Arc Flash Testing Paper Wins IEEE Prize

An important 2006 paper on arc flash testing done according to the IEEE 1584 standard was named the first place prize paper recently, IEEE and the company Ferraz Shawmut announced. The paper's authors are three Ferraz Shawmut engineers and researchers who presented it at the 2006 IEEE Industry Applications Society Petroleum and Chemical Industry Technical Conference. "Effect of Insulating Barriers in Arc Flash Testing," written by Robert Wilkins, Mike Lang, and Malcolm Allison, suggests that the current method of using vertical three-phase electrodes with open tips pointing downward should be replaced with tips terminating in an insulating barrier, which produces lower arc lengths and voltages, higher arcing currents, and much higher energy density on the middle of three calorimeters. The copper electrodes erode much more with the barrier in place, increasing the copper sprayed toward the outside of the electrical box, which has important implications for PPE material testing, they concluded.

The barrier is one option that brings test results more representative of real-world conditions, the authors concluded. A simpler option they also recommend is a horizontal arrangement of open electrode tips pointing at the calorimeters, because this "is close to being a worst case," they wrote.

The three received their awards in Calgary, Canada, at the 54th Annual IEEE IAS Petroleum and Chemical Industry Technical Conference. "Words alone can't describe our gratitude to the IEEE, IAS, and PCIC for this recognition, and our company is truly fortunate to employ such talented individuals as Robert, Mike, and Malcolm," said Ken Hooper, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Ferraz Shawmut. "These continued research efforts give us greater knowledge of arc flash hazards, which can make the electrical industry safer. There's nothing more important than finding better means of protecting people." The paper received multiple reviews before being accepted for the PCIC conference and during its presentation there.

To read the paper, visit Ferraz Shawmut's U.S. operations are based in Newburyport, Mass.

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