A prototype fusion splicer built by Aurora Optics is able to deploy a high-voltage electric arc without a spark hazard, making it suitable for use in a flammable environment, the company says. Aurora built the splicer under contract from the United States Navy and tested it according to the specification MIL-STD-810G, Method 511 Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests: Explosive Atmosphere.
According to Aurora, there has been no fusion-splicing in hazardous/flammable environments because of the risk caused by a fusion splicer's electric arc, which the company says reaches more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. "For this reason," Aurora says, "fusion splicers have not been allowed into areas where aviation fuel is likely to be used, such as fueled aircraft, aircraft-carrier flight decks and air-base flight lines." Additionally, Aurora says, telecommunications applications like underground utility tunnels have been off-limits to fusion splicing because of the possible accumulation of methane vapors within them.
The company says this explosion-proof splicer provides the features and characteristics of traditional fusion splicers - such as three-axis alignment and extremely low loss - in a small-footprint, explosion-proof device.