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MFL Group, cutting-edge technologies for submarine cable production

Published: - 22/11/2021 Author: Di Maggio, EIC
MFL Group, cutting-edge technologies for submarine cable production

As the name suggests, submarine cables are specifically designed to be installed underwater. They feature outstanding resistance and can cope with extreme conditions such as rocky and steep seabeds, volcanic activity, tidal waves, and more.
In the beginning, submarine power cables were used to connect shore-based power grids across rivers, marshes, bays, estuaries, straits, etc. Today, thanks to the development and improvement of technologies, they can link enormous distances while maintaining high power capacities.

Current applications include: power supply to islands; connection of autonomous grids; oil/gas offshore platforms; offshore wind farms; short-haul crossings; umbilical; subsea observatories, etc.

Designing a submarine cable is a very delicate operation that requires great engineering skills and consolidated know-how. Some of the most important parameters to consider are:

• functional requirements;
• temperature (underwater and land);
• water and burial depth;
• length;
• protection requirements based on location, traffic, and weather conditions.

If the designing stage is critical, so is the manufacturing phase.

Submarine cable production involves several crucial steps as well as numerous specific machines. Here are the main ones.

Conductor: in great depths applications, copper or aluminum conductors are sealed with a special material that prevents water penetration in case of cable damage.
Insulation: dedicated lines insulate the conductor with XLPE, EPR, or MIND (mass impregnated paper).
Screening: copper wires or tapes (and a lead sheath where required) are used to screen the cable from external interference.
• Laying up of multi-core: vertical planetary machines form multi-core cables.
Armoring: armoring lines wrap the cable with steel wires (heavily galvanized, featuring different breaking loads) to protect it from mechanical stresses. The armor provides the cable with the necessary mechanical strength needed during laying or pulling. In the case of single-core cables, armoring must be made of non-magnetic material to avoid overheating due to the Foucault currents — Joule effect.
Outer protection: the outer protection of the cable, which is selected according to the conditions and requirements of the installation, is achieved by PVC or PE sheath and layers of polypropylene yarns or jute.

Thanks to a 120-year-long experience in the field, MFL Group and its partners are able to produce and supply all the necessary equipment for the production of submarine cables as well as other wire and rope products. MFL machinery is manufactured under six brands: MARIO FRIGERIO, FRIGECO, KOCH, CABALLÉ, OM LESMO, and EURODRAW ENERGY.

More information at this link, where Tony DeRosa, General Manager at Frigeco USA, Inc. discusses the topic of submarine cable manufacturing.

Photo courtesy of Sam Churchill, Flickr

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