A Novel Approach to Power Circuit Breaker Design for Replacement of SF6


  • D. J. Telfer
  • J. W. Spencer
  • G. R. Jones
  • J. E. Humphries




circuit breaker, power distribution, SF6 replacement, arc-induced ablation, anti-pollution


This contribution explores the role of PTFE ablation in enhancing current interruption for various background gases in high voltage circuit breakers. An assessment of the current interruption capability has been made in terms of the arcing duration and the contact gap length at which critical arc extinction is achieved. These observations are supported by measurements of the magnitude of extinction and re-ignition voltage peaks. Most previous and other current experimental work on gas filled circuit breaker design follows conventional wisdom in investigating arcing behaviours at elevated gas pressures (usually up to 6 bar). But in this work we concentrate on the effects of using low gas pressures (less than 1 bar) in the presence of a close-fitting shield of ablatant polymer material (PTFE) that surrounds the electrode assembly of an experimental high power circuit breaker. We demonstrate that for several different gases, arc extinction capability compares well under these conditions with SF6, suggesting that SF6 could be replaced entirely in this novel system by more environmentally friendly gases. Moreover, the critical contact gap lengths at extinction are only slightly greater than when using SF6 at 6 bar. Weight loss measurements from the ablatant shield suggest that a chemical puffer action is the most likely mechanism for achieving the observed arc extinctions in this system.

Author Biographies

D. J. Telfer

J. W. Spencer

G. R. Jones

J. E. Humphries