Restoring, not replacing, medium-voltage power cables

Published: Mon 03 Mar 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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Cables are a key part of any secondary power distribution network. They also can be notoriously difficult and costly to replace, especially when buried underground. A new service from Siemens can extend, by decades, the lifespan of insulated medium-voltage cables -- while also preventing outages and controlling capital expenditures.

Medium-voltage cables that were laid in the 1970s and 1980s are now beginning to reach the end of their service life. Typically, utilities replace these cables before the end of their service life, to ensure reliability of the medium-voltage grid. This involves purchasing new cable; digging up, pulling, and disposing of old cable; and deploying new cable. Besides being a huge utility expense, these operations can also be highly disruptive to communities, roads, and businesses.

In the Califex cable rejuvenation process, silicon-based "rejuvenation fluid" is injected into the empty space between wires in a cable. When this fluid emerges from the other end, the cable is re-energized immediately. It takes just a few hours to treat an entire cable section. Then, in about a week, the mixture diffuses into the cable's insulation and restores its electrical insulation value (dialectric strength) to almost-new condition.

The Califex process was developed by the U.S. Siemens partner Novinium. Initially this service is being offered to utilities and industrial facilities in Germany, Sweden and Norway.

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