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Cables for I.S.

RTKtec 110
Intrinsic Safety Technical Paper
Cabl es f or I . S. i nst al l at i ons
I nt r oduct i on
Unlike most other methods of protection the requirements for cables for intrinsically safe circuits do not generally make the
cables greatly different to the cable which would have been chosen for a similar but non-IS installation in a non-hazardous
Nevertheless there are a considerable number of details which need to be checked, and the reader is recommended to study
the publications EN 60079-14 Electrical installations in hazardous areas (other than mines) ..and prEN 50039:2001
Electrical Apparatus for potentially explosive atmospheres Specification for intrinsically safe electrical systems i which
give full information on the subject.
There are two separate areas for consideration when selecting a suitable cable, namely the electrical characteristics and the
mechanical construction.
El ect r i cal Char act er i st i cs
Any electrical cable will have the following characteristics:
The total capacitance of the cable, ie. the capacitance per unit length multiplied by the length.
A worst-case capacitance per unit length figure can usually be obtained from the cable manufacturer. In the absence of such
information, tests may be conducted on a sample including core to core(s), cores to screen etc. to obtain a figure.
Alternatively known figures from another cable of similar construction can be assumed although a safety factor should be
added to cover margins of uncertainty.
The loop inductance of a cable pair, i.e. the inductance per unit length multiplied by the length.
The cable characteristic of inductance per unit length divided by the resistance per unit length, which
gives a distributed inductance/resistance ratio which is independent of length.
Either (or both) of these parameters are again usually available from the cable manufacturer, or may be evaluated by tests.
The spatial separation of the two cores comprising a loop has an influence on the loop inductance, therefore cables
comprising of individual pairs for each circuit will give lower figures than in a multicore cable in which one core of a pair might
not be positioned adjacent to its corresponding return conductor.
Typical values might be as follows:-
For conductors of 0.5mm
(e.g. 16/0.2mm):- For conductors of 1.5mm
(e.g. 30/0.25mm):-
C = 12 to 20 nF/km C = 20 to 30 nF/km
L = 0.6 to 0.9 mH/km L = 0.7 to 1.0 mH/km
R = 40 to 45 !/km R = 13 to 15 !/km
L/R = 14 to 24 H/ohm L/R = 40 to 70 H/ohm
From the above it will be found that for gas group IIC applications a maximum conductor size of 0.5 or 0.75mm
will be
needed. In gas group IIB, where generally the IIC permitted reactance figures may be multiplied by three, a conductor size
of 1.5mm
is often adopted as standard.
Capacitance, unless cables are very long, is seldom a problem. The inductance Lc can sometimes exceed practical
installation values but in these cases the use of the alternative L/R ratio will meet the requirements if a cable of relatively small
cross section is used.
All cables must be able to withstand a dilectric strength test of 500 Vrms, both between conductors and between conductors
and screen if fitted. The test for some multicore cables is at a higher voltage (see below).
All conductors must have an appropriate radial thickness of insulation. Typically this will be 0.2mm minimum for the smallest
conductors, increasing for larger conductor sizes.
The minimum diameter of conductors, or strands within a multi-strand conductor, is 0.1mm. Multistranded conductors must
have their terminations protected against separation of individual strands, for example by core-end sleeves.
Mechani cal Const r uct i on
Individual cables
Where individual cables are used for each intrinsically safe circuit, such cables will incorporate two or three (occasionally four)
conductor cores. Such cables may or may not be screened or enclosed within a metallic conducting sheath, and may be fixed
in position or trailed to moving apparatus as required.
These individual cables must be able to withstand an electrical test of 500Vrms between conductors, conductors to earth, or
conductors to screen/sheath if fitted. Flexible cables must be of double-insulated construction in which the outer sheath is in
tough rubber or polychloroprene, or consists of a plastic insulation of robust construction at least equal to that of heavy tough
rubber sheathing.
The durability of these cables must be maintained over the whole ambient temperature range which may be encountered in
Multicore or Multipair cables
Multicore cables may be used for multiple intrinsically safe circuits but may not contain both IS and non-IS circuits within the
same cable.
If the multicore cable incorporates conducting screens over the conductors of each circuit, e.g. screened pairs or screened
triples, then such cables may be used whether they are fixed in position throughout their length or are movable in service
along part or the whole of their length.
If the multicore cable does not incorporate screens over individual circuits then it is only suitable for fixed installations, unless
the parameters of the contained circuits are such that they will remain safe in the presence of mutual faults (full details of
which are given in the above referenced Standards).
Multicore cables not equipped with individual circuit screens must also withstand the elevated voltage test of 1000Vrms
between one bundle of half the conductors and another bundle of the remaining conductors.
Faul t consi der at i ons f or mul t i - cor e cabl es
Faults which, might have to be taken into consideration when using multi-core cables in intrinsically safe circuits, depend upon
the type of cables used.
G Type A cable
Complies with the requirements for multi-cores as discussed before and in addition has conducting screens providing
individual protection for intrinsically safe circuits in order to prevent such circuits becoming connected to one another
the coverage of those screens must be at least 60% of the surface area.
No faults between circuits are taken into consideration.
G Type B cable
Is fixed and effectively protected against damage, complies with the requirements for multi-cores as discussed before
and in addition has no circuit contained within the cable having a maximum voltage Uo exceeding 60V.
No faults between circuits are taken into consideration.
G Other cable types
Complying with the requirements for multi-cores but not with types A or B, it is necessary to consider several faults
simultaneously. Therefore, these types of cable are not recommended.
I dent i f i cat i on by col our
If it is a desired practice to identify cables by colour, then intrinsically safe circuits should have their outer sheaths coloured
light blue. Similarly, cable trunking or raceways within cabinets and cubicles, or for cable runs within the plant, may be
coloured light blue to identify their duty to carry cables of intrinsically safe circuits. In some situations, extra steps may need
to be taken to avoid possible confusion with blue power cables (e.g. single-phase neutral or three-phase line).
Cabl es f or I . S. i nst al l at i ons
Scr eens and Sheat hs
On zener barrier installations, field cables incorporating screens with overall insulation will have their screens connected to
IS earth at the barrier enclosure. RTK S90 series barriers incorporate a terminal for this purpose. Screens should be free of
connection at the field end.
Single core screened cables (e.g. `concentric` or `coaxial` types) are only suitable for field apparatus connected to zener
barriers if their combined screen and return conductor connects to earth at the barrier end and is insulated elsewhere from
external contact.
With isolation interfaces the treatment of screen connections is less important and they may be earthed as convenient for
operational needs.
Cables including a metallic sheath (e.g. mineral insulated) or a wire armour will have their sheath or armour bonded to local
structural earth, and not, in the case of zener barriers, to the IS earth system.
Separ at i on f r om ot her cabl es
The cables of intrinsically safe circuits shall be kept segregated from other non-IS cables, either by spatial separation, or by
physical barriers such as armouring, conduits, metallic partitions or separate cable trays. For full details of requirements the
relevant Standards or Codes of Practice should be consulted.
RTK Engineering Ltd St. Peters Squa re Ha rroga te N or th Yorkshire HG2 0 N P Engla nd
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