Implementation of Copper Bonded Steel Grounding System in Australia

March 6, 2019
3:30  -  3:50 pm

Copper bonded steel ground rods that meet UL requirements have been used as the main type of ground electrode in grounding systems in telecommunications in USA and Australia for many decaded. Horizontal conductors that interconnect these ground rods traditionally have been pure copper or tinned copper conductors. Due to the cost pressures in telecommunications rollouts, the industry players in Australia turned to ERICO to come with more cost effective horizontal conductor that could replace the horizontal copper conductors, without compromising performance.  This seemed a difficult exercise at first, as legacy copper conductors is a proven conductor which provides high conductivity and corrosion resistance in a wide range on environment.

The use of horizontal conductors that are similar in construction to traditional copper bonded ground rods but are smaller in diameter and have slightly softer steel core were successfully trialed. These are now part of the standard radio site design by at least two large telecommunications carriers in Australia.

This paper looks at the field implementation of horizontal copper bonded steel conductors CBSC (8-10mm diameter) as part of the radio site grounding system in Australia. We look the challenges initially faced in the implementation and method used to overcome the challenges and turn it around to advantages. This involved using long straightened lengths of the CBSC as opposed to coiled lengths. The rigidity of the conductor allows connections to be done out of the trench and dropped in. The installers find it easier to install than ductile conductors that sag in trenches. There was significant time savings that the installers noted when compared to more ductile conductors.

The purpose of this paper is to share this case study and let the industry benefit from this (almost accidental) evolution of ground rods into horizontal grounding conductors.