Intrinsically Safe (IS) Active Power Supplies

Walpole, Mark Edward (2003) Intrinsically Safe (IS) Active Power Supplies. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Intrinsically safe (IS) active power supplies subjected to certain transient load conditions can deliver power to a circuit at significantly higher levels than indicated on their nameplate ratings. During a transient load such as an intermittent short-circuit, energy is transferred from the power supply to the short-circuit and an electrical arc may form when the short-circuit is applied or removed. This poses a spark ignition risk as energy is transferred from the arc to the surrounding atmosphere.

Currently various International and Australian Standards define the performance requirements for IS electrical apparatus. A duly accredited laboratory is required to establish the intrinsic safety compliance of an apparatus with the Standards. It involves an assessment of the apparatus and may include testing. The assessment of the apparatus determines adequate segregation, separation, construction, and selection of components. The tests performed on the apparatus include a temperature rise test and in some cases, the sparking potential of the circuit is tested using the spark test apparatus (STA). Testing the sparking potential of active power supplies to establish compliance adds significantly to the time and costs involved in establishing compliance.

A new alternative assessment method is proposed in this report to augment or replace the testing phase of the compliance certification process for active power supplies. The proposed alternative assessment method (PAAM) is derived from a determination of the steady-state and transient output characteristics of the active power supply under consideration. Parameters such as peak output current, time constant of peak current decay, and the output voltages at these times are measured from the circuit's output characteristics. These measurements can subsequently be used to derive the topology and component values of an equivalent circuit. The resulting equivalent circuit is then considered like a linear power supply and the sparking potential can be determined using existing assessment methods.

This thesis investigates in detail the equivalent circuit of a number of direct current (DC) active power supplies whose transient output characteristics exhibit predominantly capacitive behaviour. The results of the PAAM using the equivalent circuit are then compared with results achieved using the current testing procedure with a STA.

A small sample of active power supplies is used to generate data from which a relationship between the current testing procedure and the PAAM can be established.

The PAAM developed in this research project can be used as a pre-compliance check by designers, manufacturers, or IS testing stations. A failure of this test would indicate that the active power supply's sparking energy is not low enough to be regarded as intrinsically safe. The PAAM requires fewer resources to establish a result than the STA. The benefits of a simplified spark ignition test would flow on from designers and manufacturers to end users.

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ID Code: 15896
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Tang, Tee, Birch, Jim, & Birtwhistle, David
Keywords: intrinsic safety, intrinsically safe, active power supply, modelling, equivalent circuit, intrinsic safety Standards, intrinsic safety assessment method
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Mark Edward Walpole
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:52
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:40

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