During the installation of a new cable material ESB found that reliability issues were encountered during the crimping of the cable ends. Mechanical testing demonstrated that there was no inherent flaw in the cable materials and was thought that the issue lies with either the cable design or the design of the crimping process. This represented a challenging issue for ESB which required a means of providing insight into the behaviour of the cable during installation.
SEAM undertook a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) project to analyse the combined forces in the system and specifically the effect of cable twist and cable orientation to the crimping die. Methods of analysing and testing the cables post installation were required during the project. These included micro-sectional analysis, optical microscopy, and tensile testing for model validation. SEAM possesses a commercial licence of the ANSYS FEA software package making it the only Technological Gateway centre to be able to provide this kind of resource to industry. The project delivered a greater understanding of the cable installation methodologies for ESB thereby facilitating improvements in their procedures.
This work aided ESBI in the continued upgrading and maintenance of the electricity distribution system in Ireland providing energy security to the country. This project also forged a strong relationship between the ESBI and SEAM which continues to grow with SEAM taking on cable qualification and analysis projects for the ESBI. One example of this is the validation testing of high tension power cables sourced from outside the country (Japan). It was an expensive process sending representatives so far afield for the duration of the testing. For these reasons SEAM was tasked with developing suitable testing methodologies and equipment infrastructure to undertake these qualification tests in Ireland. These tests range in complexity from standard tensile tests to electrical performance tests to ensure that they conform to the applicable specification. This project eliminated the need for ESB to outsource this type of work to Japan and facilitated carrying out all future work in Ireland (at SEAM).