Fact sheet written for the Inventions and Innovation Program about a new composite-reinforced aluminum conductor for utility transmission and distribution. The millions of people affected by a blackout in the western US, Canada, and parts of Mexico in July 1996 had no idea the power outage was caused by overloaded transmission lines sagging low enough to touch trees. Millions of New Englanders affected by power outages during the 1997--98 winter probably weren't aware that accumulations of ice and snow on transmission lines had caused the lines to snap. Yet, these two examples illustrate the urgent need to begin upgrading this country's aging electrical-power distribution systems. A key step in this process lies in improving the weight and conductivity characteristics of utility transmission and distribution lines. Conventional conductors used for overhead transmission and distribution lines are comprised of aluminum strands of wire wrapped around a steel core. The aluminum serves as the electrical conductor, while the steel provides mechanical support. This hybrid design results in an excellent weight-to-conductivity ratio, but it also yields a heavier product, which requires stronger and more costly support structures and limits conductivity. W. Brandt Goldsworthy and Associates, Inc., of Torrance, California, is developing a new composite-reinforced aluminum conductor to replace aging steel-core lines. The new composite conductor is lighter, stronger, and carries a higher current capacity than traditional power lines. The technology has been designed primarily for domestic utility transmission and distribution systems. This application takes the highest priority as utility deregulation continues to increase the demand for direct-power access. Subsequent applications exist through opportunities in the industrial power, building wire, telecommunications and data transmission, and high-temperature superconductor markets. Similar applications overseas also represent tremendous potential, with growth projected at 10 times that of the United States market.
The Technology Cooperation Agreement Pilot Project (TCAPP) was launched by several U.S. Government agencies (USAID, EPA and DOE) in August 1997 to establish a model for climate change technology cooperation with developing and transition countries. TCAPP is currently facilitating voluntary partnerships between the governments of Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, and the Philippines, the private sector, and the donor community on a common set of actions that will advance implementation of clean energy technologies. The six participating countries have been actively engaged in shaping this initiative along with international donors and the private sector. This program helps fulfill the US obligation to support technology transfer to developing countries under Article 4.5 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. TCAPP also provides a mechanism to focus resources across international donor programs on the technology cooperation needs of developing and transition countries.
The project shown in this fact sheet uses ''break points,'' where the cost of the energy-efficient features are balanced by the reductions of other construction costs. The goal of the Building America program is to produce energy efficient, environmentally sensitive, affordable, and adaptable residences on a community scale.
An in situ experimental technique is described that allows high resolution, high sensitivity determination of displacements and full-field strains during high temperature mechanical testing. The technique is used to investigate elevated temperature crack growth in SiC/Nicalon sub f composites. At 1150 degrees C, the reinforcing fibers have a higher creep susceptibility than the matrix. Fiber creep leads to relaxation of crack bridging tractions, resulting in subcritical crack growth. Differential image analysis is used to measure the crack opening displacement profile u(x) of an advancing, bridged crack. With appropriate modeling, such data can be used to determine the traction law, from which the mechanics of cracking and failure may be determined.
The production of primary metal from ores has long been a necessary, but environmentally devastating process. Over the past 20 years, in an effort to lessen environmental impacts, the metal processing industry has developed methods for recovering metal values from certain hazardous wastes. However, these processes leave residual molten slag that requires disposal in hazardous waste landfills. A new process recovers valuable metals, metal alloys, and metal oxides from hazardous wastes, such as electric arc furnace (EAF) dust from steel mills, mill scale, spent aluminum pot liners, and wastewater treatment sludge from electroplating. At the same time, the process does not create residual waste for disposal. This new method uses all wastes from metal production processes. These hazardous materials are converted to three valuable products - mineral wool, zinc oxide, and high-grade iron.