While grounding can be a complex topic, one thing for sure is that the goal of grounding is to protect people, critical equipment and data, and reduce the cost of operational downtime. Ground enhancement materials, like nVent ERICO Ground Enhancement Material (GEM), exist to assist with creating a good ground, high-quality connection to the Earth in the most difficult soil conditions for the life of an installation.
Understanding the best uses for ground enhancement material, what makes a “good” ground enhancement material and what certifications exist for these materials is critical to selecting the right problem-solving option for your application.
In this post, we will examine what problems ground enhancement materials solve, what certifications govern these materials, and how to select and install the best solution for your application.
The Purpose of Ground Enhancement Materials
Put simply, ground enhancement materials aim to lower grounding electrode system resistance. In areas of high soil resistivity it can be very difficult to achieve a ground resistance measurement low enough for the grounding system to be effective when it matters – e.g. lightning strike events or faults.
If the soil has high resistivity, and the ground electrode is not sufficiently arranged to offset this, the dissipation of the electrical current running through the system will result in a higher voltage on the grounding system. This has implications in certain application such as higher touch or step potentials, or in more extreme cases failure of reliable operation of over-current or over voltage devices.
Not All Materials are Created Equal
We have previously looked at The 4 Critical Qualities of Effective Ground Enhancement Materials (GEM) that goes deeper into the four most important qualities of an effective ground enhancement material. In summary, there are multiple types of “enhancement” materials created for grounding applications, available in a variety of compounds. Bentonite clay, for example, is a naturally occurring compound sometimes used, while commercially available forms include powders, pellets and gels. However, enhancement materials are most often cement-based, which require mixing and setting, again like nVent ERICO GEM.
Certifications and Standards for Ground Enhancement Materials
Like most commercial grounding products, there are international standards that govern the performance and (in the case of ground enhancement materials) the environmental impacts like ASTM, IEC and ISO. Below is a chart of recommended specifications to consider for ground enhancement material selection and the test methods.
When selecting a ground enhancement material for your next application, it is important to consider the product’s performance and compliance to specifications such as these for performance over the life of the installation (primarily the corrosion performance) and the impact on the surrounding soil.
Why nVent ERICO Ground Enhancement Material (GEM)?
Specifically, why should you consider specific and installing nVent ERICO GEM in your next project?
Let’s look at the facts about GEM:
- GEM has been installed globally for decades and was included in a 10-year independent NEGRP study that exhibited the most positive performance results of all grounding scenarios tested. Other backfill materials did not.
- GEM25A is tested by a third party and fully compliant to the toughest requirements of IEC 62561-7.
- GEM provides long-term, anti-corrosion properties, which help to extend the life of the installation grounding system.
- GEM is easy to install. Our customers have told us it gets to a homogenous state quickly when mixing, which saves time in the instillation process.
- GEM keeps resistance stable. In vertical or horizontal installations, GEM has a stable resistance value over time. See the chart below.
- Lastly, we make it easy to design with GEM with our online GEM Calculator. Sign up today.
With all of this to consider, it’s easy to see why nVent ERICO GEM is a superior conductive material that solves your toughest grounding problems.