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Title: Long-term effects of thermal variation on the performance of Balanced Twisted Pair Cabling
Author: Akinnuoye, Sile Florence
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 1517
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 2019
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Abstract:
Remote powering over the Ethernet (including PoE, PoE+ and PoE++) is currently trending as a cost-effective option to power networked devices using balanced twisted pair cabling. As technology advances and Ethernet penetration grows, more devices are deployed, thereby increasing the cabling density to support these devices. Power delivery through Ethernet cables has numerous benefits, including cost and space saving. However, concurrent high-power transmission and installation conditions could induce local heating, and thus, thermal variation may occur in the cable bundles, and these can be exacerbated by the installation conditions, and sometimes by extreme weather conditions. Over a long time, all these could modify the cable properties, thus affecting the performance of the cabling system and thereby impacting the Ethernet signal integrity. Although Joule heating of the cable bundle is primarily assumed to be concomitants of current transmission through the cable, several fundamental questions around these processes are not yet fully answered. They include: Do cable heating and thermal variations influence the designed transmission parameters of the cable? If yes, how can the cause(s) and effects be accurately measured and reliably validated? In answering some of these questions, a series of experiments were developed and adopted to (1) assess cable bundle heating (2) assess the performance of Balanced Twisted Pair cables subject to repeated thermal variation, both within the specified operating range and beyond to account for the situations where high temperature and localised heating might stress the cables beyond the designed or expected levels (3) assess the performance of Ethernet cable dielectrics to understand some of the root causes of Ethernet cable performance degradation. The outcome of the research showed that high power (100 watts) deployment over bundled and insulated unshielded Ethernet cables triggered an extremely high-temperature increase (~ 140°C) that resulted in mechanical failure of the cables' dielectrics and a short circuit between the copper conductors of the cables. Larger cable conductor size, screening of the twisted pair along with Fluoropolymers as the conductor insulation helped the shielded cables not to reach a point of failure when tested in the insulated environments and at high power levels even though there was a temperature rise on the cables. Moreover, repeated resistive and non- resistive heating have adverse effects on the electrical properties and transmission parameters of Balanced Twisted Pair cables, most notably in the first few cycles. The impact was more pronounced during the cooling phase than the heating phase. Also, the thermal impact was more accentuated in insulated operating condition than in ventilated operating condition. The electrical length of the cable measured by the tester decreased by 0.7 m 5 due to the effect of repeated non-resistive heating in an insulated environment and at a high temperature of ~120°C but decreased by 0.4 m with ~70°C in a similar insulated environment. Phase drifts in Balanced Twisted Pair cables were observed to be dependent on the combined effects of mechanical dimension, dielectric constant and frequency. Thermal variation caused a phase change in the Return Loss (RL) signal from 63° to 90°, from 90° to 135° and from 135° to 315° respectively. The RL performance of Category 6 U/UTP CoMmunications Plenum rated (CMP) cable failed at 20°C and recovered at 23°C initially, but after the electrical length of the cable had decreased, subsequent failure and recovery temperatures accelerated towards higher temperature (400C). Similarly, the transition temperatures of the bandwidth of the cavity loaded with the Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) from the Category 6 U/UTP CMP cable accelerated during the prolonged thermal cycling. The maximum reduction in the RL value of Category 6A F/UTP cable due to the 40 thermal cycles conducted was observed to be 5 % per degree, whereas the maximum Insertion Loss (IL) increase was 5.8 % per degree. Moreover, for the 24 thermal cycles conducted on Category 6 U/UTP CMP cable, an increase in IL of ~8.3 % per degree was observed while RL decreased by ~6.8 % per degree. Using the Features Selective Validation technique, the comparison between the baseline performance and long-term performance of Category 6A F/UTP permanent link (PL) showed a fair agreement, which implies degradation in the performance of the cable. Furthermore, results showed that impedance varied significantly along the length of the cable due to localised heating of the cable. The impedance along the unheated sides of the cable reverted at every λ/2 (0.4 m) and λ/4 (0.2 m) but the impedance profile of the heated middle portion of the cable varied significantly. The results of the Scanning Electron Microscope revealed the deformation in the conductor insulation of a twisted pair sample. Furthermore, the adhesion of the twisted pair conductor insulation to its copper conductor was also observed to be affected near the end of the twisted pair sample. Connector impedance mismatch was observed to be severe on the split pair pins (pair 3,6) than other pairs in the cable. The connector impedance mismatch also dominated the Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) loss at frequencies around 35 MHz. The repeated heating of the cable to a higher temperature of 1200C caused the loss of the PL at room temperature and a DC contact resistance issue which of course resulted in poor intra-pair resistance unbalance between the split pair. The Transverse Conversion Loss (TCL) and Equal Level Transverse Conversion Transfer Loss (ELTCTL) of Category 6 U/UTP CMP PL revealed some imbalances in the structure of the twisted pairs. Also, the equivalent differential mode noise voltages for the TCL values of the cable revealed a voltage spike following the decrease in the electrical length of the cable. More also, Crosstalk performance between the longest and shortest pair in the Category 6A 6 F/UTP cable was also observed to be better due to the heating of the cable in comparison to the crosstalk loss measured due to the cooling of the cable. Crosstalk performance of the portion insulated cables was initially worse during the first few heating and cooling cycles but improved afterwards. In addition, crosstalk, which was not initially present at the reference plane of the permanent link, was observed to increase rapidly from the point where the electrical length decreased. The increase in temperature to ~650C caused an accentuated frequency shift in the resonance of the FEP, which is the probable cause of the immediate performance degradation of the Category 6 U/UTP CMP cable. The dielectric constant of the extracted FEP rod sample from Category 6 U/UTP CMP cable increased as a consequence of prolonged thermal cycling, particularly during the cooling phase, which also suggests the root cause of the poor RL performance observed during the cooling phase. The increased loss tangent of the FEP during thermal cycling also indicates that IL performance degradation of the Ethernet cables will increase during the heating and cooling process in Ethernet cables. Also, on a long-term, IL performance will drift due to thermal cycling. Furthermore, various signal phase transitions were recorded during the heating and cooling of the cable and its dielectric due to the different behaviour of the molecular transitions. As a result, an echo of RL was measured during the transition between the intermittent and prolonged thermal cycling of the cable, of which can be correlated to the spurious resonance, observed in the resonance of the FEP sample during the transition period. Thus, it could be inferred that immediate and longterm effects of thermal variation influence the designed electrical properties and transmission parameters of Balanced Twisted Pair cables. Also, an immediate and long-term effect of thermal variation on the conductor insulation of the cable has a direct effect on the performance of Balanced Twisted Pair Cables.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.794828  DOI: Not available
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