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Automated Waveform Characterization for Providing Situational Awareness to Distribution System Operators

21st Annual Georgia Tech Fault and Disturbance Analysis Conference

Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia

April 30 – May 1, 2018


For two decades, Texas A&M Engineering researchers have worked in an area that has come to be known as Distribution Fault Anticipation, or DFA. The DFA research program installed specialized waveform recorders on dozens of North American circuits. Multi-year installations have resulted in what is believed to be the largest database ever created of high-resolution waveform recordings for failures and other events on distribution circuits under normal operating conditions (i.e., not simulations, staged failures, or accelerated aging). Based upon that database, researchers have identified waveform characteristics unique to multiple types of failures and incipient failures on electric power distribution circuits and have created and tested automated algorithms and a system for reporting failures via web in near real-time.

This paper overviews DFA technology background and current capabilities, such as automatic, web-based characterization and reporting of faults, incipient failures, and other circuit phenomena of interest. It details selected examples of complex events in detail, including those where transient activity at one location on a circuit causes sympathetic response and failure at a different location. For example, internal arcing of a line capacitor caused the failure of a lightning arrester farther down the circuit. Another example details how contact by a kite string at one position on a circuit induced a total of three faults on the circuit, including one that was five miles from the point of kite string contact.

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