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Ask The Experts Blog

I have this great new product that is nearly as conductive as copper, can I simply add a few conductors and use it on my substation ground grid?

It sounds like you have a really excellent product, however you cannot simply add a few conductors and ground rods to make up for the difference in material.  The change in materials in the grounding system will impact the propagation of the fault in many different and complex ways.  A change of this sort must be properly analyzed using computer models and fault simulation software.  Whatever engineering firm did the original substation human safety design has taken legal responsibility for meeting 29 CFR 1910.269.  Any unauthorized changes to the design, including changes in materials, must be approved.  In our opinion, the Human Safety Study on the grounding system would need to be reanalyzed if you were to change materials.

Consider the following scenario; you have a new car and the dealer wants to save a few dollars by changing the brakes to a material that is rated 40% as effective.  What that really means, is that your car’s brakes are 60% less effective at braking.  Even if the dealer was to guess and oversize the brakes to hopefully make up the difference, would you really want to drive this car?  Maybe this change will in fact work, but without a proper study, there is no way that the car manufacturer would take responsibility for the unauthorized change.

I know that you really want to be able to replace the copper conductors with your new product simply by adding a few components to the grounding system, but that is simply not the case. Changing materials in a grounding study is a big issue, particularly when dealing with human safety.  The law is clear (29 CFR 1910.269), you MUST conduct a new grounding study.

We are of course more than happy to help you with a new grounding study of your system, but if not us, please get someone with the proper engineering software to conduct this critical human safety analysis.  We recommend and use the CDEGS Engineering Software from Safe Engineering Services ltd; whoever you use should have this software or similar to properly conduct this study.  Feel free to contact call us at 310-318-7151 and we will be glad to discuss your project with you.

Best regards,

The Engineering Team at E&S Grounding Soltuions

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