An accurate electric current transducer is a key component of any power system instrumentation. To measure currents power stations and substations conventionally employ inductive type current transformers with core and windings. For high voltage applications, porcelain insulators and oil-impregnated materials have to be used to produce insulation between the primary bus and the secondary windings. The insulation structure has to be designed carefully to avoid electric field stresses, which could eventually cause insulation breakdown.
The electric current path of the primary bus has to be designed properly to minimize the mechanical forces on the primary conductors for through faults. The reliability of conventional high-voltage current transformers have been questioned because of their violent destructive failures which caused fires and impact damage to adjacent apparatus in the switchyards, electric damage to relays, and power service disruptions.
With short circuit capabilities of power systems getting larger, and the voltage levels going higher the conventional current transformers becomes more and more bulky and costly also the saturation of the iron core under fault current and the low frequency response make it difficult to obtain accurate current signals under power system transient conditions.
In addition to the concerns, with the computer control techniques and digital protection devices being introduced into power systems, the conventional current transformers have caused further difficulties, as they are likely to introduce electro-magnetic interference through the ground loop into the digital systems. This has required the use of an auxiliary current transformer or optical isolator to avoid such problems.
It appears that the newly emerged Magneto-optical current transformer technology provides a solution for many of the above mentioned problems. The MOCT measures the electric current by means of Faraday Effect, which was first observed by Michael Faraday 150 years ago. The Faraday Effect is the phenomenon that the orientation of polarized light rotates under the influence of the magnetic fields and the rotation angle is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field component in the direction of optical path.