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Researcher has developed a prototype for a smart system that can protect against power grid short-circuits.

Researcher has developed a prototype for a smart system that can protect against power grid short-circuits.

A researcher in India has developed a prototype of a smart system that can guard against power grid short-circuits. SCFLs are energy efficient in their operation. When the fault current exceeds the critical current, the resistance of the SCFL increases. Continuous monitoring of current flowing through different regions of the superconductor used in the SCFLsm is enabled by an array of hall sensors. The current’s precise and continuous motoring through the fault-limiting superconducting element can initiate automatic action such as current diversion into a parallel shunt.

The technology developed with the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) is in the fourth stage of Technology Readiness. The prototype can be integrated into any large power sector company currently using standard superconducting fault current limiters.

Key Highlight:

  • A researcher in India has developed a prototype of a smart system that can guard against power grid short-circuits.
  • The technology developed with the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) is in the fourth stage of Technology Readiness.
  • The prototype can be integrated into any large power sector company currently using standard superconducting fault current limiters.
  • When the fault current exceeds the critical current, the resistance of the SCFL increases.
  • The SCFLsm enables continuous monitoring and mapping of the current distribution across the superconductor contained within.
  • It operates completely automatically and requires no manual intervention to reset the system following a fault.
  • This will assist in the automatic detection of faulty superconductors and will also assist in diverting current between high-current switches for shunting current.

An Indian researcher has developed a novel prototype of a smart system capable of protecting power grids from short circuits by automatically diverting current into a parallel shunt (external resistance bypassing maximum current) or limiting a current surge by developing high resistance in the current path.

Short-circuit situations are also frequently encountered in power distribution networks, such as power grids, resulting in massive current surges that can cause damage to the power grids, which are not designed to handle the surge current. These surges (fault currents) cause severe damage to power grids, resulting in significant economic loss and disruptions in electricity supply.

Recent years have seen the development of a novel fault current limiter technology, namely superconductors. This type of device is referred to as a superconducting fault current limiter (SCFL). This technology is based on the property of superconductors that exhibit no resistance to current up to a critical current value. At currents more significant than the required current, the superconductor’s resistance increases significantly. Thus, when the fault current exceeds the superconductor’s critical current, the SCFL’s resistance increases. This decreases the fault current, and when the fault current falls below the critical current threshold, the normal zero resistance mode offering resumes operation. The SCFL is an energy-efficient light source. Western companies have already begun to invest in superconducting fault current limiter (SCFL) technology. However, they are expensive, with an approximate Euro 1 million (Rupees 8,00,00,000) for each superconducting fault current limiter (Eight crores).

Prof. Satyajit Banerjee of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur) and his group (Md. Arif Ali) have developed an innovative prototype of a Smart Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SCFLsm) using a circuit in which an array of hall sensors surrounds a superconducting element.

Through a switch, this circuit is connected in parallel to a low resistance shunt. Continuous monitoring of current flowing through various regions of the superconductor used in the SCFLsm is enabled by the array of hall sensors. The current’s precise and constant motoring through the fault-limiting superconducting element can initiate automatic current diversion into a parallel shunt and grid protection. This intelligent feature of the SCFLsm is that it enables fault limiting activity at any user-defined, predetermined current flowing through the SCFLsm. This is in contrast to a conventional SCFL, where fault limiting activity is limited to the critical current value, determined by the superconductor’s material and the processing applied during the superconductor’s synthesis.

Additionally, the SCFLsm enables continuous monitoring and mapping of the current distribution across the superconductor contained within. This allows direct visualization of the SCFLsm’s instability settings during operation. If any instability develops in the superconductor during the operation of the SCFLsm at high currents, the mapping technology will detect it. Following that, corrective action can be taken to divert current away from the superconductor and safeguard the SCFL. Thus, the common issue of superconductor failures encountered in conventional SCFLs can be mitigated. This SCFLsm operates completely automatically and requires no manual intervention to reset the system following a fault.

The technology developed with support from the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Program is in the fourth stage of Technology Readiness. A national patent has been filed for it. The prototype can be integrated into any large power sector company currently using standard superconducting fault current limiters.

Prof. Banerjee also intends to develop more efficient, high-current automatic compact switches for shunting current between superconductors. This will assist in diverting the faulty immediately upon detection by the intelligent sensors integrated into his SCFCLsm prototype.

He also intends to incorporate predictively (intelligence) capability into his smart SCFL to automatically detect when the superconducting element is approaching the threshold of instability formation or even when the system is approaching the stage of fault occurrence. In this case, the system will develop intelligence and sensors that will endow it with making rudimentary decisions.

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