3M Reports Initial Sale of Composite Conductor for Boosting Power Line Capacity

August 17, 2004

3M's new Aluminum Composite Conductor Reinforced (ACCR), an overhead power conductor that doubles the electrical transmission capacity of conventional conductors of the same diameter, will receive its first commercial application early next year, when Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy installs the ACCR on a 10-mile (16 kilometer) transmission line in the Twin Cities region.

Xcel Energy is using the conductor to increase the capacity of a transmission line that extends from Shakopee to Burnsville. The upgrade is part of a $100 million expansion project at the utility's Blue Lake "peaking" plant in Shakopee, which is needed to ensure a reliable supply of power to Xcel Energy's customers in the Upper Midwest during periods of peak electricity demand. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers, and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in 11 western and Midwestern states.

3M's ACCR is intended as a solution to thermally constrained transmission bottlenecks that have increasingly plagued electricity grids in recent years, causing brownouts and blackouts.

"ACCR represents one of the most significant advances in transmission technology in decades," said Tracy Anderson, business development manager for 3M's composite conductor program. "The Department of Energy, in its National Transmission Grid Study in May 2002, named advanced conductors as a key enabling technology for upgrading the national electricity transmission system. 3M is proud to be bringing this technology to fruition."

The product has been extensively tested in the laboratory and field-tested for the past four years, including at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, and at locations operated by Xcel Energy, Western Area Power Administration (in North Dakota and Arizona) sites, the Salt River Project, also an Arizona utility, Hawaiian Electric Company, and Bonneville Power Administration at a site in Washington state. The power line has been proven under a broad range of extreme conditions, such as saltwater corrosion, high winds, vibration, and extreme heat and cold.

Mr. Anderson thanked the U.S. Department of Energy and the utilities that have been participating in field trials, and noted that Xcel Energy "has stepped forward to take a leadership position in helping an important breakthrough technology realize its potential in the energy marketplace."

"We found 3M's new composite conductor to be the right solution for boosting capacity and reliability on a line that is an integral part of the grid in the Upper Midwest, where Xcel Energy serves 1.5 million electricity customers," said Don Jones, director of transmission asset management at Xcel Energy. "We are always looking for new ways to improve service to our customers. We evaluated various conductors for the project, and determined that the 3M conductor is the only option that will get the job done on time, because it will allow us to increase the line's capacity without installing new towers."

ACCR, a new type of bare overhead conductor containing a multistrand core of heat resistant aluminum matrix composite wires, retains its strength at high temperatures and is not adversely affected by environmental conditions, such as moisture or UV exposure. Because of its lightweight and reduced thermal expansion properties, the conductor can be installed on existing towers and requires no visual changes to a line or additional rights of way.

3M teamed with various companies, whose expertise in certain components helped to make 3M's ACCR viable. Key contributors include Wire Rope Industries, Nexans Inc., Preformed Line Products Co. and Alcoa Conductor Accessories. Organizations playing key supporting roles in laboratory and field-testing of the technology include: National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC); Kinectrics, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); and the U.S. Department of Energy Western Area Power Administration.

"3M aligned itself with these industry leaders who recognized the value this technology brings to power transmission," says Mr. Anderson.

The technology has been recognized by R&D Magazine with an R&D 100 award as one of the most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace and by the Minnesota High Tech Association with a Tekne Award for innovative development.

More information about the 3M Composite Conductor is available at www.3M.com/accr

Explore further: A superconducting shield for astronauts

Related Stories

A superconducting shield for astronauts

August 6, 2015

The CERN Superconductors team in the Technology department is involved in the European Space Radiation Superconducting Shield (SR2S) project, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of using superconducting magnetic shielding ...

Giant magnetic effects induced in hybrid materials

April 21, 2015

Proximity effects in hybrid heterostructures, which contain distinct layers of different materials, allow one material species to reveal and/or control properties of a dissimilar species. Specifically, for a magnetic thin ...

Scientists resolve spin puzzle

December 10, 2014

Scientists at the University of York have helped to uncover the properties of defects in the atomic structure of magnetite, potentially opening the way for its use in producing more powerful electronic devices.

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

Scientists paint quantum electronics with beams of light

October 9, 2015

A team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the Pennsylvania State University have accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits in a unique class of materials ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.