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Voltage transmission & distribution

If you look back over history you will find how things started out from the early engineers and scientists looking at materials and developing systems that would meet their transmission goals. I recall when drives (essentially ac/dc/ac converters) had an upper limit around 200 to 230 volts). In Edison and Tesla days there was a huge struggle to pick DC or AC and AC prevailed mainly because it was economical to make AC machines. Systems were built based on available materials and put in operation. Some worked great some failed. When they failed they were analyzed and better systems built. Higher and higher voltages lowered copper content and therefore cost as insulators improved. Eventually commitees formed and reviewed what worked and developed standards. Then by logical induction it was determined what advances could be made in a cost effective and reliable manner. A lot of "use this" practice crept in. By this I mean for example, I worked at a company and one customer bought 3,000 transformers over the course of ten years, They had a specific size enclosure they wanted.

Due to high volume purchase the cost of the enclosure was low. Other small jobs came thru and this low cost enclosure was used on them to expedite delivery and keep cost minimum. Guess what, that enclosure is now a standard enclosure there because it was used on hundreds of designs over ten years. Is it the most economical box, probably not in the pure engineering sense but changing something that works is seldom a good idea. Today, they are raising voltage levels to new high values. I read of a project in Germany to run HVDC linesover huge distance. They are working to overcome a problem they foresee. How do you break the circuit with HVDC economically. If you ever put DC thru a small contactor maybe 600VDC you find quickly that the arc opening the contactor melts the contacts. Now, what do you do at 800kVDC or 1.2MVDC. What will the cost of the control circuit be to control this voltage level. (Edison and Tesla all over again)And there you have it, my only push for the subject of history to be taught.

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