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752

IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 13, No. 3, July 1998

ANALYSIS OF COMPLEX GROUNDING SYSTEMS CONSISTING OF


FOUNDATION GROUNDING SYSTEMS WITH EXTERNAL GRIDS
M.B.Kostic, M e m b e r
university of Belgrade
Belgrade, Yugosiavia

Abstract - Results of an extensive research, conducted using a


technique developed to calculate the grounding resistance of a
complex grounding system consisting of a foundation grounding
system with an external grid, buried in two-layer soil, are
presented and discussed. It is shown that connecting a foundation
grounding system to the already existing external grid provides
only a small reduction of the overall grounding system resistance
compared to the resistance of the external grid alone. A number
of tables related to the most frequent cases of soil-concrete
structures are given for practical assessment of the grounding
resistance of such complex grounding systems.

1 INTRODUCTION
Foundation grounding systems (FGSs) are grounding
system comprising round steel rods (of diameter 10-16)
forming two- or three-dimensional grids, embedded in concrete
foundations of different structures. Some significant advantages of
FGSs compared to conventional grounding systems buried in
soil [1,2] have led to the increasing and wide spread use of FGSs
in the past decades (buildings, factories, substations, transformer
stations, overhead power line poles, etc.).
In some cases (buildings, factories) FGS is the only part of
the grounding system. This case was analysed in detail, first in
[ 2 ] , assuming a homogeneous surrounding soil, and later in [3]
and [4], assuming two-layer soil (as a good model of many real
soil structures [5,6]).
There is also a variety of complex grounding systems
containing a combination of FGSs and another grounding systems.
The frequent practical case is a complex grounding system
consisting of an FGS electrically connected to an outer loop
conductor (sometimes with rods). External loops (and rods) are
laid not only to insure a sufficiently low grounding resistance, but
also to satisfy demands from technical standards of many countries
(see [7] and [SI, for example), related to the protection of
structures against lightning. Such a type of complex grounding
systems was analysed in [9], assuming a homogeneous surrounding
soil. A conclusion was reached that adding a loop with rods to an
already existing FGS cannot decrease the grounding resistance of
the FGS itself by more than 30%. It is obvious that a similar
conclusion could be achieved assuming a two-layer soil instead of
a homogeneous one.
The most frequent complex grounding systems that contain
PE-174-PWRD-0-10-1997 A paper recommended and approved by the IEEE
Substations Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society for publication in the
IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery Manuscript submitted July 12. 1995; made
available for printing October 19. 1997

foundations are those consisting of FGSs combined with grounding


grids. To the best of our knowledge, so far there was not a
research dealing with evaluation of electrical properties of
grounding systems of this type.
In [IO] some very useful formulas and graphs which.can be
easily used to determine the grounding resistance of various types
of reinforced concrete foundations appearing in substation yards,
are presented. Each of such foundations was individually treated.
According to their grounding resistances and the fact that a
substation yard may have hundreds of foundations and fence posts,
a conclusion was reached that the resulting grounding resistance
of the foundations in the substation yard might be comparable with
the grounding resistance of the laid grounding conductor.
However, a uniform soil was assumed and the influence of a
foundation on the laid grounding conductor was not analysed.
The frequent practical case deserving to be considered is an
FGS in metallic connection with a surrounding grid. This paper
presents the results of an analysis aimed to evaluate the influence
of an FGS on the reduction of the grounding resistance of a
surrounding grid. The analysis was related to a complex grounding
system shown in Fig. 1 and surrounded by the two-layer soil.
The horizontal grid (of outer dimensions LlxL2) is located
at depth h i n a rectangular concrete block of dimensions uxbxH
and resistivity p c . The upper block surface is flush with the surface
of the ground. The block is surrounded by a grid of outer
dimensions a,xb,, placed at depth h, in the two-layer soil.
Since Fig. 1 is a complicated one, in order to make it
simpler to understand, a vertical cross - section A - A of the
complex grounding system from Fig. 1 is given in Fig. 2.
The boundary surface between the upper and the bottom
soil layers (of resistivities pI and p2, respectively), placed at depth
Hi,p,is represented by the dashed line in Fig. 2.
The complex grounding system shown in Fig. 1 was
analysed using the theoretical method presented in [ 2 ] , that is an
extended version of the program described in [3].

2 OUTLINE OF THE METHOD


The total charge distribution in the system should be
determined first. In [2] and [3] a numerical procedure that enables
solution of a system of integral equations, expressing the boundary
conditions on all surfaces with surface electrical charges, is given
in detail. After determining the total charge distribution in the
system, the total current flowing from all the elements of the
grounding system can be obtained as

I=

I/dl=-2 n r
0 p c

overthe whole

embeddedinconcrete ( L )

groundingsystem

+-

2 nr8
0 pa

overthewhole
externnlgrid(L)

0885-8977/98/$10.00 0 1997 IEEE

7 7 4 +

overthewholegrid

VTdl

(1)

753

Fig. 1 Horizontal grid in a rectangular foundation block,


surrounded by an external grid

Fig. 2 The vertical cross - section A


grounding system sketched in Fig. 1

- A

of the complex

where
qr - total (free and bound) surface charge density
r - radius of the rods forming the FGS
rg - equivalent radius of the external ,1.rid conductors

E, - free space permittivity


Note that for rectangular cross-section conductors (strips) [111

rg= 0.25 p + 0.34 q

(2)

where p and q (p 2 q) are the strip cross-section dimensions.


Finally, the grounding resistance of the complex grounding
system in Fig. 1 can be calculated as

3 CASES ANALYSED
Two rectangular concrete blocks, the first one of
dimensions a=b=30m and H = 3 m , and the second one of
dimensions a=lOm, b=30m and H = 3 m , with grounding grids of
outer dimensions L2xLI =29mx29m (of the total length
Lf= 1740m) and L2xLI =9mx29m (Lf=S60m), respectively, were
extensively analysed. Both grids, each of them of mesh dimensions
lmxlm, were made of conductors of radius r=0.008m.
Five cases were considered.
The first one was related to the first concrete block,
surrounded by an external grid of outer dimensions
ugxb,=74mx82m, of the total length Lg=1844m and with the
biggest mesh of dimensions 5mx8m. The depth H , was equal tc
4m.
The second case was practically the same as the previous
one, the only difference being HUp=10m.
The third case referred to the same concrete block, but
with a larger external grid (u,xb,= 106mx114m, Lg=3620m, the
biggest mesh of dimensions 6mx8m). The depth H , amounted to
4m.
Note that in each of these three cases the whole concrete
block was laid in the upper soil layer.
The fourth and fifth cases concerned the second concrete
block, surrounded by the grid of outer dimensions
agxb,=54mx82m, of Lg=1684m and with the biggest mesh of
dimensions Smx8m. The depth H, in the former case was 0.3m
and in the latter 2.5m (in both cases H,<H was valid).
In all the cases considered the strip cross-section
dimensions were 30mmx4mm (rg=0.009m).
The following range of parameters, describing the most
frequent cases of the two-layer soil and concrete, was considered:
- ratio p c / p j from 0.3 to 8,
- ratio p 2 / p j from 0.25 to 6,
- depth h from 1.2m to 2.8m, and
- depth h, from 0.Sm to 0.8m.

4 RESULTS
(V is the potential of the grounding system).
In order to evaluate the contribution of the FGS to the
decrease of the grounding resistance of the external grid, the
grounding resistance (R,) of the external grid buried in the
two-layer soil around the concrete foundation block (with no grid
inside) was also calculated.

By considering a number of the complex grounding systems


shown in Fig. 1 and taking into account all the parameters
described in Section 3 , the influence of an FGS on the decrease of
the resulting grounding resistance has been evaluated.

Let

A R = 100(R, - R J R ,

(4)

be the percentage difference between grounding resistances R, and


Re,. Tables 1-111 are related to the cases 1-3, respectively, and
contain values of R, (top value), R, (medium value) and AR
(bottom value) for h,=O.Sm, h=2.8m and for different values of
the ratios p21pI and pclpI.

Table 111 Grounding resistances R, and Re, (in ohms) and the
percentage difference AR for the third case considered (H,=4m)

pc/p,

0 30

0 60

PZIP,

1 10

j.00

Table I Grounding resistances R, and Re, (in ohms) and the


percentage difference AR for the first case considered (l&,=4m)

6.00

77

Table I1 Grounding resistances R, and Re, (in ohms) and the


percentage difference AR for the second case considered
(J%dp = 10m)

1.736

1.726

1.745

72

6.7

1.757

56

6.1

The only difference between the cases 1 and 3 was the


length L,. Being longer in the third case, the influence of the FGS
was smaller in that case (see Table 111).
For some cases from Table I the influence of the external
grid burial depth (h,), as well as the influence of the FGS burial
depth (h), were considered, with results presented in Table IV.
The same analysis was also carried out for some cases from
Table 11, with results given in Table V.
It can be seen from these tables that in most cases the
influence of the depths h, and h on the grounding resistance R,,
amounts to a few percent only and, consequently, can be
neglected.
Table IV Grounding resistances R, and Re, for a number of cases
from Table I described by different values of parameters h, and h

hs=0.8m
0.251

0.186

0.257

0 ?OX

0.258

0.190

0.262

0.211

h=2.Sm
P?JP, =

0.25

h,?=OSm
h=2.Sm
hx=0.8m

ir=1.2m

0 251

h,=O.Zm

II

0.205

0 257

0.213

1.328

1 175

1.332

1.197

1.335

1.179

1.338

1.202

1.328

1.182

1.332

1.201

h=2.8m
PZIP, =
10.3

8.9

7.8

2.50

hx=0.5m
h=2.8m
h,=O 8m

It can be seen from Tables I and I1 that AR varies between


5% and 26% only (20% for the most frequent cases p c / p I > l),
although the total lengths Lf and L, are almost the same. It is
obvious that AR becomes smaller with bigger values of p , / p I .
However, the influence of p,/pI is reduced for bigger values of
P2IPI.

ii = 1.2m

Tables VI and VI1 are related to the cases 4 and 5 ,


respectively. It can again be seen that there is the similar range of
the AR values as in the preceding cases.

755

Table V Grounding resistances R, and R,, for a number of cases


from Table I1 described by different values of parameters
h, and h

p,/p, =

0.25

hx=O.jm

0.338

0.261

0.332

0.265

h=2.8m

hg=O.Sm
h=1.2m
h,=O.Sm

1.101

0.967

2.50

h,=O.Sm
1.108

0.972

1.101

0 974

0.279

0.337

0.284

1.108

h=2.8m
p21pI=

0.342

h=2.Xm
h =O.Xm

Table VI1 Grounding resistances R, and Re, (in ohms) and the
percentage difference AR for the fifth case considered
(Hu,,=2.5 ill, h, =0.8113 and h =2.8m)

1
0.25

0.80

1.20

0.999

I 108

1.002

!I

0219

0220

16.2

16.2

15.8

15.7

0.616

0.618

0.619

0.620

0.620

0.551

0.555

0.557

0.559

0.560

0.872

0 873

0.784

0 787

10.1

0.9

9.7

1.513

1.516

1.516

1517

1.425

1.437

1443

1.415

5.7

5.0

1.8

4.7

3 091

3.093

3.095

3.096

0.776

i.jii

6.00

0 259

16.7

10.7

2.50

0.217

0.869

0.995

1.112

0.161

0.218

0.257
0.214

1
1
1

0.781

10.3

2.583

2.864

7.3

0.871

65

2.902

0.360

6.0

1
1

0 260

2.915
57

0.789

'

1.147
4.6

3.096
2.930
5.4

h=1.2m

grids, the effects of the FGS conductor radius, as well as the strip
equivalent radius on the Re, value, are negligible.
Table VI Grounding resistances Rg and Re, (in ohms) and the
percentage difference AR for the fourth case considered
(H, =O. 3m, h, =O. 8m and h =2.8m)
p,IpI

0.30

0.60

1.10

1 ?Io6ji/j

0.80

1.20

77

7.7

0.873

0.878

0.875

0.782

0.785

0.787

10.4

10.3

10 1

!.778

1777

2.50

1.632

8.2
4 149

71

1.636

1.780

8.0

1.638
8.0

4,152

4.153

7.7

7.7

1
1

77

7.5

0.788

0.789

1.781
: 1

1 I
I781

: ; 1

4 153

4.154

5 CONCLUSIONS
The computer program for analysis of foundation
grounding systems in t h e two-layer soil, based on the theoretical
method presented in [2], was modified and applied for calculation
of the grounding resistance of the complex grounding system
sketched in Fig. 1, consisting of an FGS with external grid.
Effect of the various parameters which influence the
grounding resistance of the grounding system from Fig. 1 was
analysed in detail. The results showed that in the most practical
cases connecting an FGS to the already existing external grid
cannot lower the resulting grounding resistance for more than 15%
when compared to the resistance of the external grid alone.
However, there are a few more reasons in favour of such a
connection, briefly described in the paper.
Several tables valid for a number of the complex grounding
systems from Fig. 1 and for the most frequent cases of
soil-concrete structures are provided and may be used in a design
process for a quick evaluation of the grounding resistance Re,.

6 REFERENCES
Although for a large number of practiical cases AR amounts
up to 1 5 % , it is recommended the existing FGS to be connected
to external grid, at least for economical reasons. For instance, in
the case of the complex grounding system denoted by a star in
Table I the grounding resistance Re, amounted to 1.197Q. The
grounding system consisting of the externail grid only, but now
with outer dimensions 82mx96m, would have practically the same
grounding resistance (1.188Q). It should be emphasized that
additional strips of the total length 664m are needed to achieve the
same grounding resistance as in the case with the FGS included.
There are also some other contributions of the FGSs (e.g., space
savings and equalizing the ground surface potential over the whole
area covered by the outer strips of the external grid).
Although not presented in this paper, the results of the
research have indicated that, in real cases of the FGSs and external

[l] E.Kuhnert, "Foundation Grounding Systems", Bull. Sev.


62/17, pp. 847-853, 1971 (in French).

[2] M.B.Kostic, B.D.Popovic, and M.S. Jovanovic, "Numerical


Analysis of a Class of Foundation Grounding Systems", IEE
Proceedings, Pt. C, vol. 137, pp. 123-128, March 1990.

[3] M.B.Kostic and G.H.Shirkoohi, "Numerical Analysis of a


Class of Foundation Grounding Systems Surrounded by Two-Layer
Soil", IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, vol. PWRD-8, pp.
1080-1087, July 1993.
[4] M.B.Kostic, "Parametric Analysis of Foundation Grounding
Systems Surrounded by Two-Layer Soil", IEEE Transactions on
Power Delivery, vol. PWRD-9, pp. 1406-1411, July 1994.

756

[5] R.J.Heppe, "Step Potentials and Body Currents Near Grounds


in Two-Layer Earth", IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and
Systems, vol. PAS-98, pp. 45-59, Jan./Feb. 1979.

[lo] B.Thapar, O.Ferrer, and D.A.Blank, "Ground Resistance of


Concrete Foundations in Substation Yards", IEEE Transactions on
Power Delivery, vol. PWRD-5, pp. 130-136, Jan. 1990.

[6] A.J.Jacobs, "Reduction of a Multi-Layer Earth Configuration


to the Equivalent Two-Layer in Complex Grounding Systems
Calculation", Electrical Engineering, No 8, pp. 19-23, 1970 (in
Russian).

[I 11 H.Jasik, "Antenna Engineering Handbook", Mc Graw-Hill


Book Company, Inc., 1961.

[7] BS 6651, "Protection of Structures Against Lightning", 1985.

[SI ANSINFPA 78, "Lightning Protection Code", 1986,


[9] M.B.Kostic, "Analysis of Foundation Grounding Systems with
External Loops and Rods", IEE Proceedings, Pt. C, vol. 140, pp.
73-76, March 1993.

u m i r B. Kostic (M'92) was born in


Vranje, Yugoslavia, on November 16, 1956.
He received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.
degrees from University of Belgrade,
Yugoslavia, in 1980, 1982, and 1988,
respectively, all in electrical engineering. In
1980 he joined the Faculty of Electrical
Engineering, Belgrade, where he is employed
as Associate Professor. His present research
interests include problems in foundation grounding systems, use of
bentonite and interior lighting design.