Future Transmission Lines Could Pack More Power
~Pure Power Magazine, Summer 2003

Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are testing new technologies that could increase capacity of electric transmission lines, limiting the need for additional transmission routes and towers.  The work is being conducted at a new facility called the National Transmission Technology Research Center, which is a partnership of ORNL, the Tennessee Valley Authority and private industry.

One approach now under study is a composite-core transmission line that manufacturer 3M Company claims could carry up to three times as much electricity as existing lines.  The product incorporates ceramic fibers into an enhanced aluminum matrix to create wire that is more resistant to the higher temperatures caused by higher levels of power transmission.  Zirconium is added to help limit aluminum deformation at hight temperatures.

Tests are now underway to evaluate the line's overall performance in real-world condition, along with the performance of the various accessories that attach the line to transmission towers.