High Energy Arcing Fault Events (HEAF) Project

This project was originally called the Joint Analysis of Arc Faults (Joan of ARC) Testing Programme for High Energy Arc Faults (HEAF).

Massive electrical discharges, referred to as High Energy Arcing Faults (HEAF), have occurred in nuclear power plant (NPP) switching components throughout the world. These incidents have been increasing as a result of ageing infrastructure and growing energy demands.

HEAF events have the potential to cause extensive damage to the failed electrical component and distribution system along with adjacent equipment and cables within the zone of influence. The significant energy released during a HEAF event can act as an ignition source to other components. The primary objective of this project is to perform experiments to obtain scientific fire data on the HEAF phenomenon known to occur in nuclear power plants (NPP) through carefully designed experiments.

To meet the goals of this test programme, experiments will be conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Maryland, United States in order to explore the basic configurations, failure modes and effects of HEAF events. The equipment to be tested in this study primarily consists of switchgears and bussing components. Since the switchgears and other equipment necessary for testing are very expensive, this program will rely on signatories in-kind contributions.

Participating countries

Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States.

The following countries are strongly considering membership: Spain.

Project period

July 2012 to December 2014.


Details of the test programme will be finalised in early 2014.

The first meeting of the Steering Body was held in September 2012. Equipment has now begun to arrive in the United States. The test programme is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2014.

Related links

NEA contact

Neil Blundell

Last reviewed: 17 December 2013