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A damage mechanism: lightning-initiated fault-current arcs to communication cables buried beneath overhead electric power lines

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2 Author(s)
Kinsler, M. ; Technol. Interpretation, Athens, OH, USA ; Hmurcik, L.V.

A lightning strike to an energised overhead conductor of an electric power line is dangerous; the lightning impulse will establish a conductive path across the power-line insulator, down the pole, and through the soil to any buried utility line. In a significant number of cases, this conductive path will allow the establishment of a large, long-duration power fault current from the lightning-struck power conductor to the buried utility line. This power arc will terminate on the grounded pipe or cable shield, causing rupture and failure. The existence of this damage mechanism was confirmed in the laboratory with a full-scale mock-up of a utility right-of-way. The phenomenon of lightning-triggered arc establishment through soil was then examined more closely with a high-resolution apparatus in which most parameters could be tightly controlled. Artificial lightning impulses from 0.3 to 2.8 MV and 60-Hz power-line voltages from 6.24 to 15.71 kV were used. Soil condition, electrode spacing, power-line voltage, lightning impulse voltage, and geometry were found to govern the probability of a lightning-initiated fault current arc through the soil in a predictable manner. For soil of 500 000-Ω·cm resistivity, the distance between a simulated power system lightning ground and a buried cable at which a fault current arc is not initiated was found to be about 40 cm. This safe distance was proportional to the geometric mean of the power-line voltage and the peak lightning impulse voltage

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Industry Applications, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 1 )