Infoscience

Thesis

Modeling and Characterization of Coated Conductors Applied to the Design of Superconducting Fault Current Limiters

The Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL) appears to be a device of great interest to efficiently build the electrical grid of tomorrow. With the recent progress made by the superconducting wires manufacturers, there are needs coming from the industry to evaluate the potential of such devices. In the present thesis work, the behavior under external field and transport current of the last generation of wire is investigated. This study is conduct both experimentally and numerically in order to link the physics occurring at the wires level to the design of SFCLs as a whole. From the nature of the material, the resistance appears non-uniformly in high temperature superconductors. For the purpose of building SFCLs it is important to obtain a fast and uniform resistive transition (quench) when a fault occurs through those conductors. This in order to reduce the local heat generation that may damage the device. This fast quenching property is related to the Normal Zone Propagation Velocity (NZPV). In this work the NZPV is measured using a localized magnetic field to initiate quenches in commercial coated conductors. Those velocities have been measured to be larger than 14 cm/s for pulsed currents above the critical value. The NZPV experiments have demonstrated that the superconductor non-uniformity (generated by the localized field) helps to reduce the initial delay before the quench initiation for transport currents in the range of the critical value. However, for larger transport currents the effect of the non-uniformity on the delay is less important since, with increasing transport current amplitudes, the normal state transition has shown to occur more as a consequence of the heat generated in the stabilizer than as the unique consequence of the advancement of the normal zone in the superconductor. From the experimental measurements, it has been shown that a reduction of the liquid-nitrogen temperature (subcoooled) increases the NZPV. This effect has been observed taking into account of the increase of the critical current associated with the temperature reduction. Nevertheless, it is not clear if it is the heat transfer or the estimation of the critical current that is responsible for this effect. In order to validate the numerical models, time-resolved voltage traces obtained from the experiments have been compared to the outputs of the models. Those are based on the thermal- and electrical-diffusion equations. From the simulations, it has been demonstrated that the NZPV can be increased by three methods: by using a thick diffusive substrate, by inserting a resistive interface between the superconductor and the stabilizer as well as by increasing the heat generation in the stabilizer. In light of those results, it seems that the insertion of a resistive layer is the most promising approach to improve the NZPV in coated conductors. As a matter of fact, a resistive interface increases the normal-zone size and keeps an acceptable temperature level along the conductor during quenches. The present work allowed to simulate the flux-flow regime in coated conductors. Comparing those simulations to experimental data have shown that the power-law may be inappropriate to simulate this regime under weak external magnetic fields. In addition, it appears that the role of transient heat transfer with the surroundings needs to be studied in more details to determine the specifications of a prospected SFCL made of coated conductors.

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