Crazy Competitor Claims
Dear Thermonuclear Bull Frog,
I recently attended a webinar on cable rejuvenation presented by another firm and need to ask some questions:
1. How can Novinium get the same cable life extension without a soak period? It would seem to me that Novinium puts less fluid into the cable than one would get with a soak period.
2. The ’840/’841 patents prevent anyone from using a fluid that diffuses into the insulation quickly. Do Novinium fluids infringe on those patents? Won’t a fluid with faster diffusion and reactive fluids lead to faster and better treatment of the cable?
3. Isn’t it better to have a 100% reactive fluid? I understand that not all of the Novinium fluid components are water reactive. When all the fluid components are reacting with water, it seems like you should get better cable rejuvenation.
4. I see that Novinium uses an acid catalyst in their fluids. Won’t this acid damage the cable, be dangerous to handle, or cause environmental problems?
5. A new fluid, DMDB, has been introduced. Will this improve injection performance on my URD cables?
Wonderer in the Wilderness
Wow, five questions in one inquiry! That’s a record for this frog. I like prolific questioners Mr. Wonderer, but some in my audience have short attention spans, so here is what I am going to do. In this post, I will clarify some of your questions and provide abbreviated answers. In the next few weeks I will expand on each of the answers. When I do that, I will come back here and edit this post to include a link to the comprehensive answer.
First let me say that the technology utilized by the folks on the other end of the webinar was largely invented by Novinium founders. If you want to use that technology, we will take it as a compliment that even our two-decade old ideas still have frog legs.
1. You wrote: How can Novinium get the same cable life extension without a soak period? It would seem to me that Novinium puts less fluid into the cable than one would get with a soak period.
a. Abbreviated answer: When Novinium founders invented the technology that utilizes a soak period, we had never measured the relative diffusion rates of the catalyst and the monomer. When we made that measurement a few years ago, we were a little embarrassed to learn that the previously chosen catalyst diffuses about six-times slower than the monomer. This mismatch means that for a typical 15kV cable with a 1/0 AWG conductor, more than one-third of the fluid supplied to the cable prematurely diffuses out without undergoing the required condensation reaction. We call this unfortunate condition, catalytic inefficiency. As soon as the Novinium science team recognized this problem, we fixed it. It turns out that in a typical 60-day soak period about one third more fluid is supplied, which just about makes up for the catalytic inefficiency. Novinium patented our solution (U.S. Patent 7, 700,871). Now, if you are enamored with soak periods and don’t mind the safety compromises and economic consequences that they entail, we can do soak periods too.
b. Comprehensive answer: See Catalytic Considerations - Component I and Catalytic Considerations - Component II
2. You wrote: The ’840/’841 patents prevent anyone from using a fluid that diffuses into the insulation quickly. Do your fluids infringe on those patents? Won’t a fluid with faster diffusion and reactive fluids lead to faster and better treatment of the cable?
a. Abbreviated answer: Ouch! Suggesting to a circuit owner that a competitor is engaging in patent infringement is not a tactic we would use. The short answers to both parts of this question are: No and no. The second half of the questions about size (i.e. faster diffusion) and water reactivity are addressed by question 3 below.
b. Comprehensive answer: See Size Does Matter.
3. You wrote: Isn’t it better to have a 100% reactive fluid? I understand that not all of the Novinium fluid components are water reactive. When all the fluid components are reacting with water, it seems like you should get better cable rejuvenation.
a. Abbreviated answer: No!
i. I know who suggested this to you, so let’s check out what he wrote to learn if 100% water reactivity really is important: “The presence of the water reactive functionality phenylmethyldimethoxysilane within the insulation was confirmed by microscopic infrared spectroscopy (SiOMe band at 1190 cm-1) through 54 days. It should be noted that 1/0 AWG size cable has a small conductor interstitial volume compared to the volume of polymer surrounding. Larger diameter conductor cables would be expected to have considerably more water reactive functionality present for dielectric enhancement over a longer period.” [Don Kleyer & Wayne Chatterton, The Importance of Diffusion and Water Scavenging in Dielectric Enhancement of Aged Medium Voltage Underground Cables, Proceedings of the IEEE/PES Conference April 1994.]
ii. Allow me to translate. The water reactive functionality is gone in about two months, but it would last somewhat longer in bigger cable, but shorter still in say, a No.2 AWG cable.
iii. For decades-long life extension, it is quite a stretch to suggest that water reactivity over a couple of months is critical. But, if you want to believe what the author says now, rather than what his experiments previously indicated, we will make a special 100% water reactive fluid for you. You see, Novinium has a patent (U.S. Patent 7,611,748) on a process of tailoring the fluid formulation to your unique conditions. We will make a special brew just for you. We can name it Ultrinium™/WC. You might think that “WC” are the initials of the water reactivity proponent, but it stands for Water-reactive Confusion.
b. Comprehensive answer: See Size Does Matter.
4. You wrote: I see that Novinium uses an acid catalyst in their fluids. Won’t this acid damage the cable, be dangerous to handle, or cause environmental problems?
a. Abbreviated answer: I notice that you use an acid in your salad dressing – vinegar. I notice that you squeeze acid on your fish – lemon juice! I think the webinar presenter is jealous of our U.S. Patent 7,700,871. We use less than 0.3%, less than 3 parts per thousand of a very large acid molecule called DDBSA. The acid part of the large DDBSA molecule is 1 part in 332. In other words the concentration of the acid proton is about 1 part in 111,000! That’s like putting a teaspoon of vinegar in your bath water. So no, there is no issue. The same cannot be said of titanium(IV) isopropoxide (TIP), which is the catalyst used in the two-decade-old technology at a level of 2 parts per 1000. TIP catalyzes the methanolic corrosion of aluminum. TIP doesn’t taste good on salad or on fish either.
b. Comprehensive answer: The dilute acid will not damage the cable. It has been deployed in millions of cable feet. The dilute acid is not dangerous to humans or amphibians. The acid catalyst enjoys profound benefits. See Catalytic Considerations - Component I and Catalytic Considerations - Component II to learn more.
5. You wrote: A new fluid, DMDB, has been introduced. Will this improve injection performance on my URD cables?
a. Abbreviated answer: No way! Did the guy actually suggest that? The active portion of DMDB is diluted by the presence of two 4-carbon alkoxy groups that serve no purpose other than to mitigate the aforementioned methanolic corrosion issue. Fully two-thirds of the fluid is lost even before suffering the catalytic inefficiency of 60%! Without a multi-year soak period, one could not hope to get enough DMBD into a URD-size cable to provide multi-decade life. Rather than diluting the product to solve the corrosion problem, the other guys should switch to an acid catalyst. Oops, they can’t, because we invented and patented that. (U.S. Patent 7,700,871)
b. Comprehensive answer: See DMDB Doubts
Come out of the wilderness into the light. The truth is well documented. I don’t mind setting the record straight – that is what I do for a living. I am not above having a little fun myself though, so I would like to ask a favor of you. Wonderer, I would like to plant a question for you to ask the next time you participate in a wilderness webinar: "Why was Novinium the only firm to participate in NEETRAC’s side-by-side rejuvenation test?" All rejuvenation vendors were invited. Instead of casting stones in webinars they could have put their technology directly against the technology leaders. Here is the answer relayed by NEETRAC in a project conference call: "[The invited supplier] chose not to participate citing 'business and commercial reasons.'” Satisfied?
Concluding Crazy Competor Claims,
P.S. I decided to create a whole new category within my blog to address Crazy Competitor Claims. It will be like a rejuvenation myth busters! I will print all civil responses from other rejuvenation suppliers, if they want to engage in a public debate on the merits of the various technology choices. The other guys are big fans of mine; they visit this blog all the time. I suspect they will cite “business and commercial reasons” for not engaging in a transparent dialog.