Milestone-Proposal:Gapless Metal Oxide Surge Arrester (MOSA) for electric power systems,1975

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Docket #:2013-01

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Gapless Metal Oxide Surge Arrester (MOSA) for electric power systems,1975

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

Gapless Metal Oxide Surge Arrester (MOSA) for electric power systems,1975

Meidensha Corporation developed MOSA and its mass production system by innovating on Panasonic Corporation’s ZnO varistor basic patent. MOSA dramatically raised performance levels against multiple lightning strikes and contamination and led to the UHV protective device development. This technology contributed to improving the safety and reliability of electric power systems and to establishing the international standards.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Tokyo Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

Milestone proposer(s):

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Meiden R&D Center Meidensha Corporation  2-8-1, Osaki, Shinagawa-ku               Tokyo, 141-8565, Japan 

Latitude: 35.637915 Longitude: 139.715213

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The MOSA had been developed at Meiden R&D Center since 1970s. Therefore, the intended site has a direct connection.

Are the original buildings extant?

No, a new R&D building of Meidensha Corporation (“MEIDEN”) was rebuilt at same location.

Details of the plaque mounting:

We intend to install the milestone plaque at the secured zone in the entrance of Meiden R&D Center.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The people are able to see the plaque in the secured zone by getting inside the entrance hall of Meiden R&D Center.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Meidensha Corporation

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

Overvoltages in electrical supply networks result from the effects of lightning strokes and switching actions and cannot be avoided. They endanger the electrical equipment, because, due to the economical reasons, the voltage withstanding capability of the insulation cannot be designed for all possible cases. Therefore, an economical and reliable service calls for extensive protection of the electrical equipment against unacceptable overvoltages. This applies to all power network systems.

The overvoltages from lightning strokes and switching action are most dangerous threat for power electric systems. The so called “conventional surge arresters” were mostly used in power electric systems until mid 1980s in the world. They consist of a series connection of SiC resistor elements (non-linear resistors) and spark gaps and are placed in porcelain housing and are often called “conventional gapped type arresters”.

Conventional gapped type arresters have a couple of disadvantages: They reduce overvoltages only when the breakdown voltage of the spark gaps is achieved. The breakdown voltage of the spark gaps depends on the steepness of the incoming voltage which results in a bad protection especially for steep overvoltage. If the outside insulation of the arrester is polluted, the potential distribution can shift along the active part, and this can cause unwanted sparkover in the spark gaps, which in the end may destroy the arrester.

Design of insulation in the power transmission system depends largely on the protective characteristics of surge arresters. As the power grids were expanding with higher transmission voltage in 1970s, the conventional gapped type arresters used before the introduction of the work could not satisfy the new requirements.  The conventional gapped type arrester was sometimes failed by natural phenomena for example multi-lightning and arrester housing pollution (contamination).

Electric power utility companies demanded the development of high performance surge arresters to be used for the next-generation UHV power transmission systems and also compact high-performance and high-reliability surge arresters to be used in the application for GIS (tank type arrester for gas insulated switchgear).

Panasonic Corporation (Panasonic) had discovered ZnO varistor as a surge absorber for electronic devices below dozens of volts and defined its basic principle. Meidensha Corporation (MEIDEN) developed gapless surge arrester for power electric systems based on Panasonic’s patent. MOSA was the first gapless surge arrester that could meet the tough electric power systems application needs of world-wide power utilities. Consequently, conventional gapped type surge arresters were disappeared except some special applications.

MOSA has contributed to improving the reliability against multi-lightning and housing pollution-derived problems. Furthermore it ignited the births of economical design for power network systems and power electric equipment. MOSA became the de facto standard and later turned to JEC [1], ANSI [2], IEC [3] standards. It realized the electric power systems which has the very minimum power failure in the world.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

To apply ZnO varistors to high-voltage gapless surge arresters, MEIDEN had the various issues/challenges to be overcome as shown below:

1. Improvement of voltage-current characteristic of ZnO element and energy absorbing capability. (This was solved by finding the best balance of main ZnO component and several additives.) 2. Preventing flashover outside by steep high current lightning. (This was solved by coating the ZnO element side with a ceramic insulator.) 3. Making sure that the life of the ZnO element when continuous voltage is applied to it over a long period of time. (This was solved by establishing a life estimation method and supporting field tests.) 4. Establishment of mass-production technology of ZnO elements for the power systems use. (This was solved by unique production system of ZnO elements which are mixed, granulated, formed, sintered into a complete block with electrodes on the both surfaces.) 5. Contribution to establishing the application standardization of MOSA for power systems. (MEIDEN assisted and helped harmonization process by presenting the various papers (introducing the experiences from the actual MOSA production) at WG37.04, a sub division of IEC TC37 Technical Committee.)

For details, see [1]-[10] of `Significant References Column` below.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Conventional surge arresters for electric power systems were composed of combination of non-linear resistor element using silicon carbide ( SiC ) crystals and series gaps. As a result, they had the following disadvantages; a) They couldn’t have high reliability against the housing pollution. This causes failure of arrester derived from two different components (gap part and SiC element) in same housing and couldn’t maintain stability for multiple lightning.

b) They couldn’t satisfy the social ( user’s ) requirements for high-performance, high reliability and compactness of arresters both for GIS ( Gas Insulated Switchgear / Substation ), and for Ultra High Voltage (UHV) transmission systems.

Overcoming obstacles cited above, MEIDEN developed gapless surge arrester to solve the above issues of conventional model: a) and b). MEIDEN commercialized MOSA in 1975 and the first supply was to 66kV Hayato Substation in Kyushu Area, Japan and completed the MOSA product series for 3kV to 500 kV electric power systems during 1977-1978. MOSA became the preferred choice and de facto major arresters in the world in a few years.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

[1] JEC 217-1984 (Japanese Electrotechnical Committee Standard in English)  [2] IEEE/ANSI C62.22-1987 [3] IEC 60099-4-1991 [4] T. Nishikori, T. Masuyama, M. Matsuoka, S. Hieda, M. Kobayashi and M. Mizuno: “Zinc Oxide-based Gapless Surge Arrester for Electric Power Systems”, Paper for National Convention The Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan (IEEJ), No. 777, 1973 [5] M. Kobayashi, M. Mizuno, M. Matsuoka and M. Tanaka: “Gapless Surge Arrester for Electric Power Systems”, Paper for Research Conference , IEEJ, PD-74-12(1974) [6] M. Kobayashi, M. Mizuno, T. Aizawa, M. Hayashi and K.Mitani:  “Development of Zinc-Oxide Non-Linear Resistors and Their Applications to Gapless Surge Arresters”, IEEE PAS, Summer Meeting, F77, 682-8 (1977), IEEE, Transactions, vol. Pas-97, No.4 (1978) [7] M. Hayashi and M. Kobayashi : “Developing the First Gapless Metal Oxide(ZnO) Surge Arrester(MOSA) in the World “, IEEJ, Trans. PE, Vol. 128 No.3 (2008) [8] K. Mitani: “Journal: Birth of Gapless Surge Arrester for Electric Power Systems”, Serial Articles of power industry newspaper “Denki Shimbun”, from Nov. 30, 1978 to Jan. 21, 1979 (6) [9] Misao Kobayashi and Masao Hayashi: ”The background and history of developing Gapless Metal Oxide Surge Arrester (MOSA)”, Papers of Research Conference, History of Electrical Engineering (HEE), IEEJ, HEE8-19 and HEE10-002  [10] United States Patent 4,031,498 NON-LINEAR VOLTAGE-DEPENDENT RESISTOR

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

[11] Picture of MOSA for 66KV system used in Japanese electric company in 1975 [12] Picture of MOSA for 500kV GIS used in Japanese electric company in 1979 [13] Picture of MOSA for 500kV system used in Canadian electric company in 1979

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.

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