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Detection of underground cable fault using arduino

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The main objective of this project is to detect the faults and abnormalities occurring in underground cables using an arduino.

The basic idea behind the working of this project is ohms law. At the feeder end, when the DC voltage is applied, based on the location of fault in the cable, the value of current also changes. So, in case of a short circuit fault like line-to-ground or line-to-line fault, the change in voltage value measured across the resistor is then fed to the in-built ADC of the arduino.

This value is processed by the arduino and the fault is calculated in terms of distance from the base station.

This value is sent to the LCD interfaced to the arduino board and it displays exact location of the fault from the base station in kilometers for all the three phases.

This project is arranged with a set of resistors which represent the length of the cable. At every known kilometer fault, switches are placed to induce faults manually.

Finally, the fault distance can be determined.

Key words: Arduino UNO, Underground fault, Resistance, LCD

1.1 Project’s overview and idea

 Study of cable failure and development of accurate fault detection and location methods has been interesting yet challenging research topics in the past and present.

Fault detection entails determination of the present of a fault, while fault location includes the determination of the physical location of the fault.

Accurate permanent fault detection techniques and relatively accurate fault location methods have been developed for overhead distribution system.

However, fault detection and location technology for underground distribution systems is still in developing stage.

From a microscope perspective, cable fault refers to the abnormalities associated with any type of deteriorating phenomena manifested in the cable electrical signals.

The power industry has been developing in a challenging and competitive environment due to, the restructuring and deregulation.

This structural change has required electrical utilities to reduce operating costs and optimize usage and maintenance of electrical assets without sacrifice the quality and reliability of the power delivered to the customers [1].

Underground distribution systems are valuable assets of electrical utilities, which supply power to the end customers at low voltages.

Many of the system components, particularly underground cables, fall over time, in part due to the deterioration of the insulating materials used in their structure.

Studies reveal that cable failure rate in power systems continue to worsen as the cable ages [2].

In the past, analogue system was used to detect and locate faults. However, the need for the improvement has made it necessary to shift from analogue to digital system of fault detection and location.

This shift requires developing new tools and methods to detect and locate faults of underground distribution systems as explained in the following chapter.

In addition to degrading system reliability, cable failures cost substantial amount of money for the utilities as replacing or repairing a cable is a very costly process.

Quick detection and location of cable faults within a minimum time would undoubtedly be a great benefit to the utilities enabling them to avoid catastrophic failures, unscheduled outages and thus loss of revenues.

This project presents a tool, underground cable fault locator and a methodology for such a location system. The figure below illustrates how cables are run underground for either transmission or distribution of electric power.

1.2 Statement of research problem

Frequent faults in underground cables due to the breakdown of the paper or polymer plastic insulation due to chemical action, reaction or even poor workmanship during installation and difficulty in locating the approximate fault area have long been a serious engineering problem.

Most underground faults are located by unearthing the entire length of cable.

The process of fault detection, location, and fixing appears much more difficult and time consuming in underground systems as compare to overheard systems because some utility companies like the energy of Cameroon(ENEO),where in some urban areas like Douala, power distribution lines that runs underground, currently lacks proper fault location techniques.

Few months ago, this utility company (Eneo Cameroon) announced to it customer of BONANJO, BONABRISO, BALI, KOUMASSI, BRASSERIES, CENTRAL MARKET, AKWA, NEW BELL, and NKOULOULOUN that the power cut they were experiencing that began on Sunday, December 23, 2019 around 06:55 am was due to damaged cables.

The fault was located on a segment of underground cables, in a 5 kilometer area, no the Logbaba-Koumassi transmission line.

A teenager damaged the cables while digging holes to plant goals for a football match at the playground opposite TRACTAFRIC [3].

In the neighborhood, several residences and businesses are built along the corridor of the underground network, making repair difficult as to locate and detect the position and type of fault respectively.

The reconstruction of the damaged cable lasted for nine days. The company explained that, the excess time taken to carryout repair was due to the lack of accurate fault detection and location methods [6].

This project is aimed at designing and building an accurate and affordable system of underground cable fault detection and locations with the use of a microcontroller.

1.2.1 Signification of the Research

Underground cable constitutes the heart of any power distribution system. This research work will help this utility company in easy identification and location of underground cable fault without unearthing the entire length of the cable before repair or replacing the entire cable due to difficulties in detecting or locating the fault.

1.3 Project objectives

1.3.1 Main objective:

To come up with a relatively affordable fault detection and location system that will limit the hardships associated with fault detection and location in underground power distribution system.

1.3.2 Specific objectives:

  1. To establish the extent of underground power distribution lines used and the challenges associated with fault detection and location in them so as to justify the need for this project.
  2. To evaluate various cable parameters monitoring technologies in practice.
  • To construct a prototype for underground cable fault detecting and locating system by integrating all the functional components.
  1. To select components and design the functional parts of the proposed system.
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