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MERLIN GERIN TYPE SB6-72 SF6 CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURES

Presented by

John O Silweya (BEng, MEIZ, REng) Senior Maintenance Engineer Electrical Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc - Zambia
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PURPOSE
The aim of this presentation is to share
our experiences on the violent and unsafe circuit breaker failures experienced and some of the actions we are taking to prevent these failures and ensure the reliability of these circuit breakers for continued use on our 66kV transmission network.

This presentation also aims to solicit ideas from others who may have suffered similar experiences.
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Description of Problem
66kV SF6 circuit breakers catastrophic failure when in the open position Two failures of breakers less than 6 years old at the time of failure Evidence that they may have been conducting even though in the open position

CIRCUIT BREAKER DETAILS


The nameplate details for the two breakers are as follows: Circuit Breaker at Mill Make Current Rating Voltage Rating Serial Numbers Type Rated Impulse Voltage Frequency Rated short breaking current Short term current circuit 20000 1855 Circuit Breaker at Luano Merlin Gerin 800A 72000 Volts DIJ 1999 0049 SB6 72 325kV 50Hz 78kA

31.5kA for 3 seconds

PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION
The opening starts with the opening of main contacts (26 & 27), followed by opening of arcing contacts (24 & 25), until it then fully opens.

Parts List Number 10 11 12 13 14 17 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Description Support Insulator Insulating Connecting Rod Outer Casing Insulator Fixed Contact support Moving contact support Filter Metal envelope (expansion cylinder) Coil insulating spacer (expansion cylinder) Fixed Arcing contacts Moving Arcing contacts Main Fixed contact Moving Main contact Sliding contacts Exhaust Volume

Maintenance History
SF6 circuit breakers are inspected and tested annually. Primarily insulation resistance and contact resistance tests. Quarterly trip tests. Both of the failed breakers had a 100% compliance to this test regiment
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Maintenance History of Circuit Breaker at Mill substation


Insulation Resistance - CB Open [G] 2004 R UE LE U-L 48 69 70 Y 45 70 70 B 45 70 70 R 20 16 23
[ 1 5 G ] t e s t e d @ 5 k V

2005 Y 19 18 24 B 30 15 26
[ 1 0 0

2006 R 69.5 69.5 69.5


]

Y 69.5 69.5 69.5

B 69.5 69.5 69.5

Contact Resistance - CB Closed [] R 2004 2005 2006 25 19 92 Y 26 16 92

B 23 12 94

Circuit Breaker Timing Tests Year R 2004 29.6 Opening Time [ms] [(303)ms] Y 29.8 B 29.7 R 59.8 Closing Time [ms] [(573)ms] Y 59.7 B 59.7

Maintenance History of Circuit Breaker at Luano Switching Station


Insulation Resistance - CB Open [G] [15 G] tested @ 5kV

2003 R
UE LE U-L 505 505 505

2004 B
505 505 505

2005 B
505 505 505

2006 B
505 505 505

2007 B
505 505 505

Y
505 505 505

R
505 505 505

Y
505 505 505

R
505 505 505

Y
505 505 505

R
505 505 505

Y
505 505 505

R
505 505 505

Y
505 505 505

B
505 505 505

Contact Resistance - CB Closed [] [100] R Y B

2003 2004 2005 2006

25 24 39 40

30 35 42 42

33 41 35.6 37

2007

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43 Circuit Breaker Timing Tests

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Year
R

Opening Time [ms] [(303)ms]


Y B R

Closing Time [ms] [(573)ms]


Y B

2004 2007

29.6 30.5

29.8 30.1

29.7 29.9

59.8 59.9

59.7 60.1

59.7 60.2

DESCRIPTION OF FAILURES 1. Nkana line SF6 circuit breaker at Mill Substation


The breaker was on a 2.8km 66kV line connecting two substations in a mine area On 2nd August 2007, during routine switching, the line was deenergised by opening the SF6 circuit breakers at both ends (bus-bar side on circuit breaker was still live) A minute later, the blue phase interrupting column exploded, with porcelain debris being strewn up to 50 - 70 metres away. The calculated fault level at the 66kV bus-bar at Mill substation is 19.7kA. Circuit breaker is rated for 31.5kA for 3 seconds. Examination of relay traces obtained during routine trip tests two months earlier revealed an anomaly in the blue phase. The pictures on the following slides show the waveforms and extent of damage

Waveform from Relay Tests

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Images of damaged CB at Mill

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DESCRIPTION OF FAILURES (contd) 2. Bancroft No. 2 line 66kV SF6 circuit breaker at Luano Switching Station
The Luano Bancroft 2 line is a 37.4km line
was de-energised (bus-bar side on circuit breaker was still live) to allow the movement of a truck with an abnormally high load.

As the truck approached the line, it infringed clearances to the de-energised blue phase conductor and the conductor snapped. There were burn - marks on the ground. Simultaneously, at Luano substation, the blue phase pole of the circuit breaker exploded, resulting into a three phase busbar fault, with the debris being strewn over a radius of 100 metres. The calculated fault level at the point of fault on the Luano Bancroft No. 2 66kV line is 5kA. Circuit breaker is rated for 31.5kA for 3 seconds. The pictures show the extent of circuit breaker failure
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Images of Damaged CB at Luano

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DISCUSSION ON POSSIBLE CAUSES OF FAILURE

Defects in the interrupting chamber components


Waveform of the Mill line circuit breaker shows the blue phase was still conducting after it was opened The Luano CB may have suffered a defect on account of the high number of lightning related trip-outs

Mechanism failure
Unlikely for the Mill circuit breaker as it was found intact Though the bearing housing on the Luano circuit breaker was found cracked and the operating linkages were detached, it has to be established if this was as a result of the explosion or it was actually the point of failure

Loss of SF6 gas insulating properties


Can be possible cause, especially in consideration of the high number of lightning fault clearances of the circuit breaker at Luano (44) and the by-products from the SF6 gas decomposition
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INTERACTION WITH EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER


The manufacturer, was contacted after the first circuit breaker failure on 2nd August 2007 to investigate the failure so that remedial measures could be put in place. These efforts did not bear fruit as the manufacturer instead offered to replace the damaged circuit breaker pole, at CECs cost. After the 2nd circuit breaker failure of 10th August 2008 the manufacturer agreed to send technical experts to investigate the causes of the two failures and test the remaining circuit breakers to determine their reliability for continued use on the electrical network. These tests will be carried out, at CECs cost, commencing in mid October 2008.
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PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
The failure experienced on the circuit breaker at Mill substation is most likely due to a defect in the interrupting chamber, on the insulating separator.
The failure at Luano Switching Station is thought to be either due to lack of proper moving contact separation in the blue phase (either contact jamming or mechanism failure) or loss of insulating properties of the SF6 gas. These factors, with the fault current caused by the contact of the abnormal load with the blue phase line conductor and resulting high fault current, led to the circuit breaker explosion, originating from the blue phase.

The fact that the line protection relays operated at Luano lends credence to the thought that the circuit breaker remained in closed position, probably the blue phase contacts only.
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ACTIONS CURRENTLY BEING UNDERTAKEN Procure an SF6 gas analyzer to determine the condition of SF6 gas in circuit breakers. Improve the lightning performance of our transmission lines Downloading trip test traces Engage manufacturer in
investigating the circuit breaker failures to understand their causes and hence put forth preventive measures testing the remaining circuit breakers that are in service so that their reliability for continued use can be ascertained.
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THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!!

YOUR QUESTIONS & CONTRIBUTIONS ARE MOST WELCOME!!


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