The short-circuit duty is determined by the maximum short-circuit that the rotating machinery connected to the system at the time of short circuit can pass through the breaker to a point just beyond the breaker, at the instant the breaker contacts open.

The short-circuit current is determined by the characteristics of synchronous and induction machines connected to the system at the time of the short circuit, the impedance between them and the point of short circuit, and the elapsed time between the starting of the short circuit and the parting of the breaker contacts.

In calculating short-circuit currents of high-voltage ac circuit, it is ordinarily sufficiently accurate to take into account only the reactance of the machines and circuits, whereas in low-voltage circuit resistance as well as reactance may enter into the calculation. In dc circuit, resistance only is ordinarily sufficient.

For first approximations, the reactance and typical time-decrement curves of the synchronous machines may be used. For close calculations, the actual reactances and time characteristics of the equipment should be used, and calculation made for single- as well as 3-phase faults.

The “per unit” impedance system and the “internal voltage” method, using “symmetrical components,” are often used in more exact calculations. Programs are available for digital computer studies of system shortcircuit currents, both balanced 3-phase and phase-to-ground.

The interrupting capacity, in kilovolt amperes, is the product of the phase-to-ground voltage, in kilovolts, of the circuit and the interrupting ability, in amperes, at stated intervals and for a specific number of operations. The current taken is the rms value existing during the first half-cycle of arc between contacts during the opening stroke.

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