3M power cable could curb unforeseen outages

An advanced power-line cable from 3M, designed to reduce electrical transmission congestion by increasing overhead electrical power-line capacity, is undergoing field testing by utilities in America.

An advanced power-line cable from 3M, designed to reduce electrical transmission congestion by increasing overhead electrical power-line capacity, is undergoing advanced field testing by utilities in three US states.

Concurrently, it is the subject of a pilot program under way at the National Transmission Technology Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee with the support of the US Department of Energy.

The product, which is said to have performed well in field tests so far, may help provide near-term solutions to some of the bottlenecks and overload problems afflicting the USA’s power grid.

Known as the 3M composite conductor, the new cable is reportedly capable of transmitting two to three times more electricity than conventional power-line cables of the same diameter without additional weight or the need for more towers.

The new heat-resistant conductor is aimed at reducing transmission bottlenecks by enabling utilities to increase power-line capacity on existing structures with no additional easements.

‘Congestion is recognised as a key issue facing America’s transmission grid and our conductor could well be an important part of the solution to this problem,’ said Tracy Anderson, who heads 3M’s composite conductor program. ‘With our innovative conductors, utilities could be able to increase the capacity of existing lines without the need for additional rights of way or visual changes to the lines.’

Composed of a ceramic fibre-reinforced aluminium core wrapped in aluminium-zirconium wires, the 3M conductor can be installed on existing towers using conventional installation equipment.

The new conductor, also know as aluminium composite conductor reinforced (ACCR), sags less than conventional power lines so it could potentially be used to span difficult geographic features, such as wide rivers, canyons or lakes.

The 3M composite conductor has performed well in field tests in Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota where weather conditions pose significant challenges.

The field tests are being conducted by Hawaiian Electric Co; Xcel Energy, Minnesota; and Western Area Power Administration, North Dakota, in addition to Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

More information about the 3M composite conductor is available <A HREF=’http://www.3m.com/accr’>Here</A>