A new, lightweight, high-performance conductor reinforced with an aluminum matrix composite wire developed for overhead power cables should increase transmission capacity, reduce costs, and meet environmental goals. The composite conductor, a joint endeavor of 3M and Electricite de France (EDF), will span three development phases over four years. The composite wire, reinforced with 3M's patented Nextel ceramic fibers, has the potential to provide two to three times the strength-to-weight ratio of comparable steel wire, according to 3M's Warren E. Vollmar. He anticipates the wire will have four times the electrical conductivity and less than half the thermal expansion of its steel counterpart. "These conductors are being developed for use in reconductoring applications to increase ampacity by an anticipated 40 to 100%," Vollmar adds. Both 3M and EDF will fund its own development activities. FAX (612) 736-7149.