In 2003, the Ministry of Energy banned the use of aluminium electrical wires in construction of residential and public buildings. These measures were linked to an out-dated type of electrical wire that was used at that time in Russia, and that didn’t comply with the standards of fire safety.
Having analysed international practice of cable and wire production for electrical wiring in buildings for many years, UC RUSAL technical specialists developed and mastered production of 8030 and 8176 alloys at the Kandalaksha and Irkutsk aluminium smelters. These alloys are widely used in the US and Canada in the manufacturing of electrical wiring.
At the end of 2015, the 8176 and 8030 alloys were successfully ranked by consumers in the export market.
In terms of performance, cables with electric conductors from 8000 series aluminium alloys rival the typically applied cables with copper conductors, and have a range of significant benefits:
• cost reduced by 2.5 – 3 times (depending on the cross-section of the electric conductor)
• weight reduced by 70%
• increased flexibility
The All-Russian Scientific Research and Development Cable Institute (VNIIKP) has developed a cable with an electric conductor from the new aluminium alloy series 8xxx. The new cable guarantees a high level of fire safety, including through isolation of polymer compositions, being halogen-free and flame-retardant.
The cables developed by VNIIKP went through rigorous inspection in accordance with valid testing methods. Following the results of the test, the technological committee TK 46 ‘Cable products’ sent a statement on the practicability of organising mass production of cables and electric conductors from aluminium alloy, and the need to change the current version of the PUE (Rules for Electrical Appliances) with regards to using electrical wiring made from aluminium alloys.
Together with the Russian Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Construction, work has been underway to change PUE 7 and the Code of Conduct 31-110-2003, with regards to expanding the use of wires with electrical conductors made from aluminium alloy 8176 and 803 in the electrical wiring of buildings.
The approval of a draft of Federal Law № 892341-6 ‘On introducing changes to Federal Law ‘On electric power’ (full name of the law – Federal law from 26.03.2003 N 35-ФЗ ‘On electric power’) is currently underway in the State Duma.
One of the amendments aimed at solving the problem is related to the fact that executive authorities, including the Ministry of Energy, do not currently have the power to make changes to regulations in the field of electric power.
When the amendment is approved, the Ministry of Energy will have the authority to make amendments to Rules for Electrical Appliances (PUE-7). The current seventh edition of the PUE rules has not changed since 2003.
Since 1 January 2004, the Code of Conduct with regards to design and construction, ‘Design and Installation of Electrical Installations in Residential and Public Buildings’ (SP 31-110-2003) has been in operation. In paragraph 14.3, the following is stated: ‘Internal electrical networks must be flame-retardant and made with cables and wires with copper conductors in compliance with requirements 2.1 and 7.1 PUE’.
It is expected that by 2021 the market size of aluminium alloys used in the manufacturing of cables for residential and public buildings will constitute around 25,000 tonnes.