IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2016 - 88

Teflon Nozzle

SF6 Flow
Stationary
Contact
Moving
Contact

figure 2. A diagram of the original interrupter. (Drawing courtesy of the authors.)

instantaneously when the contacts part.
The net result is the formation of a high
current arc between the contacts.
The problem is now reduced to interrupting the flow of the arc fault
current. The logical option is to take

88

ieee power & energy magazine

advantage of the naturally occurring
current zeros that take place twice each
cycle. This is not an easy task since the
arc temperatures can exceed 20,000 K,
and, eventually, the arc column must be
cooled (in microseconds) to a non-con-

ducting temperature level (lower than
2,000 K). In addition, once the current
is interrupted at a current zero, a voltage produced by the connected system
stresses the recently conducting arc
column. This multimicrosecond voltage stress (including a transient component and a steady-state component)
must be sustained to complete the arc
interruption process.
Design calculations for a high-current interrupter are extremely difficult,
involving thermodynamics, fluid flow,
energy input to the arc space contributed by the connected circuit, and the ablation of surrounding materials, to name
a few. In 1959, interrupter design was
basically an art, not a science, and relied heavily on test results on proposed
designs. The test results were complicated by serially connected interrupting
breaks and the need for unit tests because of test laboratory limitations.

may/june 2016



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2016

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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2016 - Cover3
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