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Constructive solutions for achieving paths of

current from aluminum round bars with copper


contacts
M. DUŢĂ, V.VOICU, M.C.NIŢU, S. ANDREESCU, D. IOVAN
ICMET Craiova, Romania, general_manager@icmet.ro

Abstract— This article proposes the research and 978-1-4799-4161-2/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE
simulation of general bars of medium voltage metal enclosed bars with copper contacts is possible and can be
switchgear, made of aluminum round bar with copper contacts, considered a convenient and effective solution.
with a view to finding a similar or even more convenient
An important part of the unsupervised electrical
solution than that of copper bars, both from a technical and
economic point of view. The objective is heat distribution for equipment is the electrical contact which does not
current passing, in the bar and especially in contacts, under degrade in time. Given the fact that in most cases these
normal regime and under short-circuit regime. After copper bars can be replaced with aluminum bars, it was
simulations under normal regime, a uniform distribution of the considered useful to find a method to achieve this change,
temperature which does not exceed the imposed limits was considering new constructive solutions and implementing
obtained, and under short-circuit the distribution of the thermal them into the manufacturing process of medium voltage
field in the contacts area revealed the fact that the obtained electrical equipment, by carrying out aluminum bars with
thermal values do not exceed the limits provided in the specialty copper contacts.
literature for the electrotechnical aluminum under short-circuit.
The adoption of new constructive solutions for
Keywords—current path, heat distribution,
contacts, in medium voltage metal enclosed switchgear is
aluminum bar, medium voltage.
being proposed, as well as the replacement of copper bars
with aluminum round bars, in order to obtain connections
INTRODUCTION with at least the same electrical high-performance as the
ones made with copper bars, but with lower costs.
Considering the increased consumption of
copper worldwide and the diminishing resources, one of
the primary objectives in the electrotechnical industry is THE ANALYZED MODEL
replacing these scarce materials with other electrically
The constructive models of aluminum bars with
equivalent materials, without weakening the technical
copper contacts, proposed for the research are being
characteristics of the equipment they are components of.
presented in the figure below (fig 1)
Thus, for a given production segment from the
electrotechnical equipment field the aluminum can be a
viable alternative in terms of energy efficiency, its
mechanical and electrical characteristics widely meeting
the requirements for which various parts of the electric
fitting were designed.
The computerization, increasingly present in
current and perspective technological processes will
determine the use on a wide scale of remote controls for
the electrical equipment of medium voltage metal
enclosed switchgear. As an extra safety measure, many
manufacturers of electrical equipment use for their fitting
round copper bars instead of round aluminum bars,
considering that, in the case of aluminum the contact
degrades much faster than in the case of copper.
Taking into consideration that abroad and in
Romania there are patented technologies for combining
copper and aluminum, the execution of aluminum round
Fig.1. The constructive models of aluminum bars with
copper contacts.
- stationary regime:
  T    T 
     S  0
x  x  y  y 
(4)

- non-stationary regime:
T   T    T 
c p       S
t x  x  y  y 
In order to achieve the objective, simulations , (5)
were carried out according to the standards [1], [2], for
630A, 1000A rating currents. where :
-  is the thermal conductivity (W/Km),
THE MATHEMATICAL MODEL
-  is the density of the material (kg/m3),
In order to write the mathematical model we
must take into consideration the fact that we have two - c p is the specific heat at constant pressure
surfaces with different parameters [3],[5]: (J/KgK)
-S heat source term.
T  e 1   e  T  T0   I 2

t  e ce  S1  S 2  METHOD OF ANALYSIS
2

In order to emphasize the module where the


(1)
temperature is distributed in the aluminum bar with
where:  e is the equivalent resistivity,  e equivalent copper contacts, two operating regimes were analyzed,
mass density,  e the equivalent variation coefficient of namely stationary regime and short-circuit regime using
the QuickField specialized program. For getting some
the resistivity with the temperature, ce the equivalent
results that reflect the reality, two types of field problems,
specific heat, S1 aluminum bar section, S 2 copper namely thermal field and elektrokinetic field were
tablet section, T0 the ambient temperature. coupled.
By integrating the relation (1) the temperature The geometric model and the boundary
conditions are presented in Fig. 3 a,b. .
Tk  C  [4] that is developed in the case of short circuit
regime can be determined.

The value of P losses dissipated through


electrocaloric effect, respectively the quantity of W heat
dissipated over a period of time t shall be determined
using the relations [5]:
P  R I 2 W  (2)
W  RI 2 t  J  ,
where R is the ohmic resistance at the temperature
which corresponds to the long-lasting thermal condition, a.
and R is the ohmic resistance at the temperature 
that is determined by means of the relation

l
R  k a  k p      (3)
s
k a - coefficient corresponding to skin effect; k p -
coefficient corresponding to proximity effect;  -
resistivity at  temperature and l, s geometrical length,
cross section of the analyzed model, respectively [5]. b.
Fig. 3. Analysis domain and boundary conditions for : a- AC
Conduction model, b- Thermal model
THE THERMAL MODEL AC conduction analysis is used to analyze
The temperature distribution in the analyzed electric field caused by alternating currents and voltages
aluminum bars with copper contacts is indicated by in imperfect dielectric media[6].
thermal conductivity equation [3]:
In the case of AC Conduction problem, the In- rated current, Ik short circuit current, Tn- temperature
current flowing through the path of current determines a under rated regime; Tk-temperature under short circuit
potential difference V1  V2 . regime.
The thermal model has parts in the boundary
that present null flux-type limit conditions and parts The values obtained by simulation under short-
where we encounter convection-type boundary circuit regime are very close to those obtained from tests
conditions, where temperature increases from the carried out in the lab. Figure 4 indicates the test values of
environmental temperature up to the T temperature, with the 30 mm diameter aluminum bar with copper contact,
a h heat exchange coefficient whose value is taken from for a 31.5 kA current, the images are obtained using a
literature [5]. thermal imaging camera.
In table 1. bar and contacts dimensions, as well Figure 5 presents the test values of the 38 mm
as material constants are presented. diameter aluminum bar with copper contact for a 50 kA
current.
TABLE 1.DIMENSIONS AND MATERIAL The tests were carried out on two constructive versions of
CONSTANTS round aluminum bars with silvered copper contacts using
Copper Aluminum different circuit diagrams (see Fig. 1.). The two versions
D refer to dimensions of contact surfaces of 50x10 mm 2 and
[mm] 30 38 80x10 mm2. The tests were carried out on bar systems for
Db
44,5 35 flask currents corresponding to tests on medium voltage
[mm] tests according to [1].
L c
50
[mm] 80

8890 2703
[ kg/m3]
 394 209
[W/Km]
c 383 897
[J/KgK]

TABLE 2.DATA OBTAINED THROUGH


SIMULATION USING THE QUIKFIELD PROGRAM

Tn(  C Tk min ( Tk max (


) 
C) 
C)
D(mm 30
)
37.5 11.6 76.2
In(A) 630
Ik(kA) 31.5 Fig.4. The test values of the 30 mm diameter aluminum bar
D(mm 38 for a 31.5 kA current.
)
52.2 29.3 169.4
In(A) 1000
Ik(kA) 63

TABLE 3.DATA OBTAINED AFTER TESTING

Tn(  C Tk min ( Tk max (


) 
C) 
C)
D(mm 30
)
37.8 11.9 77
In(A) 630
Ik(kA) 31.5
D(mm 38
)
52.5 29.6 169.7
In(A) 1000
Ik(kA) 63
Fig.5. The test values of the 38 mm diameter aluminum bar
for a 63 kA current.
Cold-pressing of these two materials is achieved
through significant plastic deformation which does not
produce important changes of their internal structure,
designed to influence the mechanical and electric
characteristics of this new type of electric contact.
The use of these types of aluminum round bars
with copper contacts, electrochemically protected through
silver coating allows us to get a considerable reduction of
manufacturing costs for medium voltage metal enclosed
switchgear, as well as for other products in the electrical
equipment range.
The accelerated endurance testing under cyclic
heating regime revealed a lifetime comparable to that of
electric contacts pertaining to the copper bars used for the
Fig.6. The test values of the 30 mm diameter aluminum bar
for a 630 A current. current production.
The application of the new technology of
replacing the silvered copper bars with aluminum round
bars with cold pressed copper electric contacts has a great
impact on the electrical equipment market by reducing
the copper consumption, a material which is scarce and
expensive as opposed to aluminum.

CONCLUSIONS
The QuickField program used for the analysis of
the thermal field distribution in the electric contact area,
in conjunction with the tests carried out on new
constructive versions of aluminum round bars with
copper electric contacts revealed through the cold-
pressing technology on indented copper tablets an
Fig.7. The test values of the 38 mm diameter aluminum bar aluminum-copper contact which corresponds to the
for a 1000 A current.
After the tests thermal images were achieved, standards imposed for electrical equipment.
revealing thermal field distributions in the electric contact The new technology of using aluminum bars
area. The flask current test resulted in achieving a surface with copper contacts becomes a viable alternative on the
that underwent no changes from the point of view of electrical equipment market, being feasible by achieving
color accuracy, respectively of the constructive an electrically high-performance electric contact, with the
dimensions, and the temperatures in the contact areas as same characteristics but with significantly lower costs.
well as temperatures of their adjacent surfaces were
within the limits imposed by specialty literature, not REFERENCES
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