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Development of a high-current low-inductance crowbar switch for FRX-L

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11 Author(s)
C. Grabowski ; Sci. Applic. Int. Corp., Albuquerque, NM, USA ; J. H. Degnan ; T. Cavazos ; D. G. Gale
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The design and test results of a crowbar switch developed for the formation of long-lifetime field-reversed configurations are presented. These research efforts are being pursued at the FRX-L facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory using the "Colt" capacitor bank (a 36 μF Shiva Star bank module capable of storing up to 250 kJ) and at the Air Force Research Laboratory using the "Formation" capacitor bank (consisting of three parallel banks identical to Colt). The crowbar switch design includes four Maxwell rail-gap switches mounted on a cable header that transitions from the capacitor bank bus plates to 48 RG 17/14 coaxial cables. For the testing performed at AFRL, a dummy load was set up to simulate the magnetic field coils of the actual experiment. Tests thus far have demonstrated the crowbarring of peak currents up to 1.25 MA. Breakdown within the cable header due to the initial high voltage applied from the bank has been successfully suppressed by the cable feed-through design, proper placement of Mylar sheets around the switch for insulation, and replacement of air in the header with SF6. Timing for the triggering of the crowbar is somewhat critical, as inductance in the switch increases when the switch is triggered with lower voltages across the switch rails. At the higher bank charge voltages, the charge-flow ratings on the rail-gap switches are exceeded; however, other than requiring that the rail electrodes in the switches be cleaned more frequently, no detrimental effects have been observed from the excessive charge flow.

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IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 5 )