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This month, 3M have launched 3M ACCR (Aluminium Conductor Composite Reinforced) within the UK, their latest development in overhead power transmission. 3M ACCR is designed as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for existing electrical conductors and can as much as double the transmission capacity of the line.
With its multi-strand aluminium composite core design, 3M say that 3M ACCR has the strength and stiffness of steel core conductors, but weighs half as much and is able to continuously handle 210 degrees Celsius (and in an emergency 240 degrees Celsius), with considerably less sag than traditional conductors.
3M ACCR differs from traditional steel core cables in its use of aluminium-based composite core wires. Each core wire contains many thousands of very high-strength aluminium oxide fibres. The ceramic fibres are continuously oriented in the direction of the wire and are fully embedded within high-purity aluminium.
Although the composite wire looks externally similar to traditional aluminium wire, 3M say that it has mechanical and physical properties far superior to those of aluminium and steel.
Using 3M ACCR can avoid the need for rebuilding or addition of new substations and it does not require the height of existing pylons to be raised in order to increase clearance levels. This leads to minimal impact on the environment and helps to overcome the delays frequently caused by planning objections from pressure groups and land owners.
As far as the technologies applications are concerned, 3M say that this product could help the UK power industry to meet the government’s renewable energy targets and overcome some of the issues of connecting offshore wind farms to the onshore grid, in particular delays caused by planning objections.
Potentially, 3M ACCR could help remote outposts of land-based power networks near a new offshore wind-farm to be upgraded from their low capacity, end-of-the-line role. In turn, this could contribute to them becoming the start of a high capacity network flowing in the opposite direction to the National Grid. By using existing transmission routes, no new land permissions would be required.
According to 3M, tests carried out by the US Department of Energy at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed that 3M ACCR retains its integrity after exposure to temperatures even higher than the rated continuous operating temperature of 210 degrees Celsius and the emergency operating temperature of 240 degrees Celsius. The core has the strength and stiffness of steel at half its weight, but with higher conductivity.
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