Arc Blasts: How Do They Differ from Arc Flash and What’s the Danger?

June 2nd, 2017 Terry Sabers

Arc Blasts: How Do They Differ from Arc Flash and What’s the Danger?An arc flash and arc blast are related, but there is a difference between the two. What is an arc blast? How does it differ from an arc flash and what is the danger?

We’ve previously discussed the dangers of arc flash, but the resulting arc blast can pose an even greater threat. Arc blast occurs when electricity passing through two conductors jumps through the air. In many cases an arc blast is triggered by a tool or conductive object being passed close to the electrical conductors. The event is distinctly noticeable as it is accompanied by a flash that resembles an explosion. An arc blast is most common with a high-voltage system, but can also occur with standard household voltage.

An arc blast occurs during an arc flash and is an explosive release of energy that is created during an arc flash. All About Circuits notes that temperatures can reach as high as 35,000 degrees F or higher – hotter than the sun! At this temperature, the conductive materials vaporize and a pressure wave forms, throwing shrapnel and creating an incredible pressure wave.

The arc blast itself has enough energy to throw a person across a room. It also has sufficient energy to destroy adjacent walls. In addition to the destructive energy of the pressure wave, an arc blast also propels shrapnel and vaporized metal and other materials at a high velocity. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy reports that the pressure wave generated during an arc blast can have a force in excess of 2,000 pounds per square foot.

Without the proper PPE, an arc blast frequently results in serious injury or death for anyone nearby, as well as significant damage to equipment and buildings. Victims of an arc blast who do survive typically experience significant burns, hearing loss and blindness. The high temperatures generated can cause serious burns at a distance of 10 feet or more from the source. The pressure and noise, which is louder than a jet engine, can rupture eardrums. Lung and airway damage is also common due to inhaling vaporized metals and other materials.

Arc flash and arc blast are both very serious risks when dealing with electrical systems. This is why only qualified and experienced professionals should service the electrical system at your business. If you need to make repairs or upgrades to your existing electrical service, call the team at Muth Electric. We can also perform an arc flash study to evaluate your existing system for potential arc flash hazards and offer methods to minimize and prevent these incidents from occurring. Learn more or schedule a service appointment today by calling 605-996-3983.



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