Tiptoeing Through the Tulips to Protect Power Plants

Francesco Agostini, Alberto Zanetti, Jean-Claude Mauroux, ABB, Switzerland

ABB, a multinational leader in electrification products and power grid technology, develops generator circuit breakers (GCBs) that safeguard power plants around the world. GCBs must dissipate short-circuit current surges within milliseconds to prevent damage to the grid and power plant. A critical design feature is the earthing switch, which grounds energized parts of the system. Engineers at ABB use multiphysics simulation to model the currents and electromagnetic forces that arise in earthing switches and ensure that they can withstand the rigorous current capacity standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Log of the current density distribution in a tulip finger contact configuration for an earthing switch in a GCB.