3M tech used on Brazil transmission line to avoid impacting wetlands

St. Paul, Minn., June 27, 2011 — Brazil's utility industry has increased transmission capacity by using 3M's Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced, which can more than double line capacity without requiring larger towers or new rights of way.

CPFL Piratininga, the distribution unit of CPFL Energia, which serves more than 6.5 million customers in four of Brazil's states, has installed the conductor on a double-circuit 7.5-mile segment of its Henry Borden-Jabaquara line near Cubatão, Brazil on the coast of São Paulo State.

Upgrading the transmission line segment with a conventional steel or aluminum conductor would have required larger transmission towers to be built in a marshy flood plain that posed foundation construction problems and high costs, besides the danger of interfering with underground oil and gas pipelines, according to Paulo Ricardo Bombassaro, engineering director of CPFL Piratininga.

Henry Borden-Jabaquara represents the utility's third application of 3M ACCR, and the seventh application in South America by five utilities. The lightweight, low-sag, high-capacity conductor also is in use by more than a dozen U.S. utilities, and by electric power companies in Europe and Asia, including China and India.

The upgraded Henry Borden-Jabaquara line employs 3M ACCR for two crossings of the Boqueirão River as it meanders eastward from the nearby Serra do Mar Mountains to Brazil's Atlantic coast. The line serves residential and industrial customers in Cubatão, which is about 9.3 miles from Santos — city of Brazil's major port.

3M ACCR's innovative technology has proven itself over the last ten years — first through exhaustive field testing that spanned four years, under a broad range of harsh climate and operating conditions — plus years of commercial application, all without a single performance failure.

The conductor was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, which tested the conductor at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and with early contributions by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The ORNL tests demonstrated that the conductor retains its integrity after exposure to temperatures even higher than the rated continuous operating temperature of 210 degrees Celsius and the emergency operating temperature of 240 degrees Celsius. It has the durability and longevity of traditional steel core conductors, even when operated continuously at high temperatures.

3M ACCR's strength and durability result from its core, composed of aluminum oxide (alumina) fibers embedded in high-purity aluminum, utilizing a highly specialized and patented process. The constituent materials can withstand high temperatures without appreciable loss in strength, even over long periods of time.

Also, since 3M's ACCR is based on aluminum, it is as not susceptible to environmental conditions such as moisture or UV exposure, as are other traditional conductors, and it has the corrosion resistance typically associated with aluminum-based conductors.

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