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Arc flash safety awareness is building rapidly in India

Venugopal Pillai ,  Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 14:40 Hrs  [IST]

Sushil Virmani—Sushil Virmani, Sales Director, Electrical Sector, South Asia, Eaton

Eaton recently introduced an arc-resistant, metal-enclosed load interrupter switchgear design, providing centralized control and protection for medium-voltage power distribution equipment. We have Sushil Virmani, in this interaction with Venugopal Pillai, discussing the new technology and giving insights into “arc flash,” a potentially dangerous phenomenon seen in switchgear operations. Virmani also underscores Eaton’s consciousness in developing safe and eco-friendly solutions.

Tell us about the phenomenon of “arc formation” during switching and the potential damage that it could cause to downstream equipment.

An arc flash is a dangerous condition associated with the explosive release of energy caused by an electrical arc due to either a phase to ground or phase to phase fault. This fault can result from many factors, including dropped tools, accidental contact with electrical systems, building up of conductive dust, corrosion, and improper work procedures. The impact of an arc flash explosion can be devastating, causing fatalities or grievous injuries to the electrical operators in the vicinity of the explosion and destroying the switchgear equipment leading to costly downtime.

Eaton ArcGardPlease discuss the technical advantages of the new ArcGard switchgear and the benefit that could accrue to users.
The new ArcGard metal-enclosed switchgear is an Eaton “Green Leaf Label” solution and meets stringent standards of sustainability and efficiency. Eaton switchgear solutions incorporate Eaton’s industry-leading vacuum interrupters and avoid the use of Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) technology, which contributes to the greenhouse effect.

ArcGard metal-enclosed switchgear is designed to protect personnel from dangerous arcing faults by controlling, collecting, and channeling the decomposition of the products from internal arcing faults to an area away from the perimeter of the gear. Eaton’s arc-resistant switchgear incorporates arc chute and flicker blade technology, which means arcing is minimized between the main blades and stationary contacts for increased equipment life.

How do you see the market potential for the new ArcGard switchgear in India? Which industrial segments do you consider as your main business drivers for ArcGard?
Arc flash safety awareness is building rapidly in India and we expect Arc Flash safety standards to be empaneled and made mandatory in electrical system designs, in the near future. Eaton has been at the forefront of Arc Flash Safety solutions for the electrical industry globally and will be able to provide a comprehensive set of solutions, including ArcGard, for the India market. Industrial segments that have a significant need for ArcGard include oil & gas, power utilities, mining & metallurgy, and infrastructure.

What is the adverse impact of using SF6 in switchgear and what are the eco-friendly alternatives that Eaton is pursuing?
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) has been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the most potent non-CO2 greenhouse gas, with an ability to trap heat in the atmosphere 23,900 times more effectively than CO2. While SF6 is inert during normal use, when electrical discharges occur within SF6 filled equipment, toxic byproducts could be produced that pose a threat to health of workers who come into contact with them. In contrast, Eaton switchgear assemblies include environmentally-safe-to-recycle-insulation materials and vacuum switching technologies that are eco-friendly.

Tell us in brief about how Eaton switchgear technology has evolved in terms of efficiency, safety and environment-friendliness.

Eaton is the industry leader in developing innovative technologies for efficiency, safety and environment-friendliness in electrical switchgear assemblies.

Examples of efficiency include front-access switchgear that can be mounted against a wall or tight corners enabling space efficiency, best-in-class energy efficiency ratings of UPS systems and VFD’s, and Integrated Power Assemblies/Integrated Facility Systems that enable installation cost and space efficiencies.

Eaton’s switchgear design incorporates arc flash safety features such as arc-resistant construction, insulation and isolation of current carrying parts and safety interlocks that prevent an arc flash accident from even happening in the first place!

The environmentally-friendly insulation material of electricity conduction parts, the vacuum technology used for switching medium-voltage circuit breakers and compliance to ROHS are examples of our commitment to sustainable products.
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