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Separation of spiral contacts and the motion of vacuum arcs at high AC currents

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1 Author(s)
M. B. Schulman ; Westinghouse Sci. & Technol. Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

A framing camera is used to photograph the vacuum arc between separating spiral-petal vacuum interrupter contacts. The rupture of the molten bridge between the contacts first leads to a high-pressure, transient arc column. This arc motion can become constricted for several milliseconds before it goes diffuse as the current decreases to zero. The current through the spiral contacts produces a magnetic field perpendicular to the arc column, which forces the arc to move outward and run along the periphery of the petals. Several vacuum arc modes occur during the half-cycle of high current arcing. Movies, gap-current curves, and arc voltage traces are used to study the development of the arc motion and how it is affected by the contact structure. This information is used to generate arc appearance diagrams in which the arc form and motion are correlated to instantaneous values of current and gap for a wide range of peak currents. Appearance diagrams are shown for two ranges of opening delay from current onset

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 5 )