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Results are reported of experiments performed on a model air-blast circuit breaker to determine the distribution of voltage along the axis of the arc gap during the current zero period, following half sinusoidal current pulses of frequency 85 Hz. The air-blast was sustained by a reservoir pressure of 6.89 Ã 105 N/m2. Measurements were made following peak currents of 3 and 8 kA, with copper and carbon upstream cathodes, different separations of upstream cathode from nozzle inlet and different conditions downstream of the nozzle throat. The results have enabled the conductance decays at various axial positions to be determined and these have been related to the improved circuit breaking performance observed by other authors when the nozzle and arc gap geometries are optimized. Although a detailed theoretical analysis awaits the measurement of other fundamental plasma properties, an approximate evaluation of the role played by various basic processes has been made.
Date of Publication: Sept. 1978