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Transformer Failure Due to Circuit-Breaker-Induced Switching Transients

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4 Author(s)
David D. Shipp ; Eaton Electrical Group, Warrendale, PA, USA ; Thomas J. Dionise ; Visuth Lorch ; Bill G. MacFarlane

Switching transients associated with circuit breakers have been observed for many years. Recently, this phenomenon has been attributed to a significant number of transformer failures involving primary circuit-breaker switching. These transformer failures had common contributing factors such as the following: 1) primary vacuum or SF-6 breaker; 2) short cable or bus connection to transformer; and 3) application involving dry-type or cast-coil transformers and some liquid-filled ones. This paper will review these recent transformer failures due to primary circuit-breaker switching transients to show the severity of damage caused by the voltage surge and discuss the common contributing factors. Next, switching transient simulations in the electromagnetic transients program will give case studies which illustrate how breaker characteristics of current chopping and restrike combine with critical circuit characteristics to cause transformer failure. Design and installation considerations will be addressed, particularly the challenges of retrofitting a snubber to an existing facility with limited space. Finally, several techniques and equipment that have proven to successfully mitigate the breaker switching transients will be presented, including surge arresters, surge capacitors, snubbers, and these in combination.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 2 )