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Short circuits occur in power system due to various reasons like, equipment failure, lightning
strikes, falling of branches or trees on the transmission lines, switching surges, insulation failures
and other electrical or mechanical causes. All these are collectively called faults in power systems.

A fault usually results in high current flowing through the lines and if adequate protection is not
taken, may result in damages in the power apparatus.

Transients in R-L Circuits

Most components used in power systems include a resistance and inductive reactance in their models.
Em sin(t )
Consider a simple generator model that contains a sinusoidal source where defines its
t 0
pahse when , a resistor R, an inductor L and a switch S. It is assumed that the switch is open and is
closed at an instant of time t = 0. This implies that the current i is zero before the closing of the switch. We

Em sin(t ) S

shall show that the system response changes with a change in .

After closing the switch,

di (t )
Em sin(t ) L Ri (t )
Solving for i (t ) , we get
Em t
i (t ) sin(t ) sin( )e L ........(1)
where Z R 2 2 L2 and tan 1

i (t ) i (t ) AC i (t ) DC or AC steady state + DC transient

Equation 1 consists of two parts

The AC fault current (also called symmetrical or steady-state fault current), is a sinusoid. The dc offset
current, decays exponentially with time as plotted below for the cycle of the waveform.
Em Z
The magnitude of the dc offset, which depends on , varies from 0 when to when
/ 2

Em t
i (t ) cos(t ) e L
Note that a short circuit may occur at any instant during a cycle of the ac

source; that is, a can have any value. Since we are primarily interested in the largest fault current, we
/ 2
choose Then current in eq(1) becomes

When plotted for many cycles appears as this

Transient in Three-Phase Synchronous Machines

When a symmetrical 3-phase fault occurs at the terminals of a synchronous generator which is generating,
the resulting current flow in the phases of the generator can appear as shown below
Before the fault, only AC voltages and currents are present, but immediately after the fault, both AC and DC
currents are present.

When the fault occurs, the AC component of current jumps to a very large value, but the total current cannot
change instantly since the series inductance of the machine will prevent this from happening.

The transient DC component of current is just large enough such that the sum of the AC and DC components
just after the fault equals the AC current just before the fault.

Since the instantaneous values of current at the moment of the fault are different in each phase, the
magnitude of DC components will be different in different phases.

These DC components decay fairly quickly, but they initially average about 50 - 60% of the AC current flow
the instant after the fault occurs. The total initial current is therefore typically 1.5 or 1.6 times the AC
component alone.

The symmetric AC component of fault current in each phase will be as plotted below
There are three periods of time:

Sub-transient period: first cycle or so after the fault AC current is very large and falls rapidly;
Transient period: current falls at a slower rate;
Steady-state period: current reaches its steady value.

It is possible to determine the time constants for the sub-transient and transient periods .

The AC current flowing in the generator during the sub-transient period is called the sub-transient current
and is denoted by I. The time constant of the sub-transient current is denoted by T and it can be
determined from the slope. This current can be as much as 10 times the steady-state fault current.

The AC current flowing in the generator during the transient period is called the transient current and is
denoted by I. The time constant of the transient current is denoted by T. This current is often as much as 5
times the steady-state fault current.

After the transient period, the fault current reaches a steady-state condition I. This current is obtained by
dividing the induced voltage by the synchronous reactance:

Em Em

The rms value of the AC fault current in a synchronous generator varies over time as

I (t ) ( I I )e t /T ( I I )e t /T I

The sub-transient and transient reactances are defined as the ratio of the rms of the internal generated
voltage to the rms values of sub-transient and transient current components i.e.
Em E
X , X m


Example 1

A 100 MVA, 13.8 kV, Y-connected, 3 phase 50 Hz synchronous generator is operating at the rated voltage
and no load when a 3 phase fault occurs at its terminals. Its reactances per unit to the machines own base are
X 1.00, X 0.25, X 0.12 T 1.10 s , T 0.04 s
and the time constants are . The initial DC
component in this machine averages 50% of the initial AC component.

a) What is the AC component of current in this generator the instant after the fault?

b) What is the total current (AC + DC) in the generator right after the fault occurs?

c) What will the AC component of the current be after 2 cycles? After 5 s?


The base current of the generator is given by

Sbase 100 103

I base 4148 A
3VLL,base 3 13.8 103