MV (Medium Voltage) controller lineup electrical protection is crucial in protecting the equipment from large scale damage upon the occurrence of an electrical fault, reducing the time to restore power, thereby minimizing the impact to liquids pipelines operation. The paper discusses typical electrical failure modes that may occur in MV controller lineups, and demonstrates practical relaying engineering techniques that enable fast and effective fault clearing. Electrical faults in the MV controller lineup are often arcing type, commonly involve ground. Mitigating arc hazards in MV Class E2 controller lineups has traditionally been challenging without sacrificing the protection selectivity. As the paper demonstrates, a relaying scheme with the combined use of high-speed light-sensing and overcurrent detection will effectively mitigate the incident energy, while maintaining the protection selectivity for non-arcing overcurrent events.

For new MV controller lineups, in addition to the “high-speed light detection and fault interruption”, zone-selective interlocking (ZSI) can also be a practical solution in improving relay protection speed, thus reduce the chance of severe arc flash occurrences. ZSI is particularly effective for fault occurrences on the line side of the phase CTs, busways or main incoming circuits. The ZSI scheme can be implemented on both Class E2 and circuit breaker (VCB) type MV controller lineups, however, with slightly different trip logic due to the limited fault clearing capability of the contactor.

Although there are multiple contributing factors, the direct causes of electrical failures in MV controller lineup are commonly related to improper power cable installation and handling, potentially leading to premature insulation breakdown due mainly to the proximity effect and/or partial discharge. Inadequate cable separation and prolonged fault trip delay can increase the possibility of arcing fault occurrence. This can usually be mitigated through appropriate cable spacing, adequate conductor insulation, and optimized fault detection schemes. The paper provides overviews of the mechanisms of proximity effect and partial discharge propagation, and the modern relaying approaches for accurate fault type discrimination and facilitating fast fault interruption.

Two case studies are provided in the paper as an aid in understanding the electrical fault mechanism originated from cable insulation failure, demonstrating the incident energy reduction before and after the implementation of high-speed light detection and fault interruption solutions on an existing MV controller lineup.

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