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Dave Bryant on the added efficiency of the company's conductors

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Dave Bryant, director Technology, CTC Global
Dave Bryant, director Technology, CTC Global

Dave Bryant, director technology, of California-based CTC Global, on the added efficiency of the company’s Aluminium Conductor Composite Core (ACCC) conductors.

How did the company start?
The company was started in 2002. During the late 90s early 2000s there was an energy crisis in the western US due to a number of factors including market manipulation, but one of the problems was constrained transmission lines. The guys that started the company thought that if they developed a conductor that could carry more current than a conventional conductor without exhibiting thermal sag, they could help alleviate that problem.

Tell us about your product
They leveraged their carbon fibre experience and developed a hybrid glass and carbon fibre core to replace the steel core that’s found in most overhead conductors. So we developed a series of conductors called ACCC (Aluminium Conductor Composite Core) and it was sort of a daunting task in that, while the initial test results were very promising, the utilities are hyper conservative and somewhat risk adverse and were hesitant at first to embrace the technology.

But since then we’ve come quite a long way. We’ve completed approaching 300 projects in 30 countries. Over 25,000 kms of the conductor have already been deployed and the projects are going from demonstration scale of up to 20 kms to as high as 2,200 kms for a single project.

We developed the technology and tested it and we manufacture the composite core at our facility in Irvine California. Currently we work with 18 different cable companies worldwide that take our core and then strand copper or aluminium wire around it to create the finished product.

What are its advantages?
A number of entities are recognising the impact that this technology can have. It’s very useful especially when you’re trying to add more generation to an existing transmission corridor. Or maybe you’re worried about reliability where you might have storm damage on one line and you want to add capacity to the line that’s still in service . We can offer those types of advantages.

Because the conductor’s core is so much lighter than steel we can incorporate about 25% to 30% more aluminium in the same diameter using compact trapezoidal shaped wires without an overall weight penalty. This improves conductivity and lowers the electrical resistance which reduces line losses anywhere from 25% to 40%, depending on the load level. That helps conserve fuel and associated emissions and also frees up generation capacity.

So if you have growing demand and you introduce a more energy efficient conductor you can actually deliver more power with the same generation source. Conversely if you’re dealing with a renewable source that has a higher initial capital cost you can potentially reduce the initial investment and deliver the same amount of power. So it can be used in different ways depending on what the utility’s objective is.

What are the opportunities for this product here in the Middle East?
They’re huge. Efficiency is a very important part of the equation but most utilities internationally are dealing with aged infrastructure. When it comes to improving the reliability, capacity and efficiency of transmission lines in the Middle East, this technology is ideally suited for that because it is quite capable of operating at higher temperatures in corrosive environments without degradation.

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