Intermagnetics Receives Rights to Innovative LANL Technology

Intermagnetics Receives Rights to Innovative LANL Technology
03/13/2000

 

Intermagnetics Receives Rights to Innovative Technology to Manufacture World's Most Advanced Superconductors

  • Process Developed by Government Laboratories Seen As Key To Commercializing High-Temperature Superconductors

LATHAM, NY — Intermagnetics General Corporation (AMEX: IMG) today announced that it has signed an agreement with two government laboratories to develop manufacturing facilities for the world’s most advanced high-temperature superconductors (HTS). Intermagnetics and government officials believe the new superconductors will achieve the price-performance levels needed to make superconducting power devices such as transformers, cables, motors, generators and fault current controllers commercially viable.

Under the five-year agreement, Los Alamos National Laboratory has granted Intermagnetics exclusive access to the technology it has developed to efficiently manufacture HTS coated-conductor tape. Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories will assist Intermagnetics in scaling up the process to commercial manufacturing levels. Intermagnetics also has first rights to negotiate an exclusive licensing agreement for the process.

“We are convinced that this is the technology that we and many electric utilities have been waiting for that will lead to commercial production of HTS devices, which are far more energy efficient and reliable than traditional copper-based equipment,” said Glenn H. Epstein, president and chief executive officer of Intermagnetics. “Our mission now is to turn this from promise to reality. At the same time, we will leapfrog the competition in moving toward the commercialization of HTS materials and devices.

“While we will continue to manufacture the bismuth-based HTS materials currently in use, we no longer consider this of strategic importance to Intermagnetics,” Epstein added.

The new HTS coated-conductor process consists of depositing superconducting compounds on a nickel alloy base instead of utilizing the more expensive silver alloy needed for bismuth-based tape, which is made using a labor-intensive powder-in-tube process. Intermagnetics’ challenge is to develop manufacturing facilities to scale-up and speed the process, permit even thicker layers of superconductor, coat both sides of the alloy base and produce tape up to 100 meters in length. Los Alamos will assess electrical characterization of the coatings to verify capabilities and Argonne will assess their micro-structural qualities.

“We believe we are uniquely positioned to further refine this technology,” Epstein said. “Not only are we a global leader in HTS research and development, we also have nearly 30 years of experience in designing and developing magnetic devices that utilize low-temperature superconducting (LTS) and HTS materials and the cryogenic refrigeration systems that enable superconducting materials to transmit electricity with virtually no resistance.”

Epstein estimated it would take at least two years to develop a manufacturing process that can turn out HTS coated-conductor tape at a cost-performance threshold that is competitive. Intermagnetics is bearing about half of the estimated $2.5 million development cost and the laboratories are sharing the other half. Current bismuth-based material, despite nearly 10 years of research and development and significant advances, remains approximately 100 times more costly than required for wide-spread commercial use.

Superconductivity, a state characterized by the absence of electrical resistance, previously had required cooling to ‘low’ temperatures near absolute zero—approximately minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit—requiring the use of expensive liquid helium coolant and exotic insulation systems to prevent heat leakage into a device. The only commercial applications of low temperature superconductivity have been for magnets used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers and other specialized laboratory systems.

High-temperature superconductivity, discovered in the mid 1980s, provides the same characteristics at much higher relative operating temperatures (about minus 322 degrees Fahrenheit, or about the temperature of liquid nitrogen), dramatically reducing the complexity and operating cost while improving efficiency. Studies have shown that the electric utility industry would save billions of dollars in energy costs by implementing HTS.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy, and Argonne National Laboratory is operated by the University of Chicago for DOE. The DOE Superconductivity Centers at both of these institutions receive support from the DOE Superconductivity Program Office of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Intermagnetics is a leading developer and manufacturer of superconducting materials, radio-frequency coils, magnets and devices utilizing low (LTS) and high (HTS) temperature wire, cable and tape, and related refrigeration equipment. The company’s current revenues are derived primarily from applications within magnetic resonance imaging for medical diagnostics and cryogenic vacuum and related processes. Through its own research and development programs and in conjunction with industry partners, Intermagnetics is committed to further commercialization of applied superconductivity and refrigeration systems. The company also distributes proprietary refrigerants and other products for use in industrial cooling applications.

                                              ###

SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT:
The statements contained in this press release which are not historical fact are "forward-looking statements" that 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 ability of the company and its partners to successfully commercialize and gain market acceptance of HTS products, the company's ability to license certain key technology for the manufacture of HTS tape/wire, the potential adverse impact on the company of emerging patents in this highly competitive field, and the company’s ability to invest sufficient resources to bring HTS products to market.

Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.
SuperPower Inc. is subsidiary
of Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.
Home | About Us | Partners & Links | Technology | Products | News & Events | Technical Documents | Careers | Contact Us | Search Our Site
SuperPower Inc. 450 Duane Ave. Schenectady, NY 12304 USA | Tel: (518) 346-1414 Fax: (518) 346-6080
SuperPower® is a Registered Trademark of SuperPower Inc. | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions of Use