Cross linked polyethylene or XLPE is a different type of insulation material that XLPE power cable manufacturers use. Crosslinking polymers is a known process applied in the production of XLPE cables. The process changes the entire molecular structure of the polymer chains to bind together. This crosslinking is done by professionals in the foundry by chemical means or physical means.
Physical and Chemical crosslinking
Physical crosslinking includes subjecting the polymer to the high-energy source like microwave radiation or high-energy electron.
Chemical crosslinking process includes chemicals or initiators such as peroxide or silane that are used to generate free radicals which create the crosslinking.
PE or Polyethylene material has extraordinary features, such as-
- Good dielectric strength
- High insulation resistance
- Low dissipation factor at all frequencies
All these features make the material an ideal insulator. However, it’s temperature range is limited. Crosslinking the PE to produce XLPE raises the temperature range of the insulation without making any change to its electrical properties.
Is PVC similar to XLPE cable insulation?
Not at all! PVC and XLPE are two unique materials used by wires and cables manufacturers to prepare distinct cable batches. XLPE material is best for voltage ranges from low to higher voltage. Manufacturers use XLPE material when they cannot involve PVC, EPR, and silicone rubbers. XLPE crosslinking enhances the resistance properties of the cables. Manufacturers at the factory apply crosslinking process to polyethylene at elevated temperatures to make it suitable for use as a low smoke zero halogen material.
Apart from chemical properties, mechanical properties of the XLPE are also making the material superior to other insulations. These are-
- Greater tensile strength
- Impact resistance
Cable manufacturers add carbon black to enhance hot deformation and cut through resistance. By doing this, they get success in delivering the XLPE power cables that don’t melt or drip, even at the extreme temperatures. This also increases the flow resistance and makes the product last-longing.
Better water-tree resistance is next feature offered by XLPE insulation. You may again read the phrase “water-tree”. Water treeing is a defect caused by imperfect insulation. If the engineers fail to produce perfect insulation, they encounter fracture in the structure, which grow in the direction of the electric field. This results in increased electrical stress. It should be remembered by the XLPE power cable manufacturers that this effect is not only limited to PE materials.
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