Influence of the skin effect and current risetime on the fragmentation of wires by pulsed currents

D. P. Wall, J. E. Allen, S. Molokov

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This study considers the physical phenomenon whereby wires may fragment in the solid state when subject to a sufficiently high pulsed electric current. A mathematical model is constructed within continuum mechanics which considers both Lorentz force and thermal mechanisms for the creation of stress waves in a wire. Previous studies are extended by including the skin effect, that is allowing for the diffusion of current density across the wire, and also investigating the influence of current risetime. Axisymmetric solutions are sought for rigid-lubricated, clamped, and free wire ends. Analytical solutions are obtained for the case of rigid-lubricated wire ends, while for the other cases the governing equations are solved numerically using an application-specific explicit finite-difference scheme, which is staggered in time and space. The inclusion of the skin effect leads to significant qualitative and quantitative differences in results. For example, in some cases we find tension in the longitudinal (τzz) stress component, which experiments suggest to be responsible for the fragmentation process, while the uniform-current model predicts compression. In most cases, the inclusion of the skin effect leads to higher peak tensile τzz stresses. Some understanding of the present results is gained with reference to analytical quasistatic solutions. Stresses generated by the Lorentz force mechanism are found to be more sensitive than those generated by the thermal mechanism to the current risetime. In both cases axial stresses increase with decreasing current risetime. Despite the differences in the results obtained with the inclusion of the skin effect, our results support the broad conclusions of the uniform-current model results; the largest stresses are found at the clamps for a wire with clamped ends, while the largest stresses in a wire with free ends are generated by the thermal mechanism and are located at the center of the wire.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023304
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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