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If you are working in the process industry or a powerplant, then you have probably already heard about the term “instrumentation cables” a couple of times.

Instrumentation cables are essentially single-pair or multi-pair cable elements that transmit low-energy electrical signals from one point to another. There are numerous instrumentation cable types for a variety of industrial applications, among which are XLPE instrumentation cables.

The term “XLPE” stands for cross-linked polyethylene cable and is essentially a thermosetting insulation material. Over the past few years, XLPE cables have continuously grown in popularity. As such, it is crucial to educate people, both inside and outside the cable and wire industry, about this type of instrumentation cable. Read on as this article answers some of the most commonly asked questions about XLPE cables. 

What exactly is XLPE cable? 

As mentioned earlier, XLPE is a thermoset insulation material. It features shape-memory characteristics and a 3D molecular bond structure and is created by crosslinking polymers. Crosslinking polymers is a procedure that alters the polymer chains’ molecular structure in order for them to be more strongly bound together. This crosslinking process is conducted by either physical means or chemical means.

In physical crosslinking, the polymer is subjected to a high-energy source, such as microwave radiation or a high-energy electron. On the other hand, in chemical crosslinking, chemicals or initiators like peroxide or silane are added to produce free radicals, which create cross-linking.

The polyethylene (PE) material itself comes with high insulation resistance, incredible dielectric strength, and a low dissipation factor in every frequency, thereby making it an excellent insulator despite being limited in its temperature range. By crosslinking the PE to turn into XLPE, the insulation’s temperature range is increased while maintaining the electrical properties.

How does an XLPE cable differ from a PVC cable?

Compared to XLPE, which is a cross-linked polyethylene material, PVC is an abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride insulation. The primary distinction between these cables is that XLPE may be utilised for both low and high-tension applications. The structure of an XLPE cable provides strong resistance to stress, abrasion, and other wear and tear. On the other hand, PVC cables usually cannot endure as much pressure since it is only often ideal for low-tension applications.

Here are the other key differences between XLPE cables and PVC cables:

  • XLPE insulation tends to be more long-lasting than PVC insulation
  • Because XLPE cables do not contain chloride, they are more eco-friendly than PVC cables
  • XLPE cables have the ability to endure higher temperatures
  • Cross-linked polyethylene has more moisture resistance than PVC

When should XLPE cable be used?

There are a variety of applications of XLPE. However, generally, XLPE cables must be utilised in industries that expose cables and wires to the following:

  • High-voltage electrical applications
  • Extreme temperature conditions, both low and high
  • Stress and abrasion
  • Chemicals and other hazardous materials
  • Water and other liquids

Furthermore, XLPE cables can also be utilised for mining, plumbing, and an array of electrical applications. These cables are usually found within the residential and commercial heating industry and across the chemical industry. Even groundskeeping at venues like stadiums and the offices of dentists and other medical institutions makes use of these cross-linked polyethylene materials.

What are the advantages of XLPE? 

XLPE cables perform at both low and high temperatures. Because of their structure, XLPE cables are very resistant to abrasion and other kinds of wear and tear. They also have extreme resistance to chemicals, other hazardous materials, and high-voltage electricity. Additionally, in comparison to PVC and other cables, XLPE cables are a more affordable option.

Conclusion 

Overall, XLPE is an excellent insulation material that comes with a wide range of applications and numerous benefits. As this type of instrumentation cable becomes more and more popular and prominent, it is only right for people to be educated about what XLPE cables are and when they should be used.

Moreover, if you are planning to use XLPE cables for whatever appropriate industrial application, be sure to purchase only from a reliable supplier like Cable Source. Cable Source is a knowledgeable and reputable supplier of high-quality cables in Singapore, including instrumentation cables, flexible control cables, rubber insulated cables, flame retardant and fire resistant cables, marine cables, offshore cables, and more. Find out more about our premium industrial cables by visiting our website.