Inductive Energy Storage Using High Voltage Vacuum Circuit Breakers
Controlled thermonuclear fusion experiments currently being planned require large amounts of pulsed energy. Inductive energy storage systems (IES) appear to be attractive for at least two applications in the fusion research program: high beta devices and those employing turbulent heating. The well known roadblock to successful implementation of IES is the development of a reliable and cost-effective off-switch capable of handling high currents and withstanding high recovery voltages. The University of Texas at Austin has a program to explore the application of conventional vacuum circuit breakers designed for use in AC systems, in conjunction with appropriate counter pulse circuits, as off-switches in inductive energy storage systems. The present paper describes the IES employing vacuum circuit breakers as off-switches. Since the deionization property of these circuit breakers is of great importance to the design and the cost of the counter-pulse circuit, a synthetic test installation to test these breakers has been conceived, designed and is being installed in the Fusion Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Some design aspects of the facility will be discussed here. Finally, the results of the study on a mathematical model developed and optimized to determine the least cost system which meets both the requirements of an off-switch for IES Systems and the ratings of circuit breakers used in power systems has been discussed. This analysis indicates that the most important factor with respect to the system cost is the derating of the circuit breakers to obtain satisfactory lifetimes.
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