With the advancement of power system, the lines and other equipment operate at very high voltages and carry large currents. High-voltage circuit breakers play an important role in transmission and distribution systems. A circuit breaker can make or break a circuit, either manually or automatically under all conditions viz. no-load, full-load and short-circuit conditions. The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) defines circuit breaker as: "A mechanical switching device capable of making, carrying and breaking currents under normal circuit conditions and also making, carrying for a specified time, and breaking currents under specified abnormal circuit conditions such as those of short circuit". A circuit breaker is usually intended to operate infrequently, although some types are suitable for frequent operation.
ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF HV CIRCUIT BREAKER
High-voltage circuit breaker play an important role in transmission and distribution systems. They must clear faults and isolate faulted sections rapidly and reliably. In-short they must possess the following qualities.
" In closed position they are good conductors.
" In open position they are excellent insulators.
" They can close a shorted circuit quickly and safely without unacceptable contact erosion.
" They can interrupt a rated short-circuit current or lower current quickly without generating an abnormal voltage.
The only physical mechanism that can change in a short period of time from a conducting to insulating state at a certain voltage is the arc.
The first circuit breaker was developed by J.N. Kelman in 1901. It was the predecessor of the oil circuit breaker and capable of interrupting a short circuit current of 200 to 300 Ampere in a 40KV system. The circuit breaker was made up of two wooden barrels containing a mixture of oil and water in which the contacts were immersed. Since then the circuit breaker design has undergone a remarkable development. Now a days one pole of circuit breaker is capable of interrupting 63 KA in a 550 KV network with SF6 gas as the arc quenching medium.
THE NEED FOR TESTING
Almost all people have experienced the effects of protective devices operating properly. When an overload or a short circuit occurs in the home, the usual result is a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. Fortunately few have the misfortune to see the results of a defective device, which may include burned wiring, fires, explosions, and electrical shock.
It is often assumed that the fuses and circuit breakers in the home or industry are infallible, and will operate safely when called upon to do so ten, twenty, or more years after their installation. In the case of fuses, this may be a safe assumption, because a defective fuse usually blows too quickly, causing premature opening of the circuit, and forcing replacement of the faulty component. Circuit breakers, however, are mechanical devices, which are subject to deterioration due to wear, corrosion and environmental contamination, any of which could cause the device to remain closed during a fault condition. At the very least, the specified time delay may have shifted so much that proper protection is no longer afforded to devices on the circuit, or improper coordination causes a main circuit breaker or fuse to open in an inconvenient location.