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Dielectric recovery of copper chromium vacuum interrupter contacts after short-circuit interruption

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3 Author(s)

The recovery of a vacuum interrupter gap after short-circuit interruption was measured by application of an overshooting transient recovery voltage (TRV) several tens of microseconds after current zero. Copper chromium contact materials were employed varying in composition (25 and 50% chromium content), gas content, and production method. The gap failure was either pure dielectric or it was dominated by a significant postarc current. Therefore, postarc current phenomena were experimentally investigated focused on the relationship among the postarc current, the power frequency current amplitude, and the gap length. It was found that two postarc current maxima exist: the first strongly dependent on the power frequency current, and the second on the field strength. A correlation among postarc current facilitated failures, the ultimately dielectric recovery, and the erosion rate of the material was found. Strong indication is given that all of these effects are dominated by the metal vapor pressure rise given by the constricted rotating arc. A significant influence of the material properties can be drawn from these experiments, allowing a good estimation of the capability for short-circuit current interruption, thus providing a useful tool for material development

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 4 )