An Indian researcher has developed a unique innovation of a prototype of a smart system that can protect power grids from short-circuits by either automatically diverting the current into a parallel shunt or limiting a current surge by developing high resistance in the current path.
Satyajit Banerjee from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), and his group, including Md Arif Ali, have indigenously developed the unique innovation of a prototype of a Smart Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SCFLsm), which has a circuit wherein a superconducting element has an array of hall sensors distributed around the superconductor.
Short-circuit situations often occur in power distribution networks like power grids, resulting in huge current surges that can damage the power grids as they are not designed to handle the large surge current, which in turn cause major economic losses and disruption in the electricity supply.
In recent years, a new fault current limiter technology has been developed, namely, using superconductors. These are called superconducting fault current limiters (SCFL). This technology is based on the property of superconductors offering zero resistance to currents up to a threshold current value, namely, the critical current. At currents beyond the critical current, the resistance of the superconductor becomes high.
“Thus, the SCFL’s operating principle is that when the fault current exceeds the critical current of the superconductor, its resistance becomes high. This reduces the fault current, and when the fault current reduces below the threshold critical current, the normal zero resistance mode offering operation returns.”
“The SCFL is energy efficient in its operation. Companies in the west are already investing in superconducting fault current limiters (SCFL) technology. However, they are expensive, with an approximate cost of each superconducting fault current limiter being in the range Rs eight crore,” a statement from the Ministry of Science and Technology said.
The technology developed with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Program of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), is in the 4th stage of Technology Readiness level, and a national patent has also been filed for the same.
The prototype can be incorporated in any of the large power sector companies who are working with their standard superconducting fault current limiters.