Celebrating a Century of Innovation

Celebrating a Century of Innovation

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S&C Started with a Breakthrough Invention . . .

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Electric utilities were rapidly expanding in the early 1900s. But there were setbacks along the way. Breakdowns in substations were common back then because existing technologies for interrupting current were totally inadequate. These technologies included such crude techniques as in-air arcing between carbon terminals, fuses filled with fine, non-conducting powder, and oil-filled switches. None worked reliably, and they could cause large voltage surges, which damaged equipment.

Worse, they could cause arcing from one phase wire to another, or to ground. Non-conducting powder was blown out of fuses with great force, and could scatter over an entire substation; the highly flammable oil in switches could produce intense fires capable of destroying a substation.

After a particularly bad fire in 1909 at Commonwealth Edison’s Fisk Generating Station in Chicago, the utility asked Edmund O. Schweitzer and Nicholas J. Conrad to find a better way to tame high-voltage arcing. Together, they came up with the Liquid Power Fuse, a spring-loaded fuse inside a glass tube filled with a fire-suppressing liquid, carbon tetrachloride. When short-circuit current melted the fuse, the spring was released and stretched out the arc, which was “quenched” inside the tube. After the faulted circuit was repaired and a new fuse was installed, the old fuse could be rebuilt.

It was a breakthrough idea . . . and they knew it. In 1911, the two men formed Schweitzer and Conrad, Inc., today known as S&C Electric Company. Thus began a 100-year journey of innovation as electricity transformed society — a journey that continues today with a new revolution driven by electronics and renewable energy.

. . . And the Innovations Continue Today

Since the company’s founding, S&C has championed innovation, introducing unique technology that minimizes the impact of — and even prevents — power outages. We continue to advance new solutions for electric power delivery systems as the electric grid undergoes transformative change in this century. Utilities today are working to integrate renewable energy sources, address peak loading issues, and manage the demand aberrations of plug-in electric vehicles. S&C is innovating technologies essential for the increasingly dynamic and complex electric grid, with breakthrough offerings including the award-winning IntelliRupter® PulseCloser® Fault Interrupter, TripSaver® II Cutout-Mounted Recloser, IntelliTeam® SG Automation Restoration System, and systems that integrate energy storage to the grid.

S&C also opened its Advanced Technology Center (ATC), a high-power testing laboratory that enables S&C to accelerate the development and delivery of solutions that are essential for the intelligent grid of the 21st century.

Today, S&C is a global company with operations around the world. Learn more by watching the following video.