1996-02-01

Ignition Process of Intermittent Short-Circuit on Modeled Automobile Wires 960395

Our study was conducted to demonstrate the primary factors involved in fires which result from an automobile's electrical wire harness system with fuses. In our experiments we used modeled automobile wire harnesses to study the processes of ignition and the resultant fires. Current was passed through blade type fuses to a portion of the harness and was intermittently short-circuited by a grounded metal plate. The nominal current ratings of the fuses we used were lower than or equal to 30 amperes [A], and the operating current was 30A at 12 Volts. Current flowed to the harness specimens through a DC power source.
We found that electrical tracking with scintillation, caused by a weak electric flow through carbonized wire insulation, rarely generated flames in the wire harnesses without blowing the fuse. Ignition was never observed on the insulation near the areas shorted by the arc and/or overloaded currents going to the wire elements.
The ignition process with tracking may be one of the mechanisms involved in igniting fires in a vehicle's electric wire harness.

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