AskDefine | Define arcing

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. present participle of arc


Extensive Definition

An electric arc is an electrical breakdown of a gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge, resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air. A synonym is arc discharge. The phenomenon was first described by Vasily V. Petrov, a Russian scientist who discovered it in 1802. An archaic term is voltaic arc as used in the phrase "voltaic arc lamp".


The various shapes of electric arc are emergent properties of nonlinear patterns of current and electric field. The arc occurs in the gas-filled space between two conductive electrodes (often made of carbon) and it results in a very high temperature, capable of melting or vaporizing most materials. An electric arc is a continuous discharge, while a similar electric spark discharge is momentary. An electric arc may occur either in direct-current circuits or in alternating current circuits. In the latter case, the arc may re-strike on each half cycle of the current. An electric arc differs from a glow discharge in that the current density is quite high, and the voltage drop within the arc is low; at the cathode the current density may be as high as one million amps per square centimeter.


Industrially, electric arcs are used for welding, plasma cutting, for electrical discharge machining, as an arc lamp in movie theater projectors, and Followspots in stage lighting. Electric arc furnaces are used to produce steel and other substances. Calcium carbide is made in this way as it requires a large amount of energy to promote an endothermic reaction (at temperatures of 2500 °C).
Low-pressure electric arcs are used for lighting, e.g., fluorescent tubes, mercury and sodium street lamps, and camera flash lamps.
Electric arcs have been studied for electric propulsion of spacecraft.

Undesired arcing

Undesired or unintended electric arcing can have detrimental effects on electric power transmission and distribution systems and electronic equipment. Undesired arcing in electrical contactors can be suppressed by various devices, including:
An electric arc has a non-linear relationship between current and voltage. Once the arc is established (either by progression from a glow discharge or by momentarily touching the electrodes then separating them), increased current results in a lower voltage between the arc terminals. This negative impedance effect requires that some positive form of impedance to be placed in the circuit, if it is desired to maintain a stable arc. This property is the reason uncontrolled electrical arcs in apparatus become so destructive, since once initiated an arc will draw more and more current from a fixed-voltage supply until the apparatus is destroyed.


External links

arcing in Arabic: تقوس كهربي
arcing in Bulgarian: Електрическа дъга
arcing in Danish: Lysbue
arcing in German: Lichtbogen
arcing in Modern Greek (1453-): Βολταϊκό τόξο
arcing in Spanish: Arco eléctrico
arcing in Esperanto: Elektra arko
arcing in Persian: قوس الکتریکی
arcing in French: Arc électrique
arcing in Icelandic: Ljósbogi
arcing in Italian: Arco elettrico
arcing in Latvian: Lokizlāde
arcing in Lithuanian: Elektros lankas
arcing in Dutch: Vlamboog
arcing in Norwegian: Lysbue
arcing in Polish: Łuk elektryczny
arcing in Portuguese: Arco elétrico
arcing in Russian: Электрическая дуга
arcing in Sicilian: Faidda
arcing in Slovak: Elektrický oblúk
arcing in Finnish: Valokaari
arcing in Swedish: Ljusbåge
arcing in Ukrainian: Розряд дуговий
arcing in Chinese: 电弧
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