An electrical reactor is simply an inductor or a coil with a large number of turns and high ohmic resistance value. When current flows through it, magnetic field is formed around the coil. An inductor tends to flow continuously at the given rate for any instant of time. Due to this tendency of the inductor, it is widely used for the purpose of limiting the rate of change of current in the circuit.
In the electrical industry, there are different types of electrical reactors available to suit different requirements. Some of them are described below:
- Smoothing Reactor
- Current Limiting Reactor
- Shunt Reactor
- Damping Reactor
- Thyristor Controlled Reactor
- Filter Reactor
- Test Reactor
Smoothing reactor is a kind of electrical reactor which when connected in high voltage direct current system serially smoothens the direct current wave shape. It helps in reducing or minimizing harmonic current, current ripples or transient current and thereby, improves the overall performance and dynamic stability of the system.
It is used as either part of the converter station or back-to-back interconnection between different networks of power transmission.
Current Limiting Reactor
Widely used in the power transmission applications, current limiting reactor is designed to limit the heavy current flow in different sections of the system. It is also connected in series and generally used to reduce short-circuit currents caused often by the expansion of power plants or addition of power source. It brings down the current to a safe level which can be properly handled by the existing distribution and transmission equipment.
Unlike current limiting and smoothing reactor, a shunt reactor is connected in parallel to the power system. It is known to absorb the reactor power which further assists in increasing the efficiency of the system. It compensates for capacitive VARs (volt-ampere reactive) present in low powered transmission lines or underground cables. This counterbalance helps to make sure that operating voltages are within tolerable limits and the system is operating without any glitches.
Also called capacitor damping reactors, they are connected in series with shunt-connected capacitor bank. They are able to damp or limit inrush and transient currents and also withstand the rated current and fault current during short-circuit event. When connected with the capacitor, these reactors lower inrush peak currents down to the value which cannot stress the insulation and also doesn’t harm any internal connections of elements of a capacitor.
Known as TCR in short, they are installed in series with a bidirectional thyristor valve. They serve the purpose of limiting the rise of voltages on lightly loaded transmission lines. In simple words, it is used to protect the sensitive thyristor valve from damages caused by flashovers and lightning strikes.
A filter reactor is broadly used for protection of reactive power compensation equipment. It controls the amplitude of ripple current and overload caused by excessive harmonic levels in medium and low voltage distribution systems. It can be connected in series as well as in parallel.
As the name applies, a test reactor is used for synthetic testing of circuit breakers. They are primarily used in high-voltage and high power laboratories. Other applications include current limiting, inductive energy storage and simulation circuits.
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