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Title: Computer simulation of fundamental processes in high voltage circuit breakers based on an automated modelling platform
Author: Pei, Yuqing
ISNI:       0000 0004 6057 7899
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2014
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Auto-expansion circuit breakers utilize the arc’s energy to generate the flow conditions required for current interruption. The operation of this type of circuit breaker is extremely complex and its interruption capability depends on the whole arcing history as well as a number of geometric factors. On the other hand, circuit breaker development based on test is extremely expensive and time consuming. The accumulated understanding of the underlying physical processes so far enables arc models be used as a tool for optimum design of switchgear product such as high voltage circuit breakers. For academic research, there is often a need to study the performance of a newly developed arc model by inspecting the distribution of relevant physical quantities during a simulation and their sensitivity to model parameters in an efficient and convenient approach. However the effective use of computer simulation by design engineers has been hindered by the complexity encountered in model implementation. This thesis presents the development and structure of an automated simulation tool, the Integrated Simulation and Evaluation Environment (ISEE), for the arcing process in gas-blast circuit breakers. The functionalities of ISEE are identified and developed based on the experience in real product design, which include visual creation and definition of components, automatic setup of arc models based on a commercial CFD software package as equation solver, simulation task management, and visualization of computational results in “real-time” mode. This is the first automated simulation platform in the community of switching arc simulation. Using ISEE as the simulation tool, different designs of auto-expansion circuit breakers have been investigated to reveal the fundamental characteristics of the arcing process under different test duties. Before attempting to investigate the capability of an auto-expansion circuit breaker, the fundamental issue of determining the turbulence parameter of the Prandtl mixing length model is addressed. Previous studies on turbulence arcs were mostly concerned with simple converging-diverging nozzles. There has been little work on real circuit breaker nozzles. In order to calibrate the turbulence parameter, real arcing conditions including interrupting currents, contact travels, and transient recovery voltages of two commercial circuit breakers, with rated voltage of 145 kV and 245 kV, have been used together with the geometry of the circuit breakers to calibrate the range of the turbulence parameter. The effect of nozzle ablation has been considered. All together 6 cases have been used for three circuit breakers with each pair of cases corresponding to a success and failure in its thermal recovery process. It has been found that a single parameter of 0.35 is applicable to all three circuit breakers with an auxiliary nozzle and a main nozzle of converge-flat throat-diverge shape. It must be noted that this value is obtained with the definition of thermal radius introduced in Chapter 3 and the assumption that the parameter linearly changes with the interrupting current from 0.05 at 15 kA to 0.35 at current zero. Using the calibrated turbulence model, a computational study of the thermal interruption performance of a 145 kV, 60 Hz auto-expansion circuit breaker with different arc durations has been carried out in Chapter 4. The relation between pressure peak and current peak in the auto-expansion circuit breaker is discussed. It has been found that a larger average mass flux in the main nozzle indicates a better interruption environment, enabling the circuit breaker to withstand a larger rate of rise of recovery voltage after current zero. Another important finding is that the auxiliary nozzle plays an important role in an auto-expansion circuit breaker both at the high current phase and during the current zero period. Therefore, the proper design and use of an auxiliary nozzle is a key factor to enhance the thermal interruption capability of high voltage auto-expansion circuit breakers. In Chapter 5 of the thesis, the transient pressure variation in auto-expansion circuit breakers was studied. The pressure variation has an extremely complex pattern and the pressure changes in different ways depending on the location in the arcing chamber. It is shown, for the first time, that the time lag between the current peak and pressure peak in the expansion volume can be explained by using an energy flow rate balance method, that is flow reversal occurs when the enthalpy exhaustion rate from the contact space equals the electrical power input. Following the flow reversal, a high enthalpy flow rate from the expansion volume into the contact gap first occurs for a short while (1 ms), which is followed by a high mass flow rate of relatively cool gas at less than 2000 K. This high mass flow rate causes a surplus in mass flow rate into the contact gap and results in the last temporary pressure peak in the contact space before the pressure and flow field finally settle down for arc quenching at current zero. The pressure change under different conditions, i.e. different arc durations, different current levels and different length of the heating channel, has also been studied in details. In summary the present research leads to original findings in three aspects of the operation of auto-expansion circuit breakers, i.e. the calibration of the turbulence parameter for the Prandtl mixing length model, interruption performance with different arc durations, and the transient pressure variation in the arcing process. The results are expected to provide useful information for the optimum design of auto-expansion circuit breakers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science ; QA76 Computer software