IEEE Tutorial on the Vacuum Switchgear

30 Aug 1999
Primary Committee:
Power Engineering Education Committee
Sponsored by:
Switchgear Committee
Page/Slide Count:
Pages: 65
INTRODUCTION The history of vacuum switchgear starts in mid 1920's but commercial vacuum switching equipment did not appear until the late 1950. Since then the power industry, electric utility companies and commercial customers alike, applied vacuum switchgear in an increasing array of system configurations and schemes. Although about 40 years passed from the historical moment of the first vacuum circuit breaker the vacuum technology is still considered to be "new" and often misunderstood or misapplied. Numerous technical papers and a few valuable books have been published on the subject of vacuum arcs and vacuum switchgear but we still have a way to go. For example, we still receive questions on how the electrical current can be interrupted in a vacuum "bottle" where there is nothing to extinguish the arc. It was an intention of the contributors to this Tutorial to assemble a review of the most important and most practical information on the subject starting from conceptual designs and construction of vacuum interrupters to field application and system aspects of the vacuum switching equipment. This tutorial intends to provide such a comprehensive review of the vacuum technology but due to the natural limitation of time and space does not address all the details one would need to learn to be considered proficient in this technology. We hope that this tutorial will be a useful reference for engineers and others involved in this field and spark even more interest in applying this attractive technology in power systems. This document is divided into several sections covering a broad range of subjects such as: manufacturing and quality control of vacuum interrupters, fundamentals of vacuum arcs, system applications of vacuum switching equipment, transients associated with the interaction of vacuum devices and power systems, testing of vacuum switchgear, modeling and simulation of vacuum switching devices, prediction and mitigation of switching transients, maintenance of vacuum switchgear equipment. The contributors to this document have generously donated their time to prepare this tutorial, which, in the present industry climate, is an activity over and above the normal, already hectic schedules of all engineers. I believe that the document we produced will be of value to our professional community. The three tutorial instructors have a combined experience of approximately seventy years in vacuum technology. Dr. Paul Slade is an Engineering Manager for Cutler-Hammer/Westinghouse Products vacuum interrupters manufacturing facility in Horseheads, N.Y. He is responsible for all aspects of vacuum interrupter manufacturing for Cutler-Hammer. Dr. Rene Smeets is managing the R&D activities of KEMA High-Power Laboratory in Arnhem, the Netherlands. He has been involved in research, testing and certification of vacuum switchgear products. Dr. Mietek Glinkowski is an Advisory Engineer at ABB Electric Systems Technology Institute, Raleigh, NC, an R&D arm of ABB Power T&D Company. He is a Technology Team Leader for Switchgear and Insulation Systems. He has been active in research, development, and application of vacuum switching equipment for over 18 years. Mietek T. Glinkowski Editor Tutorial Coordinator
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