POLYMERIC INSULATON OF POWER CABLES BASICS AND TUTORIALS

This type of cable can be classified as follows:
1. NEC compounds
2. Elastomers
3. Thermoplastics
4. Thermosettings

The rubber and rubber-like insulated cables enjoy their popularity owing to moisture resistance, ease of handling, ease of splicing, and extreme flexibility.

Elastomers are materials that can be compressed, stretched, or deformed like rubber and yet retain their original shape. The thermoplastics materials soften when they are reheated, whereas thermosetting-type insulation has very little tendency to soften upon reheating after vulcanization.

The earlier oil-based natural rubber compounds have been replaced by synthetic materials, which have better electrical and mechanical characteristics. The following synthetic rubber-like compounds are in use today:

Ethylene propylene rubber (EPR), an elastomer compound: EPR is commonly used in power cables, but is also gaining use in telecommunications and other types of cables. EPR possesses good chemical, mechanical, and electrical properties. However, it is not inherently flame retardant. It has a maximum operating temperature of 90°C, and maximum rated voltage (phase–phase) of 138 kV.

Neoprene, an elastomer compound: Neoprene is one of the most common materials in use for cable jackets. It is used where service conditions are usually abrasive. Since neoprene is not inherently flame retarding, it is usually compounded with the necessary flame retarding chemicals when used as cable jackets.

Hypalon, an elastomer compound: Hypalon is also a commonly used material for cable jackets. It has properties similar to neoprene, and in addition exhibits better thermal stability and resistance to ozone
and oxidation.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a thermoplastic compound: It is flexible, has good electrical properties, and requires no external jacket. Cables using this insulation are rated up to 600 V; maximum operating temperature is 60°C for power applications; maximum short-circuit rating temperature is 150°C. NEC designation is T, TW. It is available in several colors and is mainly used as low-voltage cable systems.

Polyethylene (PE), a thermoplastic compound: It melts at very low temperatures (i.e., 110°C). It is also severely affected by corona. It has a high coefficient of thermal expansion. However, it has excellent electrical and moisture-resistance properties. It has a low cost. Its maximum operating temperature is 75°C and maximum short-circuit temperature is 150°C. It is used in low- and medium-voltage applications.

Buna, a thermosetting compound: It combines the most desirable properties of low-voltage insulation. It has the advantages of heat and moisture resistance, excellent aging qualities, and good electrical characteristics. However, it lacks resistance to ozone. NEC designation is RHW. Its maximum operating temperature is 75°C and shortcircuit temperature is 200°C.

Butyl, a thermosetting compound: It has a high resistance to moisture, heat, and ozone. NEC designation is RHH. It has a maximum operating temperature of 90°C and short-circuit temperature of 200°C.

Silicone rubber, a thermosetting compound: It is extremely resistant to flame, ozone, and corona. It has a maximum operating temperature of 125°C and a maximum short-circuit temperature of 250°C. It has poor mechanical strength.

XLPE, a thermosetting compound: It has excellent electrical properties and high resistance to moisture and chemical contaminants. It is severely affected by corona and has an operating temperature of 90°C. Its short-circuit temperature is 250°C. It can be applied on up to 35 kV distribution systems.

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