Cable Pipes: Cost Effective, Environmentally Friendly Electricity Transmission Using Trenchless Burial Methods

From May 2005 to October 2006
Project Leader(s): Dr JM Hale
Staff: Professor AG Gibson
Sponsors: EPSRC (GR/T27242)
Partners: Charador Pipeline Services Ltd, Plasticpipes, Advanced Specialist Moulders Ltd.

Off shore wind farms, sensitive urban areas and environmental pressures create problems for power transmission pylons. The alternative is cable burial. However, open cut trenching is both disruptive and expensive, and in many situations provides an unacceptable alternative. This project (which is to be carried out jointly with Newcastle University) aims to determine the feasibility of current technology to install high voltage cables in relatively large (0.8 - 2.0 m) diameter pipelines constructed without trenches in long (at least 2 km) runs and, if necessary, define further research and development that would facilitate such construction. The technologies that have the potential to make high power underground electrical transmission viable are trenchless cable installation, high power solid-state electronic switching and advance polymeric materials. These are the areas of expertise in the Birmingham and Newcastle groups. Although each aspect of the proposed work is novel in itself, it is the combination of elevated temperatures on soil, liner and pipeline performance, trenchless cable installation well beyond current limitations (a novel form of liner creation in situ is inevitable), electrical supply systems well beyond current capabilities, adequate cooling systems operating over large distances, and novel polymeric materials and structures to support the cables given the necessary range of operating conditions that makes the proposed research uniquely novel. The Birmingham element of the research programme will investigate the physical installation processes in terms of the capabilities of current and future trenchless technologies, produce a specification for the proposed trenchless methods, carry out design and analysis of the proposed methods and, with Newcastle, design up to three representative installations.


Professor Alan Jack
Emeritus Professor