Superconductors carry electricity without resistance

New material, highlighted at IEEE conference, carries 100 times the current of copper.

Dallas, August 16, 2010—New second-generation superconducting materials can now carry as much as 100 times the current of ordinary conductors such as copper. Furthermore, these superconductors carry electricity without resistance, so there are no losses during transport.

These dramatic advances in electricity transmission will be a main attraction next month when the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) unveils its world energy conference, styled Innovative Technologies for an Efficient and Reliable Electricity Supply, at a hotel in Boston September 27 - 29. The public is welcome to attend by registering at the website.

Keen attention will focus on an exhibit and presentation by SuperPower located in Schenectady, N.Y. "The main focus of our work is on the development and manufacture of second-generation high-temperature superconducting wire (HTS)," said Trudy Lehner, senior director. "Benefits include greatly reduced power losses, elimination of pollution and fire hazards, easier siting ... due to the improved energy density they can be sited in locations that are not possible now."

Of course wire is the enabling component for a wide variety of devices in the energy and alternative energy area: underground ac and dc power cables, power transformers, fault current limiters, superconducting magnetic energy storage devices, wind turbine generators, etc.

In addition to improved reliability and quality of power, HTS devices are smaller and lighter than conventional devices, reducing the amount of space required in substations. The size and weight benefit also addresses important requirements for wind turbine generators and increased operational flexibility for the utility grid.

Art Kazanjian, general manager of SuperPower, joined Lehner as they gave a preview on what the firm will be presenting at the conference in comments by phone from their office on the ScienceNews Radio Network program, the Promise of Tomorrow with Colonel Mason. The broadcast originated in Dallas, Texas, and can now be heard archived at the website for a world audience.

"We partner with other organizations to demonstrate the technology by designing, building and installing prototype devices," Lehner told their radio audience, "for example the Albany HTS Cable Project, a demonstration of that technology in a 350 meter long second-generation HTS cable that was installed on the National Grid system in Albany, N.Y. Partners were Sumitomo Electric Industries and Linde, in addition to National Grid. Funding was from the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority."

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