Inter-digital capacitive sensor for evaluating cable jacket and insulation aging
Fifield, L. S.
An inter-digital capacitive (TDC) sensor has previously been used to measure dielectric properties of cable insulation polymer material when placed in direct contact with the insulation. Often cable insulation is covered by a polymer jacket. The dielectric properties of many cable jacket and insulation polymers are known to change due to thermal and radiation exposure-related damage. These dielectric properties frequently track with other measures of cable aging, such as tensile elongation-at-break and indenter modulus that have been broadly established as cable insulation polymer assessment methods. The external jacket of a cable is likely to have a different permittivity from the underlying insulation, and frequently the jacket material exhibits more severe damage than the insulation material due to environmental exposure. Because the jacket serves primarily to guard the cable during installation, as long as the underlying insulation condition is acceptable, the jacket condition is relatively unimportant in service.
As part of a continuing program to develop and evaluate nondestructive examination methods that may be applied to cable condition assessment, a set of tools has been developed including (1) a parallel-plate sensor to directly measure the permittivity spectrum of flat sheet material and (2) an TDC and fixture to measure the effect of cable polymer dielectric property change on the sensor response. The TDC consists of two fork-like electrodes facing each other with the fork tines interspersed and separated by a small gap. The electrodes are printed on one side of a flexible substrate that can be conformed to the surface of a cylindrical cable, with tines parallel to the cable axis. The electrodes are connected to a broad-frequency-spectral impedance meter that senses the capacitance between the narrowly gapped electrode tines. This capacitance is known to vary as a function of the permittivity of any material in close proximity to the electrodes. By finite element modeling (FEM) and experimentation, this study investigates the effect of tine spacing and other design parameters associated with the TDC on the voltage (potential) distribution and electric field depth of penetration. The TDC measurement of an unshielded ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR)-insulated cable is shown to track with the degree of aging and quantities obtained by established methods. For jacketed cable systems, the TDC response is dominated by the jacket but, by analyzing measurements from TDC sensors with different depths-of-field penetration into the cable under test, the influence of the chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) cable jacket material degradation can be separated from an assessment of the cable insulation thereby enabling assessment of the insulation beneath/through the jacket.
This proceeding may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and AIP Publishing. This proceeding appeared in Glass, S. W., L. S. Fifield, A. Sriraman, W. C. Palmer, and N. Bowler. "Inter-digital capacitive sensor for evaluating cable jacket and insulation aging." AIP Conference Proceedings 2102, no. 1 (2019): 020024, and may be found at DOI: 10.1063/1.5099728. Posted with permission.