IEEE and NFPA collaborate on arc flash initiative

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the National Fire Protection Assn. have undertaken a joint research project to expand the knowledge of electric arc phenomena. Schneider Electric announced a $500,000 contribution to the effort.


The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the National Fire Protection Assn. (NFPA) have undertaken a joint research project to expand the knowledge of electric arc phenomena, and through this research, to enhance worker safety through advances in the codes and standards relating to employee safe work practices. The IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research Project is all about protecting people.

Areas of research will include the following:

Heat: Burns are the most commonly reported effects of arc flash.

* Pressure: Past incidents and some research have demonstrated that an arcing fault generates a pressure wave. * Sound: Pressure from arcing faults can result in hearing damage to workers.
* Toxicity: The composition of the plasma in an electrical arc and the resultant gases that are released will be analyzed to determine their toxic and corrosive components.
* Medical effects: More needs to be understood about the effects on the human body of various wavelengths of energy in arcing faults.

Research and testing will focus on the following:

* Engineering-based model
* Thermal effects
* Heat transfer and injury statistics
* Hazards other than thermal and electromagnetic
* Electromagnetic hazards
* Impact of enclosures

Schneider Electric North American Operating Division, Palatine, Ill., announced a $500,000 contribution to become a platinum level sponsor of the IEEE and the NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research Project. The donation is intended to help expand the knowledge of the electric arc phenomena and enhance worker safety through advances in the codes and standards relating to safe employee work practices.

“Schneider Electric’s contribution toward arc flash research aligns with its commitment to improving electrical standards and ongoing initiatives to protect worker safety,” said Jim Pauley, vice president, industry and government relations for Schneider Electric. “We believe this project will produce the data necessary to further our understanding of the arc flash phenomena, which will help us design safer components and provide better guidelines for safely maintaining electrical equipment.”

An arc flash is an electric current that is passed through air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is no longer sufficient to withstand the applied voltage. The flash is immediate, and the results can cause severe injury. According to IEEE research, more than 2,000 times per year, workers are admitted to burn centers for treatment of extended injuries caused by arc flash.

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