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RL/22March2009

1.1 Circuit Breaker (CB)

RL/22March2009 1.1 Circuit Breaker (CB) 1.2 I NTRODUCTION Circuit Breaker is one of the most important

1.2 INTRODUCTION

Circuit Breaker is one of the most important equipment in the power system. This

is because of the function of the equipment itself which is, the ability to close a

circuit or to break the circuit during maintenance work or when there is fault in

the system without getting damaged

1.3 DEFINITION

A Device capable of making and breaking an electric circuit under normal and

abnormal condition.

The function of a circuit breaker is just like a water tap; it stops and allows a

water flow through it.

1.4 Types of Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers may be classified into 7 types such as the following:

Bulk Oil circuit breakers

Minimum Oil Circuit Breakers

Vacuum Circuit Breakers

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Gas Insulated Circuit Beakers

Air Insulated Circuit Breakers

Miniature Circuit Breakers

Moulded Case Circuit Breakers

1.4.1

Bulk Oil Circuit Breakers

Bulk oil circuit breakers are already obsolete as they are very bulky and

expensive to maintain. It

is also

a high fire hazard.

It

is mainly used at

distribution voltage levels as the operating speed is rather slow.

In this breaker the main contacts are immersed in oil which has the dual

function of quenching the arc of the current as well as n insulating medium.

During

contact

opening

to

interrupt

the

current,

the

arc

produced

causes

dissociation of the oil into hydrogen and carbon. The hydrogen helps to extinguish

the arc while the carbon causes deterioration of insulation level of the oil. As

carbon is a conductor the oil has to be replaced after several fault clearances.

level of the oil. As carbon is a conductor the oil has to be replaced after
level of the oil. As carbon is a conductor the oil has to be replaced after

1.2

TR-SS

RL-CB/2009

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1.4.2 Minimum Oil Circuit Breakers

Minimum Oil circuit breakers are generally similar in construction as the

bulk

oil circuit breakers except that the latter contain les oil. Minimum oil c

circuit

breakers are becoming less popular due to high fire risks but still

widely used in

outdoor transmission substations. Their operating time is

oil circuit breakers.

substations. Their operating time is oil circuit breakers. 1.4.3 Vacuum Circuit Breakers much faster than bulk

1.4.3 Vacuum Circuit Breakers

much faster than bulk

Vacuum circuit breakers are more popular at distribution voltage level. They

require minimum maintenance except to replace the vacuum bottle if a leak has

occurred. These types of breakers are getting more popular in recent years and

tend to replace the oil type. The reasons being they have no fire risk and have high

reliability with long maintenance free period.

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For these breakers

the

main

contacts

are housed

within

a

vacuum

in

an

insulating cylinder of glass or ceramic having metal end plates supporting the

contacts. The vacuum device is usually referred to as a vacuum

interrupter.

At 11kV normally only one vacuum interrupter per phase is used. But at 33kV

two interrupters may be used in series per phase. The closing mechanism for

VCBs is usually of the solenoid or spring-closing type. Contact wear is very low

because the arc takes place in vacuum.

wear is very low because the arc takes place in vacuum. 1.4.4 Gas Insulated Circuit Beakers

1.4.4 Gas Insulated Circuit Beakers

takes place in vacuum. 1.4.4 Gas Insulated Circuit Beakers The most commonly used circuit breakers nowadays

The most commonly used circuit breakers nowadays are the gas circuit breakers

especially at transmission level. Gas circuit breakers normally using sulphur

hexafluoride (SF6) gas as the insulating medium require little maintenance and

have very fast operating time. Well design gas circuit breakers may last more

than 25 years without much maintenance.

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The interrupter unit and the contacts are housed in as Sf6 filled chamber. The

interrupter serves as a nozzle for the SF6 gas to pass through it at high speed

across the arc during contact opening and thus rapidly quenches the arc. SF6 gas

has a high recovery rate and minimal residue.

The closing and tripping mechanisms are similar to those of other breakers.

tripping mechanisms are similar to those of other breakers. Cross Section view of a Gas Circuit
Cross Section view of a Gas Circuit Breaker
Cross Section view of a Gas Circuit Breaker

1.4.5 Air Insulated Circuit Breakers

Air insulated circuit breakers (ACBs) are normally used at distribution voltage

levels of 3.3kV and below especially in power stations as they are often modular

in design and may conveniently be arranged into multi-tier switchboards. They

also pose minimum fire hazard as there are no combustible materials used.

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The operating principle of this breaker is that the arc of the current is directed into

a chute where the arc resistance becomes higher and the arc rapidly diminished to

zero.

The forces directing the arc into the chutes of the ACBs are the electromagnetic

and thermal forces of the arc itself. In certain cases, to assist in the quenching of

low current arcs, an air cylinder is fitted to each pole to direct a puff of air across

the contact faces as the breaker opens. This helps to reduce erosion of the contact

surfaces.

Operating mechanisms for ACBs are similar to those used in OCBs.

erosion of the contact surfaces. Operating mechanisms for ACBs are similar to those used in OCBs.

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1.4.6 Miniature Circuit Breakers

MCBs are the smaller both in physical size and particularly the ratings compared

to MCCBs. Normally it us of a single pole design. It is small, manually closed and

electrically or manually opened. The MCBs have built-in bimetal strip to trip the

MCBs when excessive currents pass through them. The operation of the bimetal

corresponds to predetermined inverse-time/current characters tics. But for current

above 6 to 8 times rated current MCBs will trip instantaneously actuated by a

magnetic overcurrent trip elemnt. Neither part of the overall operation time of the

MCBs are adjustable.

of the overall operation time of the MCBs are adjustable. 1.4.7 Moulded Case Circuit Breakers Generally

1.4.7 Moulded Case Circuit Breakers

MCBs are adjustable. 1.4.7 Moulded Case Circuit Breakers Generally MCCBs are similar to MCBs but have

Generally MCCBs are similar to MCBs but have the following important

differences:

a. Current ratings are generally in excess of 100A up to 2.5 kA or higher.

Voltage ratings up to 1000 V a.c and 12000 d.c.

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b. The breakers are larger, in line with the level of ratings. MCCBs are

available as single pole, double pole, and triple pole or four pole units.

However, for multi-pole units they are moulded in one common housing.

Further, the switch for the neutral circuit is a separate device coupled to the

multi-pole MCCB.

c. The overall operating tie may be adjustable especially the larger ones.

d. Since they are of higher ratings MCCBs are normally positioned close to the

power source than the MCBs.

they are of higher ratings MCCBs are normally positioned close to the power source than the
they are of higher ratings MCCBs are normally positioned close to the power source than the

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1.5 Types of Site Electrical Test conducted on a Circuit Breaker

1.5.1 Timing Test

To measure the speed of breaker operation. Usually for opening and

closing operation.

1.5.2 Contact Resistance Test

To measure the resistance value of the main contact( fixed contact and

moving contact)

1.5.3 Dew Point Test for SF6 Gas on GCB

To measure the moisture contents of the SF6 gas.

1.5.4 Vacuum Test for VCB

To check that there is no leak on the Vacuum Insulation

*** This is just a draft lesson note, all your feedbacks on this note is very much welcome.

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