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More Effective PE-based Solutions for the Wire & Cable Applications

Borouge and Borealis supply polyolefin (PE) solutions for wire and cable applications based on their Borstar, Borlink™, Visico™ and Casico™ technologies developed by Borealis, and are convincing wire and cable industries across globe on how PE is advantageous over traditional PVC.

Borouge, a leading provider of innovative, value creating polyolefins plastics solutions, organized (a seminar to update the Indian wire and cable industry about recent innovations in its PE based solutions) to be used in cable insulations and jackets. Through the seminar, Borouge wished to emphasize on the need to change the jacketing of all underground cables with PE jacketing in place of PVC jacketing, stressing that this is not only cost competitive, but also improves the cable performance and ensure longer life. At the seminar, speakers from the industry and Borouge expounded on the possibility of replacing the PVC jackets, especially for better protection of underground cables.

As is known, cable jacket is an essential component of power cable systems. It is the outermost protection of the cable core and has a significant impact potential on total cost of cable systems, viz. production, transportation, installation, operation (in service), and maintenance. It is therefore a must that power cable systems achieve safety, reliability, long service life. Through technical presentations, experts from Borouge not only gave a glimpse of the evolution of jacketing material over time, starting from PVC and journeying thorough MDPE, HDPE to LLDPE, but also compared empirically how PE scores over PVC.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Roland Janssen, Vice President Marketing Centre, Energy, Borouge, said, “Few years back, there was a shortage of raw material and that was the time when we decided to invest in this industry. We at Borouge and Borealis decided to invest more than a billion US dollar in the capacity expansion to support the growth of this industry. We started this expansion in 2010 and today I am happy to announce that we have started XLPE production in Borouge.”

Trends in India’s Power Transmission & XLPE Usage

Mr. Anil Gupta, Chairman & MD, KEI Industries Limited was invited as the chief guest at the event. Speaking largely on Indian power T&D scenario and how XLPE usage is increasing here, he said, “Firstly, I would congratulate Borouge on starting the Abu Dhabi plant. Transmission and distribution are major sectors where electrical cables are sold. Also, India is passing through a growing phase as far as construction and real estate sector is concerned. However, major boom can be seen in power transmission and distribution sector.

“Moreover, among current trends is also the tapping of the renewable energy, i.e. solar and wind to ease the pressure on conventional coal power that we mostly use in India. This will also minimize the negative impact on the environment. But, in whichever way the power is generated, it needs to be transmitted and distributed through a proper system.

“Use of XLPE is increasing as compared to PVC due to better dielectric and insulation properties. Elimination of overhead electric systems by virtue of smart city concept has resulted in PVC usage reduction as insulation material across various specifications of the cable.”

Mr. Gupta also underscored the healthy growth trajectory of the wire and cable industry despite of lower economic growth of the country. “The cable industry has undergone a growth of around 15 percent as demonstrated by the statistics of our Electrical Association. Last year, it was 20 percent and this year also it will grow in same proportion, he said. He added that the use of XLPE cables for low voltage, medium voltage and high voltage was proportional to the growth of industry. According to him, significant investment in the solar power in the form of solar plants and solar parks, the elimination of overhead electric systems, and increasing use of cables in underground cables are likely to give fillip to XLPE compounds usage in cables.

Mr. Gupta enumerated many factors behind the rise in power consumption, resulting in better cabling requirements thereby warranting the use of better jacketing material as XLPE, viz. urbanization and globalization, the use of high voltage and extra high voltage cables, the hydel projects increasing the growth opportunity for high voltage cables, etc.

“PVC and PE are going to play an important role in other industries and usages also and I think we are very positive about this industry as well as the growth potential in this sector. The HVDC cable will also come in trend soon,” he concluded.

Borouge’s Borlink™ XLPE Solutions

Speaking on Borolink, a technology brand of XLPE based insulation compound, Mr. Tapas Dey, Technical Service Manager, Wire & Cable, Borouge (India) Pvt. Ltd. said, “Borlink is basically a cross linkable power cable compound used for medium, HV, and EHV DC cable products. There are four pillar of our value proposition here. First is that we have more than 50 years of experience of manufacturing XLPE compounds. Second, we are manufacturing cleanest LDPE which is further used as a raw material for manufacturing XLPE which further means superior electrical properties. Third is our Supercure Technology, wherein we are offering special products to our clients through which productivity part can be increased. And, fourth, we follow closed or controlled production loop by which we are getting contamination elimination as we all know that contaminations are major reason of cable failures in all high voltage and medium voltage cables; this further helps us in maintaining the consistency of cables produced.”

Elaborating on Borlink Low Scorch, Mr. Dey said, “Borlink Low Scorch Supercure Platform is where we enhance crosslinking reactivity through vinyl addition, i.e. the reactivity enhancement is done by polymer backbone design. Here one peroxide bond is equal to more than one crosslink (less crosslinking by-product formation).

“Moreover, LS4201 has improved scorch performance. Monsanto Scorch and Carrot Scorch Test done on LS4201 & LE4201 at different temperatures showed improved scorch performance in for LS42012 as compared to the other product. Also, LS4201 has 2-4⁰C wider processing window which is beneficial in longer production run.

Mr. Dey also informed, “XLPE compound is made by Borealis and we are supplying this new improved PE material to Europe and Asia for HVDC cables. Latest in 2016, we have started our high pressure LDPE manufacturing as well as our XLPE plant in Ruwais.

Mr. Dey also acknowledged that XLPE products made at Borealis and Borouge have exactly same the same properties. “Before supplying this material to our clients, we decided to test and the results we received after testing, both LS4201- LD1 v/s LD5 produced at Borouge and Borlealis, showed that both products are identical. The results were same when tested for properties or parameters like viscosity, processing, thermo-oxidative ageing, crosslinking, scorch, shrink back, dissipation factor, AC breakdown, electrical treeing inception, and wet ageing. All the tests concluded that both of the products are very much similar with very minor or no difference at all.

“Borouge and borealis continue to lead from the front with benchmark technology, including the Borlink platform. LS4201R is identical to what we were supplying few years back; so I request the customers to not to worry about the quality of product. Only the location has changed; rest of the properties and brand name remains the same.

“High pressure plants and XLPE compounding units are using the same Borlink technology platform in Stenungsund and Ruwais and form the platform for a global business. These common platforms enable Borouge to deliver a product that the industry knows and values i.e. LS4201R.”

The Route to Replacing PVC Jackets

Mr. Brian Branney, Marketing Manager, Cable & Wire at Borouge, outlined the benefits of PE jackets for underground energy cables and how PE jackets are superior to PVC. “Jackets are the first line of defense for your energy cables, but as far as mechanical aspect is considered, it is used for insulation and moisture protection. Earlier, the PVC was used for jacketing purpose, but now industry needs better mechanical performance and better insulation properties along with good moisture control. So, we have come up with PE jacketing solutions for underground cables. Most utilities in India still prefer PVC over PE because of huge cost difference and other circumstances.”

Mr. Branney cited Europe as example to highlight the increasing preference given PE jackets, and over 90 percent of medium voltage cable jacket are using PE in Germany since 1993. Also, PE is expected to be the continuing replacement of PVC for medium voltage cables as these jackets are a major component that improves reliability of wires, he updated.

“Polyethylene is a growing solution. Additionally, there are environmental reasons too which prove that PE is more sustainable than PVC. In PE, you don’t have the issues of Halogenic gases as only additives are used in PE whereas PVC has plasticizers, fillers and stabilizers. So, PE can be easily recycled, but PVC mixtures need to be separated before it can be recycled. This further enhances the sustainability quotient of PE solutions as compared to that of PVC,” said Mr. Brian justifying how PE is better even environmentally than PVC.

He added, “Plasticizer can migrate from PVC which may result in weight increase of poly ethylene in contact with PVC containing DIOP. This puts a negative impact on the mechanical properties and tensile strength. Borealis recently completed an investment in recycling unit in Europe to contribute to sustainable solutions.

“The question here is why we are not using this! This is because PVC has lower price. But, when it comes to performance and better moisture protection, polyethylene turns out to be a better choice. As far as underground cables are concerned, there is no practical reason why PVC remains the choice of utilities. We are and we will be working very hard to convince the utilities in India to switch over to PE for better performance.”

Moreover, Borealis and Borouge has Introduced new Low Fire Hazard compound based on Visico™ scorch retardant technology. Visico™ FR4450 and FR4451 is a new halogen-free, moisture cure system based on Visico scorch retardant technology. Used together with specially designed catalysts LE4439 (natural) and LE4433 (black), these compounds exhibit excellent processability and scorch resistance, combined with good mechanical properties and flexibility.

Visico FR4450/LE4439 (natural) and FR4450/LE4433 (black) have been recognized by Underwriters Laboratories to meet the requirements of UL 44 and UL 854. This system is unique in being halogen-free, since most available solutions for this application are based on brominated flame retardant additives.

Visico FR4451/LE4439 is designed to meet the requirements for insulation and jacketing of photovoltaic cables according to specifications TÜV 2 Pfg 1169/08.2007 and EN 50618. This UV stabilized compound also fulfils the requirements for building wire insulation type EI5 according to EN 50363-5. Compared to most available solutions, Visico FR4451/LE4439 enables easy processing, and long shelf life.

 

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