An advanced power-line cable from 3M, designed to reduce transmission bottlenecks by increasing overhead electrical power-line capacity, is one of the most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace this year, according to R&D Magazine.
The product, known as the 3M Composite Conductor, is capable of transmitting two to three times more electricity than conventional power-line cables of the same diameter without increasing structural loads. The new heat-resistant conductor is aimed at reducing transmission bottlenecks by enabling utilities to increase power-line capacity on existing structures.
"Congestion is recognized as a key issue facing America's transmission grid and our unique 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 fiber-reinforced aluminum core wrapped in aluminum-zirconium wires, the 3M conductor is lightweight and can be installed on existing towers using conventional installation equipment. The new conductor, also know as Aluminum 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.
"We're pleased that R&D Magazine's editors and independent experts have recognized this technological breakthrough by naming it an R&D 100 Award winner for 2003," Anderson said.
The product has performed well in field tests in Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota - states where weather conditions pose significant challenges - and also is the subject of a pilot program underway at the National Transmission Technology Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee, with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy. (The successful field test conducted by Hawaiian Electric Co., in a highly corrosive atmospheric environment, was described in an article in Transmission & Distribution World magazine in its June 2003 issue.)
Several companies contributing key components to the 3M Composite Conductor also were recognized in the award, including Wire Rope Industries, Nexans Inc., Preformed Line Products Co., Alcoa Conductor Accessories, and the U.S. Department of Energy, who sponsored a portion of the work as part of its Transmission Reliability program. Organizations playing key supporting roles in laboratory and field testing of the technology include: National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC); Kinectrics, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Western Area Power Administration.
R&D Magazine has said it will formally announce the list of R&D 100 Award winners in its September issue. An awards banquet will be held October 16 in the grand ballroom of the Navy Pier in Chicago. More information about the awards program can be found online at www.rdmag.com.
More information about the 3M Composite Conductor is available at www.3m.com/accr.
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