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MACE — Wynik w skrócie

Project ID: 505463
Źródło dofinansowania: FP6-NMP

New generation of high-performance power lines

EU-funded scientists evaluated novel processing technology to produce high-performance electricity distribution lines. The cost-effective alternative to conventional conductors could enhance capacity while reducing environmental impact.
New generation of high-performance power lines
Composites, or materials that are combinations of two or more individual materials, are widely used in many industrial applications. They enable combining the unique properties of individual materials such that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Aluminium is a very light-weight, highly ductile and corrosion-resistant metal. It is also almost twice as good a conductor of electricity as copper and, with its low weight, makes it the most commonly used material in power transmission lines.

Endless fibre-reinforced aluminium (EFRA) is a type of metal matrix composite (MMC), a special class of composites made of a metallic matrix with high-performance reinforcements. EFRA wires using ceramic fibre reinforcement are commercially available as an alternative to steel reinforcement for distribution lines.

Carbon fibres are a new class of high-strength, tensile (capable of withstanding tension, of being stretched without breaking) materials also used as reinforcement in composites. Carbon fibre would be even better than ceramic fibre for electricity distribution as it is stronger, lighter, significantly less expensive and with lower thermal expansion and hence less sag.

European researchers sought to exploit carbon fibre-reinforced aluminium MMCs for electricity distribution with funding of the ‘Multifunctional advanced carbon aluminium composite for electricity transport’ (MACE) project.

The consortium set out to overcome processing difficulties faced in mass-production of carbon/aluminium composite wire, especially in facilitating infiltration of carbon wire by molten aluminium. In addition, the plan required design of advanced conductor winding techniques to deal with the highly stiff wire.

Mechanical tests on EFRA wires demonstrated achievement of required properties. Modelling of conductor performance indicated a marked resistance to sag.

Theoretical and experimental results support the potential of EFRA wire as an advanced conductor core material. Future research should focus on ensuring consistent roundness without breakage.

Economic assessments determined that the EFRA wires have good potential as replacements of conventional technology providing the market price is less than twice that of steel core conductors.

Optimisation of MACE technology could help Europe meet its growing electricity demand with reduced environmental impact.

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