24 April 2007

Superconducting Electric Motors Half the Size and Weight of Ordinary Motors

Motors over 1,000 hp utilize approximately 25 percent of all electric power generated in the United States. The Department of Energy estimates that the lower electrical losses of HTS motors could save U.S. industry billions of dollars per year in electrical operating costs.

....American Superconductor's prototype 5,000-hp HTS motor is about the size of a household refrigerator. It is as little as half the size and weight of a conventional 5,000-hp motor. Its net electrical losses, including losses associated with cryogenic cooling of the HTS wires, are up to half the electrical losses of a conventional motor.

The most significant energy losses in motors come from resistive heating in the windings, so superconducting motors with almost no electrical resistance in the windings could realize important efficiency gains. To be able to build such motors required significant advances in the design, fabrication, and winding of HTS wires in geometries required for motor winding.

In addition to industrial motors, the new technology would be useful in generators, transmission cables, and superconducting magnetic energy storage systems. It also has potential applications in x-ray lithography, ion implantation, medical cyclotrons, magnetically levitated trains, magneto-hydrodynamic ship propulsion systems, and magnetic separation for materials processing and ore recovery. Indeed, opportunities abound for reducing electric energy use via applications of the ATP-funded technology.

Advances in superconducting materials over the past two decades allows superconducting wire to be cooled by inexpensive liquid nitrogen, rather than the much more expensive and difficult to contain liquid helium. The goal, of course, is the development of room temperature and higher superconductors that retain superconductivity under high magnetic flux.

South Korean company Doosan is currently working on a 1300 HP motor using AMSC's HTS wire.

The motor produced by Doosan and KERI utilizes approximately 5,000 meters of AMSC's HTS wire and is capable of generating 1,300 horsepower at 3,600 revolutions per minute. The system is significantly smaller, lighter, quieter and more efficient than the traditional motors sold today of the same power rating, which are made with copper coils.

Work on this motor program began in 2004 with the help of government research and development funding. Doosan plans to begin production of motors for the military and commercial markets in the 2010-2011 timeframe. AMSC estimates that the annual worldwide market for industrial motors with ratings of 1,000 horsepower or higher is over $1 billion.

Beyond better efficiencies and size/weight improvements in motors and generators, high temperature electric cable has the potential to rejuvenate the entire urban landscape.

Hat tip advanced nano blog.


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