News

August 21, 2009

SuperPower Reports Latest Achievements At 2009 U.S. Department Of Energy Peer Review

By: by Traute Lehner, SuperPower

Source:

  •  World record 27.4 Tesla magnetic field achieved in insert coils, 10.4 Tesla in self field
  • World record wire performance is retained with new achievement of 300,330 amp-meters
  • SuperPower restructures organization to concentrate emphasis on technology development in Houston and manufacturing in Schenectady
  • Superconducting Fault Current Limiter focus is on assembly and testing of device modules

August 18, 2009 - Schenectady, N.Y. - SuperPower, Inc. recently reported a number of new milestone achievements and world-record performances at the 2009 U. S. Department of Energy (DoE) Annual Peer Review of Superconductivity for Electric Systems held in Alexandria, Virginia from August 4-6, 2009. SuperPower Chief Technology Advisor, Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam, along with John Dackow, director of operations, and Dr. Yi-Yuan Xie, director of product engineering, communicated a number of significant new achievements in product performance, length, production improvements and enhanced product configurations. These milestones are strongly tied to the DoE mission, which encourages development of second-generation high temperature superconducting (2G HTS) wires that meet all the necessary requirements of systems that are being constructed to modernize the electric power grid and enhance the reliability and security of the nation's energy infrastructure.

Significant advances in product performance and wire length
Dackow reported a new world record wire performance achievement that maintains SuperPower's leading position in the area of 2G HTS wire. "SuperPower is pleased to report that it has once again broken its own world record performance with the production of a wire 1,065 meters in length that carries a minimum current of 282 amperes. This has resulted in a new record-high wire performance of 300,330 amp-meters," said Dackow. The previous world record, reported at the August 2008 Applied Superconductivity Conference in Chicago was for a 1,030 meter long wire that carried 227 amperes, resulting in the 233,810 amp-meter record.

SuperPower reorganizes technology development and manufacturing organizations
"To continue to achieve ambitious technology performance goals and to meet the demands of customers, SuperPower has spent the past 12 months restructuring its organization to place a strong, concentrated emphasis on both technology development and manufacturing." Arthur P. Kazanjian, general manager at SuperPower said, "Until last year SuperPower's technology development and manufacturing operations were integrated in Schenectady with long length, high throughput and yield issues being managed by the technology group. We recognized that our rapidly growing customer orders needed a routine manufacturing operation directed by manufacturing engineers. Likewise, the strong advances needed in technology for high performance wires, highly efficient processes and advanced wire architectures remained critical for the commercialization of 2G wire."

Kazanjian continued, "With the move of Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam to the faculty at the University of Houston as the M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering, we have consolidated SuperPower's technology development operations in Houston, thus enabling our total focus on manufacturing in Schenectady under the leadership of John Dackow."

SuperPower executed a research agreement with the University of Houston in December 2008 to jointly develop with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston (TcSUH) the next level of performance improvements, high efficiency processes, and advanced wire architectures. As of February 2009 full technology development operations have resumed under the direction of Dr. Selvamanickam in his roles as principal investigator at TcSUH in the research collaboration, as well as the chief technology advisor for SuperPower.

The Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston recently created an Applied Research Hub to enhance industrial collaboration, with SuperPower as its first member. "We are very pleased to have SuperPower participate as one of the early collaborators with the Hub," said Allan J. Jacobson, TcSUH director and the Robert A. Welch Chair in Science at University of Houston. "TcSUH has excellent facilities for processing and characterization of coated conductors that we expect to be very beneficial for the superconductor industry in general."

Technological improvements yield important benefits
A number of technological advancements were accomplished since February 2009, the most important one being consistent demonstration of wires with a two and one-half times improved in-field performance with high uniformity.

Selvamanickam noted that, "Based on the research at Houston involving TcSUH and SuperPower scientists, with support from Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories, an optimum process recipe was developed to fabricate wires with improved in-field performance. This process was then successfully transitioned from Houston to Schenectady to enable the manufacture of wire in lengths of several hundred meters."

Selvamanickam further reported that "Over a wire length of 300 m, 28 percent retention in critical current was achieved in a field of 1 Tesla (T) at 77 Kelvin (K) which is two and a half times better than that of standard wires. Additionally, this level of performance was found to be uniform within three percent over long wire lengths. This achievement enabled SuperPower to demonstrate coils which generated a magnetic field of 2.5 T at 65 K, exceeding the FY09 Annual Performance Target of 2 T established by the DoE in the effort to maintain progress in achieving increasingly powerful coils for electric power applications such as transformers and motors."

Further technology developments reported by SuperPower at the Peer Review included high-efficiency processes and new wire architectures to meet customer requirements.

  • Substrate planarization - a process to eliminate the need to electropolish the substrate material as the first step in the wire manufacturing, allowing for a doubling of the throughput in the buffer process. In collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, a system for planarization of long substrates was established at SuperPower and good performance has been achieved in early wires
  • Reduction of silver content by two-thirds - use of a modified chemistry for electrodeposition of silver in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, reducing the silver to 0.5 micron thickness; thus reducing materials cost and increasing the processing throughput
• Multifunctional stabilizer - demonstration of aluminum stabilizer to provide a lightweight, lower resistivity option for selected applications

 

New world records achieved in high field insert coils
In the area of magnetics and coil fabrication, Selvamanickam announced the achievement of a world-record 10.4 T in a new magnet coil constructed of standard production SuperPower® 2G HTS wire when cooled with liquid helium to 4.2 K and tested in self field. This same coil, when tested at 4.2 K in a background magnetic field of 19.89 T, a typical procedure used to further boost the magnetic field strength, achieved 27.4 T, another record achievement at SuperPower. At 77 K, cooled with liquid nitrogen, the coil achieved a record 1.38 T and, when cooled to 65 K it produced 4.6 T in a background field of 3 T. The low temperature, high magnetic field testing was completed at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, using their unique 20 T Bitter magnet.

"We are now confident that this conductor technology can be used to construct an all-superconducting magnet with fields in excess of 30 T," said David Larbalestier, chief materials scientist at the magnet lab and director of the Applied Superconductivity Center at the Florida State University. "This is a huge gain over niobium-based superconducting magnets that are only operational to 23.5 T."

An additional magnet coil was fabricated in 2009 with SuperPower's so-called "high field" wire which is produced with specialized superconducting materials that enhance the nano-scale "pinning" effects of the wire. This new coil, when cooled with liquid nitrogen to 77 K, achieved 1.09 T. When cooled to 65 K the performance improved even further to 2.5 T in zero background field.

Drew W. Hazelton, principal engineer for HTS applications at SuperPower said, "These new world record achievements are an important indicator of the value provided by SuperPower's superior performance wire in the area of high field magnetics that includes applications such as fusion magnets, accelerator magnets, high field solenoid magnets and other research-scale magnets.

Additional progress made in the Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL) program
Reporting on the progress of the Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL) program that continues at SuperPower, Dr. Juan-Carlos Llambes, senior high voltage engineer at SuperPower, said: "Although SuperPower has scaled back its efforts in the development of a superconducting fault current limiter to focus solely on the core technology 2G HTS-based device modules, we are pleased to report that during the past year we have been able to optimize the configuration to a more compact module design and have determined that it is scaleable to both distribution and transmission levels with the number of modules used to be based on the voltage and current requirements of the specific applications. "

The newly designed modules were assembled at SuperPower and tested at the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) at Florida State University (FSU). Dr. Michael Steurer, associate scholar scientist and leader of the power systems research group at FSU-CAPS, said, "We successfully tested SuperPower's modules utilizing our newly developed power-hardware-in-the-loop simulation method. We interfaced the modules to a simulated test environment using our multi-megawatt power amplifier and, within a few days, subjected the modules to a wide variety of test conditions as defined by Dr. Llambes. These tests were specifically designed to improve the fundamental understanding of SuperPower's unique approach for providing recovery under load of the superconductors with their fault current limiters."

According to Kazanjian, "It is SuperPower's intention to provide these device modules to systems integrators for use in full-scale superconducting fault current limiter systems on both a transmission and distribution level."

SuperPower continues steady progress in key areas
Kazanjian commented, "Along with the unmatched progress we have made in wire performance over the past year, our market penetration has moved ahead as well. We have built a good base of customers around the world and regularly produce and ship wire for application to devices in the areas of energy, alternative energy, transportation, healthcare, military, science and research. We are proud to be making progress on the three fronts of technology development, manufacturing and marketing and believe that this excellence is what will keep us at the forefront in the implementation of this revolutionary technology."

Commenting on the significant number of achievements presented by SuperPower at the 2009 DoE Peer Review, Gérard van Spaendonck, senior vice president and chief financial officer, Imaging Systems for Philips Healthcare, said, "This level of breakthrough accomplishments reaffirms the mission of SuperPower to realize the value of this important technology for the many fields of application it can address."

Further detail about these presentations are available on the SuperPower website at https://admin.webdirectcms.com/content/technical-documents

Contact:
Traute F. Lehner, SuperPower
Tel: (518) 346-1414 ext. 3070
E-mail: tlehner@superpower-inc.com

About SuperPower
SuperPower, Inc. is a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI), following Philips' November 2006 acquisition of Intermagnetics General Corporation. SuperPower was formed in March 2000 to provide a strong focus for the development and commercialization of HTS technology for technologies that benefit from high energy density, high magnetic fields and environmental benefits, including energy, medical, transportation, research and other sectors. To learn more, visit http://www.superpower-inc.com/.