GE launches Arc Vault system this summer

New technology will stop arc fault in 8 milliseconds



GE will deliver the first Arc Vault system in the third quarter of 2010, earlier than originally planned, because of what the company said was "the overwhelming feedback received from customers and the expected demand."

A new option will allow the Arc Vault system to be retrofitted onto both GE and non-GE low voltage switchboards, switchgear and motor control centers to expand its application for most existing facilities.

"We received a terrific response to our presentation anddemonstration at the 2009 IEEE IAS (Industry Applications Society) Petroleum and Chemical Industry Technical Conference, in Anaheim," said Paul Foody, general manager, product management for GE Energy‘s electrical distribution business. "Since then we've been contacted by many customers requesting more information so we have decided to speed up the first delivery of the system to meet the expected demand."

The arc fault protection technology will stop an arcing fault in less than eight milliseconds to provide increased arc flash hazard mitigation with equipment doors open or closed. Expected to be the fastest arcing fault containment technology in the industry, it can help reduce the occurrence and severity of work-related injuries and lost productivity.

The first release of Arc Vault system will feature an activation switch that can be used during routine maintenance to put the low-voltage equipment into a high-protection mode. When an arc flash event occurs, the system will send a signal to the arc containment device. The arc is then diverted to the containment system in less than one-half cycle or eight milliseconds. At the same time the decision to divert the arc is made, the system will also make a decision to open an upstream circuit breaker. This will turn off the system in approximately three cycles, at which point the arc in the containment system will terminate.

"Depending on site conditions, we estimate that this new option will enable the retrofit installation to be completed within a day," said Foody.

Electrical shock and burn were responsible for the deaths of 2,287 U.S. workers and lost productivity from another 32,807 American employees during a seven-year period beginning in 1992 - nearly one fatality every day of the year, according to a study by the Department of Labor‘s Bureau of Statistics. Non-fatal injuries, 38 percent classified as electrical burns, caused an average of 13 days away from work.

"We're excited about our ability to react quickly to the feedback received from customers and we are sure that all safety-conscious plant managers and consultants will welcome this arc protection technology that specifically addresses the arc flash hazard identified by the IEEE 1584 and NFPA 70E standards covering arc flash protection in the workplace," said Foody.

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