Seabed processing systems and solutions
Alpha Thames Subsea
ELEx™ Electrical Connector
HIGH VOLTAGE LONG LIFE SUBSEA
ELEx™ is a development of the Alpha Webb Connector - AWC™, which was developed under the EC supported Demonstration of Essential Electrical Products - DEEP™, that also included the Remote Electric Actuator - REAct™.
Existing designs for subsea wet-mateable electrical connectors are pressure balanced with the ambient underwater environment. They maintain the electrical contacts in insulating liquid or gel. The design of these high voltage connectors has been empirically developed from the low voltage, subsea, wet-mateable connector designs that are currently in use in subsea applications.
However, the inherent deficiency of this liquid-filled, pressure-balanced design philosophy, when applied to subsea high-voltage equipment, is that the insulating liquid can be degraded due to the ingress of water molecules.
These water molecules, suspended in the insulating liquid, cause a potential risk, as water treeing occurs. This phenomenon has been thoroughly studied and documented in the field of land-based high voltage equipment, such as oil filled distribution transformers.
The design philosophy of the ELEx™ subsea, wet-mateable, high voltage three-phase connector is to eliminate water treeing as a failure mechanism by maintaining the electrical contacts in a gas environment at a pressure of one atmosphere.