We use electronics in all settings, and the toughest of them all is the marine environment. Working under the deepest oceans and seas is a considerable strain for electronic machines. However, using quality subsea connectors ensures that marine machines stand the test of time.
What Are Subsea Connectors?
Today, we utilize undersea machines for many purposes such as exploration and drilling systems, ocean science and naval defense, and communication. These machines operate under very high pressures, and it is key that all parts hold up and thrive under intense under-water pressure. Subsea machines need to be connected to communicate effectively. Marine engineers know better than to use the normal cable connector seals. Instead, they utilize subsea connectors that consist of a receptacle and a plug that are resistant to corrosion, heat, and pressure.
These subsea connectors have a sealed receptacle that has a primary oil-filled chamber that reduces the chances of water intrusion. When the receptacle and the plug are mated, another oil-filled chamber protects the receptacle’s contacts from water intrusion. These chambers have individual seals so that if one leaks in the water, the connector will still operate as the engineers figure out a way to replace or repair the connector.
What Materials Make Subsea Connectors?
The strength of metal used to manufacturer subsea connectors determine the quality of subsea connectors. The metal needs to be corrosion resistant, have minimal electrical conductivity, tensile strength, and a high melting point. The three most commonly used metals include Titanium, Inconel, and 316L stainless steel. Some subsea machines operate under more extreme conditions than others, thus require stronger subsea connectors. Titanium makes the strongest connectors fit for the most intense pressure. However, 316L stainless steel is more cost-effective and also sustain deep-sea pressure. They are, therefore, more common and utilized by many subsea machines.
What Other Factors Need to Be Considered for Subsea Connectors?
Strength to Withstand Pressure
If a subsea connector is not strong enough and water penetrates its boundaries, it can lead to serious damages. First, the subsea machine may fail to operate completely, especially if the connector joined two crucial parts. This puts the life of the engineers operating the machine at risk. Additionally, it may also cause permanent damage to the machine. There is also a risk of electrocution, especially if you are operating under seawater. Electricity travels at 6,696,000 miles per hour, and seawater is more conductive.
Subsea machines are built to last longer and operate efficiently for many hours without stopping. Undersea missions may take months or years to complete. It, therefore, makes sense that all marine equipment are long-lasting and durable. This includes subsea connectors, as a dysfunctional connector will jeopardize the entire operation. It is not feasible to replace the sub connectors every year as this will drag down operations besides being very costly.
Easy Underwater Maintenance and Repair
When choosing sub connectors for their subsea equipment, engineers also consider the ease of repair and maintenance. Unlike cable seals and fiber-optic seals that are easily replaced, subsea connectors are more complicated because they have to be tighter and also replaced underwater. As such, a marine engineer will opt for a subsea connector that will be easy to replace, maintain, and repair while in the deep sea, in case of a leakage.
Sustain High Voltage and Current
Undersea machines utilize high voltage and current in their operations. Therefore, a sub connector should be capable of delivering electricity consistently, to sustain the operations of the subsea machine. When the subsea machine needs to use more voltage during certain operations, the subsea connector should have the capacity to handle more voltage.
When selecting subsea connectors, you need to consider all of the above factors and more. For more information about subsea connectors and other equipment, contact our team at PAVE Technology today.