January 20, 2023
Conference Paper

3D Frequency Domain Reflectometry Digital Twin of an Electrical Cable: A First Glance


Electrical cables within nuclear power plants (NPPs) are critical components required for power, control, and instrumentation systems which may be exposed to stressors, such as elevated temperatures and gamma radiation. Such stressors can lead to a reduction in the remaining useful life of electrical cables, jeopardizing the safety of NPP systems. To evaluate the effect of stressors on the degradation of electrical cables, electrical reflectometry methods are commonly employed. Frequency domain reflectometry (FDR) is a non-destructive electrical reflectometry method that uses transmission line theory to detect degradation or impedance changes within electrical cables. However, in most cases FDR is only applied to de-energized cables, limiting the application in NPPs as the cable system must be taken offline. In this work, we explore the development of an FDR digital twin to predict the degradation of an electrical cable exposed to elevated temperature, which is expected to reduce the need for offline FDR. A 3-conductor low-voltage electrical cable was selected for evaluation of the digital twin. The fully three-dimensional digital twin was developed in COMSOL using the RF module. A cable length of 30-m and frequency bandwidth of 400 MHz was selected to mimic real-world application of FDR. Over a 1-m region, the permittivity of the insulation was varied by up to 20% to model thermal degradation. The results demonstrate accurate detection of the insulation damage region, supporting further investigation of the FDR digital twin using real-world data and machine learning for predictive damage estimation or remaining lifetime.

Published: January 20, 2023


Spencer M.P., A. Sriraman, S.W. Glass, and L.S. Fifield. 2022. 3D Frequency Domain Reflectometry Digital Twin of an Electrical Cable: A First Glance. In IEEE Conference on Electrical Insulation and Dielectric Phenomena (CEIDP 2022), October 30-November 2, 2022, Denver, CO, 103-106. Piscataway, New Jersey:IEEE. PNNL-SA-175796. doi:10.1109/CEIDP55452.2022.9985387