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Townsend-type breakdown as a criterion for high-frequency vacuum arc interruption at submillimeter gaps

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2 Author(s)
Smeets, R. ; Fac. of Electr. Eng., Eindhoven Univ. of Technol., Netherlands ; Fu, Y.H.

In vacuum circuit breakers, multiple reignitions give rise to HF current arcing (≈500 A; ≈200 kHz). Due to the small contact distance and the very large current gradient, at every arc-current zero pressures of several tens of millibars can be expected. Very soon thereafter (≈30 ns) this gap is dielectrically stressed by the first component of the restriking voltage (≈10 MHz), originating from parasitic impedances. The combination of the associated high electric field and the relatively high neutral density may cause Townsend-type breakdown, leading to another half-sine of continued arcing. Both dielectric stress and residual neutral density are expressed as a function of di/dt, yielding values of interruptible di/dt as a function of the contact distance with the Townsend breakdown criterion. Comparison with experiments shows fair agreement in the range of di/dt of 100-1000 A/μs and distances of 0.1-0.5 mm for two different circuits

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 5 )