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Effects of signal interference by mixing of Power & Control cables

The basic function of electrical cable in a power plant is to transmit instrument signals, control
signals and electrical power. Erratic signals get induced due to signal interference by mixing of Power
& Control cables. Thermocouple and RTD signals, being at low DC millivolt levels are the most
susceptible. Leakage Resistance allows both alternating and direct currents to enter signal circuits.
Capacitance allows an alternating current to enter the signal circuits. When sensor signals are
disturbed by an external power source, we can expect measurement errors and process
malfunctions. The offending sources deliver leakage currents through capacitance and imperfect
insulation and spray magnetic and electric fields at the signal wiring. The resulting injected voltages
or currents can overload and paralyze the control signals.

Some glaring examples found from our stations are shown below which would be responsible for
increase of FO and our dreams for ZFO due to C&I being shattered:

The C&I cables are laid in this fashion with no cable trays. Very pathetic conditions. No
improvement in the Erection quality.


Control & power cables are mixed

Mixing and faulty layout
Cable trays are insufficient, leading to overflowing.
Cable mixing and improper routing

Remedies suggested
1. Considerations for equipment Installation, Cable routing, Grounding and Wiring to be taken at
Erection / Commissioning stage only. Verification regarding mounting and routing, supporting
cable trays, conduits, raceways, instrument racks and panels to be done religiously.
2. Verify adequate separation of power and control conductors i.e. distance to be kept between
the signal wires away from power wiring. Both are better in their own conduits or ducts. These
measures will minimize resistive and capacitive currents.
3. Visual inspection must ensure adequate separation of power and control circuitry. To help
differentiate between control and power circuits, notice the conductor sizes and color-coding
schemes in use.
4. Shielding signal wires inside a metal shield to be done which is grounded at one point only. This
diverts both resistive and capacitive currents harmlessly to ground.
5. Verify any power and control wiring crosses each other, does so at ninety degrees angle only.
6. Perform visual inspection of wiring and components for any obvious abnormalities.
7. Best practices in Nuclear plants vouch for even physical separation of redundant transmitters
and separation of wiring, which is achieved by separate wire ways, cable trays, conduit runs for
each redundant channel.