The outer protective sheath of a cable is key to ensuring a long life for the asset. Any damage during manufacture, installation or through its use, can lead to water entry and high consequential damage. The ability for a cable to naturally and repeatably heal itself, re-establishing the waterproof barrier preventing further damage, and avoiding catastrophic failure and expensive repair, is now possible with help from Gnosys.
The widespread use of distributed renewable power generation will increase the distances between large generation and consuming centres. Therefore, the shape of transmission systems will change radically in the future, requiring new and advanced materials. The resultant increase in transmission distances will increase line losses. More off-shore wind generation will require more robust higher voltage cable solutions to reduce the risk of failure of vulnerable high voltage subsea connections.
The most likely solution to both challenges is the increased use of new HVDC/HVAC links. As voltages increase, the new cabling systems will require new higher performance insulators and new protective materials. Gnosys are at the forefront of this change by developing new advanced materials with greater durability and better electrical properties.
Fluid-filled and pipe cables were once commonplace before the advent of extruded polymeric cable technology. These older cables remain important operational assets that are extremely difficult to replace economically. At the same time, because they are old, they are prone to leak with costly environmental and economic consequences. Gnosys have developed a self-healing dielectric fluid that has all the insulating properties required but on contact with air, will solidify to stem the leak.
Energy demand, the growth of renewables and economic pressures are requiring that transmission voltages and current ratings increase in the future. Long distance energy transport also requires HVDC and EHVDC in addition to HVAC power cables and switchgear. This requires materials with high performance dielectric properties such as enhanced breakdown voltage and voltage endurance, low dielectric loss and higher thermal stability while maintaining good mechanical properties and processability. Finding this balance, within a challenging economic envelope, is crucial. Gnosys have developed new thermoplastic and thermosetting materials solutions in this field.
For all subsea or buried cables, there is a possibility that during their operational life, they will get damaged. This damage will be exacerbated if they are submersed in water. The most demanding application is electrical transmission for off-shore wind farms where pressurised water ingress in subsea cables can be devastating. We have developed a new extrudable plastic barrier that when activated by water, permanently swells and stops further ingress.
Large oil filled transformers used on the electrical grids remain in operation and at temperature, for many years causing the internal components to degrade over time. Since the internal condition is unknown, to manage risk, they are replaced at great cost, long before operationally failing. Gnosys have developed an in-situ method of conditionally assessing transformers and analysing the degree of degradation enabling the operator to extend the life and reduce costs.
The practice of using Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) has been established for many years. To determine and allocate all the environmental effects created by products, assets and operations can be very complex and requires knowledge and experience to undertake sound assessments. At Gnosys, we have ready-made tools that enables us to create unique insights into the economic and environmental life cycle performance of your products and processes. LCAs are increasingly used for by our clients for economic, social, sustainability and corporate responsibility reasons.
Gnosys have the in-house capability for forensically analysing cables as part of our service offering to the cable community. This capability was created as part of our process for developing new advanced insulating materials. For our clients, we typically analyse cable samples of failed or prototype cables down to a molecular level. Our knowledge and developed techniques for this type of analysis is leading edge and world class.