AMS has a state-of-the-art Materials Testing Laboratory providing services to nuclear power plants and other industrial facilities. Using a suite of visual, thermal, chemical, and mechanical characterization tests and analysis tools, our engineers conduct in-depth evaluation of the chemical composition, molecular structure, mechanical characteristics, and physical properties of a variety of materials. This laboratory is staffed by a group of engineers with B.S. to Ph.D. degrees in materials science, chemical engineering, nuclear engineering, and related disciplines.
AMS has addressed this industry need by developing a comprehensive Materials Testing Laboratory which focuses primarily on evaluating age related degradation of insulation materials in electrical cables. AMS has performed extensive research in the area of cable aging and uses a wide variety of electrical, mechanical, and thermal-chemical condition monitoring tests to determine the aged condition and provide remaining useful life estimates for industrial cables. These laboratory tests are typically performed on cable samples removed from service and sent to our laboratory for analysis. The results of this testing provide important information on the overall health of industrial cables and can be used as justification for continued operability as well as to inform maintenance practices for future cable replacements.
Recently, cable aging assessments were performed for a nuclear power plant that wanted to determine the aged condition of installed cables that had been exposed to elevated temperatures and other environmental stressors during operation. The goal of this project was to determine both the current condition of the cable polymers and estimate how much time the insulation materials could remain exposed to their in-service environmental conditions in the plant before reaching their end of life condition. AMS routinely performs As-Found condition assessments using the following test methods:
- Visual and Optical Microscope Inspections
- Insulation Resistance
- Indenter Modulus
- Elongation at Break
- Oxidation Induction Time
- Thermo-gravimetric Analysis
- Relative Density
- Scanning Electron Microscopy / Electron Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS)
- Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy
- Electrical Permittivity
Following the As-Found condition assessments, accelerated aging is performed to determine remaining useful life estimates for each of the cable samples. By comparing data acquired during initial testing to data at multiple points in the aging process, AMS is able to determine the estimated remaining useful life of a cable polymer. In the case study described above, the cable samples were estimated to last at least ten years based on the environmental conditions the cables were exposed to during operation. This information provided the facility information that was used to develop a cable replacement schedule and avoid unnecessary replacements.
To find out more about our Cable Aging and Condition Monitoring services, click here.