by Thermo 30. January 2012 15:56

Real World V – Irrefutable Proof

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 17 page document includes numerous assertions that I examined in previous posts, Real World I, II, III, and IV. In this last in the series of five posts, I examine the veracity of the “irrefutable proof” asserted by the document’s author. Claims of “irrefutable proof” are actually quite easy to disprove. Even if there is a single decent argument that runs contrary to the assertion, the irrefutable proof rings hollow. This lowly frog cites five …

1.    If the proof is irrefutable, why would the author declare the analysis to be proprietary and confidential and sue his own customer to prevent its disclosure? UTILX did not prevail in its legal action. 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. Click here and search on the case number to access court documents.

2.    The author failed to disclose that his first of three “real world” examples was treated unconventionally. The cable was treated from the inside-out as is in the normal case, but the cable was also treated from the outside-in. This deceptive tactic would not be used by someone with irrefutable proof. This Duke Deception lies outside the norm by about 240X!

3.    In the second of three examples presented, the author uses the Dominion Dodge, which lies outside the norm by a factor of between 20X and 150X.

4.    Why not provide data from a case or cases that are representative of typical “real world” cables? The author has access to a study performed by Florida Power and Light (FPL) that contradicts his assertions. Why does he fail to disclose that data? The FPL study was conducted in cooperation with the author’s firm. The FPL study was described semi-publically to NEETRAC members participating in a process to design a new side-by-side experiment to compare the post-injection performance of the commercially significant technologies. UTILX participated in the experimental design, but withdrew from the study when it was ready to begin, citing “business and commercial reasons.”  If UTILX’s technology is irrefutably better than that offered by Novinium, why would UTILX withdraw? NEETRAC, NEETRAC members, and Novinium completed the study.

5.    The author has access to the entire post-injection failure history of his firm. Why not simply publish this realest of “real world” data? Novinium publishes its full failure experience. Click here to view Novinium’s “Lessons Learned.”

Veritatem dies aperit (from Lucius Seneca, Time discovers truth)

T. B. Frog


Crazy Competitor Claims

by Thermo 27. January 2012 13:07

Real World IV – NE Utilities – finally a ray of sunshine

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 fourth in a series of five posts, I consider two paragraphs on page 15 devoted to some “real, real world” data provided publically by Northeast Utilities, Connecticut Light & Power subsidiary.  The author devoted the previous 14 pages to the “Duke Deception” and the “Dominion Dodge,” each a poster child for the Wikipedia entry for “Non-representative Sample.” We saw that those two examples were displaced from the “real, real world” by 20X to 240X! So here is what the author said with his characteristic flair about his third and final example:

Part Three:  Connecticut Light and Power Co. Published Success:

Part One of this paper demonstrated that the fluid content contained in a cables' insulation even many years post injection is very high. Part Two of this paper demonstrated the long term effectiveness of that fluid on real cables that underwent real world ageing. Part Three of this paper shows a published real world accounting of the effectiveness of treatment on a real world population of cables. This accounting was performed by Connecticut Light and Power Co (CL&P). It was presented in the spring 2008 ICC and published in those notes. The spreadsheet describing their injection program success has been included as Appendix C of this report. That spreadsheet makes the following points.

CL&P has been carefully maintaining the failure records of the cable they consider to be 'at risk' since 1995. They began their injection program in 1999 selecting cable from that same pool of 'at risk' cables. Although the appendix includes a detailed breakout by year, the summary is succinct. From 1999 to 2007 the pool of at risk un-injected cable totaled 7.8 million feet upon which they experienced 2512 failures. From that same pool of at risk cables, 2.1 million feet had been pulled for injection. Across that same time period there are only 43 failures experienced on the 2.1 million feet. The un-injected pool is suffering a failure rate per foot of cable that is larger than 15 times greater than the cables that have been injected.

The first two sentences are of course untrue. Part One and Part Two demonstrate that under conditions unrepresentative of typical cables and in the least demanding of applications, PMDMS (phenylmethyldimethoxysilane) fluid works quite well. What this frog struggles to fathom is why the author didn’t just stick to CL&P data. The CL&P data show the profoundly positive impact that PMDMS fluid has on, dare I say it, real world reliability. The post injection failure rate is 0.7% and it is does represent an over 15-fold improvement over the untreated cable population. In the interest of transparency, I have attached the CL&P data to the bottom of this post.

Conspicuous by its Absence

What’s missing from the “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid” document is any analysis that shows the “real world” concentration of treatment fluid in the CL&P cables. This would be the proper way to draw together the Duke, Dominion, and CL&P data. At Novinium, we don’t have to make measurements to know what the concentration profile looks like. We have two U.S. Patents (7,643,977 and 7,848,912), which allows us to calculate the profile with uncanny precision. If the author were to make a measurement, it would not support his narrative. The author would find that the concentration of fluid found in the Duke transmission cable and the unloaded 35kV Dominion feeder cable are substantially greater than that found in a similarly aged 7-strand or 19-strand CL&P URD cable. I should think the author would want to revise his thinking.

In any case, there is good news. For non-demanding applications in cool mesic soils such as those in Connecticut, even the first generation of fluids performs admirably. Novinium offers the same PMDMS-based treatment fluid with several safety and performance improvements. We call our PMDMS-based material, Perficio™ 011 fluid. Numerous improvements in the next generation of technology made by the Novinium Masters of Reliability™ provide up to twice the life and twice the post injection reliability with the Ultrinium™ 73X fluid family. What do the “real world” folks in Connecticut use today for their rejuvenation program? To find out you will have to ask them, but I can say that I have added granite to my habitat.

In my upcoming fifth and last post on this thread …

Real World V – Irrefutable Proof, …

I will provide a final peer review and editorial of UTILX’s “Confidential and Proprietary” document.

Until then,

T. B. Frog

80-20120127_Real_World_IV-NE_CLP_Cable_Injection_Program.pdf (8.14 kb)

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Crazy Competitor Claims

by Thermo 26. January 2012 12:43

Failure Causes III

In my January 24th post, “Failure Causes I,” I provided a partial answer to an inquiry from Colorado Querier. Colorado sought to understand if rejuvenation technology was appropriate for the “many types of aging factors” from which his firm’s circuits might suffer. We learned that 39% or more of all circuit failures are component failures and that these reliability issues are directly addressed with a rejuvenation program.  In yesterday’s post, “Failure Causes II,” we learned that more than 78% of the cable failures, which represent over 60% of the circuit failures are directly caused by water trees.  78% times 60% yields 47%. Water trees are the root cause of more than 47% of circuit reliability issues. Taken together (39% plus 47%) component issues and water trees account for more than 86% of all circuit reliability issues. We could stop right there, because 86% could be characterized as the vast majority. We could stop right there, because of the over 100,000,000 feet of cable rejuvenated over the last two-and-a-half decades, over 99% continue to provide reliable service. Cables treated by Novinium enjoy a post-injection failure rate less than half that of the industry-wide figure. We could stop there, but we won’t. The Novinium masters of reliability strive for post-rehabilitation reliability perfection.

If component issues and water trees represent the frog’s share of reliability root causes, what are the secondary issues? And how does rejuvenation technology address, or not address, these issues?

Neutral Corrosion

The occurrence of neutral corrosion within the population of bare neutral cables is 100%.  But don’t despair, the occurrence of neutral corrosion that creates safety or reliability issues is an order of magnitude less significant than circuit failures from all other causes – that is, generally 1-2% of cables suffer substantive neutral issues. Click here to check out my July 7, 2010 post along with its links to other published works. Even though the neutral corrosion issue is less significant than many assume, the good news is that neutral corrosion is both detectable and addressable. In fact, the Novinium masters routinely detect and repair neutral corrosion.

Thermal Issues

When cables are heavily loaded over sustained periods the insulation loses anti-oxidants and plasticizers. Oxidative degradation and polymer embrittlement contribute to a decrease in dielectric strength and in severe, but rare, cases may lead to cracking of the insulation. Designed to stay in the insulation for decades after injection, Novinium’s Ultrinium™ 73X fluids include anti-oxidants (AOs) and plasticizers. These materials all but halt oxidative degradation and embrittlement. Anti-oxidants have also been proven to slow the rate of water tree growth and increase the inception voltage of electrical trees. Click here to learn more about anti-oxidants in my March 14, 2011 post, “AO, AO … It’s home from work we go.” If the insulation gets hot enough the conductor may migrate and the insulation will become eccentric. These eccentricities usually manifest themselves at tight bending radii. The Novinium masters identify and remove most excessively bent cable sections. These most commonly occur near terminations or accessible splices and these areas are inspected during pre-injection preparation. Novinium® brand rejuvenation addresses all of these thermal issues.


Halos are unavoidable when a cable is thermally cycled in the presence of water. Thermal cycling creates micro-voids in the middle radius of the insulation driven by the “Molecular Thermodynamics of Water in Direct-Buried Power Cables.” Click here to view the paper by the same name from IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine (Nov/Dec 2006). The collection of voids formed this way is referred to as a halo. In the absence of water trees or some other defects, a halo does not lead to failure, because the halo size is limited by the molecular thermodynamics of water in the polymer. None-the-less, rejuvenation reverses most of the dielectric degradation caused by halos by filling the micro-voids with more compatible organo-silicones. Novinium® brand rejuvenation addresses halos.

Manufacturing Defects

Voids, protrusions, contaminants, eccentricities, and skipped shields are “unwanted features” of a new cable. With the possible exception of skipped shields all of these unwanted features are in every cable. Fortunately for your newer purchases the magnitude of the defects is low enough that the cable can provide reliable service for its design life. For both your new cable purchases and your 30- and 40-year-old legacy purchases if the defects are large enough the cables will fail early in their lives … these kinds of defects yield what statisticians call infant mortality.  Your decade-old cables have been screened by operation of substantive manufacturing defects – those that will actually cause a failure without an accompanying water tree. In short, manufacturing defects are everywhere, but in legacy cable their manifestation is a water tree growing from the defect. Rejuvenation directly address the water tree and Novinium Ultrinium™ 73X brand rejuvenation includes patented stress grading components, which directly address stress-enhancing defects. Click the links below to learn more about stress grading …



Really Long Term Life 

March 18, 2011

Real World I – High K 

January 11, 2012

Installation Defects

Excessively tight bending radius, excessive pull force, and exterior abuse rendered during installation are analogous to manufacturing defects. Serious problems manifest themselves shortly after installation. If an installation defect survived for several decades it is not so serious that it cannot be addressed by rejuvenation technology, particularly technology that includes Novinium patented stress grading chemistry.

Physical Damage (post-installation)

Frost thrust, dig-ins, and critter attacks can occur at any time. At Novinium we have seen insect attacks and rodent attacks. Amphibians have never been a problem. In the case of critter attacks, these usually occur near terminations and hence are often discovered and rectified as a routine matter during a rejuvenation program.  Dig-ins and frost thrust are generally not discoverable, but follow a pattern similar to manufacturing and installation defects. Cables struck with significant damage fail shortly after the event, insignificant damage may be mitigated by rejuvenation. In summary, rejuvenation mitigates, but does not prevent all failures resulting from post-installation physical damage. Rejuvenation with stress grading technology such as that found in patented Novinium Ultrinium™ 73X brand rejuvenation fluids provides superior mitigation.

Testing Induced

My faithful readers know that this frog is not a devotee of diagnostic testing. The fundamental problem can be summed up thusly:  None of the technologies can reliably discriminate between cables which will fail in short order and those which will not. The rejuvenation program alternative puts a final nail in the diagnostic coffin, because components will all be changed anyway. What sense does it make to find out if the components are good or bad? Since over 99% of rejuvenated cables don’t fail when no diagnostics are utilized and the extension of life is 5-20 times longer that the retesting horizon, paying for a diagnostic is difficult to justify.  If all of that were not enough many diagnostics test induce defects! Electrical trees can be initiated directly by high voltage methods such as off-line partial discharge or indirectly by inducing space charge with DC methods. Even though it makes no technical sense to test, rejuvenation does mitigate the damage testing inflicts on cables if rejuvenation is given some time to improve the dielectric performance of the cable.  For SPR that is about a week; for UPR it is best to wait for at least a year. To explore diagnostic testing further do a key word search on my blog for “diagnostic testing.”

Insulation Shield Separation

Loss of adhesion between the insulation shield and the insulation is a rare occurrence and is the only fault mode not addressed or at least mitigated by rejuvenation. This frog can count on one front paw, and I only have four toes on that paw, the number of failures where the loss of insulation shield adhesion was the cause of failure. These few observed failures suggest that chemical contamination of the soil causes swelling of the shield material and loss of adhesion. Transformer oil or motor oil spills are suspected culprits. If you have a bunch of these kinds of failures on your hands, you have a potential Love Canal situation and you are going to be excavating the whole neighborhood.  No need to treat the cable.


Advanced cable rejuvenation provided by the masters at Novinium has a proven track record of 99.4% post-rejuvenation reliability. Almost all known causes of solid dielectric underground cable reliability problems are either directly addressed or mitigated. The sole exception is insulation shield separation, which is incredibly rare.

Broad Spectrum Reliability,

T. Bull Frog

by Thermo 25. January 2012 13:01

Failure Causes II

In yesterday’s post, “Failure Causes I,” I provided a partial answer to an inquiry from Colorado Querier. Colorado sought to understand if rejuvenation technology was appropriate for the “many types of aging factors” from which his firm’s circuits might suffer. In yesterday’s post we dealt with circuit failures caused by connected components, rather than the cable itself. Today we will focus on cable failures.  First a disclaimer – it is often difficult to determine with 100% certainty the cause of a cable failure in field conditions. A cable failure is a destructive event that usually vaporizes its own root cause. Those who analyze field failures can examine the cable near its fault for neighboring defects. If a defect or defects are found, the examiner may infer without certainty that a similar defect may have been the root cause of the actual fault. If no substantial defects are found the root cause will surely remain unknowable.

I emphasized “substantial” in the last sentence because at a small enough scale there are always defects. Water trees grow in all medium voltage solid dielectric cables exposed to moist conditions. Unless you have hermetically sealed metal sheaths, those would be your cables! Water treeing is an oxidative process, but even where there are no water trees, oxidation of the polymer occurs, because oxygen and other oxidizing agents are ubiquitous. Free radicals facilitate oxidation and are common in nature. Cosmic radiation, radioactive decay, and other natural processes spawn free radicals around the clock. On top of those chemical processes there are mechanical strains placed on the cable by thermal cycling driven by load cycling.  Such thermal cycling creates micro-voids in the middle radius of the insulation driven by the “Molecular Thermodynamics of Water in Direct-Buried Power Cables.” Click here to view the paper by the same name from IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine (Nov/Dec 2006). The collection of voids formed this way are referred to as a halo.  I provide an illustration of a halo and water tree nearby.

What are the primary causes of failure and how is each addressed or not addressed by rejuvenation?

In the frogograph nearby, I show you a subset of field reliability data (Editors note: I have come to call this kind of data – “real, real world!”) gathered by Dr. Steennis of KEMA. The simple logarithmic equation explains 78% of the relationship between maximum water tree length, expressed as a percentage of the insulation thickness and reliability expressed as AC breakdown strength.  AC breakdown strength is not a perfect surrogate for cable reliability, but it’s a pretty good one!  Lightning bolts appear next to each cable sample that failed in service. Water tree length is the single best predictor of reliability. In the same work, Dr. Steennis and his colleagues demonstrated that the laboratory failure of the field aged cables always occurred at the longest water tree, just as a chain fails at its weakest link.

Well over three-quarters of solid dielectric cable failures are caused by water trees. Rejuvenation technology was originally designed to address water tree degradation specifically. In fact, rejuvenation has a proven track record of treating the biggest and ugliest water trees on the planet.  Click here, to check out my October 5, 2011 post, “Water Trees – Too Big to Fail?” In my third post of this series we will examine the other less important root causes of cable failure and consider whether or not those root causes can or cannot be addressed by the application of rejuvenation technology.

Master of Reliability,

T. Bull Frog

by Thermo 24. January 2012 16:47

Failure Causes I

Dear Beautiful Bull Frog-

I wonder if you have any information I could use to help address a concern I have heard in my company.  That concern is that a 30 to 40 year old cable may have accumulated degradation due to many types of aging factors. Cable injection may not substantially address these factors and injection may not provide a very great increase of life extension for a very old cable.

Colorado Querier

Thank you for the inquiry Colorado. That is actually a great inquiry, because it will take me more than a single post to answer! The first question we have to address is:  Which of the two categories of failures plague your solid dielectric circuits?  In the figure nearby I ponder this question, because only you can know? At Jicable 2007, the International Conference on Insulated Power Cables, Nigel Hampton of NEETRAC (National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center) provided some survey data from their circuit owner members in a paper titled, “Validating cable diagnostic tests.”  Perceived failure experience of NEETRAC member companies suggested that on average, 55% of the failures in the population are cable failures, 39% are accessory failures, and 6% are unknown.  The perception of Utility 21 is that almost all of its failures are cable failures and very few of its failures are accessories. The perception of Utility 4 is reversed.  Utility 4 perceives that about 4 out of 5 of its failures are component failures and 20% or less are cable failures.

If the primary cause of your failures are components, consider which components are failing – terminations or splices or both. There are two injection paradigms, namely Unsustained Pressure Rejuvenation (UPR) and Sustained Pressure Rejuvenation (SPR). See “How to Inject” for more on UPR and SPR. Novinium is the only firm in the world that can use both paradigms. UPR attempts to flow through existing splices, so it is not the best choice if your firm experiences splice reliability issues. SPR replaces 100% of the splices and terminations with modern state-of-the-art components. UPR replaced all of the dead-front terminations, so if those are problematic components for you, UPR will address that issue. Novinium has made several improvements to the safety and reliability of dead-front terminations used for injection. I will describe those improvements another day.

In summary, if your reliability issues are primarily component issues, rejuvenation directly addressed these with systematic component replacement. Depending upon your specific circumstances, the Novinium masters of reliability will help you decide which injection paradigm best addresses your reliability issues at the lowest capital cost.

If your reliability issues are cable-centric, check out my next post in this series, Failure Causes II, where we will ask the question:  What are the primary causes of cable failure and how is each addressed or not addressed by rejuvenation?

Master of Reliability,

Thermo Bull Frog

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Rejuvenation Science

by Thermo 13. January 2012 17:41

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.

Executive Summary

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,

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Crazy Competitor Claims

by Thermo 12. January 2012 17:14

Real World II – Duke Deception

In my last post of 2011 one of my local fans, Wondering in Western Washington, questioned the veracity of the claims made by UTILX® in a document titled, “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid.”  That document includes 17 pages and a bunch of interesting claims. In this second of a series of posts, I consider two claims proffered on the bottom of page 3.  To wit …

“[Micro Infrared spectroscopy is] performed routinely on post injected cables. An example is provided by the published paper [3]; ''Case Study: Rejuvenation Fluid Injection Results from Duke Power's Little Rock Retail Tap Line, a 115kV XLPE, Buried Transmission Circuit."  Figure One shows a chart from that paper demonstrating that the quantity of fluid, even after 10 years, exceeds the target concentration for a six to nine month old injected cable. Two points are established by Figure One. The first is that fluid in optimum injection quantities still exists in the cable's insulation. The second is that the rate of fluid decay is too small to measure after 10 years.”

Notes: Reference 3 above is to a non-peer-reviewed paper provided Stagi & Kimsey at the IEEE T&D Conference (Dallas, TX), May, 2006. An augmented facsimile of "Figure One" referenced above is shown in the graph below in the third illustration. All punctuation and grammatical errors were left as they were found by this frog.

Fallacy of the Anecdote

The author is attempting to make a case for the efficacy of his product.  This Duke cable, and as we shall see in future posts, all of his examples except for the example of Northeast Utilities, is not representative of the population of “real world” cables. Let’s enumerate the problems with this single anecdote.  Of the population of treated cables, the vast majority is single-phase URD cables with 7- or 19-strand conductors. The vast majority has insulation thickness of less than 260 mils and is unjacketed with bare concentric neutrals. The Duke cable has a 61-strand conductor, holding much more fluid and the insulation thickness is three to four times thicker than the population norm.  The Duke cable has a copper taped shield, semi-impervious to permeation, and a 170 mil thick PVC jacket. In the table nearby I tally up the estimated impact of some differences.

All of these differences place the Duke cable among the least representative samples one might choose to make a population extrapolation. On top of the unrepresentative nature of the Duke cable design, the author makes an egregious omission.  The Duke cable was not only treated from the conductor outward, as is the norm within the population of treated cables; the annular space under the cable’s jacket was also treated. The cable was treated from the inside-out and from the outside-in. This highly salient fact is not to be found in the author’s papers or accompanying slides.  Taken together the differences put the Duke cable outside of the norm by about a factor of 240!  That's not 240%; that's 24,000%!

First Assertion:  Fluid remains in optimum injection quantities

In this season of presidential debates, I am reminded of the single Reagan-Carter debate of 1980, which I recently watched on YouTube.  Over and over again, when Jimmy Carter made some bizarre claim, Ronald Reagan would chuckle and say, “There you go again.”  Frog to author:  There you go again – assertion without proof. What precisely are the “optimum injection quantities?”  Are you suggesting that if the concentration profile were say, 20% higher, that the reliability of the cable would be poorer? That notion is silly and directly contradicted by earlier peer reviewed work done on the same cable. I will reference that work in the next paragraph. In the graph that I reproduce nearby, the author presented a green dotted line labeled “Target Concentration,” just below 1.5%w. If I were a betting frog, I would bet that the Target Concentration was chosen after the micro-infrared data was compiled. How else to explain an utter lack of justification for the figure? There you go again – assertion without proof.

Second Assertion:  Fluid decay is too small to measure after 10 years

There you go again – assertion without proof.  Where is the measurement from 10 years earlier to make the claim?  The author doesn’t provide the data. Fortunately, Novinium houses the world’s largest library on rejuvenation science and a decent comparison can be found there. In the figure nearby I have inset micro-infrared data from the same cable. The data was published in “Cable fault prevention using dielectric enhancement technology” presented in June, 1995, by Novinium’s own Glen Bertini at the peer-reviewed Jicable conference in Versailles, France. The assertion is false.  The average concentration in 1995 was about 3.5%w, the average concentration a decade later was about 1.7%w – a factor of two is not too small to measure.

Executive Summary

There is undoutedely a good reason that the author of “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid” tried to keep this paper away from reasonable scrutiny. A cynical reader might even think that the author is trying to mislead his audience.  Rejuvenation fluids do in fact improve the performance of transmission cables, but the author would have you believe that treating such cables is a greater technical challenge than treating a 15kV URD cable.  In fact the opposite is true. Cables like the Duke cable should experience extremely long post-injection life, but that success is not easily extrapolated to 7- and 19-strand cables. The old technology used at Duke was conceived and deployed by a Novinium founder.  That technology works well in non-demanding applications like cables with really thick insulation or low loads. In the decades that have transpired since the introduction of that old approach, those who are masters of rejuvenation technology came to recognize that one should not treat transmission cables the same as one would treat a URD cable. Only at Novinium is patented technology (U.S. Patent 7,611,748) available to address the full spectrum of cable types, sizes and flavors. This frog will not employ deception to convince anyone.

Novinium’s Integrity Value: Truth and knowledge are the foundation of the Novinium character. Each will be advanced at every opportunity and neither will be compromised.

Truly yours,

T. B. Frog

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Crazy Competitor Claims

by Thermo 11. January 2012 21:04

Real World I – High K

In my last post of 2011 one of my local fans, Wondering in Western Washington, questioned the veracity of the claims made by UTILX® in a document titled, “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid.”  That document includes 17 pages and many, many claims. In this first of a series of posts, I examine the following set of claims from page 3:

Once the CableCURE® molecule reaches those sites it performs two important functions. First, it chemically combines with the water, desiccating the water tree site. Second, it polymerizes; the polymeric chain that forms continues to grow until its chain length traps it inside of the water tree structure. Once trapped inside of the cables insulation, it serves as a “high K" style stress gradient reducing the electrical stress amplification that occurs at the tips of the water tree “branches". This two part functionality arrests the growth of water trees in aging cable.

I added highlighting to focus on the words and phrases of the claims that could create confusion; I left all puctuation and grammer errors untouched.  The first two words I highlighted could be characterized as quibbles, but I endeavor to be precise in my language. I am sure the author will appreciate my clarifications, since these claims taken together with others are held out as “irrefutable proof” of CableCURE efficacy. The third highlighted “high K” claim will receive the majority of my attention today.


The CableCURE molecule to which the author refers is phenylmethyldimethoxysilane or PMDMS for short. The chemical reaction of PMDMS with water is well understood. On average each PDDMS molecule consumes about one water molecule.  The effect is real, but the implication of the claim is that this desiccation-by-reaction is one of PMDMS’s two important functions.  It is not. The reaction with water is a necessary precursor to a subsequent condensation reaction. In the next sentence the author refers to this second reaction as polymerization.* Chemical desiccation is not important because the phenomenon is fleeting.  Consider the data reported by another UTILX employee in “The Importance of Diffusion and Water Scavenging in Dielectric Enhancement of Aged Medium Voltage Underground Cables” at the IEEE PES T&D meeting in Chicago, 1994.  Figure 4 and the accompanying text indicate that the water reactive capacity of PMDMS is exhausted at between 54 and 67 days for a 1/0 conductor at 60°C.  At lower temperatures the time to exhaustion might be longer, even on the order of a year or even two. When one is talking about decade-long life extension, a couple of months or a couple of years is not of critical importance. None-the-less, PMDMS does help keep the insulation dry for many, many years, but not by the mechanism suggested by the author. Instead, the mechanism is preferential wetting, which is well described in U.S. Patent 7,976,747 held by Novinium and in the paper “Advances in Chemical Rejuvenation of Submarine Cables” available here. The reason the distinction is important is that only Novinium® brand Ultrinium™ 73X fluids include components with preferential wetting properties superior to PMDMS. Reducing the amount of water present in the insulation is indeed important, but not all rejuvenation fluids perform the same in water reduction efficacy.


The word “trap” is too absolute for this frog. Trap implies eternity and it just isn’t so.  In a December 29, 2010 post, “Chain Entanglement,” I explain how the larger oligomers substantially retard the exudation of the rejuvenation fluid, but it is not trapped. As shown in the figure nearby, improvements in rejuvenation molecules patented by Novinium (U.S. patent 7,658,808 and others pending) are designed to stick around in the insulation longer than PMDMS.

High K

There is no agreed-upon definition for High K, when applied to stress grading in power applications.  At 20°C and 60Hz, the dielectric constant or “K” of unfilled polyethylene is about 2.3 and EPR insulation varies from about 2.7 to 2.8 depending upon the specific compound. (See Bartnikas & Srivastava, Power and Communication Cables, IEEE 2000.)  The dielectric constant for PMDMS is 3.2. The dielectric constant of PMDMS is indeed higher than PE and EPR insulation, but using the word “high” is a bit of a stretch.  High K materials are quite often used in shrink-to-fit splices and terminations.  For example, 3M’s data sheet for its Quick Term II Silicone Rubber Termination Kit states:  “The High-K material has a dielectric constant of about 25.”  Pure water has a K of 78. Cyanobutylmethyldialkoxysilane or CBMDAS for short, a patented component of Novinium® brand Ultrinium™ 73X fluids, has a K much greater than that of water.  3M’s stress control material, water, and CBMDAS are “real life” High-K materials.  I have arranged these six materials in a table nearby for easy reference.

I object to the statement proffered by the author for two reasons …

     1. It is an assertion without proof.  If the author believes that the mechanism he claims is significant with a K of just 3.3, he should provide a calculation or measurement as substantiation.

     2. The PMDMS is replacing water, which has a much higher dielectric constant.  How could that conceivably provide stress grading?  CBMDAS on the other hand, enjoys a K greater than the water it replaces.

Executive Summary

The author of “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid” is not a master of the facts. While CableCURE fluid does dry the cable and extend its life, the explanation of why this is so lacks foundation. Stress grading at the microscopic scale is possible with materials that have dielectric constants greater than the water that they replace.  One example of such a material is available only from Novinium and is protected by a U.S. Patent, other pending patents, and their foreign equivalents. While this frog cannot be sure what the author was thinking when he made his claim, I can provide a common-sense recommendation: Do not rely on secret documents that have not been peer reviewed … especially if they include assertions without proof.

Always basking in transparency,

Thermonuclear Bull Frog

*The correct terminology is oligomerization, but I will let that slide.

by Thermo 9. January 2012 13:59
The Other Real World 
In my last post of 2011 one of my local fans, Wondering in Western Washington, questioned the veracity of the claims made by UTILX® in a document titled, “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid.”  Because that document is 17 pages long and includes so many interesting thoughts it will take me several posts to explore the entirety of that inquiry.  The author of the 17 page missive, used the phrase “real world” 26 times. As my future posts unfold it will become clear that the author is almost certainly an alien, because his “real world” is not the same planet on which you and I live.  Some of my critics are no doubt screaming that a talking frog is not of this Earth, but I would refer them to the literature, which is replete with references to talking frogs. If anybody wishes to meet me in the flesh, come to Novinium’s headquarters and ask to speak with the real brains behind the Novinium Masters of Reliability™.  Links to the future posts, which provide analysis of specific “real world” claims will appear below as they become available.
          Real World I – High K
Before we delve into the specifics outlined above, I want to go on the record as stating unequivocally that the phenylmethyldimethoxysilane (PMDMS) fluid used by UTILX works well in non-demanding cable rehabilitation applications in the real, real world. Novinium founders invented that fluid about two decades ago. Heck the spouse of one of the Novinium founders coined the “CableCure” trademark! Novinium provides Perficio™ 011 fluid, which uses the same PMDMS monomer for non-demanding applications. The Novinium Masters have made significant improvements – Perficio 011 is the perfection of PMDMS technology. To learn about those perfections, check out my post of one year ago entitled, ”Catalytic Considerations – Component II.”
I suspect that the author’s propensity to repeat the notion of “real world” is to imply that Novinium’s technology has not been tested against real world conditions.  I would reply to that implication in two ways …
1.    Novinium offers an improved version of what UTILX offers – same monomer, better catalyst.  We also offer an even more advanced product (Ultrinium™ 73X fluid) that builds upon the prior two-decades of experience. Whether or not the data and analysis proffered by the author is representative of the real world remains to be discussed in future posts. Whether or not it is representative, the data provides the same experiential foundation to Novinium’s improved technology as it does to the two-decade-old approach. If people were not willing to try something new and improved, the earth would still be flat.
2.    Novinium has injected millions of feet of cable on this real world – the planet Earth.  We have aspirations to get to other planets some day, but for now the entirety of our experience is admittedly terrestrial.  In the figure nearby I illustrate Novinium’s actual failure experience in the form of a Crow-AMSAA analysis.  To learn more about Crow, check out my August 11, 2011 post of the same name.  We publish this graph regularly and we transparently discuss our faults. Check out: “Lessons Learned” UTILX has a data analysis system similar to that of Novinium. We know this to be the case, because Novinium employees designed and programmed UTILX’s original CTS database. UTILX could end any debate about which set of technologies provides more reliable post-injection service by publishing its total failure history. If they don’t know how to do the required analysis, I will volunteer to provide the requisite lesson in statistics.  Two dozen large crickets is all I will charge for an afternoon lesson in Crow.

There is undoubtedly a reason why Novinium’s post-injection performance is transparent and others choose opacity.  As we shall see, the anecdotes selectively plucked from data and provided in “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid” are the opposite of the “irrefutable proof” claimed.

Signing off from the planet Earth,


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Crazy Competitor Claims

by Thermo 30. December 2011 20:17

Real World

Dear Forthcoming Frog-

A bid proposal from your competitor included a report entitled “Life Extension Estimate for UtilX® CableCURE® Rejuvenation Fluid,” written by W. R. Stagi of UTILX.  The document is claimed as “Confidential and Proprietary” and makes many claims.  I have reproduced my favorite claim below.

“Assuming that [cable insulation] 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 for added life.”

Tell me if it is true, oh wise one!

Wondering in Western Washington 

Dear Wondering-

I highlighted a few of the phrases from the quotation above, because the language is so colorful.  Where else can you see three adverbs strung together like “obviously nearly ridiculously?”  Where else can you find “absolute certainly?”  And where else can you find “absolute” twice in a single sentence separated by only three words?

I had to see the rest of the document to which you refer.  My team made a public disclosure requests to the City of Tacoma.  I have all 17 pages and I can summarize my reaction by noting the category under which I am publishing this and future posts regarding your inquiry, namely “Crazy Competitor Claims.”  In Future posts, we will examine some of the specifics, but I’ll give you some other hints of the fun we will be having by asking two rhetorical questions.

1.    In any 17 page document where the phrase “real world” was used 26 times, do you think that the pronouncements are really real world?  There are a couple of even more colorful “actual real world” phrases – presumably the actual real world is even more real world than the regular real world.

2.    Why would the author of the document try so hard to keep secret, irrefutable proof?

I will answer these and many more questions in 2012.

Sunlight has a way of revealing the truth,

Thermonuclear B.F.


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