SuperPower celebrates 10 year milestone in development and scale-up of 2G HTS wire and device demonstrations

SuperPower celebrates 10 year milestone in development and scale-up of second-generation high-temperature superconducting wire and device demonstrations

  • March 2010 marks 10-year anniversary of the company’s founding with the mission to commercialize second-generation high-temperature superconductor wire for energy technology applications
  • Successes noted in wire production, performance achievements, and commercialization
  • Expansion of mission to include applications in industry, healthcare, science and research, aerospace and other areas increase significance of the technology
  • Challenges remain to ensure broad acceptance of the technology

 

March 15, 2010 - Schenectady, N.Y. – SuperPower, Inc. celebrated its 10-year anniversary today with the opening of a new exhibit on superconductivity at the Schenectady Museum and Suits-Bueche Planetarium in Schenectady, New York. The exhibition details the company’s accomplishments that include successful scale-up of second-generation (2G) high-temperature superconductor (HTS) wire production at SuperPower’s manufacturing facility in Schenectady, the world’s first in-grid demonstration of 2G HTS wire at the Albany HTS Cable Project, development work in the superconducting fault current limiter (SFCL) device that improves power quality and grid reliability, achievement of world-record magnetic field strengths in magnet coils, and ongoing efforts to demonstrate the technology in other fields.

Keynote speaker at the event, New York Congressman Paul D. Tonko said, “As our nation works to address the shortcomings of our utility infrastructure, the efforts underway at companies such as SuperPower are critical to providing new and improved methods of generating, transmitting and distributing the power we need to meet our daily needs at home, work and play. It is gratifying to see the world leadership position SuperPower has attained over the past ten years through its impressive progress in developing the technology and in partnering with others to incorporate this highly-efficient superconducting wire into utility devices that provide significant new benefits. Federal and state support of SuperPower’s work have enabled this success and we recognize that, with a period of continued support over the next few years, we can ensure U.S. leadership in the adoption and commercialization of the technology as well.”

Detailing some of SuperPower’s achievements, Arthur P. Kazanjian, general manager at SuperPower stated, “We formed the partnerships with industry leaders that led to the world’s first in-grid demonstration of a superconducting cable in the National Grid power system in Albany, New York. We completed important work in the development of the superconducting fault current limiter. We have produced magnet coils that have achieved the highest magnetic field strengths to date and show the promise to move even higher. Our early work with Waukesha Electric Systems on the HTS transformer is now leading to the development of a fault current limiting superconducting transformer. All of this is the result of partnering with world-leading organizations, aided by support from the federal and state governments, together with the visionary support of our original parent, Intermagnetics General Corporation, and continued today by Philips.”

The initial development work in the 2G HTS wire program at SuperPower was led by then Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam. With important intellectual property licensed from Lucent Technologies and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the first short segments of the 2G HTS wire were produced at SuperPower in early research-scale equipment. Selvamanickam, now chief technology advisor at SuperPower, and M.D. Anderson Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston comments that “the early group of scientists, engineers and technicians at SuperPower forged ahead fueled by a passion to succeed in scaling up this promising technology. Our progress has been consistent and impressive. We now produce the world’s highest-performance wire with the best properties suitable for a wide range of applications. Our achievements have been supported by collaborations with the Department of Energy national laboratories, Department of Defense research laboratories, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), universities and other partners. We’re quite proud of the work we have done in the past decade and look forward to continuing the mission to see broad-scale adoption of 2G HTS technology around the world.”

“We are pleased to take the opportunity to reflect on the many important accomplishments of the team at SuperPower over the past ten years,” said Gerard van Spaendonck, senior vice president and chief financial officer, Imaging Systems, Philips Healthcare. “Important advancements in energy efficiency, power quality and reliability are being made possible through the world-leading high temperature superconducting wire that SuperPower has developed and is now providing to organizations around the world on a commercial basis. This is, indeed, a reason to celebrate.”

Speaking on the impact that SuperPower has had on the local economy, Schenectady Mayor, Brian U. Stratton, added, “SuperPower has played an important role in the economic revival of Schenectady, the city that has now become known as the home of the world’s best 2G HTS wire. We look forward to seeing the continued progress and success of this dynamic company during its next ten years.”

The electric power industry is a principal application area for high temperature superconductors with benefits that include improved efficiency in power transmission and distribution brought about by a 60-70% reduction in resistive power losses, reduction of carbon footprint, very high power transmission capability at reduced voltages, reduction of device size and weight, and improved aesthetics.

Commenting on the application of superconductors for the electric power industry, Steve Eckroad, program manager underground transmission at EPRI, said, "Superconducting power delivery equipment for the electric utility industry utilizes many commercially available components and processes. An exception is the superconducting wire itself, which is under commercial development by several manufacturers worldwide. High performance wire is critical to the eventual deployment of superconducting cables and fault current limiters."

HTS offers enormous benefits to other application areas as well and SuperPower has partnered with world-leading organizations to demonstrate these benefits. According to David Larbalestier, Director of the Applied Superconductivity Center and Chief Materials Scientist at the Applied Superconductivity Center of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, “Historically the principal applications of superconductors have been for the generation of high magnetic fields. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), the giant particle accelerators at Fermilab, Hamburg and Geneva, and tens of thousands of laboratory magnets are all examples of this use.” Larbalestier continued, “One of the most exciting and transformational aspects of 2G HTS conductors is that they simultaneously do two things – first they remove the hard limit of about 24 Tesla that any existing superconductor permits, at least doubling the field, and second they allow generation of fields up to 10 T at temperatures up to at least 55 K, thus finally freeing superconducting magnets from the liquid helium domain. At the National Magnet Lab, we have already shown, in collaboration with SuperPower, how to raise the capability of superconductors to almost 34 Tesla, almost 50% higher than ever before. More broadly 2G HTS superconducts to 5 times the temperature of the best Niobium-based low temperature conductor, enabling a much simpler refrigerator-based magnet technology.”

This superior performance in high magnetic fields, along with the wire’s light weight and high current density, has important implications in the aerospace industry as well. Franklin R. Chang Diaz, president and chief executive officer of Ad Astra Rocket Company in Houston, Texas, commented on the value of SuperPower’s wire for its space propulsion rocket program, “SuperPower's 2G HTS wire is a critical ingredient in the successful development of Ad Astra's VASIMR engine. We are excited about our partnership with such a visionary and dynamic company and we look forward to traveling with them, side by side, down the road of innovation. We congratulate SuperPower on their development of this enabling technology and are honored to be a part in the celebration of their 10th anniversary.”

Kazanjian concluded, “we have come a long way since March 2000 and look forward to the next few years, in which we expect to further improve our wire manufacturing processes and performance attributes and achieve the cost targets that will bring the product pricing to the levels required for broad-scale adoption of the technology. We thank our supporters, our partners, our customers and, especially, our dedicated employees for helping to bring us to this special occasion. We hope we can count on your continued support as we carry on the mission.”

In attendance at the event were SuperPower’s staff, along with customers, partners, supporters, vendors, community and government leaders. The new exhibition at the Schenectady Museum will be open for public viewing through 2010.

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

About SuperPower
SuperPower, Inc. a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI), was formed in March 2000 to develop and commercialize high temperature superconductor (HTS) technology for applications that benefit from high energy density, high magnetic fields and green attributes, including energy, medical, transportation, research and other sectors. To learn more, visit www.superpower-inc.com.

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