Observation of Arcing inside a Fuse under VSI Short Circuit Conditions using 5.106 Frames per Sec. X-ray Imaging

Abstract : The fuse is one of the oldest components of electrical engineering. As soon as engineers made use of electricity for practical, domestic or industrial applications, they met problems with over-currents. And the solution they chose immediately was the fuse [1]. Without the safe protection provided by this component, electricity would be probably regarded as far too dangerous for widespread use and there would be no modern electrical industry [2]. Even today, despite their apparent banality, electric fuses remain the ultimate protection against short-circuits in equipment, including those with the most advanced topologies. Let us consider power-electronics converters. They are very reliable equipment and are widely used in many activities including industries, services and even residential. However, there is a non-negligible risk of failure of a semi-conductor acting to commutate in a leg. In that case, the semi-conductor will short-circuit and all the available energy will pass through the leg. There is then a very high risk of explosion of the semi-conductor, with occurrence of an electric arc inside the converter and even outside. A huge amount of energy is to be dissipated and not only the converter and its components will be concerned and destroyed, but also fragments will be ejected, intensive radiations emitted, toxic gases produced and a pressure wave propagated. All these dangers fly in the face of the safety requirements in the industrial field. Moreover, designers of equipment for the general public – think to automotive, railways, aeronautics – will be especially concerned by this issue. More particularly, VSI-inverters present specific short circuits conditions, the over-current coming from the discharge of a capacitor into a no-inductive circuit [3] [4]. The fuse operates very fastly, in a range from about ten to hundred microseconds. The optimization of its design justifies to undertake fundamental studies in order to offer the right protection to the customer. For the first time, a team of engineers from MERSEN and researchers from Grenoble-INP and Ecole des Mines de St-Etienne, together with scientists of the European Synchrotron for Research Facilities in Grenoble, could record X-ray-movies through the insulating envelope and at very high speed. They carried out records up to 5 million frames per second at the ESRF, and through this approach, they gathered very rich information on the arc phenomenon in the fuse.
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COSYS-DC 2017 - International Conference on Components and SYStems for DC Grid, Mar 2017, Grenoble, France. Proceedings of COSYS-DC 2017, 2017, 〈https://www.echosciences-grenoble.fr/evenements/cosys-dc-2017〉
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Jean-Louis Gelet, Jean-Marc Chaix, Xavier Just, Pierre Lhuissier, Gérard Thomas, et al.. Observation of Arcing inside a Fuse under VSI Short Circuit Conditions using 5.106 Frames per Sec. X-ray Imaging. COSYS-DC 2017 - International Conference on Components and SYStems for DC Grid, Mar 2017, Grenoble, France. Proceedings of COSYS-DC 2017, 2017, 〈https://www.echosciences-grenoble.fr/evenements/cosys-dc-2017〉. 〈hal-01505692〉

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