Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jeffrey S. Marshall


Cable ampacity analysis is generally performed assuming constant worst-state environmental conditions, which often correspond to a dry soil condition or to a condition with uniform ambient soil moisture content. The characteristic time scale of thermal variation in the soil is large, on the order of several weeks, and is similar to the time scale between rainfall events in many geographic locations. Intermittent rainfall events introduce significant transient fluctuations that influence the thermal conditions and moisture content around a buried cable both by increasing thermal conductivity of the soil and by increasing the moisture exposure of the cable insulation. This paper reports on a computational study of the effect of rainfall events on the thermal and moisture transients surrounding a buried cable. The computations were performed with a finite-difference method using an overset grid approach, with an inner polar grid surrounding the cable and an outer Cartesian grid. The thermal and moisture transients observed in computations with periodic rainfall events were compared to control computations with a steady uniform rainfall. Under periodic rainfall conditions, the temperature and moisture fields are observed to approach a limit-cycle condition in which the cable surface temperature and moisture content oscillate in time, but with mean values that are significantly different than the steady-state values.



Number of Pages

84 p.