Intrinsically Safe Current Limit Study for Aircraft Fuel Tank Electronics 2006-01-2442
This paper describes research performed to determine the ignition hazard presented by small fragments of superfine steel wool that may contact energized direct current wires in aircraft fuel tanks. Several different methods of shorting a circuit with steel wool were explored. An ignitable mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, and argon, calibrated to have a minimum ignition energy of 200 microjoules, was used as an ignition detection technique. The electrical currents at the ignition threshold were recorded to determine safe maximum allowable current limits for fuel tank electronics. The lowest current found to ignite the flammable mixture was 99 milliamps (mA); the lowest current found to ignite a steel wool wad in air only was 45 mA.