Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Combatting Copper Thefts By Changing Technology

PC World had a short piece that covered a promising solution to copper thefts that have plagued utility providers.
The GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel cable is probably the most radical solution yet devised to copper theft in that it removes almost all of the copper grounding (in the U.K., "earthing") metal of the sort commonly used in networks to return current to earth for safety reasons. 
Unlike conventional cables made from solid copper, the GroundSmart consists of a steel core around which is bonded a copper outer casing, forming an equally effective but far less valuable cable.
This makes a lot of sense. The high prices for copper have driven the market for stolen copper wire. As these cables are replaced, taking most of the copper out of the replacement cables will remove the monetary incentive for thieves to take the cable in the first place.

It's pretty obvious that stronger laws for metal thieves aren't having a huge deterrent effect because the economic benefit for the thief outweighs the cost of doing business. If his benefit is lessened then the cost/benefit ratio will swing back in our favor.

Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen the industry try to replace copper in wiring. Remember aluminum wiring? If it hadn't been for it's tendency to cause electrical fires it might have caught on too. Lets hope this solution works out better.

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