Efficient Plant November 2017 - 27

feature | electrical-power solutions

Beware
Data Center

Danger
Zones
ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS ARE the foundation of data-center
operations. The very nature of these business-critical facilities makes
them potential danger zones for those involved in building, maintaining, and modifying them.
Working around data-center power systems can be dangerous due
to their complexity, including redundant circuitry and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) that can switch without warning in just
a few milliseconds. Adding to the danger, a data center's electrical
equipment is sometimes serviced while energized. With the growing
trend toward larger power capacities, data-center systems may also
have a high level of available fault current that further increases risk
to personnel, especially if they are unaware of potential hazards and
how to mitigate them.
Arc flash is one of those hazards-one with serious consequences.
The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, ieee.org,
New York) reports that 2,000 workers are admitted to burn centers
each year for extensive injuries caused by arc flash, which is defined
by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA, nfpa.org, Quincy, MA) as an electric current that passes through air when insula-

NOVEMBER 2017

It's crucial to
understand arc-flash
hazards and take steps
to mitigate risks.

tion or isolation between electrified conductors is not sufficient to
withstand the applied voltage.
Arc flash produces temperatures as high as 35,000 F. That's four
times hotter than the surface of the sun. The resulting blast is similar
to an explosion, creating enough force to throw a worker's body
across a room. Even someone standing more than 10 ft. away from
the fault source could be severely burned by such a blast.
Beyond the risk of personal injury and death, an arc-flash event
can also lead to:
 business disruption
 damage to equipment and facilities
 legal liability
 increased insurance premiums
 heft y regulatory fines.

UNDERSTANDING RELEVANT STANDARDS
Arc-flash concerns were first publicized in the early 1980s with the
release of a paper by Ralph Lee titled, "The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast Burns." Similar studies illustrated that too
EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

27


http://www.ieee.org http://www.nfpa.org http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Efficient Plant November 2017

Efficient Plant November 2017 - 1
Efficient Plant November 2017 - Cover1
Efficient Plant November 2017 - Cover2
Efficient Plant November 2017 - 1
Efficient Plant November 2017 - 2
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Efficient Plant November 2017 - Cover3
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