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The Grids Firewall

Zenergy Power Magnetic Fault Current Limiter (mFCL)

Magnetic Fault Current Limiters (mFCL) are devices that protect electrical equipment in the distribution and transmission infrastructure from damaging power surges that may arise from short circuits, power generation disturbances or lightning strikes.


Zenergy Power mFCLs are:

mFCL dramatically increases its impedance immediately within the first 14 cycle to limit the fault current.


In the unlikely event of a failure, the mFCL fails in a high impedance state ensuring protection at all times.


The mFCL uses the short circuit event itself to increase its impedance rather than relying on fault detection and fast switches.

Cost Effective

Deploying the Magnetic Fault Current Limiter can avoid or defer costly upgrades of under-rated switchgear, bus work, or other existing electrical infrastructure. mFCLs facilitate connection of distributed generation to transmission and distribution networks, where restrictions on fault level contributions are common. mFCLs are envisioned to be an integral part of smart grids where intelligent and self-healing equipment will be required. Using mFCLs to reduce fault currents enables customers to continue using existing electrical infrastructure thereby avoiding or deferring costly upgrades. Their versatility increases a networks reliability and operational flexibility without a need to revamp existing protection equipment. The mFCL is a low-impedance device that leads to easier and better voltage regulation. The mFCL instantly reacts to limit short circuit currents by increasing circuit impedance within 1/4 cycle in the event of a fault. The mFCL is an inherently FAILSAFE device which does NOT interrupt supply during operation. The mFCL is a self-triggering device that has low impedance during normal operation and high impedance during a fault situation. The device automatically after each fault current event and is capable of handling multiple fault events in quick succession. The mFCL improves safety by making use of its fast response and self-recovery behavior and exploiting its lower operational power losses compared to conventional reactors and other fault current limiter designs and concepts.

About Zenergy Power

Zenergy Power PLC is a energy technology company, quoted on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and comprising operating subsidiaries located in USA, Germany and Australia. The company develops devices that greatly improve the efficiency with which customers transmit and distribute electricity.


Functions of Magnetic Fault Current Limiters (mFCLs):
Facilitates connection of renewable energy sources (wind farms, biomass, etc) to distribution and transmission grids with fault current level restrictions; Allows paralleling of transformers, leading to even loading and redundancy; Reduction of network impedance while protecting equipment from high short circuit currents; No interruption of the feeding transformers when mFCL operates to reduce the fault current, thus leading to increased reliability.

Embedded Generation Incoming Feeder

Embedded Generation

Bus Tie Magnetic Fault Current Limiter Magnetic Fault Current Limiter

Figure 1: mFCL installed in the incoming feeders

Figure 2: mFCL installed in the distributed generator tie

HV Transmission Grid

Embedded Generation
Generator Auxiliary Supply

LV Busbar

Bus Tie Magnetic Fault Current Limiter

Magnetic Fault Current Limiter

Figure 3: mFCL installed in the bus tie

Figure 4: mFCL installed in the power station auxiliary supply


Benefits to the Utility:
Avoid or defer capital investment by prolonging the useful life of existing equipment; Improve reliability of the network by increased meshing (e.g. operate transformers in parallel); Increase operational flexibility (e.g. closed bus section and bus couplers); Reduce network impedance by coupling bus bars, thereby increasing system stiffness and voltage regulation; Improve power quality by reducing voltage sags; Reduce fault current contribution of wind farms, distributed generators and embedded generators, thereby facilitating compliance with fault level restrictions required by grid operators; Reduce destructive effects of high fault current through transformers and other equipment, thus prolonging performance and life.

Typical fault limiting behavior of mFCL

36000 32000 28000 24000 20000 16000
35% peak current reduction No mFCL With mFCL. Prospective fault current = 13.8 kA 50% steady-state current reduction

Current [A]

12000 8000 4000 0 -4000 -8000 -12000 -16000 -20000 0 0.04 0.08 0.12 0.16 0.2 0.24

Time [s]

Figure 5: Typical peak and steady state current limiting behavior of mFCL


mFCL Technology/Operating Principle:

The mFCL is a saturable iron-core reactor; Under normal load the core is saturated by the DC coil thereby causing the AC coils to behave like low impedance air-core reactors (Figure 6); During a fault, the incoming fault current forces the core out of saturation, thereby increasing the impedance of the AC coils (Figure 7); The iron-cores associated with the AC coils connected in series alternate in and out of saturation to reduce the current in each half cycle; After the fault, the iron-core is again saturated by the DC coil, causing the impedance of the AC coils to revert to a low value.
Fault Condition
AC Coil AC Coil AC Coil AC Coil



Figure 6 shows a dc coil which magnetically saturates an iron core to provide low normal state impedance in the ac coils

Figure 7 shows how fault current causes the iron core to desaturate and results in a high faulted state impedance in the ac coils

mFCL Inductance is small at load current

0.0060 0.0050 0.0040 0.0030 0.0020 0.0010 0.0000 -0.0010 -15.0 y -10.0 -5.0 0.0 5.0 10.0 +y

mFCL Inductance Increases dramatically during a fault



3.8 Reactor


75% less Voltage Drop

2% 1.5% 0.5%


0.42 kA 100 MVA

1.3 kA 320 MVA


10 kA

Figure 8 shows how the mFCL impedance rises dramatically during a fault,thereby limiting the fault current

Figure 9 compares the mFCL to a conventional reactor and shows that the mFCL has 75% less voltage drop during steady state yet provides equivalent voltage drop during a fault


Advantages of Zenergy Power mFCL:
Self resetting, no human intervention required; Able to carry the short-circuit current for the duration of the short circuit; Able to handle multiple faults within a short interval; Full remote monitoring and data collection and dessimation; No interruption of supply when mitigating fault currents; Reduce or eliminate issues associated with conventional current limiting reactors. This includes transient recovery voltages and high insertion impedances (reactor voltage drops can be 4-5 times higher than mFCLs); Has a low maintenance regime: the mFCL maintenance profile is no more demanding than that for a similar sized transformer; The mFCL has no moving parts, thereby minimising the chances of component failure; Operates at ambient temperature, with no need for cryostats, chillers, compressors and other auxiliary equipment normally associated with superconductive type fault current limiters; Uses established and proven transformer standards and manufacturing processes.


50 40 30
Phase A Phase B Phase C

TEST 77 - 1,25s - 80 cycles MAGNETIC - 20Ka X/R=22, MCL IN

50 40 30
Phase A Phase B Phase C

Line Current [kA]

10 0 -10 -20 -30 -40 -50 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3 3,5 4

Line Current [kA]


20 10 0 -10 -20 -30 -40 -50 0,5 1 1,5 2

Time [sec]

Time [sec]

Figure 10: High-power test results for double fault separated by 2 seconds to simulate breaker recloser operation

Figure 11: High-power test results for 80 cycle fault to simulate stuck breaker operation


Voltage Class
<6.6 kV
Steady-State Load Current Allowable Voltage Drop at Full Load Peak Fault Current Steady-State Fault Current Typical Fault Limiting Range Auxiliary power required Height Overall Depth Overall Width Overall Weight Conguration Recovery time between faults Fault Duration Ambient Temperature for operation .5 4 kA 1% - 4% 50 kA 25 kA 50% - 70% 15kw 30kw 2m 2.5m 1.5m 2.5m 2m 3m 5t 20t 1 x 3 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

6.6 15 kV
1 4 kA 1% - 3% 80 kA 40 kA 50% - 60% 15kw 30kw 2m 3m 1.5m 3m 2m 3m 7t 25t 1 x 3 Phase 3 x 1 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

15 36 kV
1 2.5 kA .5% - 2% 80 kA 40 kA 45% - 55% 30kw 140kw 3m 5m 1.5m 3m 2m 4m 15t 30t 1 x 3 Phase 3 x 1 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

36 69 kV
2 3 KA .5% - 2% 100 kA 50 kA 45% - 55% 60kw 120kw 2.5m 5m 2.5m 3m 2m 4m 40t 60t 1 x 3 Phase 3 x 1 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

69 110 kV
2 4 kA 1% - 1.5% 140 kA 60 kA 40% - 50% 80kw 160kw 3m 5m 2m 3m 3m 5m 80t 100t 1 x 3 Phase 3 x 1 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

110 161 kV
2 3 kA 1% - 1.5% 140 kA 60 kA 40% - 50% 60kw 120kw* 3m 5m* 1m 1.5m* 3m 5m* 40t 70t* 3 x 1 Phase Immediate 3+ seconds - 30C / + 50C

The Zenergy mFCL has so many design variables that devices with similar electrical performance can be executed easily over a very wide range of physical design envelopes. The ranges of performance and parameters shown in the table are only provided as typical for devices with a specific electrical rating; they are not absolute limits and each specific application should be evaluated individually to determine the best value product offering. Of the parameters in the table, the most meaningful may be the Typical Fault Limiting Range the Zenergy mFCL technology has the important fundamental characteristic of providing partial, not total, fault current limiting generally, 50% fault current limiting is a reasonable goal for all voltage classes and is consistent with keeping other parameters within reasonable boundaries lower operating voltages, however, can target significantly higher fault limiting, with otherwise reasonable devices designs. Auxiliary Power is defined as the TOTAL of the AC power losses associated with transporting the AC load current AND the DC magnet losses required to properly magnetic bias the mFCL magnetic cores they approximate the total standby power consumption of the mFCL, whether for actively energizing the DC bias magnet or for losses associated with transporting the AC load power. All values are for a complete three-phase mFCL unless otherwise indicated. * indicates per phase values for a mFCL arrangement in which three, single-phase units are specified rather than one, three-phase unit.


Contact us:
Zenergy Power Inc. 1616 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 Albert Nelson Phone +1 (650) 259-5712 E-Mail:


Zenergy Power Pty Ltd. Suite 7, 1 Lowden Square, Wollongong NSW 2500 Johnson Mariswamy Phone: +61 (2) 4227 6611 E-Mail:


Zenergy Power Germany Business Campus, Building E Von Liebig-str. 20, 53359 Rheinbach Dr. Detlev Kirsten Phone: +49 170 230 9888 E-Mail:


Zenergy Power PLC 1 America Square, Crosswall, London, EC3N 2SG Simon Cleaver Phone: +44 1344 667 347 E-Mail: