- Available Technology
This circuit breaker naturally distinguishes between a fault on a DC power system and load charges which occur regularly, effectively improving the manufacturing and reliability of DC systems. Many non-traditional energy sources, such as solar panels, fuel cells, and batteries, supply direct-current (DC) power. This has led to development of DC power systems for a number of applications since conversion to alternating-current (AC) can be eliminated. For example, DC distribution is now used for computer data centers, office buildings, and ship power and propulsion. Though the source, loads, and other components in a DC power system are well understood, there is an interest in experimental work on the protection scheme since a DC system does not have a zero crossing in the current and circuit breakers can't open up a faulted component without sustaining an arc. Clemson University researchers have developed a DC circuit breaker that uses a short conduction path between the breaker and load along with inductive coupling to automatically switch off in response to a fault. The breaker responds to faults such as abnormally high currents without the need for detection and control circuitry. The design also has fewer components than other solid-state breakers; improving manufacturability and reliability.
Hybrid electric vehicles; battery energy storage; microgrid
Clemson University has developed new circuit breakers for DC applications that have fewer components, a common ground path, and that can easily distinguish between a fault and natural step changes in load. When an abnormally high current becomes present, the DC circuit breaker utilizes coupled inductance to automatically switch off. This intrinsic mechanism eliminates the need for detection and control circuitry. It also has a crowbar-type switch on the output so that it can be used as a DC ON/OFF switch. A prototype has been constructed that sustains a 200 percent step change in load, but switches off in response to a direct fault on a 100V DC circuit.
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