Steven McFadyen's Articles

Steven is a Chartered electrical engineering consultant with considerable experience on major internationally recognised and award winning projects in Europe, South East Asia, and the Middle East. His expertise has been called on for numerous technically challenging projects in power systems, airports, rail, mining, pharmaceutical, datacentre, and other industries.

IEC 60287 Current Capacity of Cables - An Introduction

IEC 60287 "Calculation of the continuous current rating of cables (100% load factor)" is the International Standard which defines the procedures and equations to be used in determining the current carry capacity of cable. The standard is applicable to all alternating current voltages and direct current cables up to 5kV.

This note will introduce the concepts adopted by the standard, provide some guidance on using the standard and direct the reader to further resources.

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Voltage Levels to IEC 60038

The standard aims to consolidate AC and traction voltages within the industry and defines the following bands:

  • band 1 - A.C. systems 100 V to 1000 V
  • band 2 - A.C and D.C traction systems
  • band 3 - A.C. systems above 1 kV to 35 kV
  • band 4 - A.C. systems above 35 kV to 230 kV
  • band 5 - A.C. systems above 245 kV

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DC Component of Asymmetrical Faults

The image (reproduced from IEC 60909) shows a typical fault in an ac system.  From the illustration it can seen that there is an initial dc component (id.c.).  This initial dc component decays over time, eventually reaching zero.  Addition of the dc component to the symmetrical short circuit current give the asymmetrical fault current.

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Understanding Circuit Breaker Markings

IEC 60947 is the circuit breaker standard and covers the marking of breakers in detail. Any manufacturer following this standard should comply with the markings.

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Power Transformers - An Introduction

One of the fundamental requirements of an alternating current distribution systems it to have the ability to change the magnitude of voltages.  It is more efficient to transmit power at high voltages over long distances, whereas it is safer and more practical to use a low voltage to drive appliances and equipment.   Transformers are used to achieve this. 

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Lithium Ion Battery

Over recent years the Lithium Ion battery has become popular in applications requiring high power densities with small weight and footprint.  Today Lithium Ion batteries are commonly found in mobile phones, portable electronics, power tools, electrically operated vehicles and military applications. In addition to high power densities, Lithium Ion batteries are chargeable and have no memory effect. Charge/discharge mechanism of a Lithium Ion battery Image Source: http://batteryuniversity.com Developed in the early 1970's  at Birmingham University in the UK, Lithium Ion batteries consist of a Lithium Metal Oxide positive electrode (cathode), carbon negative electrode (anode) and electrolyte of a lithium salt organic solution. During the discharge process, Lithium Ions move from the negative to the positive electrode, via the external circuit.   During the charging the process is reversed by applying an over voltage. The Lithium Metal Oxide cathode is constructed using various ...

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What is a rectifier transformer?

I've recently come across this question a couple times browsing the internet. Decided to give a quick answer here. A rectifier transformer is a transformer which includes diodes or thyristors in the same tank. Voltage regulation may also be included. Typically these are used for industrial processes which require a significant direct current (dc) supply. Typical processes would include dc traction, electrolysis, smelting operations, large variable speed drive trains, etc.

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How to refer fault levels across a transformer

Over the past year or so I've been involved in on going discussions related to referring fault levels from the secondary of a transformer to the primary side.  While this is easy for some people to grasp, for others it's not so straight forward.  Here is a brief explanation of how to do this.

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Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the study of coordinating electromagnetic fields give off equipment, with the withstand (compatibility) of other equipment within the vicinity. In it's simplest form, we endeavour to ensure that the magnitude of any electromagnetic fields generated are less than the withstand level of adjacent equipment.

Within Europe there is the EMC directive (2004/108/EC), which is law in all European Countries.  Equipment which bears the CE mark has been certified to comply with the relevant standards.

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Power Factor

Power factor is the ratio between the real power (P in kW) and apparent power (S in kVA) drawn by an electrical load.

The reactive power (Q in kVAr) causes the real and apparent power to be displaced from each other. Reactive power provides the necessity for electric and magnetic fields to enable the power system to work.

In addition to being the ratio of real power to apparent power, the power factor can also be express as the cosine of the angle between the two.

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Resistors

Resistors are electronic components that oppose the flow of current.  Manufactured in various types and ranges they have a wide application to electronics. 

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9 power supply issues solved by using a UPS

Installation of a UPS can help in reducing problems due to issues with the power supply.  A lot of people relate this to nine key issues.  Depending on the type of UPS installed it is possible to resolve some or all of the above issues.  The simplest installation of an off-line UPS will resolve issues (1) to (3), while the installation of a full double conversion unit could potential resolve all issues. 

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Hazardous Areas – IEC and NEC/CEC Comparison

Depending where in the world you work, you are likely following one of two standards International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) National...

Material Properties

Everything physical in electrical engineering from insulations to conductors revolves around materials. Here we are listing common materials along with...

IEC 60287 Current Capacity of Cables - Rated Current

In the previous note we looked at the approach taken by the standard to the sizing of cables and illustrated this with an example.  We then looked at one...

IEC 61439 - The Switchgear Standard

The new standard IEC 61439 replaces the old 60439. Compared to the old standard, the new 61439 is a more clearly defined and takes into account the assembly...

Electromagnetic Fields - Exposure Limits

Exposure to time varying magnetic fields, from power frequencies to the gigahertz range can have harmful consequences.  A lot of research has been conducted...

Generator Sizing & Operation Limits

When selecting a generator, there are inherent limits on the active and reactive power which can be delivered. Generators are normally sized for a certain...

Tips for a better Low Voltage Protection Discrimination Study

Carrying out a protection system discrimination study is critical to ensure the correct functioning of  the electrical system in the event of faults. ...

Fault Calculation - Per Unit System

Per unit fault calculations is a method whereby system impedances and quantities are normalised across different voltage levels to a common base.  By removing...

Dielectric loss in cables

Dielectrics (insulating materials for example) when subjected to a varying electric field, will have some energy loss.   The varying electric field causes...

Star-Delta Motor Starting - Performance

Many questions sent in to the site are in connection with motor starting and in particular star-delta.  For all but the simplest application, there is...

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