New pre-emptive arc fault detection techniques in medium voltage switchgear and motor controls

For Forest Products based industries, the significant benefits of pre-emptive arc-flash protection and online condition monitoring of electrical equipment are not well known. This paper provides a summary the research surrounding the development and testing of new advanced sensor technologies for this purpose. More extensive and detailed measurements, regarding significant defects leading to an arc flash event, have been completed since the first portion of the research was completed [1]. Early detection of impending faults and the prediction of future arc-flash occurrences in medium voltage (MV) switchgear and motor control centers (MCC) can be very beneficial.

The development of new sensor technologies, both for partial discharge (PD) measurement and thermal detection, are discussed and evaluated. The two most common non-contact causes leading to an arc-flash event in MV switchgear and MCC are insulation degradation and thermal stresses. This paper will highlight very detailed results measured under both of these conditions in the laboratory and actual installed conditions. An effectivesignal processing method, used for extracting the essential indication data and the integration of this system into an existing protection PLC or SCADA, are outlined.

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