What is in this article?:
- The Case of the Exploding Capacitor
- Sidebar: Power Factor Trivia
Oil-filled power factor correction capacitor failure produces fireball that leaves plant operator with severe injuries.
Sidebar: Power Factor Trivia
According to a large capacitor manufacturer, approximately half of all large industrial plants operate at a power factor of less than 0.85. While it is commonly known that lower power factor results in higher utility cost, you might not know that:
- Raising power factor will also reduce peak charges.
- Your system capacity will increase with a higher power factor.
- Lighting and motor performance will benefit from improved power factor.
- Low power factor increases I2R losses and voltage drop in lines.
After studying this particular manufacturer’s catalog, I found several fuses (indicating and non-indicating), specifically made for capacitor applications. Based on my firm’s office specifications for power factor correction capacitors, the standard spec calls for 110% of rated voltage and 104°F. Clearly, this application was a bit over the recommended limits, given the location and application in a generating station not subject to any public service agency requirements.