Real World III – Dominion Dodge
In my last post of 2011, Wondering in Western Washington, questioned the merit of the claims made by UTILX® in a document titled, “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid.” That document includes 17 pages and numerous claims. In this third of a series of posts, I consider extrapolated life claims scattered across pages 13 through 15. The author of the document presents a series of arguments built around a cable that was treated with CableCURE®/XL fluid at Dominion Virginia Power. The 35kV, 3-phase circuit included 1000 kcm aluminum conductors and 260 mils of XLPE insulation. One phase was treated with XL fluid; another phase was left untreated as a control. The cable lies in thermic soil (12-22°C) about one meter deep with no load. In fact, the circuit has had zero load since it was treated. I will share some of the more colorful assertions by the author below, but first the context suggested by the author is that this “real world” example is representative of the population of aging cables. Presumably the reader is encouraged to assume that the measurements made on this circuit can be extrapolated to what I have taken to call, the “real, real world.” The “real, real world” includes the 7-strand and 19-strand cables that make up the bulk of the rejuvenated cable universe. Like we saw in yesterday’s post, “Real World II – Duke Deception,” the author has not been very vigilant at choosing representative samples.
Point – Counterpoint
“This makes the result very conservative and only useful as an unrealistically low minimum boundary.”
Using very lively language the author appears to coax the reader that the analysis that follows can be applied to any case … we shall see.
“It is generally assumed that the reduction of breakdown strength over time is polymeric slowing over time. Modeling this reduction as a straight line is absolutely the most conservative approach.”
This frog is reluctant to put words in the author’s mouth, but I believe he meant to say “a polynomial” where he said “polymeric.” Even with that correction the author is still in error. The dielectric degradation slope of solid dielectric cables is best described as an exponential decay or hyperbolic decay … but I am quibbling now. The real point of the adverb-rich language again appears to be to encourage the reader to accept the analysis which follows without undue diligence. This frog will not willingly suspend her disbelief.
“The absolute most conservative evaluation of its remaining life would be to assume that from this moment on (Time = 14 years post injection) its' decay rate is linear and equal to the decay rate of its un-injected counterpart. In other words, we assume for the sake of absolute conservatism that the fluid at this point has no effect on the cable.”
The analysis is not just conservative it is absolutely conservative. It’s difficult for me not to correct the grammar and punctuation, but I successfully restrained myself.
“Assuming that [the treated cable] will age from this point on at the same rate as its un-injected counterpart is obviously nearly ridiculously conservative. By doing so however we are able to arrive at irrefutable proof of injection effectiveness as well as absolute certainty of the absolute minimum value of added life.”
These two sentences are gems. Thinking about the meaning of “obviously nearly ridiculously conservative” is a bit like thinking about one of those science fiction time paradoxes. If I went back in my time machine and swallowed my father when he was a tadpole, how could I have ever been spawned in the first place? What does “nearly ridiculously” mean? Almost, but not quite, ridiculous? This frog is not sure about that, but I am quite confident the author is trying to sell me an idea I shouldn’t be buying. I can be confident, because if the author actually had irrefutable proof, why would he hide it within the shroud of a “Confidential and Proprietary” document and actually sue his customer to prevent its public disclosure? (See UTILX v. City of Tacoma, No. 11-2-11594-7 in the Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for the County of Pierce.)
Fallacy of the Anecdote II
Putting aside the overenthusiastic use of adverbs and hyperbole the author makes a reasonable case for the efficacy of his product in an unloaded, 1000 kcm, 35 kV feeder cable buried in thermic soil. The problem arises because he holds out this example as one of a handful of “real world” examples and implies that these few anecdotes prove the universal efficacy of his product. The Dominion cable is not representative of the population of “real, real world” cables. In the table nearby I tally up the estimated impact of some differences between this single sample and the “real, real world.” In yesterday’s post, we saw that the Duke cable was off the mark by about a factor of 240X. The Dominion Dodge is not nearly so egregious. Here the error is a paltry 20X-150X! The author appears headed in the right direction.
If you have a cable, like the Dominion cable with no load, treatment with even low performance injection fluids should provide several decades of post-injection reliable life. However, that success cannot be extrapolated to 7- and 19-strand cables that carry cyclic loads. The old fluid utilized at Dominion Virginia Power was deployed by a Novinium founder and is available from Novinium for non-demanding applications. Perficio™ 011 fluid works well in non-demanding applications, like cables with really thick insulation, low loads, and non-constrained conductors. In the decades since the introduction of the first generation of technology, the masters of reliability at Novinium came to recognize that one cannot treat all cables the same. Novinium is the only supplier in the world of patented technology (U.S. Patent 7,611,748) which addresses the full spectrum of cable types and sizes.
Using adverbs sparingly,