Thyristor Protection: Thyristor protection is needed to ensure that its specified ratings are not exceeded during its operation.
We apply the following measures for thyristor protection.
When VAK> 0 and Ig> 0, conduction of anode current begins near gate cathode junction. After that anode current spreads in the whole area of the gate cathode junction (as explained earlier). If the rate of rising of anode current (di/dt) is greater than the spread velocity of carriers, local hot spots will be formed near the gate due to high current density which may destroy the thyristor. Hence, di/dt thyristor protection is required.
The di/dt is maintained within limit by using an inductor in series with an anode circuit. An inductor opposes the change in current.
Current in SCR to turn on transient can be reduced by connecting a small inductor in series with the anode.
dv/dt Protection of Thyristor
If the rate of rising of VAK is high then the thyristor may get turn ON (explained earlier in dv/dt triggering). If we don’t want to turn ON the thyristor then we have to reduce dv/dt. So, accidental turn ON due to dv/dt can be check by using the snubber circuit shown in the figure. Here, the snubber circuit provides dv/dt protection to the thyristor.
When switch S is closed, sudden voltage is applied to the circuit. Capacitor CS acts as a short circuit so the voltage across SCR is zero. As time passes voltage across CS builds up at a slow rate. Before SCR is fired by gate pulse, CS charges to full voltage Vs. When SCR is on then the capacitor discharges through SCR. This discharging current is very high which may destroy SCR as the resistance of the local path formed by CS and SCR is low. A current limiting resistor RS is introduced in the circuit which helps to limit this discharging current and protect SCR.
Normally RS, CS, and load circuits form an under-damped circuit to limit dv/dt.
Overcurrent Protection of Thyristor
A fuse is attached in series with SCR so that when the current goes above-rated current, the fuse gets blown off. Hence fuse helps in the protection of the thyristor.
Overvoltage Protection of Thyristor
For overvoltage protection of thyristor, we attach a varistor in parallel to SCR. A varistor is a metal oxide non-linear resistor whose v-i characteristics are nonlinear. So as voltage increases, the slope of v-I characteristics of varistor decreases, or resistance decreases or it offers less resistance. So it offers high resistance at low voltage and low resistance at high voltage.
Suppose voltage across thyristor is high, then varistor offers a low resistance at this voltage. It means voltage drop across varistor is low as it is in parallel with SCR so the voltage across SCR will also be below.
To keep the temperature within the limit, a suitable heat sink is provided in SCR.
Gate Protection of Thyristor
We place a Zener diode parallel to SCR which maintains a constant voltage across SCR and protects it from overvoltage. Resistance is also placed which limits gate current and protects SCR from overcurrent. A capacitor and a resistor combination are also placed to increase the noise immunity of SCR.
Heat Sink for Thyristor Protection
We mount the heat sink on the thyristor and to get the best results per unit cost, we use aluminum heat sinks.
Notes on Thyristor Protection
In thyristor, a high rate of rising voltage does not cause damage to the SCR, it will make the SCR turn ON (without gate signal).