Electric Arc in Low-Voltage Circuit Breakers: Experiments and Simulation
The aim of this paper is to present a further approach for analyzing the air electric arc in low-voltage circuit breakers (LVCBs). In order to achieve that, a new simulation model and experimental tests have been carried out. The simulation model has been designed using ANSYS CFX, a finite-volume method commercial software. This model has been defined as a 3-D geometry, with a high density structured hexahedral mesh, P1 radiation model and hot air characteristics for thermal plasma properties and transport coefficients. The model is applied to simulate the behavior of an LVCB for 50, 100, and 200 A with different numbers of splitter plates in the arc chamber and different locations for the arc ignition. As result, arc elongation and arc voltage increase have been observed when increasing the splitter plates number. Also faster arcs for higher ignition zones and greater expansion and diffusion for higher input currents have been obtained. These simulation results have been verified and validated. The verification process has been accomplished calculating the numerical errors, by means of the grid convergence index and Courant-Friedrichs–Lewis number. Thus, the most accurate mesh densities, time steps, and radiation models have been selected. Finally, the validation process has been achieved performing real experimental tests in the laboratory, proving that the results of the simulation model are close to real scenarios.