A study of expected lifetime of XLPE insulation cables working at elevated temperatures by applying accelerated thermal ageing

Heliyon. 2020 Jan 6;6(1):e03120. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e03120. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Deterioration of cable insulation during its normal operation is a major concern. Usually, electric cables receive less periodic maintenance compared to the other electric components, although they are subjected to several environmental conditions during operation such as high temperature and oxidative atmospheres. In this study, a standardized accelerated thermal ageing technique was used, with the application of the Arrhenius model. This technique is commonly used in accelerated life testing to establish a lifetime-stress relationship and estimate cable lifetime. Two types of Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE) material working at elevated temperatures between 95 and 105 °C were selected for testing. In such accelerated ageing processes, it is required for the insulation to reach a degradation level, which is considered the end of life for the material under evaluation. The end of life criteria (also called endpoint) is defined as a percentage reduction of elongation at break, which is considered in this study to be 50% retention of elongation at break. Thermal ageing was carried out according to the BS 7870-2 standard, while elongation at break was evaluated at several ageing stages. The uncertainty in the measurement was estimated. The short-term data points determined by ageing treatment is represented graphically in the Arrhenius plot. The extrapolation of such data was used to predict the long-term performance and estimate the cable lifetime. The lifetime for XLPE is expected to be between 40 and 60 years at 90 °C rated operating temperature. Experimental findings of this study show an estimated cable lifetime between 7 and 30 years for rated operating temperatures between 95 and 105 °C.

Keywords: Accelerated thermal ageing; Arrhenius equation; Cable lifetime; Cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE); Electrical engineering; Elongation at break; Energy use in building; Microgrid; Power engineering; Renewable energy resources.