Intermagnetics Announces $6 Million DOE Funding for HTS Device Designed to Protect Utility Grids

Intermagnetics Announces $6 Million DOE Funding for HTS Device Designed to Protect Utility Grids
08/14/2003

 

Intermagnetics Announces DOE Funding of $6 Million for Project to Develop HTS Device Designed to Protect Utility Grids

  • Nexans Joins as Initial Partner on Development Team
  • Fault Current Limiter - Based on Proprietary Technology - To Help Avert Damage to Grid from Power Surges
  • Device Scheduled to be Installed in Substation, Operate at Transmission-Level Voltage by 2006

Latham, NY - Intermagnetics General Corporation (Nasdaq: IMGC) today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will contribute half of a projected $12 million cost to develop a new high-temperature superconducting (HTS) fault current limiter that would protect utility grids from damaging surges in current. The device, a Matrix Fault Current Limiter (MFCL), will be based on proprietary technology developed by Intermagnetics’ Energy Technology subsidiary, SuperPower, Inc. SuperPower expects to receive patents on its MFCL design and plans to develop additional patentable technology during the program.

Intermagnetics also announced that Nexans, a global leader in the cable industry, has joined the development team as a strategic partner in the project and will supply its patented “melt cast” superconductors for the device, as well as share in the private-sector costs of the program.

The DOE named SuperPower to lead the project, being undertaken as part of the Energy Department’s Superconductivity Partnership Initiative (SPI) program. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit energy research consortium of utilities, previously committed $600,000 toward the MCFL project, which is scheduled for completion in 2006.

“We have begun to assemble another world-class development team for this project with the addition of Nexans,” said Glenn H. Epstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Intermagnetics. “We expect to develop several prototypes, culminating with the installation of a 138 kV HTS matrix fault current limiter in a utility transmission substation in about three years,” Epstein said. “This is our second major recent HTS demonstration project to be awarded significant government funding, which, when coupled with the contributions of emerging strategic partnerships, means we are taking a leadership role in very substantial projects while holding the direct cost to Intermagnetics at reasonable levels.”

The DOE also recently named SuperPower as the prime contractor for the $26 million Albany superconducting power cable project and further announced 50 percent funding under that SPI program. Government funding and participation by strategic partners Sumitomo Electric Industries and BOC will substantially reduce SuperPower’s direct expenditures on the cable project.

Jean-Maxime Saugrain, superconductor activity manager for Nexans said: “We have a long history of successful research and development in superconductors and believe our patented melt-cast technology will be an important component in making the MFCL a success. We believe our partnership with SuperPower represents a very logical and complementary combination of proprietary technologies that will benefit the ultimate end user.”

Jimmy Glotfelty, senior policy advisor to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, noted: “DOE's National Transmission Grid Study (May 2002) makes clear that our nation's transmission system over the next decade will fall short of the reliability standards our economy requires. An example is the growing magnitude of very large current surges due to unplanned events, such as lightning strikes, that can impact reliability. The fault current limiter is an entirely new type of grid protection against equipment damage that now occasionally results from these excessive levels of electrical current.”

Three of the premier DOE National Laboratories—Argonne, Los Alamos and Oak Ridge—also are scheduled to participate in the project. Their substantial expertise in high voltage engineering, cryogenics and analytics are expected to complement the technical skills within SuperPower and Nexans.

Philip J. Pellegrino, president of SuperPower, said the MCFL project is designed to employ Nexans’ melt cast superconductors, as opposed to the more commonly employed wires or tapes, because of the substantially greater current carrying capacity required by the MFCL.

“Nexans is the world’s leading producer of melt cast materials and will be a key contributor to our highly proprietary designs,” Pellegrino said. “We expect that those materials, when combined with our proprietary ‘matrix’ technology, will yield a fault current limiter capable of withstanding burnout risks that could occur at transmission-level currents. The MFCL employs unique technology that is expected to limit fault currents—very high surges in current caused by lightning strikes, short circuits or even contact with animals—within fractions of a second, with the capability to automatically reset and very rapidly prepare for successive surges.

“Utilities currently protect their equipment against fault currents with circuit breakers, current limiting reactors and high-impedance transformers. When delivery networks are upgraded or new generation is added, fault levels can potentially increase beyond the capabilities of the existing protective equipment, necessitating upgrades—in some cases entailing the construction of new substations or wholesale replacement of circuit breakers—which can be very expensive. The problem is more severe at transmission level voltages, 138 kV and higher, where conventional solutions cost too much or are simply not available.”

Clark Gellings, vice president of power delivery and markets for EPRI, added: “Superconductivity is an important technology for the 21st century. Superconducting fault current limiters have the potential to substantially improve system performance, reliability and safety in this era of increasing power demands and complex interactions, which would be of substantial benefit to EPRI’s members.”

Nexans is a worldwide leader in the cable industry. The Group brings an extensive range of advanced copper and optical fiber cable solutions to the infrastructure, industry and building markets. Nexans cables and cabling systems can be found in every area of people's lives, from telecommunications and energy networks, to aeronautics, aerospace, automobile, railways, building, petrochemical, medical applications, etc. With an industrial presence in 28 countries and commercial activities in 65 countries, Nexans employs 17,150 people and had sales in 2002 of euros 4.3 billion ($4.9 billion). Nexans is listed on the Paris stock exchange. More information on www.nexans.com

Intermagnetics (www.igc.com), drawing on the financial strength, operational excellence and technical leadership in its core businesses of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Instrumentation has become a prominent participant in superconducting applications for Energy Technology. The company has a more than 30-year history as a successful developer, manufacturer and marketer of superconducting materials, radio-frequency coils, magnets and devices utilizing low- and high-temperature superconductors and related cryogenic equipment. Intermagnetics derives current revenues primarily from applications within magnetic resonance imaging for medical diagnostics and cryogenic applications for vacuum and related processes. The company is at the forefront in the development of high-temperature superconductor-based applications that would provide increased capacity and reliability for transmission and distribution of electric power. Through its own research and development programs and in conjunction with industry and other partners, Intermagnetics is committed to further commercialization of applied superconductivity and cryogenic systems for a broad range of applications.

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Safe Harbor Statement: The statements contained in this press release that are not historical fact are "forward-looking statements" which involve various important assumptions, risks, uncertainties and other factors. These include, without limitation, the assumptions, risks, and uncertainties set forth here as well as in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K, including but not limited to, the company's ability to: (1) attract and maintain strategic partners for its HTS initiatives; (2) invest sufficient resources and receive additional external funding to continue its development efforts (specifically, the MFCL Project may be terminated if continued additional third party funding is not obtained); (3) attract and retain the personnel necessary to achieve its objectives; (4) attain commercial acceptance for and adoption of its products and technology; (5) meet the cost-benefit ratio that will be critical to making HTS technology commercially viable; (6) overcome the technical challenges associated with developing a new fault current limiting technology; and (7) avoid the potential adverse impact on the company of emerging patents in the highly competitive energy technology field. Except for the company's continuing obligation to disclose material information under federal securities law, the company is not obligated to update its forward-looking statements even though situations may change in the future. The company qualifies all of its forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

 

 
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