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Nexans has brought out Hypron, an environmentally friendly alternative to lead-sheathed cables for onshore oil-and-gas installations.

The Hypron design offers the same protection against aggressive petrochemicals as traditional lead-sheathed cables, with easier handling and installation, thanks to its lower weight and smaller cross-section.

All types of cables used in the onshore oil-and-gas industry require protection against chemicals – acids, bases, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons – that can penetrate towards the conductors.

Traditionally, a lead sheath has provided this protection.

However, in response to the growing market demand for more environmentally friendly cables, Nexans undertook a five-year programme to develop a new lead-free chemical barrier in the form of Hypron.

In general, Hypron complies with IEC 60228 and also meets other international standards such as IEC 60502-1 for low voltage and BS EN 50288-7 for instrumentation cables.

Hypron comprises three co-extruded construction elements: AluPE, an HDPE (high density polyethylene) sheath and a PA (polyamide) sheath.

The AluPE layer is an aluminium-coated tape, applied longitudinally, that provides a watertight seal.

The HDPE sheath provides resistance to inorganic chemicals such as chlorine, and the PA sheath provides resistance to organic materials such as benzene.

Hypron has been tested to prove its suitability for a variety of applications – including MV (medium voltage) and LV (low voltage) power as well as control and instrumentation – when exposed to aggressive chemicals and temperatures ranging from -20C to +60C.

Where a higher level of fire resistance is required, an improved Hypron version is available, based on HFFR polyamide.

It complies with IEC 60332-1 on flame propagation, IEC 60332-3 for fire propagation as well as IEC 60331 and BS 6387 for fire-resistance applications.

Elimination of lead results in a smaller overall cable cross-section.

This in turn makes the cables easier to manipulate during installation thanks to a reduced bending radius (typically 10 per cent smaller than lead-sheathed cables).

Furthermore, a longer length of cable can be spooled onto a drum, so fewer cable joints are required for long installation lengths.

Because Hypron cable is lighter than lead-sheathed cables – more than 40 per cent lighter in the case of an LV cable with 12 copper cores – it is easier to transport, handle and pull into cable ducts.

A further advantage of Hypron cables is that they are very cost-effective, offering total cost savings of some 10 to 25 per cent due to the continually rising costs of lead.

Hypron cables are already being installed in a number of onshore installations, especially in regions such as the Middle East, where there is a growing emphasis on environmentally friendly products.

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