Technology has indeed made the world a smaller place! We can now communicate with our loved ones millions of miles away with a click of a button. Business transactions can now be done in seconds and huge chunks of money can make its way from one part of the world to the other in no time at all. Wires and cables form an integral part of this process whether it is in telecommunication or information transmission systems, or signaling in railways, or power transmission. Wires and cables used in these technological applications often fall prey to vicious attacks by rodents, animals and insects.
It is said that “Curiosity kills the cat”. It surely isn’t applicable in case of rats though. Rats have time and again outsmarted cats as we have witnessed in a very popular cartoon series. Curiosity and inquisitiveness are some of the prime characteristics of rats. But these characteristics can have manifold ghastly effects on the working of our wires and cables. Unbelievable, right? Let me elaborate.
Rodents are often branded as scavengers. These are the creatures that figure at the very bottom of the food chain, and which are almost excluded from the food web. So why is this apparently lowly creature so important to us? There are many aspects of these creatures that can pose as problem for us and a threat to our wires and cables. Let us see why:
The numbers are interesting; forty percent of mammal species found on earth are rodents. Apart from the usual rats that we know of, these also include our very own cute squirrels and other creatures like gerbils, voles, marmots, etc. Their sheer number is astounding! It seems there finally might be some truth to the age old adage “You are never more than 6 feet away from a rat”! They are everywhere!
But why should we be scared? Here is why; rodents are characterized by a pair of ever growing incisors, which need to be kept trimmed. Rodents achieve this by chewing and gnawing at everything around us. This puts our precious wires and cables at risk. Rodents practically gnaw at everything they can get their hands on. Rodents are attracted to the smell and color of plasticizers. Thus even though a wire or a cable may not be a perfect meal for you but try telling that to a rodent!
Rodent menace is experienced by people from all walks of life. These rodents do not differentiate between generations, rich or poor, disparity in people, races, gender etc. They affect large sections of society and do damage in millions. The telecomm industry is one of the fastest growing industries of modern times with a predicted growth rate of 5.3% as stated by The 2012 Telecommunications Industry Review. Telecommunication sector, which is said to be the backbone of the business world, has been plagued with rodent problems.
Rodents chewing on wires and cables can have disastrous effects! Power outages, network shutdowns are caused by squirrels gnawing on the power cables or animals biting parts of the cable.
The great BlackBerry blackout in 2011 in Scotland was blamed on rodents as they chewed through fiber optic cables laid down by Virgin Broadband putting broadband, phone and cable TV services in a tizzy. In a similar incident in 2012, it was reported that colonies of rats were sinking their teeth into the $36 billion National Broadband Network in Australia.
And unfortunately enough telecomm industry isn’t the only one to suffer; automobile industry is also susceptible to rodent damage to a very great extent. Rodents can creep into car bonnets and chew through a great deal of car wiring, putting the owner’s life at risk. Rodents’ obsession with wires continues even in potentially dangerous places such as an unstable nuclear reactor. In the year 2013, there were reports of rodents propelling an already unstable nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan towards further instability. Rats reportedly gnawed through a switchboard resulting in the cooling of fuel rods being suspended for 29 hours. To complicate things further, the operators were forced to halt the cooling of a spent fuel pool in order to remove two dead rats. It was the third time in five weeks that critical cooling equipment had been forced to go off line at the plant in northeast Japan due to rodents.
What is more dangerous is that cables gnawed at by rodents are extremely vulnerable to attack by other insects and pests like termites and ants. Insects like termites and ants, though small in size are extremely vicious. There exist over 1 million known insect species in the world some with highly dynamic reproductive systems such as the Odontotermes obesus, a type of termite which lays 1 egg per second!!! They secrete a very potent chemical called formic acid which can dissolve even hard plastic like HDPE and nylon used in cable sheathing and insulation. In March 2013, termites were found to be the sole cause of miles wide power outage extending upto several hours in Taiwan. On investigation it was found that termites residing underground had attacked the power cables and damaged them.
The need to address these problems is evident from the various practices adopted such as the use of PA12, glass rovings or fiber reinforced plastics, all of which have limitations with no significant impact on minimizing the damage.
That there is significant damage has made the industry stand up and take notice. It is time we find a permanent long lasting and highly effective solution to this persistent and incessant problem. Rodrepel™, Termirepel™ and Combirepel™-the range of non toxic and non hazardous anti rodent and anti termite/insect additive masterbatches, developed by C Tech Corporation, India have been evaluated in various applications. These products are compliant with RoHS, RoHS2, and REACH and are FIFRA exempted. Unlike conventional pesticides, they are designed by a unique manufacturing process which provides high temperature stability of up to 400°C (752 °F) and even beyond. Thus these products can be extruded on any extruder at elevated temperatures making them ideal masterbatches suited for polymeric applications. These products have a long life action and have been designed for polymers.
These products act through a series of highly developed intricate mechanisms ensuring that insects and rodents are kept away from the target application. It can be used for successfully deterring rodents, animals as well as insects from the application.
Combirepel™ is also aptly equipped for dealing with even the most aggressive species of insects like fire ants, crazy ants, termites, etc. keeping them at bay from our wires and cables.
Combirepel™ is environmentally friendly implying that it does not leach out of the polymer matrix besides exercising their basic function of keeping the target species away. These products are effective in low dosages, have low vapor pressure-thus posing no problems of fumes in the air, and they have a long life action of 5-40 years depending upon the application. These products are available in the form of polymeric masterbatches compatible with all the kinds of thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers. The masterbatches can also be customized depending upon the target, application, and region.