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predecessor, Actual Specifying Engineer, ran a series of articles on overcurrent

protection. Due to the immense popularity of the 31 installments in the series, the

authors, George Farrell and Frank Valvoda, P.E., reprised the series in an

updated version beginning in the Feb. 1989 issue of CSE. Over the years since

the last installment ran in the late ’90s, we have received many requests to re-

run this series. Mr. Valvoda passed away in Dec. 2001, and his long-time friend

and editorial partner, George Farrell, passed away in early 2006.

calculations were presented for systems without rotating machinery. Here, the

authors introduce rotating-machine impedance as a factor in the process.

We also offer readers a “Talk Back” option at the end of the story, to comment

on or update any of the technical information in this article.

turbines or water wheels, provide electrical energy to the system. When a short

circuit occurs in the system, the generator continues to produce power because

the prime mover continues to drive the generator at normal speed. This energy is

a large amount of current (the short-circuit current) limited only by the impedance

of the generator and the circuit impedance to the fault point.

Synchronous motors have a field excited by direct current and a second winding

(the stator) where alternating current flows. Under normal operation,

synchronous motors draw alternating current from the source and convert the

electrical energy to mechanical energy. When a short-circuit occurs in the

system, the system voltage is reduced to a very low value and the motor starts

slowing down. However, because energy is stored in the windings, the

synchronous motor begins acting like a generator and furnishes short-circuit

current to the point of fault. This will continue for a significant number of cycles

after the start of the fault as the motor slows down. As with the generator, the

short-circuit-current magnitude is limited only by the impedance of the motor and

the circuit impedance to the fault point.

Induction motors act like synchronous motors except that the rotating energy is

stored in the rotor flux. Because the flux cannot change instantly, the motor

contributes short-circuit current to the point of fault. This continues for about four

cycles after the beginning of the fault as the motor slows down and the flux

decays.

The short-circuit-current magnitude is limited only by the impedance of the motor

and the circuit impedance to the fault. The machine impedance at the time of the

fault is for all practical purposes equal to the machine impedance at standstill.

Therefore, the initial value of fault current is about equal to the locked-rotor

starting current of the motor.

Rotating-machine reactances

The impedance of rotating machines is primarily reactance and may be

assumed, as a convenient calculation technique, to vary with time. Three values

of reactance are assigned to motors and generators for calculating short-circuit

currents at various times, so that operating times of circuit-protective devices

may be coordinated with the fault current available at the time they operate or are

tested.

Subtransient reactance (X”d) is the apparent reactance at the time the short-

circuit current occurs. It determines the current during the first few cycles.

Transient reactance (X’d) is the apparent reactance in the approximately one-

half second following the subtransient reactance period. Synchronous

reactance (Xd) is the apparent reactance after steady-state conditions have been

achieved—several seconds after the fault. Xd is not usually used in short-circuit

calculations.

X”d and X’d are of interest with generators and synchronous motors. Induction

motors are concerned only with X”d . Table 7 lists typical rotating-machine

reactances.

The next article in this series will describe the reactances that are used in short-

circuit calculations for a variety of system conditions: low voltage (below 600

volts) and high voltage (above 600 volts) with different types of circuit

components and protective devices. This article continues with per-unit

calculations for the rotating-machine example.

Resistance and reactance are listed and/or calculated only for switches, circuit

breakers, wire, busway and motor starters; all other components have been

converted to per-unit values directly as would normally be the case.

Referred to Figure 11.1, the system consists of a generator in parallel with the

utility, one transformer, two motors and the location of the fault at a lighting

panel. All impedance data are listed in the tabulation below the single-line

diagram and in the references, Tables 1 through 7. See Box A for the calculation

of resistance and reactance in ohms and Box B for the calculation of per-unit

resistance and reactance.

Figure 11.1 - Rotating-machinery contribution is added to the system in the

form of impedances in parallel with the utility impedance.]

The impedance diagram represents the system shown in the single-line diagram.

Each branch, A through F, is a series arrangement wherein the impedances are

simply added to each other. Branch A is in parallel with Branch B; and the

combination of Branches A and B plus C is in parallel with Branches D and E.

Branch F is added to find the total impedance to the fault. The parallel

calculations will be discussed in detail.

reactance, it is necessary to introduce the term “admittance.” Y = admittance,

where Z = 1/Y and Y = 1/Z

terms G = conductance B = susceptance with Y = admittance, such that:

R2 + X2 = Z2 and G2 + B2 = Y2

G = ___R____

R2 + X2

and

B = ___X____

R2 + X2

branch, that is, the sum of the Gs and the sum of the Bs. Once the total

admittance has been found, the corresponding impedance of the branches in

parallel may be found by the reverse calculation:

R = ___G____

G2 + B2

and

X = ___B____

G2 + B2

(Refer to Figure 11.1 for series totals.) Calculation of other parallel combinations

is left as an exercise for the reader.

Combining all resistances and reactances by the same methods leads to the total

impedances to the fault point of:

puRABCDEF = 0.160277

puXABCDEF = 0.494946

puZABCDEF = √[0.1602772 + 0.4949462] = 0.520250

puZ x √3 x kV

= 10,000

0.520250 x √3 x 0.48

= 23,120 amps

From Part 3, Figure 3.3., multiplying factor Mm to determine asymmetrical fault

current at X/R = 3.088; Mm = 1.123, approximately.

= 1.123 x 23,120

= 23,964 amps

Often, calculations of fault current are carried out with the impedance of

protective devices (switches, circuit breakers, starters) being neglected. This

results in a slightly higher value of calculated fault current (a more conservative

calculation). Making such a calculation on this example system results in the

following:

puZ = 0.498396

X/R = 3.244

Mm = 1.135

RMS asymmetrical amps = 27,392 amps

The calculated value of symmetrical fault current is 4.38% higher when the

calculation is made with this assumption.

Related Stories:

The Art of Protecting Electrical Systems, Part 7: Equipment Short Circuit Ratings

The Art of Protecting Electrical Systems, Part 10: Assigning Impedance Values

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