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Colin Bennett

Lightweight copper/aluminum composites - Next generation conductors for aerospace - 2 views

Copper trends aluminum aerospace

started by Colin Bennett on 24 Jan 13
  • Colin Bennett
    Weight reduction is a never-ending challenge on an aircraft and the latest generation of fuel efficient airplanes has placed even more pressure on manufacturers to reduce weight. Unfortunately, in the realm of aerospace cables, there has been precious little improvement in weight reduction over the past decade, and what has occurred has been primarily due to insulation system improvements. The electrical conductors used in these cables have not changed significantly during that time. This paper will explore a new conductor construction that, utilizing both copper and aluminum strands, has the potential for reducing cable weight without significantly impacting resistance and, more importantly, without changing the methods with which said conductors are terminated. Electrical conductors used in aerospace cables have remained virtually unchanged since the introduction of advanced alloys such as PD135 (Tensile-Flex®) and CS95® by the Hudson Wire
    Company more than thirty years ago. In more recent years, EC aluminum and copper clad aluminum (CCA) ropes have been used in power feeder applications at both Boeing and Airbus. These conductors, however, require special care during manufacture and termination in order to avoid potential
    electrical failures.

    Composite copper/aluminum conductors as presented in this document exhibit considerable promise for use in aerospace applications. The cables are lightweight; in some cases as much as a third lighter than their copper-only counterparts, while producing a manageable 15 to 25% increase in resistance. In those cases where resistance is critical, 15 to 20% weight savings can be
    achieved with a modest diameter size increase of 6 to 9%. They are easy to use and install; by restricting the use of aluminum strands exclusively to the inner layers of the conductor, it is expected that problems commonly associated with terminating aluminum will be avoided. They are also cost competitive; by utilizing standard manufacturing techniques and by avoiding the potential pitfalls of plated aluminum strands, these conductors can be produced at prices that are competitive on a per foot basis with existing
    products. In summary, composite conductors containing a mixture of
    aluminum and copper strands can be a valuable tool in the aerospace engineer's weight reduction toolbox. Although additional research is needed to better understand the effects of galvanic corrosion and creep, the data to date suggests a very bright future for these conductors.

    International Wire & Cable Symposium, Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference

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