Arc Flash Research Project

A collaborative effort between IEEE and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

OUR RESEARCH

What We Need to Learn

Heat
Burns are the most commonly reported effects of arc flash. Validation and extension of information relating electrical energy to burn potential will be conducted.

Pressure
Past incidents and some research have demonstrated that an arcing fault generates a pressure wave. More information is needed to predict the intensity of the pressure wave and determine its consequences. Specifically, the maximum amount of pressure in addition to the pressure differential that a worker might encounter would identify potential injuries and protective strategies. As part of this study, the mitigating or complicating effects of enclosure construction and geometry will be considered.

Sound
Pressure from arcing faults can result in hearing damage to workers. More information is needed about the intensity of these sound pressure waves. As part of this evaluation, research will determine what methods of hearing protection are most practical and how effectively personal protective equipment (PPE) can attenuate sound.

Toxicity
The composition of the plasma in an electrical arc and the resultant gases that are released will be studied. The gases will be analyzed to determine their toxic and corrosive components. The effects of these components on personnel and on PPE will also be evaluated.

PPE
Personal protective equipment has been the primary protective strategy for electrical workers. Research is needed to determine how effective PPE has been in protecting workers from the various hazards of an arc flash/arc blast incident. In addition, injuries to workers who were not wearing appropriate protective clothing will be analyzed.

Medical Effects
More needs to be understood about the effect of various wavelengths of energy in arcing faults on the human body. The potential of this energy to cause injury to eyes, ear drums, and other organs needs to be better understood. This information will influence the design and application of various types of PPE as well as work practices.