Neset to Northshore transmission line will use carbon for reinforcement

For the first time ever, Basin Electric will be using a carbon fiber composite conductor on the construction of one of its transmission lines.

According to Bobby Nasset, civil engineering supervisor, the new Neset to Northshore transmission line will increase reliability not only in the Ross and New Town, North Dakota, areas where it will be located, but the entire region.

For 100 years, the standard material for transmission lines has been ACSR, or aluminum conductor/steel reinforced. While effective, the steel that provides the majority of the strength for the lines expands under heat and causes excessive line sagging with heavy electrical loads. “The conductor thermal capacity is capped at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, because the aluminum loses its strength at the temperature,” Nasset said.

When it is constructed, the Neset to Northshore conductor will have a carbon fiber core instead of steel for reinforcement. The material is stronger, lighter, and doesn’t thermally expand like steel does. “You can heat it up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit before it loses strength, so we can nearly double the current carrying capacity for the same size conductor,” Nasset said.

While not new to transmission lines, Nasset said carbon fiber material has just recently become more cost effective. “The price for the material itself is higher, but the overall project cost is similar when taking other factors into consideration, such as increased load capacity and savings in support structure costs due to less conductor sag,” he said.

The contract for the carbon fiber material was awarded to TS Conductor Company in late July. Construction on the Neset to Northshore transmission line is estimated to begin in spring 2022.

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