Modeling Cables in COMSOL Multiphysics®: 6-Part Tutorial Series
Want a roadmap to modeling cables? We have a six-part tutorial series for you. The Cable Tutorial Series shows how to model an industrial-scale cable in the COMSOL Multiphysics® software and add-on AC/DC Module, and also serves as an introduction to modeling electromagnetic phenomena in general. The numerical model is based on standard cable designs and validated by reported figures. Keep reading for a sneak peek of what you’ll learn when you roll up your sleeves and start the series.
Part 1: Introducing the Basics and Fundamentals of Cable Modeling
The beginning is a very good place to start, as most would say. Part 1 of the tutorial series is where you meet the model — a three-core lead-sheathed cross-linked polyethylene, high-voltage alternating current (XLPE HVAC) submarine cable. You’ll also get details on what to expect in the other five parts of the series.
The overview of the fundamentals of electromagnetism and numerical modeling is helpful if you are new to the electromagnetics field, simulation, or both. Feel free to skip ahead if these topics are old hat to you, but if not, this primer covers subjects such as:
- Drawing geometry
- Adding material properties
- Creating selections
- Meshing your model
The cross section (left) and mesh (right) for a model of a typical lead-sheathed XLPE HVAC submarine cable with three cores. The geometry has been parameterized to allow for quick modification; any cable with the same basic structure can be investigated with ease.
Part 2: Capacitive Effects
The second tutorial focuses on modeling the cable’s capacitive properties and validates an important assumption: An analytical approach is sufficient for the analysis of capacitance and charging effects. This will be useful throughout the series.
This tutorial is included for beginners, but the results also support the other parts of the series, as it demonstrates the significance of the material properties and cable length. In the cross section of the cable model, the large contrast in material properties enables you to consider the XLPE as a perfect insulator and lead and copper materials as perfect conductors. These results correspond to the analytical approximations.
Left: The electric potential distribution after 10 km of cable for single-point bonding (at phase φ = 0). Right: The in-plane displacement current density norm in the insulators (primarily the XLPE).
In terms of cable length, you will see that the analytical approximations are sufficient for a 10-km cable. This stays true even under the worst possible nominal conditions, which occur when single-point bonding is applied and all voltage-inducing effects are in-phase.
Part 3: Bonding Capacitive
Part 3 of the series builds on the previous tutorial, which showed that you may neglect the capacitive coupling between phases and consider one isolated phase. This reduces the model to an axisymmetric problem. In order to cover the full 10 kilometers of cable, we use a scaled 2D axisymmetric geometry in the model.
Left: The 2D axisymmetric geometry of an isolated phase with three separate bonding sections and a different scale for transverse and longitudinal directions. Right: The norm of the resulting charging current accumulated along the cable (for cross bonding).
The charging currents that leak into the screen build up along the cable and reach a maximum at the ground point, or intersection. The Bonding Capacitive tutorial analyzes the current buildup for different bonding types as well as the corresponding losses. The results are as follows:
|Bonding Type||Total Accumulated Charging Current at Ground Point/Intersection||Corresponding Losses per Screen|
|Single-Point Bonding||55 A||1.5 kW|
|Solid Bonding||28 A||0.38 kW|
|Cross Bonding||10.7 A||85 W|
Part 4: Inductive Effects
This part of the series builds on the previous two tutorials, which show that there is a weak coupling between the inductive and capacitive parts of the cable. The relatively small losses caused by in-plane displacement and eddy currents justify approximating the cable using a 2D inductive model with out-of-plane currents only.
Animation of the instantaneous magnetic flux density norm in the cable’s cross section, for solid bonding and with armor twisting included.
Animation of the current density induced in the cable’s armor and screens, for solid bonding and with armor twisting included.
This model focuses on the importance of wire twist with respect to both phase conductors and armor, and investigates the corresponding losses. For instance, when armor twist is applied to the cable, the armor currents are suppressed and the total losses decrease by ~11%.
In addition to this, we demonstrate two different ways of modeling the central conductors. The first example assumes the central conductors to consist of solid copper, resulting in a typical skin and proximity effect. The other shows a perfectly stranded Litz wire approach, resulting in a homogenized current distribution.
The simulation results found in this tutorial are validated using actual product data sheets following the official international standards. The comparison shows a good match, especially for the inductance.
Part 5: Bonding Inductive
The objective of Part 5 is to further examine the different bonding types that were suggested in Part 3 (and 4): single-point, solid, and cross bonding. (Cross bonding is especially of interest for terrestrial cable systems.) As opposed to Part 3, this part focuses on inductive effects.
You will learn how to individually consider three different cable sections by coupling three separate magnetic fields physics interfaces to a circuit. The resulting model allows for investigating debalanced cables and cables with dissimilar section lengths.
In addition to this, the tutorial demonstrates the effects of using a simplified geometry. Simplification is an overarching theme in this tutorial series: It is often justified to use a much simpler geometry than you think. It isn’t the quantity of details, but the quality that optimizes a model.
Part 6: Thermal Effects
In the final installment of the series, electromagnetic heating and temperature-dependent conductivity are added to the cable model. Building on Part 4, you’ll learn how to set up a two-way coupling between the electromagnetic field and heat transfer part by implementing a frequency-stationary study.
Left: An example of a preset resistance curve Rac (T). Right: The resulting temperature distribution when using a temperature-dependent conductivity such that Rac (T) is matched.
Results show the effect of temperature on losses for the cable’s phases and screens. When electromagnetic heating is added (without temperature-dependent conductivity) the cable heats up, but the electromagnetic properties are still identical to those reported in Part 4. When adding linearized resistivity to the phases specifically, phase losses increase but not the screen losses. The temperature reaches a maximum. If linearized resistivity is applied to the screens as well, the temperature lowers and losses decrease for both the phases and the screens.
In this case still, the material properties are provided and the numerical model determines the corresponding AC resistance. However, for thermal cable models, it’s common practice to use the temperature-dependent AC resistance as an input (as provided by the IEC 60287 series of standards). The final part of the tutorial demonstrates how to use any temperature-dependent resistance curve as an input and let the model determine the corresponding material properties.
Check out the Cable Tutorial Series if you’re looking for a self-paced electromagnetics modeling resource, whether you want to examine each section in detail or skip ahead depending on what interests you.
You can access the materials, which include step-by-step PDF instructions and MPH-file downloads, via the button below:
Model documentation is available with a COMSOL Access account. To download the MPH-files, you also need a software license.
You can also learn more about modeling cable systems by watching this archived webinar.
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