,and ri is then gdi* than {,.. At t[c
:ource Td.
rnstant, the main qrrrent r€ach€ zeroand the arc is then eupplid
.eolelyby die'capacitance, nrr 6g. 5.i6.' Aftci thig iirsisnt td;d"
-.,i. .+r:{iz!a !


)Current wftlr
J 6neeket,closcd

Arc caneat



( r "tl d
(q) $)
FiS.55. Efrcat of palWcq.ibnt oruc aninailw!@a.?o

84 switcllcEAl PRTNcIPLEB

eir,encurrent rnoybc much lcssw.hentac eurrenthasbccndecggasing

lpiafy ttran in the static casa Tbig is on ocoouttt of thcsmd
i-".t"roi, in tle arc and is obviously a disadvantagein circuit-
il;eakirg. Fhwever, the static condidon ao
;.*, the actualrate of fall of the r.'trent bcforc
i"F"" Jing upon (")-and
tf* io**. coti.iaite4 (b) the el6ciency of dc-ionizCtio.n
We are hereconccrnedwith'the erulent zcro insterg 88d ttre PgrS
immJat"ly afterwarriswhcn $e gaP-ie subjectcd e qt cirsqit
soltage. Any mean"which cal bc e-iii'loyed to. pcrsuade*".*:.'
'.c,rch-as t ."ily posible satic conditionsat this stsgearedeeirable"
The efect of parailel capacianceis evidendyfavourablc,sincg-rtv!.{y
rnuch reducestheratc oi fu11of ar" c.trt"nt iW beforczero,allowing .t,\

the arc temperatuie and conductivity morC time to accommodatc

ttemselvcsto the current zso condition
Note that it is the arc currentthet is apprecirblydtaed'in fotn,
rather tfian the main cilrrent paneingthrough the seriesrgct{ce,
andthe questiouof high inductivevoitageodoesnot neceaoarit-v-arise.
Neverthcless,the riiversionof current from the arc increaseethe arc
voltage (owing to tall of temPereture,ionization, etc.) eld its ratc
of rii which in turn increasesthc cepecitivecurrent. The procm
tlius terrdsto becomecumulativl, rail in oar1docircumstance'to bp
sturtierllater, canteadto the production of ovcrmltrge. Thc extent
to which current ie divcrted from t'he arc during this pre-zeroperiod
dcpdndsupon the velue of rapritarcc ard tbe rate of rise of arc'
ooit"go. Whcre thcs€two hctors arc appreciable,the effect on tbe )
arc tirnpcraturc and didectric *rength of tbe g{p 8t zGromay nrake
current intcrruption comparativdycesy. The ratp of fdl pf surrent
it zcro rvith asymmetricalcurrcnt ie generally lees thaa with the
cquivalentq'rnmetrlcat current.,and therdolg in accordanccu{th
tte aboveprinciple, Bomecasencntof brcakerduty msy be obtaincd.
wish the fcrmcr.
Re"etrikiog Vottago" Tte volagc available at thc circuit'
breakeret a current zerodependsupon Powcr factor, aqd thcrdu€,
has somefinite nalue, unl€s8tbc circoit is ri5tualy icaistivc. Ttc
way in which the re*cri&in! volagc risec fron ztro (tnthc qrq€nt
zcro instant) to the approprice tzlue it of thG gr€stcstimportane"
For instance,in o circuit sithout thir voltagcriec would
bc instantaneol&snd therc would bc litdc chanceof any circuit'
breaker gap having aufficient'dielcc{ric ruength to witirstand it
without breakingdown. Forauratclyoucbconditioneerc hypochcticat
fior thse io alwayeeomecapecitand.ipiercnt in thc circuit" Thc

cffcct of this is to modify the rate of rise of rLstriking voltage

(R.R.R.V.)such that a few vital microsecendselapsebetween
zeroand.the cstablishment of a voltage of any significance. ",
speaking,there are two conditions to consider: (a) breaker and
capacitancein parallel, and (&) breaker and capacitance in series.
11'eshall examine both, although the former is of much greater
importance as it is nearly always associated with fault conditiong.
Pnctical systems are usudly much more corrrplex than the basic
circuits referred to. in the following, although reasonable eimplifica-
don of actual conditions may permit a rlseful mathematical treatment
usingthe same principles. Alternatively, itudies of rate of rise of
rc-striking voltage may be carried out with the aid of a network
A simple example of parallel capacitance is seen in fig. 5.4
wherethe line fault places C1 effectively across the breaker. A pair
of voltage equations is needed which, when sblved, will gi're the
voltageacro$ the breaker after current zero. Thus:

e: L d i ^ l d t+ ' l ! C x ! i " . d t .
and ll@ I i".dt : r (i* - i")
wherea is the generatorvoltage and r the breaker resistanceat z,ero.
0n solving them we obtain three possible casesaccording to ihe
valueassignedto a
l. If r is made infinitg and assuming no other resistancein
tlre circuig we have o (4crossbreaker) :.e (l - cos {Ii@ . tl.
In this hypotheticatinstancethe voltage rises-from zeroto iwice the
tnstananeorncircuit voltage and tlen returns to zero and continue
.toccillate in this way about the value e.
2. "lf. r is less than infinity but greater than the quantity:-
- then the cosineterm in the expreseionin ca6e
! !4e (in-clr)
l. ts multiplied by a factor exponential decoy. This
lmply meansth* the high-frgquency gecillation is gradually damped
row irnd the voltagerapidly setrl€odown to thc circuit rblue a. Thc
freqr5ncyof this edlation is giien by: f/(2zr) x {ire and ie
usually puch greter than the normal 50 c/s altrirnation of thc
!.ril' ' - ' '




zeto (e)
G:Jt!{{}- ____s_\r


Fig.5.6. Rllrfihiryaoh4c(a)aith ldgh-ttc'
gercy &tin @d(blarfrcarydetFl

voltrgg Lc. r feult bndition hving zcro Pows factor. The ftit
pcet of tbo trrneicnt ccillrtion doeonc qtdte rcach lpicc c on
rccouatof tbc danping cfiect of bleakcr sesknca
3. Thc hst cssciBthat in which the breakcrresietanccr is lcc
rtm thc quaotiry* {Ti-C,eAqilth thir cqnditionthc volagc ir not
osAUstorybut instcaddsesloggithnicatly to the vdue c ar.rdSg
follorrr tho normd 50 c/e veve-form. This is iltustrotcd in 69.
5.6bandthc rc-otdkingvoitqgcis saidto be logarithmi;a[y d+s,p"{
Now lct uestudy an exanrplcwherethe caEaoanaoig tii scnt
with thc brcakcr. Fig. 5.7shourcasimplc circuit in whicb wp ns$Clc
PntNctPLES O? clRcOrt-Bn8AB8N6 gt
noftult' b't imaginethst thc brca&ccis to opcawhilc the camcfuive
ryt is flowing. We may faitly neglcc G,l thc rUetlvely maft

ridcrablccrpaciteneto carthof e longtnusnisdon litia This lcavcr

ur sith e rinpte sc of inducanq-capacitenccand reristancc(of
the brcalc^) in rccica Thc sppropristc voltegc cquation L:
0 - L di@ + ,i + UC x t i.dt.- As bcfolc, tbr; cerer ero
obtrind &on'thc rohfiion, but with r vcry inportrnt itiffcrcaco
&omthc "pniall€1"ci!€:

Ffg.5.7. CcpacitaueoJlng narlltt&rion fuu

l. If rbserothcvoltageformie:o -a(1 -e.u@4

2. ll t is greetcrthanzerobut lessthan the i"*tity 2 {re
e' thcn the .cosineterm is multiplied by an exponcntially doying
- 3, lf tiegeder than thc quantity Z @taf,n the volage ic
The foregoing discussionshoya that the form of volage rieo
dter zeroig infuenced by the value of the breikcr rcsiltance stzeio
in rdatioa to the drcuii inducance and capacianca. Fdrthcr, in
ordcr to daop out the h.f. ccillation" a rninimum rralue of thc
btca&crrcsistanceis reqniredwith mries capacitanceand a rnoririum
vduc with parallel capqcitance.-It will be secn tater that such
$.pitg ie dnmt alwaysdeshable. When this is not pcsible we
mut take account:of d most important factor, namety, the ratc at
thigh the voltagerises up to its fiist peak; .This is clearly'depen-
dentupon both e:and ihe natural froguency of the circui! which -
' ie vcry high for lorv'valuesof epacitance and inductance.
- + ,a . i-t

88 swtrcgcgAR pRrNcrpr.Es
rate of rise of volage may be high, thercfore, et e location ctce to
t|re generator. t
The tcrm ..inherent 'transient",
restriking often met witlr,
aimply mgry that volage trensient which. would bc obtaind on
.c@unt of the onln without nodification by the breker,
i.e. when r is infiirite with parallel capacitance,aod ;. with scries
capacitance.In practicg of coune, there is always4 srnall esurunt
of resisrancein the circuit itsdf and thus the inhgrent transient iB of
thc darnpedoccillatorytpe. For simpliciqf*tl";;;;G;i
factorwhichb T-: lfllg u-gor,the vatueto whichihe ""o
rises{fter zso. The initial.'anpfitudeof thu t"""d;iil"lu.tio""olgge
notin fact e the circuit volage,but a + er.yherc c*(sie ig. S.A
is the pre-zercarcvoltagepe"k. This is realaity *i* ir
is remembered ""a6tA a"" tiin,
that the cciltationsof tjre transient
rapid- interchapging of energy between thc ir-rductance *a- tuo
capacitance,and that-this oscillation, therefgre, u"Ein, ,"Lul
the ca_pacitance "iontty
is chargedto its.maximum just.UlforJ ,;;';;
a in fig. 5.5. The amount of energy in,thJ op""itnn""
instant'manifets itsgl.f a1 a vottageidditioo, ,; tb .h;*"r"f "i,U,
oscillationinitial amplitudea
f'he student ihould alwaysappreciatethe physical aspect
eu-chphenomenaand nor be conteni with tt ,nutir"i..ti""r;;;;^.-
tration. In this way insight and intuition " utti_otdJ-u"q;r"a
In thepresentinstance, kiepin:gin mindtr,."r"
iaqoi ii.eilnliii
energyintcrchange ro,
to occurbetweenthe circuit iii" Aity
seenthat, rvith serieserpacitancethe breaker reistance
"t"-*t", rr.iu; tf
- *ry
ltstr dircctlv absorb_gncrgvto prevent
similurly, rvith para'et capacitance,a veryttow bieokei*
will prdvent sscillation by_-diversionof the €nergy.
&ilical Resisttpzce.Wnh parallel capacita-rice
the maximum
valueof breakerresiltance y[gb-will preveit*ell"tiool idr"g
try volageis givenbyt {If1,pd inttre ecriescasethc-nioinun
?1/L!C. Thesearetermedcriticalraistancq.A;
seenearlier, b"*
the series genelfly -", *n* o$ir[;-d*-
missionline wittr ryir
to carth. rn such en-
ditionsthe criticar"ppr"ciatrte-crpaatLl
gi"tance lr ,i.tii. io*-r00 ohns or l€sc*nd
g€n:rauylessthan the curitnt roi*"o". of a circuit-breaka,
criticar&nnpingis rrsuarypdseiure.
"iio rulr *liiitilF"uy
however,secpage:l@, f"i -o* a.,"ff"a?"
" "f
ti:cbrcaker is notalwave
ableto oni."aa"-fdJnii.uiJr-ra,

cxasrdleof a fault to earth on t&e line side of the b;caks in thc

snren shown in dg. 5.4, the paraltel capacitane is Cs whilh is
.iudry small. The &itical resistancethen may be of thc order of
1.000ohms. This may be more or lessthan tAe current zero resist-
'enceof the breaker, depending upon the Erpe of breaker,t$e fault
orrent magnitude and the circuit Paramet€rs.
(lrrrent Zero "Pause". Thc upp€r part of fig. 5.8 showt a
typicalrecord of arc current, arc voltageand cirorit voltagein which
tso current zeros occur. Thc first invoilves breakdown and re-
suikingof the arc for a further half-qde atthe end of which the gap
withstandsthe rising voltage; this is seen to be of the.ccillatory
form.beforefollowing the'normal op-en-circuitvoltage wavc. With
&' such a record the arc current aPPearsto Pass straight through
,erd it-, the lrreakdown case(a) and to cohe to an ab"ruptstoP at
the ctarance (&). The expanded records below show that these
impressions may'be false. Just before zeto ardnrearc curreirt is forced
down abnormally due to the pardlel capacitanceeffest The arc'
reshtence,although finite, is high enough irhmediately after zero for
the currcnt to remain very small-a frastion of an amperefor a
periodof microseconds,or even,tens of microseconds,bdore the ,
breakdownat.which the curreat resum€sthe normal sinusoi&l form. /
This very small current existingbetween.zso and breakdown-'+ften
termed"pre-breakdov'n" surrsnt-may adopt various charagteristic
forms. It may exhibit a small peakand thcn decreascsliglrtly.before
ggg.rapi$y on b-reakdownof the gap. qis paniorlar form rnight
_be'6btainedwf,iri a powerful de-ionizing action exfutsbnt where thc
t,' rateof. rise'of re-.trikit g volage is v6y high. On the other hand,
vhere little de-ionization is achieved and a very high short-circuh
ctrrrentb involved,the current may passmore or lessstraightthrough
zerowith the breakdownoccurring at a low point on the re-suiking.
vokagewave Clearly it is not possibleto generalizeconcerningpre.
breakdowncurrent form, but the idea of a errrent zgo pauseistnown
to bejusafied uodr q'any conditions.
- 2e. zero Ein fig. t.8 th" arc is successfutlyinternrpted aod in tho"
lowerdiagramwe see'ihat the current does not ceeseabnrpdy but
continuesin the r&ersed direction'after zso fot a shon pciod of
eomeinicrosecondsbeftlre frnally ceasing..That "pet arc" .cuircnt
Soultt erist is only to be expecte-a
sincetEe ascresistanceisrstill 6nitc
8t crirr€st zeio.thougb'rapidly'increasing, and such cufrents can
actuallybe of the order of an asrp&e in certain cirirrmstances. Noticc
- 'thai
tlt pre'zero arii vottbg" pJ"t.t zer6 g,-'.slpupper diagiaic-iir

Anc curnent
'" Itcvoltaqe
'twltsle peok -

rAne \
voltegg' \
I Cincuic
I voltafe ?,"9
.IVormct t)
s/t*r-tq/"to showin$successire
ca?"ent -ze leedind to- 6neak{owh " eny'
"os 'cledronce"

\4rc cunnent


ndednecordshowing curnent Vffij,;;r,!i:W

Frg.5.8. Cstat zoaoe-forns

nca sero

smaller than the re-striking voltage peak This is a result of thl

increasingcolumn resistancedu:ing the zero period: Further, iq ts
assrrmedthat the de-ionizing effects have becone more pronounceC
at zer.oD,and the arc voltagepak ju.t prior tg thig zerg is sho'i'n dis'
tinctly higher than a1zer6a. Accordingln th9 pre-zerofcrcing dow
P R I N C T P L E SO F C I R C U I T . B R E A K I N C
of arc current is shorvnto be more appreciabreat D in the cxpandcd
<, .i
De-ioaisationat Zoo paase. Any detailed considerationof the
proccsesT y"r\ Tti" the arc "residual corumn" tn" p"ur"
3rcnot onlv heyondthe scopeof this volumebut are "tout of""ro
phl for
the very good reasonthst much has still to be clarifiea o*iic t" th"
glr€Te nmplexity of curent zero phenornena. Neverthel""* ,h;
follo*ing broad outline should be useful, bearingi";;d th'i th;
pfenymag vary widely, accordingto the type of 6roker, f"fi-";:
ilo'de and qr€uit conditions. \4/ith any given circuit-breaker tf,c
mostimportant factor at currcnt zero is proiabry tr," -o"l"o,pu*-
tureof the residualcolumr\ sincethe amo"nt of lonir"tion"i;fi:;"
wr,v critically d-ependentupon this. Agir, th" *or,t'""ro-tlro-
per-sturegenerally depcnds upon the rate of current decreaseiust
beforczeroan! r9eo3r the amount of cooringand de-io;i;ti;il ril;
ti: rh9f period. Thus,at currentzerowe t uu".ioiauJ;!";;
still subjectedto de-ionizingeffectsand possessi"g
coretemperature-bdieved to approach r0.000.K ,ir,a.r "ppr;;;li;
rom" .on-
ditions-and therefore co'tainirig- considerabledensitiesor etect
andpositiveand ncgr,'tiveions. The rising voltageafter zeroa""a"
the energycontent.ofthe col.rmniy cfJetdng the i;;,;;,
'*.l.oy tendrng to maintain the tempera.tureand ionizationlevels.
eventually lead to breakdownancire-establishment
he power inpuj
:t_1|t::* !o the arc is, however,"ery srnullat firet
is tow, and the continued cooling, by externalmeans
:31".n: :oltage
sucn_rs uast, natural convection and conduction, may predominate
thecorumnresistance ro it,'t it.#ilffi.g"
l:::TTn""aiiqlv tessefiecronthet -pl."r". Sirin"iiy,itGc
i: lt:ilg rapidly lengthened the rate'of energtr input
ltlcngth 6er unit
of thccotumnduelo theris11gvgltage*ttt#;ildrd;i;
reduced-suchconditionsmaywe[ ieaato'successru
Qer6'ylossescontinue to preiominata
.. This is aot necessarilythecase,howwer, for we baveonlv con-
the immediate
otetgycontentof the column It seems,
very probabih th*;61";
L:fO*:* can still ocsur, evcn wn* tUetelipo"ture hasfallen on-
"rqcraDry-'oD account of energy losses,provided there is still some
cegre of.ionization^rernaininf-when
tt r;cilL-o ;;;:
,,r{n lcvet. The genernlproce$ of " "oft"gu
brskdonn in this
:::l) - i,
one of rapid ioniration by collisions betneen eleGrons
..,8n crr€r6Tand gas particles. . of
Little irj knorrn about the poeci;
92 slvITcTIcEAR ltRINcrPLEs

rnechrnism h.t it seemslikely that-it nray bc starterl by i,small num_

ber of elccr.rns-ha'ing liigh vclocitie derived from ihe n"ri ii
'l'his 'f .i.
gap- maybc akinto spar-k"type breakdown, asa;rti""iiroi
the " thermal" qrpervherethecolumniesistancefallscozt;""o"rti- iri
to in-creasing
9ne-qycontent. Tlesetwo generarror- or Crl"t-to-*-o
are distingui$gd by the form of voltage-collapse,
muchexpandgd timescale(sea fig. 5.9). T'heispark" ur*t.r"*ri
cxtreryelyrapidandthe voltagemaycollapsefrom severalth.usarrds

taermol-hreal<down Spork"breakdown
F;g.5.9, Eutr7bs of beahdozonat cTrtrentzero

of votts to atmostzero in_ao more than a microsecond.

The thermal
94rc, on the other h** p generally ^ very much slowe,
qlibiting a-quiteroundedyhag" &ot
misocconds. A^ *y be imagi-ned"i""tu""o ""i ;;;j#d^;;,
appar to exist in
whicha prooess startsasa therial rF*a t" ;;d;-uyip*r
formation" and vice versa
Bcsidcr the simple th€rmat and spark breakdown
outlincd it is orobalrcthat mechaniems
important du;qg the cTrref zerg
p-"o.omay bc
pcriod. For instancc,the cxistcncc
of a hightempeiaturc
in thc rcsiiual;;G;
riderabh photo-emissionof cl"d;]";;
.h. cathodeif the radiation
froin thc gasto thc erectrodc
t htgh l;;b
cethodcitsdlf ma1'havcvarying .yp" prfr"',il.
b thc.state of io
"ClJ ""riging
gfaoe and the purity of rnetal. The attachmentof elcctronsto atorns
.o form neg'ativeions ocgtris in orylen and is, ih cfiecq virtualtv a
rbionization processsincethe mobility of such ions is relatively verv
bv, Energy is given up when a gas reverts from the atomic io thl
.aolecular state with falling tempemture. This ..dissociative re-
ccabination" may be occrirring to someextent during the zeroper.iod
mdthecnc.rgygiven up ma5rcontribute towards ionization. Ali these
prooerees, rind others, qrobably occur during the critical period, and
oal4rge extcnt the problem is to decidewhich of them predominate
epecifed conditions. Much researchis being divoted to the
.understandingof thesephenomena
It is often stated that the outcome of any current zero period
drp."d" upon thj "race" betweenthe rising voltage and the'rising
didectricitrength of the residual column inthe breakergap. This is
in gentral tnre, but'may be wrongly interpreted. It should not be
uten as meaninq ttrat the dielectric strength and appliei voltage
increase independently of each other. For insance, if the energ;,--
is applicable to the 6eturnn at ?.ero,the rate of
changeof tlielestric strength, or resistance,is ccrtainly very much "
afrected by the rising voltageas well as by energyloss. It is useful to
:notethe definition of dielectric strength of the residual column as
grvenby Dr. J. Slepian: the dielectric strength is measuredby thc
' roltageneededto maintain the reistance of the column constant.
. Thus,if V, W, R arcthe dielectric strength, power lossand resistancc
rspectively,IPIR-W. Thet is, the power input and lossareequa!
andthe resistanceis steady,or V - (Wn'f'. 'fhis definition treatst'he
columnasa simple variableresiqtorwhoseresistanceis somefunction
cf the enerry content. It musl be emphasized however, that thc
phenomena associatedwith the current zero period now appearto bc
muchtoo complex for simple mathematical.treatment
Although uncertaintiesexist about the precisenature of current
ztro processis,we can be sure that time is always one vital factor in
thepo*-zero period- Consequently,the rate o?.ise of the voltagc
lltcr z€roaiross the gap may exercisea consid€rableinfluenceupon
.theoutcomeof t.hezero period, is b€ause"bf thii that somc
rpacewasdevotedto ratesof rise of re-striking voltageearlier.
. Efieaioeness ol De-ionizatioz. l'here is an aspectof ac. circuit-
ItTUing not.alwaysfully apprepiated. I'he importanc€ of powerful
ae'ionizationaction at, and immediately after, current zero is beyoad.

,. -.*-!.d.-+.--j
94 swtrclIGEAR :'
*'ell es unnecessar,v. Interruption of the arc current, arrdde-ioniza
tion, are not regriired at any other irntant er(cePtzero. ln mc
rnoderncircuit-breakersthe de-ionizing mearurare neccrisarilyappliec
noie or less continuously; hence, liberated from the arc are largr
arnounts of energy which have liale efiest on the de-ionization a
zero. The stateof afiairs at z"rc Ccpcndsgenerallyon conditicns ovet
a very short priol period, becausean arc is generally able to adju*
itself to changingconditions extremelyrapidly. A highly efrcient de
ionizing force applied, say in tbe middle of the current loop, merely
meansthat more voltage is required to maintain the current theq
while much mostly uselessenergf is ideased which must be safel;
disposedof. Thus it is that de-ionizing meanswhich arc a functioa
oftlre currcnt, such aselectromagneticdevices,are not necessarilya
eft'ectiveas might be supposed,for they have little br*rring on e"int
et crtrrent zero, tlloi is, when most needdd. There are excepdonr
however,where the energy liberated in the middle of the loup may -
have a residud effect at current zero, and these will be met later.
"Cut:ent Chopping." The common phcnomenon knorrynas
"current chopping" is an undesirableconsequenceof the genent
irnperfectionmentionedabove,and is alsoa causeof overvottage.U
a brc:rkercxertsthe samede-ionizing force for all currenB rvithin it
short-circuit capacitn then this force must be great enough, in
variably, t9 givc intermption at the highet current ratin!. Ideally, ir
wo.uldbejust sufficientfor this but not high enoughto iatrse uniuc
distortion of the current wave. Ilou'ever, whcn such a brea&er!
' called_upon to break,saythc normalroadcurrent, rvhich may be les f'
than 5 pcr celq bf thc maximumbreakingcurrcnt, this smali curred
maysuffersuchdistortionastobeactuallyforccd straightdorvnt. zero
from a relatively high value bdore tne nat'rat zera. l'his is termed
yo-! chopping.The idea of :i breaker with a constant de-ionizing
force hasbden invoked to illustrate this poasibitrty,.but typea wttici
grod119e_varying {egreesof this fqrce in tneir operation arilnerrertho
lessllabLeto "chop" when breaking
"-roll cgrrents.. 'fhe bfiect of r
pracicauy instrntaneouscolrapseolthe arc cutrei,g.even
fcw am:peres,is-potentiall-vvery serious from the p"l*
overvoltageswhich may rcsult in the systern- An example"i"f.*'awill illus,
trate this: a 220 kY oil circuit-breaklr.,internrpting ia tr-ansformct
maSnetizingcurrent of ll A'r.m-s. chop.ithis rinrrit i*t o.
. taneousvalue of ? A. The naluesof inductanc" u"a c"p""iun& io
cirolitye 35.2_H
pP;n4 ;"*t"c.d;U-.ilil;;
enirgy is transferredto the cabacita*i :trrrb;;;;
pRtNclf r,E80tr otRcutT_DRSArrNO
Curreot fiaollu 'ilbturol'
ndturol zeno--. carten€ zerv

Anc I
cul.ent I
-.i Recovetu



i 1
iiii; c3.
iii,,t L_
'f"/ choPPtng
t&.sJe. Effsorexadcio4fuS

tclado 3e rh/q phcaomcnon
.no$s ;"4 ;.fi" of 6g. 5.fO, u,htch
a sone*n"t "id wcmryrcc
to. "irnpunJ_ilrii"ililenent,
hgyo \Faencurr€ntchopprng
T*T:*g sctsrn.
r"nil*"if ,:f#'#"T:lTiiffff
qrrreat' At a cenain Le*rlffi
'!r onaccouhr rarue;il;;;" *rrent, inrtab'ity rcr
or-tn" aisptopoiioo't ri'i"?gl dc-ionizingforcc.and
96 swrrcrcEAR PRTNcTPLBS
there is a.l drnost instantarreous
collapseto zero. This is ohownin thc
diagram a.sthe lirst chop. The current in the arc at the tinre wrr
florving from the soureethrough the inductanceto t[e brea].er. In-
ductive curent cannotceasernstantarreouslnand the actualchoppiag
of the arc current is, therefore, acbompaniedhy a simultaneoui
diversion of the main current from the breaker to the capacitancc.
Consid€f,what must be involved when such a rapid collapseof arc
curent takesplace. Ifthe current choppedis i. thin the voltage os
the gpacitance rises initially at a rate: doldt - i/C (neglectingany
small capacitancecurrent existing befogethe chop). But this voltasi
is alsoacrossthe breakerand acis in the sameway asthe normal pte.
zero rise of arc voltagein incresingthe rate of fall of the rzaft current
corring from the sourceand through the inducance. The maxinrum
possible voltage across the cpacitance and breaks is thereforo
obtairredwhea the main current reachs zero; that is, when atl thc
electromagneticenergv associatedwith the chbpped current in the
in<iucranceis tranqferred to the capacitance Thie .,prepective',
is gryen by: o - it@ and may be estrenrety high io
relation to the normal system voltage. Fortunately the breaker,
dthough the bulprit in this matter, is usually able-to relieve thi
situation by re-striking a: . re point on the rising chop voltage. Just
horv far the voltageray,n"g bdore re-striking dcpendsupon-orionr
factors. Fbrcxample, the lower the rate of rise-of this voltage thc
more time thtre is for di-ionization of the breaka gap, and s 6rr€s"
pondingly high overvolagemay be reached.'sinilarly, the effectivc,
lg*: of the de-iorrizingmsns will. infuence the re-iriking voltaga

Such a re-strike draws the enprgiyoui from the capacitani and 6c

voltage ther_eoncollapses;the first re-strike is ctlady seen in tho.
diagmm both as a suddenrise of c.rrent toit" normal ialue (slightty
lessthan that of the first dop), and as a voltageco[rapse.
_ Th9 de-ionizing force is stil in action, [owwd and a second
ehoP takes place; this tiine the choppedctrrrent is rather t€ssthen .
I'rcviously lqd accordingly the rise-of volage is somembstslower.
may give the gap a chanceto becomeiuttter de.ionized thai
Te"n?, a1a 1!!etter re-strikingvoltageurayresule This b nd
:hoyl io !S1.5.10.Successrr."eop" ;y dxrq *nowourrtit e
M *9p btihgorhc currentio z zixo.pr6..turay""*ith ;; i"nno
I!*l*fog sincethegapis now,inan advancestag6of de-ionizatioo
rEwtu be-appr€crated
that surrentchoppingis reallyan extremeforo
or.thc nhenonenonilustrated,ill 5.5. The fottowiig genenl
poins shouldben6ticcd: ' I "- 't.Fg.
pnrNctpt.nsoF crRcutr-BREAKtNc
l. Thc maximuininstantaoeous current whiqhcan be ctropped
sith a given r.m.s. current by-I particular breakeris increasedby
increasing thi amount of paralld capacitance,sincethis cnabtesari.
instability to set in at a higher crurent a ?*lrois approached.
2. The rise of voltage when the currcnt c6,ttap.esmay be
damggdby the ellects of eddy currents a'ri hystercsirtm in sinal
3. The risirig chop voltaggmay be limited by.the circuit_brcakcr
in two ways:(a) the breakergapis generallyabti to allow re-striking
beforethe pe.& of the prospectivevoltagi is reached:and (D) thl'
rnodeof operation of the breakerlimits the instantaneousvatuc or
curent that it can chop.
4. \l-'her- the cap-acitance and inductance involved are fairly
snali,the rate of rise of volage is ftlst and re-strikine occun at quiie
l,rn'raluesof the voltagg sin-e the time for further?e-ionizatiol oi
thegapis correspondingly small. A consequence of this is tlut.thc
rcsurrence flegucncl of successive chopsmay be veiy high, with thc
possibility-ofa dangcrousresonanoe condition being sri up in the
system..This is often the most undesirablefeatureof current chop: -tf,e
ping,since although the prospectivevoltagesas.sociated witt are not generallyreached,overvoltagesrnay occur due to
.yT"lt choppin-gphenomenonis an interestingaspectof
^, Thg
thethcrmal hybteresisefl'ectin a.c. circuit-breakerarcs.'.Supposc,
tor _irstance,tJrat therc were no such lag effec1and thit in arc
couldadjustitself infinitely quicktyto Til ili;
( t mernthat a circriit-breaker with Lfficient ",rrrJnt-"-n"ig*
de-ioniziig meanswourd
aluiysprodrrcechoppingn€ar current zero, irrespecti-ve of tlre r.m.s.
sal_ue o[ current being_broken In actualfacq however,the
nonis not obtainedwhen the r.[Ls. current is increased ihenome-
ubov romc
criticalvaluedependingupon therbraker and circuit.
This shorv!
Inrt $ suchhigher currents tlie tenp€rature and
conductivity of thc
arcrcmaintoo high for instability to occur near?.sro.
{.lapacitive.currest Breaeing. There is another @rnmon
1our5 of overvoltagewhich is dug-to imp.rfecdo" j"E;i;:
I*|9r behaviour,and the conilitions hereare'thd oUtairwawnen
capacitive.cuLeni a1 for erample,in the openingof a long
uul.'adeil transmission
. 'wili fine- Sggh a lini, although lntoalea in thl
l"*t1l scnse, aduatycairy ,;"tt- ii;;il
" &; i;;i
lill.llt". on
:urr.enr a9c9u-nt9?
t!" op-"cilnc. to card.
ur rtte lrnGitself, even although it bb "ppieci"bte
open at the far end.
98 srvrrelrcEAR PRINctPLeS
Fig. showsthe simple equivalentcircuig and the voltageand
qnrent.phenomena theoretically possible when breaking a small
capacitanceqrrrent The latter is assumedto be intemlpted c
instanta whenthe circuit volgge is at its peakvalue Zn,in the positive
dir.edion..'This dfectivety separatesthe ge,netatorside of thC'circuit
from the line sideand, sinceit is achievedwhile the commonmltage
is of .magnitude{ Vrs,the unloadedline is isobted with this positivc
voltage upon ia The circuitvoltage cpntinueson its nor.
mal sinusoidaloourseand tbesetwo difierem voltagesexi;t at the
respectivecontactsof tle breaker. Aftei -thein;stacta the breakergap ir
theiefore zubjectsdto theclifiaanceof voltagesV, ard% ti*,
aftcr onequaner-c,ydeperiod from a, the circuitvoltage haereac-hed
,:"o -"od the voltage acroesthe breaker is theo Zrr; thereeftcr ( l
the circuit rcltage Z, increasesin the negative direiiion and tic
voit4geacrossr"hebreakergap becomeseven greatcr und! at i is
rziue is tvice (u. ,L.suae aow that this abnormallyhigh irressing
of the gapresultsin re-striring the arc. The two previously-ssparated
parts ot the circuit wilt now be joined effectively,b-van arc of very
low resistancc.The liue capacitancedischargesat onceto reducetlii
vottageacrossthe breakerto its appropriarci"gligiUl" value,and this
is accompanied by thc tamiliar h.f. ciscillationset up when.acapacitor
disci'rarges in an inductive-capacitivecircuit. It is most iriporant to
apprecia!9tha! the zero,aBit were; of the voltageswing isnot erth
potentialbut the circuit voltageat the iastant 9f discharge"l.lnrs sc
see,tlt.p.yill swing right down to the value -3 Z*lbelow earth
potergtid),siacethe arnplitudeof the voltageswing is? i/,o, neglect-
:ng dampingefiects. l'he restrike crrreni quicHy ,octil it"-nst
zero, sinceits pciodicity is in accordancewith tire cltcuit oatural
3"q-*iU prcbably ceaseafter this one half-cy.cle. Thc
voltagson tAe llnc is noy -3 Ve nL once ag?in,the tsvi halvesof
the ciro-it are squ:zted and tlc"line is isolateda this poteotial.. At
this stage-imarediatelyafter L-the vbltageaaossthe'brea&eris, of
@urse'only-twice z* since'thecircuir votage is itsetf ai its instas-
taneousmaximumin tbc aegativedirecrion" Tte poiential dificrenco*otii.*to increase,d;;, * I/, b"*;
lessnggativean{, aI the instant c, th:,eetressingreaches4 f
*. $,th,
Sapshguldbreakdown againat this point thd the events&*rrlog
oo * eoeo-or" fo"-iarSi" Ji
3s the voltage suriagnill_now & I Ve ana tn" rine may tien Uete$
rsolercdat a potcntial 5 Z; abdveeai.h vlhFnthe trans-ient,e_eciilc
cuTclrtertiguisheqiustafterc.. - . .- .':.-. .'."

- r . r t
Dze \
{ ! \...-./

L:J eE.
Capocitivecunnent6eforcinten uption
lnonsientcurneotof resCrike
oltoge to eoethongenewto" of ilrcokcr.v_
Yoltogeto eort;hof trunsmissionlinervs
' (g) lnternuption
of copocttire caF?qrt
(b) firc ri*nike
i"i sririili*;r" lUo.e*-n"orunl
r3. 5.ll. rrW ohenbicahhg

6-y nhenomcnonmay procccdindef,nitctn lceving

Yoltageon thc $e
line of nagnitud€si V*l V*nd - oo. Th-ri
rnd practiceusuallydifierihoweve, aild diondb"=as
hcrc. thl
PTTcatfartors'whichprecludca theorcticallyixtsibic conditionrrc
1 utessilg. Thec limiting - factrire arc asrociccd rrith catain
**ff 'l'.l"'ffi
mads namely:

is !'tFpp{'],
it niy fd! quirciapidtyon aioum
llll|n. of tcri-
toq thelattc bcingPard@lirlycficctivcrc vcryhigh

?- The instsnt of re;striking. From the point of view of voltagc

guing amplitude the worst possibteinstarts rperechosentd showthc
iL of the sitgation- It shouldbe rememberedthag after the
il."k;|f of the capacitivesurrent at a, the dielectric strength of the-
i" ii"n r"ing dt i rate which-ariy be comparablewith the rate of
ilE* of the ioltage stressingof tbe gap after a. The variation of
s; di"f"cttic *t attcr zctrrrent zero is subjec to.the influene
of a nildom nafi''e an4 under thesecondition', a te-
&it" l" posible at rarious times after the normal interruption, and
not necessarilyone half-cyde latet.
Notwithstanding ttree pracical limitetions, howbver, serious
overvoltages catrocc,it in th" mannershownwhenbreaking.caplgtive I'
currents,;d the vduesobtainedmay amoustto asmuch as3 Zrpon
tL" tir," or on the breaker. The solecauseof this qpe of overvoltagg
G it noted,is the inability of the circuit-breakerto provide adbquate
dielectricstrengthin the contastgap after intemrpiion'
In the simplifiedexaurplejust given,fig. 5.Il' the voltageacross
the breaker is'shown as zero u'hen the capacitive.:urrent is ex-
tincuishcdandtlrcnnsesrclatirrly slowly,i.e.attlresupplyfrequency.
A irore practicalexamplewould indude ttre reactancebetweenthe
generatoi qnd the breaker; the lead.ingcapacitivecurrent qaus€se
ioltage rui in this reactance.At the zerosof the -capacitivecu-rr-ent
the vilage onthe supplysideof the breakerthereforetendsto fall to
the geneiatorvalue and,ln doing so' sets up a transient re'striking
voltige oscillation- T'his trairsient appearsfor the samebasicrerlsorts
asrviih the normalintemrtltion of short-circuit iaductive current but' .
whcreasthe latter transientis bised on the pekof the firll recovery
voltage,the capacitivecurrent re-striking transientis a funstjon of the
smallir peak vollage a6o$s the serie$reactance..Fol this 1asol
capacitivecurrent G rebtively.basyto internrpt Paradoxicallys'rfh
goodperformanceis undesirablgfor h raeansthat dre corditions for
i"-"ttifir,g (and oven'ohages)tend to arisewhile the contact gap io
sti[ shoft-an4 therefore,the srore likely to allow re-striking. Siuri'
larln a fast rate of rise of re-srtrikingvoltageis'actually.desirableat
thiJ stage. Preferablythe breakershould clearthe capryfive current
orily w[en a gap tength has be€n redhrd wirich will prevent sub
- re-striking.
The .'Id€a!" Gircuit-Breaker. It is hdpful to have in mind
the conceptionof the ideal, or perfect,breakerfrom the intemrpdon
point of viem. Impossibleof ac.biervement ihough this nay b!' io
definition is simple: tlu ?qfcc, t*dtit-bleafu ofrctsseto in?cd&re

P R I N C T P T . E S( , F C I R C U T T - B R E A K I i I C 101
&fna intantption and infnite impedancc thncaltet For an a-c.
circuit-brcakerwe_ma-!relaborate upon the dcftnition somewhatby
lpcifying our perfect breakeras one that offers zero impedanceuntii
flcfirst curremtzero after contacrseparation,at rrlrich instant infinitc
impdance !s ofrered, Coruider the implications of such nerfection.
Zcro impedance before thc first current zero meerut: (a) no arc
voltaggq) ry getg)' releaeedwithin the breakcr, a featurc greetly
o bc dcsircd (c) no distortion of the current wavc. (d) no currerrt
chopping.The instananeouschangefrom zero to infinite impedanC
n the 6nt qrrrent zao would ensure,(a) invadable clearenccat tte
6nt zcro and (6) impcsibility of re-siriking, and conscqucntly no
It is interestingto notethat in practicea circuit-breakerdeaigrred
to hsvea powerfrrl de-ionizing force to obviate re-stri&ing is, for ttat
vcryreason,mor€likdy to producecurrent chopping. This inustrates .
ocll &c need for a complete-changeof condltions at cu'rrent zero.
Thc neard precticat e2proach to-the ideal breaker woutd be one
crpatlcof applp.g very powerful de-iouizing fore instantaneously
a the fitst currGntzero" after contact scparition- Such co-ordiaatiot
baween thc ncchanical and electrical aspects of circuit-breakcr
opntion b undoubtedty bcyond rcolization at presenl The ac.
_ brca&,cr b, in eomcforms ar lang nearerthe idesl thgn thc d"c. typc
. rhich, by io very sstion in mbing the rclagc of ttrc erc to achieit a looi way indeed from thc of ao arc
roltrge prior to intcrruption
rl.C Gtrcuit-breeecr Rstinp fucahing Capacity. \ige hrvc
rccnthet thc r.m.r. vdue of Lrrrent rcsulting frorh a shbrt-cirodt nay
trry epprccieblyrrith tine oa aeount of dccrcncnt and.erymmgtry,
nd tturta cirerit-trealcr ie q*liad with having broken tli vt"c ii
ry cxirting d thG cottracr spparation This is-drrya
ldcd ssen r.m.s. vrluc eod ie cr[cd 6e brcnling crncat. If thc we;o .
bailt aqynmcrricalccoatect acparrtion it ir nJorrcrnually caneatm
Ft,rctricol bcahdrgqra& T\c sywical braHng cEtat iB tlN
ltm-givco to ths r.o.r. veftreof tbe as (tc. symadcat) c@
(afiS:22) of thc sByGat@ntee ecparition
Ttg paformane of g brcelrcr in dcating with a given bru&in6
clltrent'elsiidcpcnda ee wc hgvc soen,upon the voltage anilable tC
tscrikc the arc gt caeh eutlsrt zcrb. Now thie particnlar reluc
:tqrdr nqontyuponthcr.n-r. trluo olvoltage availablc but upol
rr:-Polcr fs6or of rhe feultcd cirbrG,.-For the prceentpurpcc h il
ebdorutybe* o rrsunc zeo powc fector rinci this gi;'c.ihc tld
- ar:

ro2 gwtrcrrcEAR pRrNcrpLEB
scvenebTaFng-duty. The arailable volage is subjcct gsteraly to
eomevariation duririg short-circuig and the am-e. valuJof intric*
regardiqgtbc U le,,ttlg gnfty is t.hatof the voltagq which
ig that acoss the circuit-breaker contasrs iineaLtay fi-l
cxtiastion oftf,e arcs. The pcfoloance of a circrrh-bieafcr"ita oo
circuit test is assessedby t tringaccountof varioushitori in iilitidon
to the breaki4gcurr€ut aad recoverlrvolagg but theselmcr are t*-
gro quanthiesof imnediate coqcernin the considerdion ofe bttatd
fqr a-giveofadt le'eL
-The bre&a copacitl of a citodt-breaka,is,
thereforg,the current that it can brea&-ata-statedruoov€rJr*rtrd
aad thisagzia is-genaally expressedmore coopletely
-the in 6s of ft
synnctr;c( aot-d. osytmnetricalcapacities,i.e. ani
{1--etfot ..
asyryet$cal-b.reakingcurrents respectively vOliage_
"t " "t"[ed is s&€ralrt
The breakingapacity rctittggivento a circuit-bftaker
one of a set of standardsand is usudiy txpressedin ter-"-or ltti
1nd kV. Thuc tbe breakiry gpacity rating of a single_phasedA;. --
is g!l'en, icraccordar.cevath British coo"ritior,, as iolious:
Ratedbrlking cafalg @\r4) - rated.s1,mmefiicalbrealcing
current ([A) x rated servicevolage (kV).
F-o;a 3-piase brcakerthe raled x{vA is similarly obtainedbynulti-
plyrag the product of rated breaking current ,'oiug" I
€;.flb fago-rappgarshere,as.inany3-phase ""a "o"i""
circuig whea$wer,
or VA, is calculatedia tc.rmsof line *.rer,t and voltage 56;""
,f"! by_meansof suitabletests it has been pro""t.fut
3-phzsc.break." can iovariably interrupt .ym-t ic"l.SrdUnf "-fio"i (
current of 13.5kA r.m.s, with a tesr recovery " voluge of fZ tl..-ii
s)ometrical breakingcapacltyis, therefore:
13-5(kA) x 12(kv) x 6 _ 280.5(Mva)
The uearesr*andard ratilg
lelow this is 250 MVA at lI kV, wtri.S
a syurnetilcal breakiogc.urr€rt of 13.1 irA, ;J$ii
:^ITp"l * p
r:ung mrgEttrerefore be assignedto the bresker. rn facg aswe shen
cTamgtrertestreqrdents nust usuallytefut-
:fjl $1fT_:t
ary snchratiag can be giVur. The abovestate'meat of
,"I*TC c".pagty nting rs a British one,taken from the g.S. tfO:
otl.otTit-breaken, and,.it will be noted, is in terrnsof
s]Enmetrical brq,king current. Noir since
tbe lattcr may onlv be t$c
?c- con.Itonentof a short-circuitcurrentwave,..Au
that a-breakerratedat, for instancszSOftAdfl "*Jt_;f*.
il kV;;"#
ersa8irn aqfonetrical of Otd r.n.s. valuegreat€frr."n.l3.l
- a.-


oF CrtCUlT-D'RBtKtNo 103
tA. This is indeedso, and the mattsr ie taten carl of in the proying
testswhich ensurethaq before beiag allotted the ratiog, the Lreakei
caninternrpt currents having tAe rated symmetricalvalue together
withat leastasrnqch asymm€tryas might occur in senrice.
In Americait is the practiceto givecircrrit-breakersasynmetrical
brcakingcapacityratingr. That is, the rating is in terms of aq";m-
rnetricalbreaking and the servie vottage; any particular
breakerwould thus be given a higher rating in America than in
Britain The rdative merits of the two methodsof rating have'been
the subja t of no litdc discussionand argument, for the matter is
fairly complex. An outline of thie questionis, however,included in '
A(ak'ng Capaqity. The possibility of a circuit-breaker com-
pletinga gull short circuit on being clgsedmust be taken accountof,
andit nrustthereforebe testedandproved ig this respegt. la mahing
clt acity is thereby-assessgd a1d a coirespondingrating gir.en-. Now
thecapacityof a circuit-breaker te "make" cutrents dependsvery
much_upon its ability to withstand, and to closeeucceisfuilyagainsi,
the effectsof electromagneticforces. The maximura force in'uny
plurseis a function of the square of the maximum instantaneou's
currentoccurringin that phaseon dosing. .We thdrbforg-findthat
nakingcapacityis statedin tcrms of apeakvalueof currcnt insteaclof
en r.m.s. value. The making cunent is thus the pedk value of the
yalmu1 clrrent loop, induding d.c.ncomponent,in any
duringthe first cycle of current when the circuit-breaker is ciosed.
Themakingcapacityis, accordingly,the making current it can make
*1 -qrty instantaneouslyat the rated senrice voltage. These
definitions,from B.S. 116:1952,are oonaernedonly wiih the first
cycleof current on closing the breakbr. This is clear'when it ie .
rcmembered that the maximum peak currem possibleoccurs in the
Ito-"yA-" only, wheir marirnum aslnmmetrJr **r" in any phaseof
tbebreaker. The miaking of a breaker intended for a given
faultlevel must therefor"-ne at leastequalto the first peaf of aTuiy
aslmmetricalcurrent wavewhoseas. comp?tcnthas.anr.nus. valui
cqualto the grmrerrfraf fauh lwel To calculatcthi" pon, we there-
multipty the symmetricalbreakingcurrent by {irceonverr thir
t19mr, peak,and thcn by 1.8to indude tte .. doubling effgct,'
or maximumasymmery, thb total multiplicrtion factor being 2.55.
qrnnot be lessenedby
llottcc tlut the closing duty o! the breaks
$rrtm decrementand decai of the d.c. cornponentes rray occur i;
tlc breakingduty.

tOl swrrcncsAn PRrNctpLEs

fffrl/.-era Mg. Fault occrrrrd oftca iavolvor thc'flor
of hcavy qrrrcut tlrtough a sircuit-brca&cr not rcquirpd to opco.
This neans thst circuil-breakcrsgenerallyshorld bc ablc to carrv
high crrrcnt eafdy frr eomespecifiedshort pcriod whilo remaiainr
cJccdi that rs, thcy shorrld hsve a prov€o elu*erc airy. N
ehott-time ctrlcnt, which is $ocrelly not tessthan rhe sydtctricet
breaAingcurrerit, is uqgly requfrcdto be carriedfor'g f;iod of uo
to 3 eernnd+acordingtg thc protecive schemcrcquir;co6. Td
short-frtrrereting wS+ go F gr"* depcndsupon thc ability of thc
breakerto witbstand(a) the electronegneticforce erficct, end (r) th
tcmpcraturerise. Ihe greatp4dectrooagaaiclorcc billosedfirr is r' ,!
the makingcapacitymting, bot th" efiees of szsrairadvibrrrtions'ein l-
be:rwealed only-in-a test for ghoit-time rating. The questioaof
temperatlrrerise is alsovery important, asthis riie may bc sdde4 h
service,to tbat alreadyexisdngdue to frrll load currqit
Nonnal Ct reTt Rdilng. This is the curr.,ntshic& caobe.csnicd
continuouslyby a circuit-breakea The only limiatioa in t}ir caocia
the Gmperaturerise of the current-carryingpriits.
A circuit-brenter is genbrallyrderred to tnief,y in terns of ir
![9 and $ngs, and a typical examplemight bei.i,500 A 11000
MVA, 33 kV, 3-seon4 $phase oil cirenit=bieaka',.
Fromdris descriptionwe have:
Ratednormal curr-errt-1,5(X)A r.m.e.
Rate'tsymmaricafbroki"g;;;-- t,m(gr x 6l

Rated currcnt: li:; ?;.'S'"

_ 44.62bt(I,cee)
Short-time rating-l?.5 kl[ r.n L for 3 eeonds.
Itsted servicevottage-33 kV r.m-s. (tne voltage[