iX challenge: Recycled Aluminium Conductor Cable

An InnovateUK KTN Innovation Exchange client is seeking innovative approaches to rapidly recycling and reusing aluminium alloy cables as a high voltage conductor.

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An InnovateUK KTN Innovation Exchange client is seeking innovative approaches to rapidly recycling and reusing aluminium alloy cables as a high voltage conductor, which can offer the same electrical performance as industry-standard type registered conductor. The client maintains large grids in the UK and is looking to remove cables from above ground and transform them into cables that either meet the requirements for buried cables or provide a route for recycling them back into new cables that can be buried. The winning business(es) in this Innovation Exchange competition will be given an opportunity to present their solutions to the client, with the potential of a commercial opportunity to deliver their solution.


Most high voltage conductors are manufactured from high-grade Aluminium alloys. Once the cables reach end of life or change of use, the cable material becomes available for recycling into other products/cables. The cables may come in a form already suitable for recycling or may need materials stripped or removed from the outside, such as casings and coatings to expose the Aluminium within. At present the cables are often recycled into general aluminium material, these cables are high value and it would be extremely advantageous if they could be reused.

The Innovation Exchange is supporting a client to identify innovative solutions to the challenge of using the recovered aluminium alloys and re-manufacturing them into new cables or other high-value conductive products. The materials that are recovered may have come from overhead exposed cables and could come in different sizes and lengths. Typical cable sizes can be up to 900m.

The client is now looking for a supplier who can take, strip and process the cable with the ability to identify what can be reused and what needs to be reduced to saleable scrap for onward processing. The Client is looking for a potential UK supplier to offer solutions for how they could best manage the used cables to the benefit of the client and must also show consideration for how they could be re-processed into usable cables.

By taking material from a known & documented source, our client would like to see the material processed into a new conductor with the correct certification and type registration documentation allowing it to be reused in a new regulated installation. The approach to this could be from a consortium of companies who are looking to work on their part of the process from reducing the used materials to manufacturing the new cables ready for spinning and encasement. The ideal opportunity is to take the cables and encase them in insulation ready for burial as a new conductor.

The cables would come to the innovator for them to assess, with the expectation that the innovator has process capabilities that would be able to split out the casing materials to allow the clean aluminium to be processed and turned into new wire. It would be expected that innovators can identify the composition of the casing materials and, additionally identify a safe route to either adding a casing insulator or repurposing them would be desirable.

Rewards and benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the client.

The package may also include:

  • Support from InnovateUK KTN and introductions to relevant Catapults or potential collaborations and any applicable funding streams.
  • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot.
  • Technical support or discussions from the client.
  • A place in InnovateUK KTN or Catapult events
  • A potential for a long term business arrangement
  • A regular supply of material for reprocessing into new cable
  • Support if needed in addressing documentation issues and support any necessary implementation of management systems.

Cost Requirement & Market Opportunity

< £6,000/km (complete cost i.e. ready to go)

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base to commercialise the solution

Related programme

Innovation Exchange

Innovation Exchange

Innovate UK KTN’s Innovation Exchange is a cross-sector programme supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this by putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.


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