Platforms for innovation
A sophisticated battery of tests
Cable improvements are generally based on innovative cable designs and the formulation of innovative materials which must be meticulously observed, analyzed and assessed.
The Nexans Research Centers use the latest generation of equipment to fully characterize materials in the laboratory environment:
- Metallurgical testing includes tests for micro hardness, electrical resistance (air, oil, etc.), solderability, high temperature compression, torsion, annealability, continuity, etc.
- Morphological observation and elementary analysis with a Scanning Electron Microscope coupled to an Energy Dispersive X-ray spectrometer
- Physico-chemical properties are examined using, for example, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, ThermoGravimetry, ThermoMechanical analysis, and Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Capillary and dynamic rheology (the science dealing with the deformation and flow of matter)
- Chromatography etc.
Critical materials are identified during the first step of their development using, for example:
- Dielectric breakdown under AC/DC voltages up to 500 kV
- Resistivity measurement on polymers up 35 kV
- Conductivity measurement of non-linear material
- Materials permittivity and dielectric losses up to 5 kV
- Measurement of self-inductance, capacitance and resistance of cables in the frequency domain up to 1 MHz, etc.
To assess final cable performance, the mechanical test center is recognized as a powerful resource to assess final cable performance for a wide range of moving cables destined for industrial applications (wind turbines, material handling, mining, shipboard, etc.), infrastructure (overhead lines) or building applications (elevator cables).
- Reverse reeling, reverse bending, and roller bending machines reproduce the load borne by the cable in its final application
- Traction benches characterize cable or copper mechanical properties in a dynamic or static state
- Cyclic torsion at room temperature or extreme cold simulates cable motion in wind turbine nacelles, etc.
The fire test platform, accredited by the French accreditation body COFRAC, qualifies and/or develops new generations of high-performance fire-safe cables:
- Fire resistance (specific cable properties to maintain electrical continuity in fire) is evaluated in accordance with local or international specifications
- Cable flame-and-fire propagation behavior is controlled and improved
- Material or cable potential to release smoke, toxic and/or corrosive substances is assessed to reduce toxicity
A full series of electrical tests are carried out on all cables, whether they are carrying energy or data in terms of conformity, quality and functionality:
- Energy cables are subject to “go/no-go” withstand tests (to expose defects), tangent delta tests, partial discharge tests, etc.
- Data cables are tested for capacity, attenuation to crosstalk ratio, impedance, skin effect, return loss, etc.
In addition, since cables are not used independently, but depend on terminations, installation conditions, network architecture, etc. a series of tests simulates actual operating conditions. For example, part of a LAN system can be fully replicated to see how it is likely to function in actual practice in business networks, communication/transportation systems, Data Centers, Storage Area Networks, Security Services, etc.