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Figure 1-2: Formation of Magnetic Field and Eddy Currents during AC Flow [7] . AC power supply systems are most commonly used in subsea applications. 1. as represented in Figure 1-1 [1]. Subsea. Electrical heating – either directly or through trace heating . Keywords: Skin Effect. valves. Otherwise.can provide a number of benefits such as improving subsea separation processes or improving recovery techniques for challenging environments. At low AC frequencies and during direct current (DC) flow. represented in Figure 1-2 [7]. This power loss can result in the failure of electrically powered subsea equipment such as sensors. Cause & Associated Power Losses The skin effect is generated through electromagnetic induction that is produced due to the time variant nature of AC operation [6]. When a single. Introduction The skin effect is the term denoted to the phenomena of current flow dispersion throughout a conductor during alternating current (AC) operation. particularly in Europe. Challenges and Potential Applications for Subsea Electrical Systems Author: Lesley-Anne Rowand [ID: 51554451] Supervisor: Dr Sumeet Aphale EG50F6: Assignment 1 – Skin Effect Survey Paper Abstract: The skin effect is generated in electrical conductors when exposed to alternating current (AC) flow. there are mitigation strategies to minimize energy loss from the cabling. With the presence of AC subsea power systems. In subsea terms. isolated. this paper summarises these applications and mitigation methods. there are potential applications for the accompanied heating process. Current is forced to flow in a layer known as the skin depth on the outermost layers of the conductor due to increased resistance at the centre. The current density (J) is therefore largest at the surface of the conductor and lowest in the centre. there becomes an issue with the skin effect and the resulting power loss along the transmission wires. electrical metal cables are conductors. and are preferred over similar DC circuits [2].[3] where they do not receive enough electrical power to operate effectively if at all. generating the skin depth. Whilst this is currently the case. electrical Figure 1-1: Diagram representing Skin Depth and flowing current density [1] actuators etc. work is being done to introduce DC power supply systems for subsea with the development of new technologies and therefore skin effect may not become an issue in the future [4 & 5]. Power Loss 1. Whilst energy is lost to the environment due to induction heating and formation of magnetic fields. Electrical Conductors. the corresponding magnetic field also changes which creates an opposing electric field that counters the change in current density. This phenomenon shows the majority of current flowing in the outer section of the conductor in a level known as the skin depth with the current density decreasing into the centre of the conductor. as AC frequency increases. Today. Material Properties. which raise challenges to ensure enough electrical power is supplied to subsea electronic equipment due to losses generated by the skin effect.The Skin Effect: Cause. This results in a cancellation of the current at the centre which forces the primary current flow to the outer region of the cross sectional area. circular conductor (such as a subsea transmission cable) is charged with a time-varying AC current in free space. However. When the current intensity changes. These opposing electric field currents are known as eddy currents (ie) which are strongest in the centre of the conductor and flow in the same direction as the initial applied current (i) at the surface.1. it generates a magnetic field (H) both in and around the conductor. the skin effect appears to be negligible and hence the electric current distribution appears to be uniform throughout the conductor’s cross sectional area.

The increase in resistance is brought about by the total current carrying area of the conductor being reduced to the outer skin of the wire which generates an assosciated power loss: 𝑅= 𝜌𝑙 𝐴 𝑃!"#! = 𝐼 ! 𝑅 where: R is resistance of the conductor. J0 is current density at the surface of the conductor. the loss in energy also means that there may not be sufficient electrical power reaching the subsea equipment resulting in failures. 2. Mitigation & Cost Saving Measures Table 2-1: Various Resistivities and conductivities for conductors at T=20°C [7] Whilst the skin effect is an unavoidable occurrence during AC flow. permeability and frequency and is shown below [8. 𝜌 is material resistivity. d is the distance from the surface to the centre of the conductor. a good conductor would provide a small skin depth. temperature (changes in temperature directly affect material properties and will become a factor during electrical heating) and operating frequency.2. Litz wire is a special cable that consists of many thin wire strands that are braided and bundled together which helps to reduce the overall . A is current carrying cross sectional area. 2. there are mitigation strategies to protect against the degree from becoming so severe within electrical cabling. This energy can be recovered when the fields dissipate however until that time the power is lost and will not reach its required destination – be it for subsea transformations.1. I is current through the conductor and R is conductor resistance The intensity or degree of skin effect is therefore determined by material properties. l is length of the conductor. the presence of the skin effect magnetic field can possibly disrupt the results of MFL inspection techniques resulting in inaccurate inspection results for the pipeline and the system. Energy Losses The skin effect can become a problem as energy becomes temporarily lost during the formation and continual production of the magnetic fields and opposing eddy currents.3. Magnetic Interruption The magnetic fields generating by AC flowing through the wires can potentially interfere with pipeline inspection techniques that utilize similar magnetic concepts. as there is internal resistance within the wires from the eddy currents. Different materials can provide varying degrees of skin effect due to the variations in material properties. f is frequency and µ0. Whilst induction heating can provide potential benefits within a subsea system.r are the free space and relative permeability respectively The skin effect results in a loss of power along the conductor both during the formation of the magnetic field and eddy currents and from induction heating berough about by the increased resistance. In brief. 2. 9 & 10]: 𝐽 = 𝐽! ∙ 𝑒 !! ! 𝛿= ! !"!! !! where: J is the current density. Challenges Faced by the Skin Effect 2. reducing energy loss.The Skin Effect: Cause. Due to the effect close proximity magnetic fields have on each other. metal loss inspection techniques use magnetic flux leakage (MFL) pigs that magnetize the pipe wall to detect metal loss [11]. In general. Insulating the wires and bundling/braiding them can effectively reduce the skin effect to a lesser extent. Table 2-1 shows various conductors material properties with silver being the most effective conductor and iron the least [7]. electrical sensors or valves etc. this produces energy loss in the form of induction heating. e is the base of the natural logarithm. Additionally. Ploss is power/copper loss. Challenges and Potential Applications for Subsea Electrical Systems the corresponding penetrating flow depth across the conductor decreases and the current density becomes related to the degree of the skin effect where the skin depth is a function of the conductor material properties. Alternatively different types of cables and wiring configurations can reduce the degree of the skin effect. δ is the skin depth. σ is material conductivity.

Additionally. The heating of subsea pipelines can provide a number of benefits for the recovery of the produced fluids in different ways and can lower the effect that the harsh environment has on the production system. Fibre optics are also becoming more appealing for subsea electrical and communication systems due to their relative immunity to electromagnetic interference which would reduce and potentially eliminate the energy losses that occur due to the skin effect [13 & 14]. . several mitigation techniques can be implemented to decrease the affect of the associated energy loss. meaning extra cost on chemical injection can be avoided. In such a case. there are potential uses for the skin effect within subsea applications. Hydrates are of particular risk during periods of shutdown. cheaper alternative. 19 & 20]. During the occurrence of the skin effect. Although these heating processes are separate by design (achieved through direct and indirect heating methods respectively). The theory behind this method is due to the current flowing along the outer edge of the conductor and hence a large portion of conductor volume is rendered ineffective. However should the skin effect be required to be reduced. Heating raises the core temperature of the fluids and hence could allow the fluid to remain stagnant out-with the hydrate region. heating applications can provide enough of a benefit to justify the energy losses throughout subsea cabling. which stops fluid flow and allows the fluids within the pipework to cool to ambient temperatures. The use of electrical heating of pipelines can improve production and ensure integrity in many subsea processes and can provide new opportunities for future exploration in harsher. 17. Employing electrical heating methods could ease the restrictions on fluid flow and allow production in this region to become more feasible. Electrically heating heavy oil production systems coupled with other enhanced oil recovery techniques. the current can be manipulated to flow through a thin coating on the outside of the main wire. The removal of the inner portion of the wire reduces material volume and cost whilst still maintaining the same level of current flow. 3. the skin depth can become reduced to such an extent that the current will only flow through a very thin layer on the outside of the wire. This allows for a more efficient (and usually more expensive) conductor to be coated on the outside of a less efficient. One cost saving strategy involves the hollowing of electrical wiring. 16. Challenges and Potential Applications for Subsea Electrical Systems skin effect due to the lesser tendency of producing opposing electromagnetic fields [12]. ever more challenging environments. applying additional heat to the production fluids could reduce the sharp drop in temperatures often seen occurring across equipment such as valves or chokes due to the Joule-Thomson effect. Theoretically. which are more viscous and resistant to flow making them harder to extract from the reservoir. if it is unavoidable. Conclusions Whilst there are complications generated by the presence of the skin effect. Whilst this temperature change cannot be avoided. Research is currently being carried out to investigate the feasibility of more advanced fibre optic and DC applications for subsea power supply systems that could eliminate the need for skin effect mitigation strategies completely. could prove very effective in improving recovery of these more complicated oil systems. Potential Applications Subsea Whilst the skin effect has many disadvantages in electrical systems and require many different mitigation methods to minimize its effect. the minimum temperature achieved during this expansion can be raised due to the heating process which would protect the subsea pipeline and equipment materials maintaining the system’s integrity to protect against them failing. It also provides interesting implications for fields that contain heavy oils. 4. Electrical heating also provides advantages in subsea flow assurance as it protects the system from the formation of hydrates (which occur at high pressure and low temperatures). the end result is the same. it can be applied to subsea applications in two separate methods: Direct Electrical Heating (DEH) and Skin Effect Heat Tracing (SEHT) [15. heating of the production fluid can aid separation of the vapour and liquid phases in a multiphase system as larger portions of vapour ‘flash off’ and improve the effectiveness of subsea separation modules. Whilst the heating process is usually utilized onshore.The Skin Effect: Cause. From a process perspective. in very high frequency systems. The Arctic has often been overlooked for subsea applications due to the extreme environmental conditions it possesses. the increased resistance results in some heat loss to the external environment. 18.

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