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ANALYSIS OF ELECTRICAL

CONTACT RESISTANCE MODELS


FOR SUBSTATION CONNECTORS
F. CAPELLI, C. ABOMAILEK AND J.-R. RIBA UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE CATALUNYA 08222 TERRASSA,
SPAIN FRANCESCA.CAPELLI@MCIA.UPC.EDU

J. SANLLEHI
SBI CONNECTORS SPAIN
08635 SANT ESTEVE SESROVIRES, BARCELONA, SPAIN JOSEP.SANLLEHI@SBICONNECT.ES

INTRODUCTION
Substation connectors are devices intended for physically joining power
transmission lines with the substation conductors and bus bars [1]. Mechanical type
connectors employ bolts, which by applying a given torque to create contact points
between conductors and connector, maintain the connection integrity and ensure
adequate contact resistance [2]. The contact resistance has a key role in efficiency,
stable performance and long term service of an electrical connection. Whenever
the contact resistance is low and remains stable during the useful life of the
connector, a good electrical connection is guaranteed. Conversely, if it is high and
tends to grow due to the thermal stress, it could overheat the connector and reduce
its operating life [3].

Moreover, since the most used material to manufacture substation connectors is


A356.0 aluminum cast alloy, it is necessary to take into account the presence of a
thin insulating oxide film on the contact interface. Aluminum and its alloys tends to
react quickly with atmospheric oxygen, causing the growth of a passivation layer of
few nanometers of aluminum oxide [5]. The aluminum oxide or alumina is a very
insulating material, so current can flow across the alumina only thanks to tunneling
and fritting mechanisms [4]. Therefore, to establish a good electrical connection,
contact spots can be created by means of a mechanical rupture of the oxide
insulating film [2]. This paper focuses on constriction contact resistance and thus,
the tunneling and fritting mechanisms of current flow across the film will be
neglected, since perfectly cleaned surfaces, in which alumina has been completely
removed are considered.

COOPER, MIKIC AND YOVANOVICH MODEL FOR


CONFORMING ROUGH SURFACES
The CMY model of contact resistance for conforming rough surfaces [10] is based
on the assumptions that the surface asperities have Gaussian height distribution
and the asperities are distributed randomly over the apparent contact area.
A. Geometrical Analysis
First of all, in CMY analysis,
it is necessary to characterize
the surface roughness parameters.
Figure 1. Scheme of an electrical joint with
conforming contact surfaces

EXPERIMENTALSETUP
Surface roughness characterization and experimental resistance measurements of
the contact resistance at room temperature have been conducted on junctions
composed by different typologies of substation connectors from SBI Connectors
catalogue and 32 mm diameter AAAC conductors (SALCA 593). Specifically, the
analyzed connectors are shown below:
1. T-connector S330TLS (Fig.2a);
2. Coupler with two caps S330SLS (Fig. 2b);
3. Coupler with three caps S330SNS (Fig. 2c).

ECR MEASUREMENTS
The Kelvin or 4-wire method was employed to perform room temperature
resistance measurements, as shown in Fig. 5. To this end a Raytech MicroCenturion II digital micro-ohm meter (max. current 200 ADC, accuracy 0.01)
was used. Resistance measurement was performed between points A and B as
shown in Fig. 5. The contact resistance is obtained by subtracting the resistance of
the portion of the conductor and the theoretical resistance of the connector to the
resistance measured between points A and B. The theoretical resistance of the
connector was calculated through electromagnetic FEM- simulations, whereas the
resistance of the conductor was obtained through experimental measurements.

RESULTS
This section compares experimental ECR measurements against the ECR predictions
of the S330SLS, S330TLS and S330SNS connectors by applying the three different
models described in Sections II, III and IV. Table III summarizes the input
parameters, used for Models A, B and C.
Model C is based on the topography description of the contact surface by means of
the fractal approach. The fractal parameters have been found from center-line-average
roughness measurements of the connector and conductors surfaces. The fractal
surface represents the contact interface analyzed in this paper and described in
Section VI.
Table IV summarizes the predicted values of ECR of the S220TLS substation connector,
which were calculated by means of the three different ECR models analyzed in this
study. Values predicted trough the models are compared with ECR measurement
conducted on 5 samples of each substation connector. Table IV reports the mean of the
measured values as well as the calculated relative difference between measured and
predicted data.

REFERENCES
1. ANSI/NEMA CC1. Electric Power Connection for Substation. Rosslyn, Virginia,
2009.
2. Burndy, Electrical Contacts: Principles and Applications. 1999.
3. N. N. Dzekster and V. V. Izmailov, Some methods for improving
aluminium contacts, in Thirty-Sixth IEEE Conference on Electrical Contacts, and the
Fifteenth International Conference on Electrical Contacts, 1990, pp. 518520.
4. P. G. Slade, Front Matter, in Electrical Contacts, CRC Press, 2014, pp. FM1xliv.
5. T. Campbell, R. K. Kalia, A. Nakano, P. Vashishta, S. Ogata, and S. Rodgers,
Dynamics of Oxidation of Aluminum Nanoclusters using Variable Charge MolecularDynamics Simulations on Parallel Computers, Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 82, no. 24, pp.
48664869, Jun. 1999.