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Multiple Re-Strikes Phenomenon when Using Vacuum Circuit Breakers to Start Refiner Motors

J.P. Eichenberg, QUNO Corporation, Thorold, Ontario, Canada H. Hennenfent, Avenor Inc., Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada L. Liljestrand, ABB Corporate Research, Vaster&, Sweden
Abstract - 15 kV class vacuum circuit breakers have
become the most popular method of starting large chip Refiner synchronous motors. Multiple re-strikes, can occur in vacuum circuit breakers and may cause transient overvoltages at the motor terminals. This condition damages motor stator windings. The paper will describe multiple re-strikes in vacuum circuit breakers and how they are measured. It will also discuss the experience at Avenor's Canadian pulp and paper mills in Gold River, British Columbia and Thunder Bay, Ontario and at the QUNO mill, Thorold, Ontario, Canada. Included are modifications recommended to protect the Refiner motors from further damage.
I. INTRODUCTION

At the Gold River mill, inter tum insulation failures in the stator windings of Refmer synchronous motors have occurred. This type of failure indicates that fast voltage transients could be the cause, although the motors were protected with both surge arresters and surge capacitors at the motor terminals. Experience with 15 kV class vacuum circuit breakers has shown that a large number of fast voltage transients caused by multiple re-strikes can occur. At Gold River, measurements were performed during all possible motor circuit breaker operations to verify the assumption that multiple re-strikes were the possible cause for the insulation failure.
VACUUM BREAKER

Multiple re-strikes were found, causing bipolar voltage steps of 68 kV peak to peak (from -28 kV to +40 kV), which is close to twice the surge arrester protective level. Undamped surge capacitors were found to take part in the multiple re-strike process. Surge arresters protect the main insulation with respect to ground but not the inter turn insulation of the stator winding. This is due to a non-uniform voltage distribution across the winding for fast voltage transients. Results show that it is not possible to protect against the transients caused by multiple re-strikes - instead multiple restrikes should be prevented. Resistors were installed in series with the existing surge capacitors to prevent multiple re-strikes. The effect of the resistors was verified by measurements. With the resistors, no multiple pre-strikes or re-strikes were observed. Because of the Gold River experience [ 6 ] , similar measurements were performed at Avenor, Thunder Bay [7] and QUNO, Thorold [8]. Synchronous motors stator insulation failures had occurred at QUNO but not at Thunder Bay.

11. MULTIPLE PRE- AND RE-STRIKES


An important characteristic of vacuum circuit breakers is their ability to interrupt high frequency currents. A fast oscillating current can appear through the breaker contacts at pre-strikes when closing and at re-strikes when opening the breaker contacts.

CABLES

SYNCHRONOUS MOTOR

T
T

1
T
I

1
T
I 1

1 SOURCE CAPACITANCE BUS INDUCTANCE -

CABLE CAPACITANCE AND INDUCTANCE

SURGE ARRESTERS DAMPING RESISTORS SURGE CAPACITORS

- A A

MOTOR INDUCTANCE

Fig. 1. Reduced equivalent circuit of the 13.8 kV bus, vacuum breaker, cables and motor

0-7803-4785-4/98/$10.00

1998 IEEE

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The frequency (f;,) of the high frequency current through the breaker is determined by the capacitances (C) and inductances (L) on both the bus side and the motor side (load) of the motor circuit breaker, Fig. 1.

The pre-strike process is repeated each time a breakdown occurs. This way a number of pre-strikes occur before the contacts reach galvanic contact. The number of pre-strikes, or the time between two pre-strikes at a breaker closing, is determined by the rise time of the recovery voltage across the breaker and contact speed. The rise time is given by the resonance circuit formed by the load inductance (motor winding) and the load (motor side) capacitance (surge capacitors).

The frequency cf;,) is typically in the order of some hundred kHz. The conditions of multiple pre-strikes and re-strikes are the presence of a high frequency current and a breaker that is able to interrupt the current [l, 21. Both multiple pre-strikes and re-strikes give rise to fast voltage transients; however, extremely high voltages only occur at multiple re-strikes.

The frequency of the recovery voltage is in the order of 7 to 10 kHz. In a three-phase system, if pre-strikes occur, they can be observed at every closing of a breaker. When the distance between the breaker contacts is small, there is always one phase with high voltage across the contacts.

Multiple pre-strikes
During closing of a vacuum circuit breaker, the distance between the contacts decreases. When the distance is small enough with respect to the voltage across the breaker contacts, a breakdown will occur, igniting an arc. The power frequency current through the breaker will increase from zero. Normally the arc will burn until the contacts have reached galvanic contact. However, depending on the circuit parameters, a fast oscillating current can appear. The fast oscillating current will be superimposed on the power fi-equency current, Fig. 2 . At the instant when the sparkover occurs between the contacts, the power frequency current approaches zero. The current through the breakers will then be equal to the fast oscillating current. If this current contains zero crossings the breaker will interrupt the arc. The voltage across the breaker contacts will rise. and a new breakdown can occur.

Multiple re-strikes
Multiple re-strikes can occur when a vacuum breaker opens. If pre-strikes are observed, the conditions that can cause multiple re-strikes are fulfilled. While pre-strikes can occur at every closing of the breaker, multiple restrikes can only occur during a small time window of each 60-Hz cycle. When a breaker starts to open, just before a current zero crossing of the power frequency, a re-strike may occur. The cause is that the distance between breaker contacts is too small to withstand the recovery voltage. If a new arc is ignited at the re-strike, the arc will burn until the next current zero crossing of the 60 Hz power frequency. At the second current zero crossing, the distance between the contacts is large enough to withstand the recovery voltage, and no second re-strike will occur. When vacuum circuit breakers are used, and if the first re-strike gives rise to a fast oscillating current with zero crossing, the breaker will interrupt the current and multiple re-strikes will follow. However, if there are no current zero crossings the vacuum breaker will only re-strike once. Unlike pre-strikes, the distance between the breaker contacts increases with every re-strike, followed by an increasing breakdown voltage across the contacts. The voltage at the motor side will increase at every restrike due to the oscillation of the voltage at the load side and the bus side of the vacuum circuit breaker. Both the breakdown voltage of the breaker contacts and the voltage at the load side of the breaker increase for every re-strike. If the voltage across the breaker contacts increases faster than the breakdown voltage, another re-strike is possible, resulting in a higher voltage at the load side of the breaker than with the previous re-strike.

C a l c u l a t e d c u r r e n t s through breaker

50

100

150
Time

200
(us1

250

300

350

Fig. 2 . Calculated current through the vacuum circuit breaker when the breaker is closed, with and without damping resistors.

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To observe multiple re-strikes, a number of openings of the breaker have to be performed to hit the time window just before a current zero crossing.

Virtual current chopping


Virtual current chopping is caused by an interaction between two phases, dependent upon the capacitive coupling between the phases. Virtual current chopping can cause multiple pre-strikes and re-strikes. A pre-strike in the first closing phase ignites an arc in that phase. If no fast oscillating current exists, the arc wi!l burn until the breaker contacts are closed. However, a prestrike in the next closing phase will cause a current transient. Depending on the capacitive coupling between the phases, part of the current transient in the second phase may flow through the first closing breaker contacts. This causes a current zero crossing. The zero crossing can interrupt the arc, resulting in a pre-strike in one phase that can interrupt an arc in another phase. The interrupted phase will pre-strike again when the voltage across the breaker contacts has exceeded the breakdown voltage. This new pre-strike can again interrupt the arc in another phase. Conversely, re-strikes occur between two phases when circuit breaker contacts are opening
111. PREVENTION PROCEDURES

The losses in the cable and the ground wires at high frequencies and the inductance of the ground wire have influence on the shape of the high frequency current through the breaker during re-strikes. These parameters and their influence are difficult to estimate. Therefore, it is recommended to verify the selected resistance by measuremcnts.

IV. MEASUREMENTS

The same type of measurements was performed at all three mills. The purpose was to investigate whether the conditions for multiple re-strikes were fulfilled with any type of motor breaker operation. If the conditions were fulfilled in at least one case the effect of damping resistors should be verified for all possible cases of motor breaker operations. The following cases were recorded:

1. Start of a synchronous motor. 2. Stop of a motor at synchronous speed. 3. Stop of a motor shortly after start (before synchronous speed is reached).
The cases above were performed both with at least one other motor running and with no other motor running. This is due to the influence of the other motor surge capacitors on the capacitance of the bus side of the breakers. If the capacitance at the bus side is much less than the capacitance of the surge capacitors, a motor connected to the bus will increase the capacitance at the bus side. If there is a risk of multiple re-strikes occurring, it is most likely to occur in the third case when interrupting the starting current. To avoid unnecessary stress on the motor insulation, it is not recommended to perform this test without the damping resistors. With damping resistors a number of starts must be performed to find a case when the vacuum circuit breaker is re-striking. If a re-strike occurs, it must not he followed by more re-strikes. If only one restrike is measured, the effect of the damping resistors on the high frequency current is verified.

Multiple re-strikes should be prevented because it is not possible to protect the motor stator winding against the transients caused by them. To prevent both pre-strikes and re-strikes the fast oscillating current should be damped, so that no current zero crossing of the fast oscillating current will occur (Fig. 2). A resistor connected in series with each existing surge capacitor will damp the oscillating current. It is important that thc RC-combination is located at the end of the motor cable at the motor terminals, to avoid reflections at the motor. The value of the resistance i s important. A resistance chosen equal to the surge impedance of the cable [2] will prevent reflections appearing at the motor terminals causing current zero crossings through the breaker. The resistors must have low inductance. At Gold River, 35 and 50i2 resistors eliminated the pre-strikes; when using 115 i2 resistors, pre-strikes were observed.

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VACUUM BREAKER
XI

SURGE ARRESTERS

SURGE CAPACITORS

1 I
CABLES

1 I T

SYNCHRONOUS MOTOR STATOR WINDINGS

1 I T VOLTAGE DIVIDERS 1000:1

Fig. 3.

0 0 bkY:Es
QUNO Gold River Thunder Bay

t t t
Typical measuring circuit at 13.8 kV.

- - -

TO TRANSIENT RECORDER

Measuring equipment
The voltages were measured between the three-stator connections (across the surge capacitors) and the closest ground wire connection at the motor terminals. The voltages were measured using resistor type voltage dividers that are able to withstand high voltages and have high thermal load capabilities (Fig. 3). The dividers have a typical rise time of 100 nanoseconds with the actual cable length. The voltage dividers were placed as close as possible to the motor terminals. The voltages were recorded with a transient recorder with 8-bit resolution. Voltage range was f 100 kV and the sampling frequency 10 MHz. The time window was set to 20 milliseconds requiring 200000 samples per record. The power supply to the transient recorder was connected through an isolation transformer.

8,000 HP, 1-conductor per phase 16,000 HP, 2-conductors per phase 25,000 HP, 3-conductors per phase

The length of the cables between the transformer and the 13.8 kV bus influences the capacitance of the bus side of the vacuum circuit breakers. The number of conductors per phase influences the capacitance to ground and the capacitance between the phases at the motor side of the breakers. Also, the surge impedance is different. The capacitances at both sides of the breaker influence the high frequency current through the motor breakers at pre-strikes and re-strikes. The results are illustrated with an example of multiple pre-strikes and re-strikes without damping resistors (A). The effect of damping resistors (B and C), is shown with a closing of the breaker, (Case 1) and with an interruption of a motor start (Case 3). A. Without damping resistors

Measured Results
Multiple pre-strikes were recorded at all three mills, indicating that the conditions for multiple re-strikes were fulfilled. The results from the three cases of motor breaker operations are divided into three categories: A. Without damping resistors B. With damping resistors and with at least one other synchronous motor running C. With damping resistors and with no other synchronous motor running. Differences between the high frequency properties of each 13.8 kV system in the mills were found. At Gold River the distance between the transformer secondary terminals and the 13.8 kV switchgear bus was approximately 200 meters. At QUNO and Thunder Bay, the distance was only about 20 meters. The motors were connected to the 13.8 kV switchgear bus through 3-conductor cables and vacuum circuit breakers in each mill. However, the motor horsepower and number of conductors per phase were different.

Case 1. Pre-strikes were found at all three mills when starting a Refiner synchronous motor without damping resistors (Fig. 4).
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Measurement 0711.01.

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0

.
53 .

I
5.5

y.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

4.9 5.0 Time l m s )

51 .

5.2

5.4

Typical closing of a vacuum breaker without Fig. 4. damping resistors. Several pre-strikes occur (Gold River).

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Case 2. Stop of a motor at synchronous speed showed no over voltages. When the breakers are opened with the motor running at synchronous speed, the motor will act as a generator maintaining the voltage at the motor side of the breaker. There will only be a very small and slow recovery voltage across the breaker. Case 3. Interrupting a motor start without damping resistors was performed both at Gold River and Thunder Bay. Multiple re-strikes were recorded at both places, although the voltages measured at Thunder Bay were not as high as Gold River (Fig. 5 and 6).

Measurement 0711.06.

When multiple re-strikes occur they will not go on forever. After some milliseconds, the circuit breaker will interrupt when either the recovery voltage reaches the dielectric strength of the breaker contacts, or the high frequency current will change to a 60 Hz current, which can be interrupted at the next current zero crossing. The voltage at a non re-striking phase shows voltage transients as well as the re-striking phase, due to the capacitive coupling between the phases. The consequence is that the motor inter turn insulation is stressed in all phases, not only the re-striking phase. To interrupt a motor start before the motor synchronizes is not practical because of potential damage. The start currents of the motor will reach high amplitudes shortly after closing the breakers. The current will then decrease during the acceleration to synchronous speed. The earlier the breaker is opened after the start, the higher the current to be interrupted. During starting, the motor is not magnetized; it is an inductive load. If the breaker opens during starting, the current zero crossing will occur at peak voltage. The voltage at the bus is at peak value. The voltage at the motor will oscillate around zero voltage with a frequency given by the motor inductance and the load capacitance. The result is a recovery voltage across the breaker that will rise quickly to a higher amplitude.

I
4

10

12

14

16

18

Time (msl

B. With damping resistors and with a t least one other motor running Case 1. The surge impedance of the cables at Gold River is about 33 Q and at QUNO about 45 Q. With 50 Q damping resistors the multiple pre-strikes were eliminated when starting a motor with at least one motor already running. Only one pre-strike per phase was measured, although the recordings show three voltage transients per phase. The causes are the time difference when the prestrikes occur and the capacitive coupling between the phases. A pre-strike in one phase will cause a voltage transient in the other phases.
Measurement 0711.01.

Fig. 5. Typical measured re-strikes at interruption of a motor start without damping resistors (Gold River).

Measurement 0711.06

"

4.4

4.6

4.8

5.0

5.2

5.4

5.6

5.8

6.0

6.2

6.4

Time (msl

Fig. 6.

Time expansion of Fig. 5.

: : 4!5

4.6

4.7

4.8

4.9

The typical property of multiple re-strikes can be seen as a large number of transients with increasing amplitudes and fast bipolar voltage steps from a negative to a positive voltage.

5.0 5.1 Time (msl

5.2

53 .

5.4

5.5

Fig. 7. Closing of the vacuum breaker with 50 Q damping resistors. One pre-strike (Gold River).

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At Thunder Bay three 3-conductor cables in parallel were used. The total surge impedance in this case is approximately 15 Q. With 50 Q damping resistors, the number of multiple pre-strikes was reduced, but not eliminated. According to the theory, the value of the damping resistors should not be higher than three times the surge impedance of the cables [ 2 ] . The lowest value of the damping resistors available for the measurements was 35 R. With these damping resistors no multiple pre-strikes due to the first pre-strike in one phase were recorded. The resistors damped the fast oscillating current so that no current zero crossings occurred. However, multiple prestrikes due to virtual current chopping were observed. The cause is the high capacitive coupling between the phases due to the three cables in parallel. The damping resistors reduce the capacitive coupling through the surge capacitors, but the coupling through the cables is unaffected.

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51.7

Measurement 0 5 6 .

3.8

3.9

4.0

4.1

4.2 4.3 T u n e (ms)

4.4

4.5

4.6

.7

Fig. 9

Expansion of Fig. 8. at the instant of the re-strike.

C. With damping resistors and no other motor running


At QUNO and Thunder Bay the distance between the 13.8 kV switchgear bus and the transformer secondary terminals was only about 20 meters. The consequence is a low capacitance on the source side of the motor breakers.

Case 3. Interrupting a motor start with damping resistors shows none or only one re-strike in the first breaking phase. The cases with one re-strike verified the effect of the damping resistors. The first re-strike is not followed by more re-strikes indicating that the high frequency current is correctly damped (Fig. 8 and 9). Can virtual current chopping cause multiple re-strikes when opening the circuit breaker contacts? It is probably no problem when interrupting the start of a large Refiner motor. The starting current is very high. If a re-strike occurs in the first breaking phase the 60 Hz current is zero in that phase and the currents in the other phases are high due to the phase angle between the voltages. Virtual current chopping can only occur if the current transient transmitted &om the re-striking phase to another phase is higher. No sign of virtual current chopping was observed, which confirms the discussion above.

Case 1. The closings of the breakers with damping resistors showed a large number of pre-strikes with a high repetition rate (170 kHz). The difference between the case with other motors running is the capacitance at the source side of the breakers. The resonance frequency (f;,) of the current through the breaker is given by the capacitance at both sides of the breaker and the inductance.

fo =

1
I

=kHz

Measurement 0 5 6 .

If the source capacitance is much less than the load (motor side) capacitance the resonance frequency is given only by the source capacitance. The criteria for a series resonance circuit to become more than critically damped is that the damping constant (y) is larger than the angular resonance frequency (coo).

Y20

2R Y =-L
I

10
T i m e (msi

12

14

16

18

20

0 0

= 2@0

Fig. 8 Interruption of a motor start with 50 R damping resistors. One re-strike is recorded (QUNO).

A decreased capacitance increases the resonance frequency; with the resistance and inductance unchanged, the damping criteria above may no longer be fulfilled.

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To achieve the same conditions when operating the motor vacuum circuit breaker without or with other motors running, the capacitance of the source side of the breakers could be increased. A suggestion (which has not been verified by measurements) is to install the same size surge capacitors and damping resistors at the transformer secondary terminals.

VI. DISCUSSION When using vacuum circuit breakers multiple pre-strikes and re-strikes may occur. Properly chosen RC-protection prevents multiple pre- and re-strikes, however the wavesloping effect of the surge capacitors is decreased. With damping resistors there is still the first single pre-strike and re-strike. The slopes of the voltage transients caused by the single pre- and re-strike will be higher with damping resistors, but the advantage of eliminating the multiple restrike is higher. When considering installation of damping resistors (or RC-protection if surge capacitors are not installed) some recommendations can be given based upon the results from the measurements at the three mills.
1. How large is the capacitance of the source side of the breaker? Is it low compared with the capacitance of the surge motor capacitors?

Case 3. To avoid unnecessary stress of the motor insulation due to the risk for multiple re-strikes; no interrupted motor starts were made. However, this should be performed also after the installation of surge capacitors and damping resistors at the transformer secondary terminals, and verify if this measure eliminates the prestrikes.
V. STATOR INSULATION FAILURES DUE TO MULTIPLE RE-STRIKES Using vacuum circuit breakers, hundreds of fast voltage transients can occur during the first few milliseconds. The cause is multiple re-strikes when opening the breaker. The characteristic of the transients is voltage steps from negative to positive voltages (or vice versa) in microseconds. The amplitude of the voltage at the motor side of the breaker increases for every re-strike. Why are multiple re-strikes dangerous for motor windings? 1. The change in polarity makes it possible to reach voltage levels twice the surge arrester rating across the stator winding. 2. Due to the fast rise-time the voltage is not uniformly distributed across the stator winding. The inter turn insulation of the motor winding may be overstressed.
3. The number of transients at each occasion is high and the time between two transients is short.

If the capacitance is low, the effect of surge capacitors with damping resistors installed at the transformer secondary terminals could be tested. The location of the damped surge capacitors should be at the transformer terminals to avoid reflection of the surges, in the same manner as the motor cable. This is a proposal that has not yet been verified by measurements. 2. Which type of cables are used for the motors? Is there more than one three phase cable? If there is more than one conductor per phase, the surge impedance is lower. The value of the damping resistors should be less than three times the surge impedance of the cables [2]. The inductance (L) per meter and the capacitance (C) per meter give the surge impedance (Zs) of a cable.

4. At multiple re-strikes, voltage transients occur not only at the re-striking phase but also in all three phases due to the capacitive coupling between the phases.

5. Voltage transients occur not only on the motor side of the breaker but also on the bus-side at multiple re-strikes. In the case when other motors are running on the same switchgear bus they will also be exposed to voltage transients when multiple re-strikes occur at one motor.
Multiple re-strikes do not occur in all systems with vacuum circuit breakers due to the combination of the circuit parameters. If multiple re-strikes do occur the number of possible re-strikes and the amplitudes may be limited. These are the reasons why motor insulation failures do not always happen.

3. Due to the complexity of the high frequency circuit the installation of damping resistors should be verified by measurements.
4. When performing the measurements always look for pre-strikes at closing of the breakers. If multiple prestrikes are found, no interrupted motor starts should be made without damping resistors to avoid unnecessary stress to the motor insulation. Install the damping resistors and verify the effect on pre-strikes. If multiple pre-strikes are eliminated, interrupted motor starts can now be performed to verify the effect on multiple re-strikes.

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FOOTNOTES
( I ) The paper was first presented a t the 81 Annual Meeting of the Technical Section, CPPA, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, January 30 to February 3rd,1995.

REFERENCES
[ l ] F. Battiwala, H. Fink, M. Rimmrott, W. Schultz. Vakuum-leistlungsschalter 3AF und Vakuumschutze 3TL im Netzbetrieb. Siemens Energietechnik 3 (198 1).

(2) The paper was also published in the July, 1997 issue of Pulp and Paper Canada, pages 32 to 36. (3) The QUNO Corporation name has now changed to Donohue, Thorold, Ontario, Canada.
(4) Mr. Eichenberg is now employed with Rondar, Engineering and Technical Services, Nepean, Ontario, Can ad a.

[2] R.E. Pretorius. Optimised surge suppression on high voltage vacuum contactor controlled motors. IEE Conf. Publ. 210, 1982, pp. 65-70. [3] A. Luza, A. Priess. Switching of motors during start up. Siemens Power Engineering & Automation V11 (1985)No. 3. [4] E. Colombo, G. Costa, L. Piccareta. Results of an investigation on the overvoltages due to a vacuum circuitbreaker when switching an H.V. motor. IEEE transaction on Power Delivery, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 1988. [5] M. Murano, T. Fujii, H. Nishikawa, S. Nishiwaki, M. Okawa. Voltage escalation in interrupting inductive current by vacuum switches. IEEE transaction on Power App. & Syst., Vol. 93, NO. 1, pp. 264-271, 1974. [6] ABB Corporate Research Document, Ref. No. SECRCIKGITR-93I059 September 24, 1993, Measurement of voltage transients during motor breaker operation Gold River. [7] ABB Laboratory Report Document, Ref. No. SECRC/KE/LR-94/033, July 1, 1994, Measurements of voltage transients during motor breaker operations at Avenor, Thunder Bay. [SI ABB Laboratory Report Document, Ref. No. SECRCIKEILR-94I032,June 20, 1994, Measurements of voltage transients during motor breaker operation QUNO. [9] Harvey Hennenfent, Multiple Re-strike Phenomenon when Using Vacuum Circuit Breakers to Start Refiner Motors, in 3rdEastern Canadian Pulp and Paper Industry ElectricalIInstrumentation Conference Record, October 35 , 1995.

(5) The authors gave permission to Mr. Philip Fransen, IEEE Senior Member, Fransen Engineering Ltd., Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, to format the manuscript for the IEEE/IAS 1998 Pulp and Paper Industry Conference. Mr. Fransen is a member of PPIC executive committee and the Drives and Controls subcommittee. (6) No stator failures have occurred a t Thunder Bay prior to and following the installation of damping resistors. (7) Avenor has a pulp and paper mill in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada with an identical T M P facility to Thunder Bay. The same damping resistors (35 a)were added as a precautionary measure.
(8) The T M P facility a t Gold River has been demolished. Only one motor out of seven in service required a complete rewind. Partial repairs were made to two other stators prior to installation of the damping resistors.

(9) The installation of damping resistors with other recommended modifications has extended the stator insulation life of the QUNO synchronous motors. Only one motor stator out of eight in service required a complete rewind. Partial repairs to one other stator was completed. The integrity of the insulation is periodically checked with Partial Discharge testing.

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