High Energy Arcing Faults (HEAF) have the potential to cause extensive damage to the failed electrical components and distribution systems along with adjacent equipment and cables within the zone of influence (ZOI). Furthermore, the significant energy released during HEAF event can act as an ignition source to other components within the area of the HEAF. In Japan, during the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011, the seismic induced HEAF fire event, which induced the whole damage of the multiple high voltage switchgears, was observed in Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).
In response, in August 2017, the NRA (Nuclear Regular Authority) in Japan amended the safety requirement for the power supply to consider the influence of the successive fire due to the HEAF event (hereinafter HEAF fire event). Therefore, it is urgently necessary to establish the design criteria to prevent the HEAF fire event, and enhance the experiment data of the HEAF fire event. In order to estimate the total arc energy during the HEAF event and obtain the threshold value to prevent the HEAF fire for the existed non-arc proof electrical cabinets, several series of three-phase internal arc tests with high (6.9kV class) and low (480V class) voltage electrical cabinets were executed. We executed internal arc tests with full scale high/low voltage metal-enclosed switchgear components (non-arc proof type, copper bus conductor), and evaluated arc energy, the mechanical damage of the cabinet and the surrounding equipment due to the impulsive pressure and the possibility of successive fire occurrence. In case of high voltage switchgear, when the arcing energy exceeded 25.3MJ, successive fire was identified. Especially, in the case where the arc flash was discharged in the circuit breaker room, a 2-second arcing duration in a three-phase short-circuit current with 18.9kA (measured arcing energy over 40MJ) caused successive fire which required extinguishment. On the other hand, in case of low voltage power center, when the arcing energy exceeded 19MJ, successive fire was identified. According to these demonstrative tests, this paper presents the evaluation method to estimate total arc discharge energy during the HEAF event for high and low voltage electrical cabinets.