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Connector Research Will Mean Secure Power Future

>From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology For immediate release


Little bits of aluminium crucial to keeping our lights going are being re-examined in a project that will give us a more secure power supply as future demand increases.

Electropar - an Auckland engineering, importing and manufacturing company - and Industrial Research Ltd are working on improving connectors, without which electricity could not flow along power cables.

The project is supported by Technology New Zealand, the Government agency that invests in research into new products, processes or services.

The cylindrical or elliptical links join the wires in the network. They are on power pylons, in boxes or in pillars, and not usually noticed "unless you go looking for them", says Electropar's managing director, Grant Wallace.

"They keep your lights turned on and your computer going."

The links are one of the weak points in the power supply, and an expected heavier electricity use is spurring the research.

"We're looking at the electrical loads of tomorrow," Mr Wallace says.

"The current links work now because the designers were conservative, and so they can handle existing electrical loads.

"But this project is about preparing to deal with the increasing loads of the future.

"Every joint must operate at a lower temperature than the wire. If they don't they can burn off," he says.

"So, with the need for more electricity, we are keen to understand how our joints work as connectors.

"The lines companies are interested in what goes into their network of wires, so that they can avoid huge maintenance costs."

He says that scientists in the United States and Europe have seen examples of problems in connectors, and have written higher standards for them.

"So we're working to the latest technical standards."

Electropar is a privately owned company that supplies materials, including connectors, to the energy industries. It has 52 employees.


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