DNV GL issues first type approval for aluminum cables on ships


The following is text of a news release from DNV GL:

(HOVIK, Norway) — As the competitive and economic pressure on the shipping and offshore industries continues to grow, owners, operators and yards are searching for every efficiency. To support its customers, DNV GL has developed the first type approval scheme for the use of aluminum cables and connectors on board vessels.

DNV GL’s new type approvals for aluminum cables and connectors allow expensive copper to be replaced with aluminum. The cost savings can be significant – with the price of aluminum in 2018 approximately one third that of copper.

“Traditionally, power cables for marine use have been made with copper,” said Ivar Bull, DNV GL-Maritime. “Copper is an ideal electrical conductor of course, but the price of copper has been rising sharply over the last several decades – putting increasing cost pressures on the maritime industry. At the same time, electric propulsion is becoming more widespread in shipping, which will increase the demand and importance of finding more economical power cables.”

Aluminum’s lower conductivity means that a thicker cable is required, but this is compensated for by an overall lower weight. For example, a typical offshore support vessel may have 60 tons of copper cables installed. If these were replaced with aluminum, the weight would fall to 30 tons. But even with the price of special high-quality terminations factored in, the overall estimated saving from switching to aluminum from copper is 50 percent. Lighter cables also result in easier installation for the ship builder and lower material transport costs. Finally, a vessel with aluminum rather than copper cables is lighter and more fuel efficient – resulting in lower operational costs.

The use of aluminum cables has been tested for the past three years in a pilot installation on board the Bibby Offshore-owned Olympic Artemis, a multi-purpose offshore support vessel. The cables have been used to supply power to one of the vessel’s thrusters.

Recently, DNV GL experts, together with representatives from the cable manufacturer Amo Specialkabel AB, checked the aluminum cables on board Olympic Artemis with a thermographic camera. Urban Sandberg, technical manager at Amokabel, said, “Amo Specialkabel’s ambition is to be innovative and market leading when it comes to environmental and technical solutions for the marine market.”

The survey confirmed perfect connections after more than 11,000 operating hours and DNV GL was then able to issue the type approvals.

By Professional Mariner Staff