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2, MAY 2007

Technique for Reducing Transient Voltages

in Multiconductor-Shielded Cables
Nelson Theethayi, Member, IEEE, Ziya Mazloom, and Rajeev Thottappillil, Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract—It is a common practice that the unused pairs (inac-

tive conductors) in shielded cables are left open (open circuited at
the terminal block) in telecommunication systems. In this paper,
it is shown by both theory (based on transmission line analysis)
and experiments that if those inactive conductors are shorted to
the cable shield, then the transient voltages on the other active
conductors (conductors in service) can be reduced when external
transients/faults due to lightning or switching couple to the shield.
This could be a good EMC practice for transient voltage reduction
in telecommunication systems.
Index Terms—Cable shielding, lightning and transmission line
theory, transfer impedance, transient analysis.

OST modern telecommunication systems use shielded
M cables that have a complex multiconductor transmission
line (MTL) configuration, i.e., large number of conductors or
twisted pairs and multiple shields. A typical example of such a
cable BV-ECLALPLE1S1.2+28P0.9 from Ericsson [1] used in
the Swedish Railway System for signaling and telecommunica-
tion purpose is shown in Fig. 1. This cable is double shielded
with the outer shield being a steel armor and the inner shield be- Fig. 1. Telecommunication cable used in the Swedish railway systems for
ing cage-type made of aluminum. The cable has an MTL config- signaling and communication (adapted from [13]).
uration with total 60 conductors. Many of them are twisted pairs,
while some are independent conductors that are not twisted and between the inner shield and conductor pairs [12]. There also
arranged in different layers. It has been observed that in railway seems to be an ambiguity whether the damage is really caused
installations, a number of pairs of the cable are left open at the by lightning or due to the large traction currents getting into
terminal board simply because they are not used or not in service the shield during normal operation of the traction system itself.
(inactive conductors). Standards like [2] make a suggestion that Whatever be the situation, the question now is, given that the
the unused conductors, grounded at both ends, in an unshielded shields are carrying transient currents, is there a possible way of
control cable may be used as shield conductors. However, such reducing the internal induced voltages on the active conductors
a suggestion was not complimented by any theoretical or exper- using the other inactive conductors within the cable? This paper
imental validation. is devoted to finding an answer to this question.
It is usual that transients due to lightning or any other similar The analysis is based on the MTL theory, and hence, we will
faults can cause large currents in the shield either due to direct briefly discuss various expressions and the methodology used
strikes as in case of communication towers [3], [4], or indirect in this paper for calculations. To validate the model/theoretical
stroke coupling as in [5] and [6]. This, in turn, causes induced predictions, experimental comparisons are also made with a
voltages (whose magnitude depends on shield current and the cable whose MTL parameters are known. Since we are interested
shield transfer impedances [7]–[11]) in the inner conductors by in the transfer characteristics for the experiments, the usual
the mechanism of coupling through multiple cable shields [7], transfer impedance determination setup, i.e., the Triax method
[11]. It has been observed in Banverkt (Swedish National Rail [9], is used.
Administration) that there are damages in the form of breakdown
Manuscript received April 10, 2006; revised December 15, 2006. This work Consider a cable cut-away view as shown in Fig. 2, which
was supported in part by the Swedish National Rail Administration, Banverket
and in part by the Swedish Research Council under VR Grant 621-2005-5939. shows a three-core cable arrangement. It has two shields, solid
The authors are with the Division for Electricity and Lightning Research, De- tubular/cylindrical with annular cross section. For the moment,
partment of Engineering Sciences, Uppsala University, 75121 Uppsala, Sweden let us assume in all the cases that the external inductance and
(e-mail:;; capacitance matrices of the internal conductors are known with
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TEMC.2007.897143 respect to the shield. In (1), the voltages V1 , V2 , V3 , V4 , and V5

0018-9375/$25.00 © 2007 IEEE

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are written in differential form between inner conductors (cores)

and the shield, between the shield and the armor, and between
the armor and the external remote return/reference.

V1 = V1c − Vsh 

V2 = V2c − Vsh 
V3 = V3c − Vsh . (1)

V4 = Vsh − Var 

V5 = Var
These voltages are referred to as loop voltages as discussed
by Wedephol and Wilcox [11]. The voltages like V1c , V2c ,
V3c , Vsh , and Var are that of the conductors, shield, and ar-
mor, respectively, with respect to the remote reference, which
is obtained by a transformation [11], [14]. The voltage wave
equations based on the loop voltages are given by
Fig. 2. Generalized three-conductor cable arrangement for studying the cou-
d pling between the shields and internal conductors adapted from [11], [13],
− [ V1 V2 V3 V4 V4 ]T = [Z  ]4×4 [ I1 I2 I3 I4 I4 ]T . and [14].
Since loop voltages are adopted, the currents in (2) are referred
conductors, and the shield and the armor
to as loop currents I1 , I2 , I3 , I4 , I5 . These loop currents are
related to the core currents I1c , I2c , I3c , shield current Ish , and Z11 = Zi + jω L11 + ZShield−in 

armor current Iar as shown in (3) and based on Fig. 2 Z12 = Z21 = jω L12 + ZSheield−in 


 Z22 = Zi + jω L22 + ZSheield−in 

I1 = I1c    

 Z13 = Z31 = jω L13 + ZSheield−in 

I2 = I2c    

Z23 = Z32 = jω L23 + ZSheield−in 
I3 = I3c . (3) 

 Z33 = Zi + jω L33 + ZSheield−in .
I4 = Ish + I1c + I2c + I3c  
 Z14 
= Z24 
= Z34 
= Z41 
= Z42 
= Z43 = −ZSheield−mutual 

I5 = Iar + Ish + I1c + I2c + I3c 
= ZSheield−out +ZSheield−Armor−insulation +ZArmor−in 


The current wave equations based on loop currents are given by Z15 = Z25 = Z35 = Z51 = Z52 = Z53 =0 


d Z45 = Z54 = −ZArmor−mutual 

− [ I1 I2 I3 I4 I4 ]T = [Y  ]4×4 [ V1 V2 V3 V4 V4 ]T . 
Z55 = ZArmor−out + ZArmor−Earth−insulation + Zg
dx (6)
The relationship between the conductor currents and loop cur- The internal impedance Zi of the conductors is due to the skin
rents are also related through a transformation by which teleg- effect phenomena given by (7) [7], [11], with rw as the radius
rapher’s equations change into a form similar to conventional of the inner conductor
√ √ 
MTL systems, which relates conductor voltages to conductor jω µσ I0 jω µσ × rw
currents and vice versa. Now, each parameter in the impedance Zi = √ . (7)
2πσrw I1 jω µσ × rw
matrix Z  in (2) is a combination of series impedance terms
of internal and external impedances. Similarly, each admittance The other impedances that are connected to the properties of the
term of Y  in (4) is a combination of external and mutual admit- shield and/or the armor are referred to as tube in, tube out, and
tance terms. tube mutual impedances as defined by Shelkunoff [7]. In [7],
If we arrive at the MTL equations of the form (5) after sim- an interesting discussion is made on the surface impedances
plifying (2) and (4), and using (1) and (3), respectively, then of hollow solid cylindrical shells. In the discussions to follow
differential voltages between any conductors with respect to and also for simulations and later experimental validations, we
any given reference of the system can be found using consider only solid cylindrical shields as it is well known that the
shield transfer characteristics [8]–[10] are significantly affected
− [ V1c V2c V3c Vsh Va ]T = [Z]4×4 [ I1c I2c I3c Ish Ia ]T only at high frequencies. However, at frequencies from dc to a
dx few hundred kilohertz, in all the shields, whether leaky or solid,
(5a) the shield dc resistance dominates [8]–[10].
d Consider the shield or armor to be a hollow conductor whose
− [ I1c I2c I3c Ish Ia ]T = [Y ]4×4 [ V1c V2c V3c Vsh Va ]T . inner and outer radii are a and b, respectively. The return of the
(5b) shield for the problem under study could be partly inside (inner
conductors) and partly outside (external armor/earth or some
The impedance parameters of (2) are defined in (6). In (6), there known reference). Based on [7], if Zaa (tube in) is the surface
are some impedance terms in addition to external inductance. impedance with internal return and Zbb (tube out) with that of
Those impedances, excluding the internal impedances, are the external return, then there exists effectively two transmission
ones that contribute to the coupling between the shield and inner lines with distributed mutual impedance Zab (tube mutual). In

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[7], it is mentioned that Zab is due to the mingling of two currents

in the hollow conductor common to both lines, and refers Zab
as the transfer impedance from one surface of the conductor to
the other. These impedances are given by (8). In (8), I(.) and
K(.) are the modified Bessel functions of the first and second
kind, respectively, of either order zero or one as applicable
   √   √  
jω µσ I0 a  √jω µσ K 1 b
 √ jω µσ + 
Zaa = 2πσaΛ 

 I b jω µσ K0 a jω µσ
 1 √ √ 
jω µσ I0 b √ jω µσ K1 a jω µσ +  

Zbb = 2πσbΛ √
I1 a jω µσ K0 b jω µσ .

Zab = Z 1 
 Fig. 3. Triax setup for measuring the transfer impedance adapted from [10],
 ba =√2πσabΛ   √  

I1 b jω µσ K1 a jω µσ − 

Λ = √ √ 
I1 a jω µσ K1 b jω µσ
(8) impedance as in
The concept of transfer impedance is well discussed in various
ZShield−mutual = ZT = Zd + jω M12 . (11)
EMC literature and books [8]–[10], and several researchers after
Shelkunoff have worked toward developing the expressions for The diffusion part in (12) is similar to the case if the shield were
the transfer impedance for various types of shields and for the tubular similar to the tube mutual impedance in (8)
wide frequency range [8], [9]. √
2rbw jω µ0 σ
For the current wave equation in (4), the required admittance Zd = rdc  √  (12)
parameters with respect to the shield for the inner conductors sinh 2rbw jω µ0 σ
are given by where rdc is shield dc resistance and rbw is the radius of braid
   wire. The values of Zd and M12 for a braided shield are calcu-
Y11 Y12 Y13 C11 C12 C13
 Y21

Y23 
= jω  C21 C22 C23  . (9) lated from the shield geometries, i.e., number of carrier wires
   on the braid and also on the weave angles. Associated formulas
Y31 Y32 Y33 C31 C32 C33
can be found in [8]–[10]. The transfer impedance can be experi-
It is to be noted that the general formula for determining induc- mentally found by applying appropriate boundary conditions at
tance, e.g., Lij and capacitance, e.g., Cij of the wires in a multi- the near end and far end of the Triax experiment, as shown in
conductor cable as discussed by Paul in [15] can be used. Many Fig. 3 [9].
of the mutual admittance terms in (4) are null [11]. The induc- It can be easily shown from (1)–(3), (5a), and (6) that the
tance and capacitance due to the insulation is calculated from the ratio of open-circuit voltage at the far end between the inner
insulation thickness [11], [15]. The most important parameter conductor and the shield and injected current at the near end
that influences the pulse propagation is the ground impedance (where the shield and inner conductor of the cable are shorted)
Zg and admittance Yg in (6) and (10), respectively, which could will give the required transfer impedance of any given shield
be calculated from the expressions in [8], [10], [13], [16], [8], [9]. Similar to transfer impedance, one can also define the
and [17] transfer admittance. We do not discuss it here, as its influence
       is negligible as compared to the transfer impedance. However,
Y14 = Y15 = Y24 = Y25 = Y34 = Y35 =0 

Y41 = Y51 = Y42 = Y52 = Y43 = Y53 = 0  in [10], it is mentioned that such an assumption is not true if we
  have a braided shield operating at high frequency. We would like
Y45 = Y54 = 0 .

Y44 = jω · Sheath−Armor−insulation−capacitance  
 to mention here that the phenomena and experiment that we are

Y55 = jω · Armor−Earth−insulation−capacitance||Yg to discuss in the following sections are applicable for braided or
any other type of shields that are not solid tubular. Such shields
are not dealt here because their analyses are mathematically
For our problem here, since we are to study the shield transfer quite involved and uncertainties are higher for validation with
characteristics we take a Triax setup [9] in which the current experiments. To make the analysis simpler, we use a source that
returns via the outer tube in which the shielded cable under test has a frequency of 50 kHz due to which all the assumptions with
is placed. Thus, for the problem, instead of ground impedance that of tubular shields can be conveniently applied for theoretical
and admittance we have external impedance and admittance of validation even if the shields were braided.
the shield with respect to the hollow Triax tube. This experiment
is more controlled, since, if the test were to be made in buried III. UNUSED PAIRS IN SHIELDED CABLES HELPS REDUCING
soil, the uncertainties and unknowns increase [17] for validation TRANSIENTS COUPLING TO CABLE CORE THROUGH CABLE
and the currents returning in the soil are frequency dependent SHIELDS—THEORETICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL VALIDATION
[10], [11], [13], [16], [17].
A. Cable Under Test
Vance [10] mentions that two components, i.e., the diffusion
of electromagnetic energy and penetration of the magnetic field For theoretical and experimental comparisons, we needed a
through apertures of the braid, contribute to the net transfer cable that has a single solid shield and more than two inner

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conductors. It was difficult to find a cable with such a require-

ment, since different cables have different types of shields,
which are nonsolid and/or with an aluminum foil and a bare
conductor running along between the shield and inner insu-
lated conductors. On some occasions, the inner conductors were
twisted pairs. The authors would like to mention that with any
cable having more than two conductors the experiments can be
made with regard to the present study. The difficulty remains in
validation with theory as the unknowns and uncertainties with
the evaluation of parameters increase. Moreover, here we at-
tempt for a more valid direct comparison. For comparisons, we
chose a cable called ELEK 3G-1.5 from Draka1 with specific
parameters—outer radius with insulation is 4 mm, and outer
insulation thickness is 1 mm with insulation relative permittiv-
ity of 2.23. The shield was braided with a total cross-sectional
thickness of 120 µm. The capacitance matrix (Farads per me-
ter) of the three inner nontwisted conductors with respect to
the shield was measured as well as calculated, based on the
manufacturer’s data [13].1 It is given by Fig. 4. Injected current into the shield for experiment adapted from [13].
 
2.02 −0.168 −0.168
[C]3×3 =  −0.168 2.02 −0.168  10−10 . (13) that the injected current expression in time appears as sums of
−0.168 −0.168 2.02 exponentials
−0.01 84.1
The inductance matrix (Henry per meter) with respect to the Iinj (jω) = +
jω + 241.4 jω + 78230
shield can be given by knowing the average insulation relative
permittivity (5 in the present case)1 as L = (εr /9 × 1016 )[C]−1 , −
41.2 + j115
which gives jω + (90131 − j88257.6)
  
2.91 0.264 0.264 41.2 − j115
− . (15)
[L]3×3 =  0.264 2.91 0.264  10−7 . (14) jω + (90131 + j88257.6)
0.264 0.264 2.91 Three important conditions were simulated and are shown
The shield of the cable is similar to the RG-58 cable in terms of clearly in Fig. 5. Any conductor, which is not connected to
the braid, i.e., the weave angle and carrier wires made of copper. the shield, is referred to as open conductor in the following
The dc resistance of the shield obtained from the geometry discussion.
r Case 1: Referring to Fig. 5(a), at the near end (source end),
is about 7.8 mΩ/m, which is to dominate the low-frequency
transfer characteristics. all the conductors are shorted to the shield and current is
injected with respect to the tube. At the far end, all the core
B. Experimental Results and Comparative Simulations conductors (conductors 1, 2, and 3) are shorted to each
other and left open, and the shield was shorted to the tube.
A 1-m length of ELEK 3G-1.5 cable was inserted into the At the far end, the open circuit voltage Voc is measured
Triax tube having a radius of 3.25 cm, as shown in Fig. 3. The between the shield and the open conductors.
current source used was from a Schaffner generator NSG 650 r Case 2: Referring to Fig. 5(b), at the near end (source end),
(Schaffner Holding AG, Switzerland). The injected current into all the conductors are shorted to the shield and current is
the shield was measured using a Pearson probe model2 411 at injected with respect to the tube. At the far end, out of
the near end and is shown in Fig. 4, which is similar to 8/20-µs three core conductors, two (e.g., conductors 1 and 2) were
impulse. In all the cases, the voltages were measured directly shorted to each other and left open, while the other core
with the oscilloscope without any probes, with the oscilloscope conductor (conductor 3) and the shield were shorted to
input impedance set at 1 MΩ. the tube. At the far end, the open circuit voltage Voc is
The measured injected current was Fourier transformed, and measured between the shield and the open conductors.
the response points are then used in vector fitted using four poles r Case 3: Referring to Fig. 5(c), at the near end (source
(complex poles) in frequency domain [18]. The fitted curve is end), all the conductors are shorted and current is injected
shown in Fig. 4, together with the measured injected current. with respect to the tube. At the far end, out of three core
The expression for the injected current is given by (15) [13], conductors, one of them (e.g., conductor 2) was left open,
and this was used in the simulations as well. It is to be noted and the other two core conductors (conductors 1 and 3) and
the shield were shorted to the tube. At the far end, the open
1, Mar. 2005. circuit voltage Voc is measured between the shield and the
2 2002 Pearson Electronics, Inc. 411. Wpd-021011. open conductors.

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Fig. 6. Comparison between experiment and simulation for three-conductor

cable with the Triax test demonstrating the variation of the voltage on the
active conductor when the other inactive conductors are shorted to the shield in
succession at the far end [13].

time of about 8 µs, and therefore, the magnetic-field leakage

through the holes of braid are negligible.
In all the cases, the open circuit voltage Voc measured at the
far end and the corresponding simulations for each case using
the theory presented in Section II are shown in Fig. 6.
It is seen from Fig. 6 that for Case 1, when all the conductors
are shorted at the far end, the peak open-circuit voltage, as ex-
pected, is approximately given by the product of dc resistance
of the shield and the injected peak shield current. When one of
the conductors is shorted to the shield as in Case 2, the peak
open-circuit voltage has decreased by about 17% compared to
Case 1. When two of the conductors are shorted to the shield
as in Case 3, the peak open-circuit voltage has decreased fur-
ther by about 29% compared to Case 1. It is seen that shorting
one conductor at a time to the shield is decreasing open-circuit
voltage. For all the cases, the simulations and experiments are
in agreement. The above observations are also applicable to the
braided shields in conjunction with the high-frequency source,
but reduction in the open-circuit voltages for each case then
depends on the shield-leakage properties and the frequency of
injected pulse. In the bandwidth of a few kilohertz to a few
hundreds of kilohertz (applicable to switching transients [19]
Fig. 5. (a) Experimental Case 1. At the far end, all conductors are shorted and lightning transients of first return strokes [20]), the transfer
together and left open. (b) Experimental Case 2. At the far end, two conductors
are shorted and left open and one of the conductors is shorted to the shield. impedance for most of the cable shields is largely dominated by
(c) Experimental Case 3. At far end, excepting one conductor all the other the dc resistance of the shield and the leakage effects (field pen-
conductors are shorted to the shield. The open-circuit voltage is measured etration through apertures in case of braided and leaky shields,
between the shield and open conductors.
etc.) are negligible. Also, for a given frequency and type of
It is to be noted that all the simulations were made in fre- the shield, the shield transfer impedance is equivalent to dc re-
quency domain using (5)–(10) with the armor neglected and sistance as long as the shield thickness is much smaller than
using appropriate boundary conditions. The time-domain solu- skin depth [8], [9]. The authors do acknowledge that the mea-
tions are obtained by vector fitting the frequency responses. It surements made here were with low-frequency impulse currents
can be seen that the multiconductor transmission line model and was mainly used to demonstrate the phenomena (induced
with the shield and/or the armor, as discussed in the previous voltage in the inner conductor is the product of shield current
sections, are valid even though the theory was derived for tubu- and transfer impedance or shield resistance as applicable to Case
lar shields. It should be noted that the shield current had a rise 1 in Fig. 6).

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considerably when the transients couple to the shield or when
the shield carries fault currents. An extended multiconductor
transmission line model for multiconductor conductor cable
core with multiple shields is presented for transient analysis Nelson Theethayi (S’04–M’06) was born in India in 1975. He received the
of complex cables. The Triax setup is used for measurements B.E. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of
Mysore, Mysore, India, in 1996, the M.Sc. degree in high-voltage engineering
to ascertain by how much the transfer characteristics of the from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 2001, and the Ph.D. degree
shield are affected. Connecting the unused conductor pairs in electricity from Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, in 2005.
to the shield may be useful for practical outdoor EMC and He is currently employed as a Researcher in the EMC Group with the Divi-
sion for Electricity and Lightning Research, Uppsala University. His research
lightning protection practices, such as in electrified railways, interests include electromagnetic compatibility, high-voltage engineering, elec-
communication tower complexes, etc. trical power systems, modeling and experimental investigation of lightning phe-
nomena and lightning interaction, analysis and design of lightning protection
systems for power, and railway and communication systems.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Dr. Theethayi is a member of the Technical Committee of Lightning (TC-5)
of the IEEE EMC Society, IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society,
The authors wish to thank Dr. Y. Liu of DLS Electronic and IEEE Power Engineering Society.
Systems Inc., Dr. M. Zitnik of Bombardier Transportation, and
Mr. G. Undén of Swedish Defense Material Research Agency
(FMV) for interesting discussions.
Ziya Mazloom was born in Yazd, Iran, in 1982.
He received the M.S. degree in applied physics from
REFERENCES Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, in 2005, where
he is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in
[1] L. Lagestam, “Kabelsystem-Huvud-/mellanortskabel für Banverkets te-
the Division for Electricity and Lightning Research.
lenät, Elektriska kvalitetskrav på par-och fyrskruskabel,” BVF 518.1101,
BVF 518.1002. Banverket, 2001.
[2] IEEE Guide for Design and Installation of Cable Systems in Substations,
IEEE Standard 525, 1992.
[3] Electromagnetic Environment Handbook, EMMA, Swedish Defense Ma-
terial Administration (FMV), Stockholm, Sweden, 2005.

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Rajeev Thottappillil (S’88–M’92–SM’06) was

born in India in 1958. He received the B.Sc. de-
gree in electrical engineering from the University of
Calicut, Calicut, India, in 1981, and the M.S. and
Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Uni-
versity of Florida, Gainesville, in 1989 and 1992,
He was an Associate Professor with Uppsala Uni-
versity, Uppsala, Sweden, in 1996, where he became
a Full Professor in 2000 in the Division for Electricity
and Lightning Research, Department of Engineering
Sciences. His research interests include lightning phenomenon, electromagnetic
interference, and electromagnetic field theory. He is the author of more than 100
papers in various jounals and conference proceedings, and a book chapter on
lightning electromagnetic field computation.
Prof. Thottappillil is the Chairman of the EU project COST action P18
“Physics of Lightning Flash and Its Effects,” in which groups from 23 countries
are involved. He is also a member of SC 77C of the Swedish Electrotechnical
Commission, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on high-power
transients, and the Technical Committee of Lightning (TC-5) of the IEEE EMC

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