3M (St. Paul, Minn., USA) reported on Aug. 25 that it will double its capacity to produce its high-capacity electricity transmission conductor, 3M ACCR, in late 2012, at its plant in Menomonie, Wis., USA. The production line expansion is in response to accelerating growth in product demand from utilities in the U.S. and abroad. To date, the conductor is in use in 11 nations on four continents.
3M ACCR (aluminum conductor composite reinforced) is a lightweight, low-sag overhead conductor that can increase transmission capacity by up to 100 percent or more, compared with conventional steel core conductors of the same size, without requiring larger towers or expanded rights of way. As a result, it is becoming the solution of choice for line upgrades where construction is challenging or uneconomical, including environmentally sensitive areas, crowded urban neighborhoods, and wherever line clearance is an issue.
To date, 3M ACCR has been used to increase capacity on transmission lines that cross sensitive waterways in Canada and Brazil, pass through heavily populated areas in Mumbai, India and Phoenix, Ariz., USA, and transmit power from renewable energy resources in Europe, in each case without requiring new tower construction.
Tim Koenig, who heads 3M’s High-Capacity Conductor Program, says the growth in production will be achieved “by adding two new wire lines, new equipment and incremental improvements in our proprietary manufacturing process.”
For this expansion, 3M is eligible for up to $770,000 in economic development tax credits allocated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Koenig adds that an estimated 25 new full-time jobs will be added at the Menomonie plant.
Koenig says 3M ACCR is now in use by close to 20 U.S. utilities and by power providers in the world’s fastest growing large economies, including Brazil, India and China.
“Utilities around the world have an urgent need to expand transmission capacity with new, reliable technology in a way that won’t cause environmental problems or disrupt dense urban neighborhoods by installing new or larger towers, and 3M ACCR is recognized as a proven, cost-effective solution,” says Koenig.
3M ACCR’s strength and durability result from its core, composed of aluminum oxide (alumina) fibers embedded in high-purity aluminum, using a highly specialized and proprietary process. The constituent materials can withstand high temperatures without appreciable loss in strength, even over long periods of time.