Arc Vault Significantly Reduces Electrical Hazards

Recently, technology developed at GE Global Research received high praise from industry leaders for its ability to shield industrial – workers from explosive and deadly arcing current. Plant Engineering magazine named GE’s Arc Vault its ‘Product of the Year.”

Conceptualized at the company’s India Technology Center by Asokan T, a Chief Scientist at the Center, the Arc Vault represents a breakthrough in the area of electrical safety.  The arc vault works on the principle of transfer of an open arc flash to a safe containment.  The transfer of arc flash energy is accomplished by triggering an ablative plasma gun to generate a 3-phase fault within a safe containment.  The plasma gun operates in few tens of micro-seconds and the energy transfer occurs < 1milli-second.  The total duration (sensing, decision making and triggering) of arc vault to stop and contain a lethal arcing fault is less than eight milliseconds – as much as 10 times faster than conventional methods. This could result in lives saved and equipment being spared significant damage.

Statistics show arcing current is not only a dangerous problem, but a costly one for manufacturers.  According to engineering services company, ESA, there are as many as 10 incidents daily at plants in the U.S. resulting in losses of $1 billion annually.

“Arcing fault in electric systems is a major electrical hazard in the world.  The critical factors for arc fault protection are speed and reliability,” says Chief Scientist, T Asokan, who was recently made an IEEE fellow for his contributions to the development of innovative technologies for electrical safety and protection.  “GE’s arc vault technology deviates from conventional methods to achieve even faster responses to stop and contain dangerous arcing current.  I am delighted to see GE’s technology recognized so highly by the end users.”

Bob Vavra, editor of Plant Engineering magazine says, “Winners are selected by a vote of qualified Plant Engineering subscribers – the engineers who buy, specify and use these products on a daily basis. They are the most qualified people you can find to understand how new products reduce energy costs, ensure safety and improve productivity on the manufacturing plant floor. That’s why the Plant Engineering Product of the Year award is so highly regarded in our industry.”

The Arc Vault works by isolating the open or exposed arc and containing it. .  The system consists of an activation switch, a protective trip unit and a containment dome, all working together to provide fast protection from arc flash hazards. With the activation switch enabled, the trip unit will look for a current spike, and if necessary, trigger the containment dome and call for the main breaker to trip – stopping the deadly current before it can result in widespread explosion or fire. A secondary arc fault is created within the containment dome, which can extinguish the arc flash almost instantly. The secondary arc flash continues, protected in the containment dome, until the main breaker clears and de-energizes the entire system.

Congratulations to all members of the GE Global Research team who contributed to the development of the arc flash absorber technology.