Saturday, 15 November 2014

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                                  A vacuum circuit breaker is such kind of circuit breaker where the arc quenching takes place in vacuum. The technology is suitable for mainly medium voltage application. For higher voltage vacuum technology has been developed but not commercially viable. The operation of opening and closing of current carrying contacts and associated arc interruption take place in a vacuum chamber in the breaker which is called vacuum interrupter. The vacuum interrupter consists of a steel arc chamber in the centre symmetrically arranged ceramic insulators. The vacuum pressure inside a vacuum interrupter is normally maintained at 10 - 6 bar.
The material used for current carrying contacts plays an important role in the performance of the vacuum circuit breaker. CuCr is the most ideal material to make VCB contacts. Vacuum interrupter technology was first introduced in the year of 1960. But still it is a developing technology. As time goes on, the size of the vacuum interrupter is being reducing from its early 1960’s size due to different technical developments in this field of engineering. The contact geometry is also improving with time, from butt contact of early days it gradually changes to spiral shape, cup shape and axial magnetic field contact. The vacuum circuit breaker is today recognized as most reliable current interruption technology for medium voltage switchgear. It requires minimum maintenance compared to other circuit breaker technologies.

Advantages of Vacuum Circuit Breaker or VCB

Service life of vacuum circuit breaker is much longer than other types of circuit breakers. There is no chance of fire hazard as oil circuit breaker. It is much environment friendly than SF6 Circuit breaker. Beside of that contraction of VCB is much user friendly. Replacement of vacuum interrupter (VI) is much convenient

Operation of Vacuum Circuit Breaker

The main aim of any circuit breaker is to quench arc during current zero crossing, by establishing high dielectric strength in between the contacts so that reestablishment of arc after current zero becomes impossible. The dielectric strength of vacuum is eight times greater than that of air and four times greater than that of SF6 gas. This high dielectric strength makes it possible to quench a vacuum arc within very small contact gap. For short contact gap, low contact mass and no compression of medium the drive energy required in vacuum circuit breaker is minimum. When two face to face contact areas are just being separated to each other, they do not be separated instantly, contact area on the contact face is being reduced and ultimately comes to a point and then they are finally de-touched. Although this happens in a fraction of micro second but it is the fact. At this instant of de-touching of contacts in a vacuum, the current through the contacts concentrated on that last contact point on the contact surface and makes a hot spot. As it is vacuum, the metal on the contact surface is easily vaporized due to that hot spot and create a conducting media for arc path. Then the arc will be initiated and continued until the next current zero.
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