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Simulation of a High Current Vacuum Arc in a Transverse Magnetic Field

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5 Author(s)
Delachaux, T. ; ABB Corp. Res. Center, ABB Switzerland Ltd., Dattwil, Switzerland ; Fritz, O. ; Gentsch, D. ; Schade, E.
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This paper presents the results of simulations using a model that describes constricted high current (>15 kA) vacuum arcs driven by a transverse magnetic field in a 2-D configuration (parallel rail electrodes). The simulations investigate a number of cases of practical interest for the use of vacuum interrupters. The influence of the electrode gap distance on the arc motion is discussed. It is found that faster arc velocities are obtained for larger gaps. For large gaps (ges5 mm), the Lorentz forces and pressure gradients acting on the plasma jets originating from the hot electrodes strongly affect the arc structure. The arc tends to expand on a longer distance and can efficiently preheat the next area of current attachment. The model also describes the jump of the arc over an electrically nonconductive part of an electrode (slit). This is possible due to the ability of the arc column to expand in the direction of motion and to prepare current attachment at a point beyond the slit. The characteristics of the jump depend on a function of the slit width, electrode gap, and current. Finally, the thermal effect on the electrode surface and the electrode bulk for an arc returning several times to the same position is investigated for a fixed DC current. The results show that the minimum surface temperature increases the first few times the arc returns, before stabilizing at a temperature given by the balance between the arc heat flow and the cooling by metal evaporation and conduction into the electrode.

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 8 )