Intermagnetics' SuperPower Subsidiary, Sumitomo Electric Industries Sign Collaboration Agreement

Intermagnetics' SuperPower Subsidiary, Sumitomo Electric Industries Sign Collaboration Agreement
11/12/2002

 

  • Agreement to Focus on HTS Cable Project in Albany, NY
  • SuperPower Gains Rights to Supply Second-Generation Wire for Sumitomo's HTS Activities in North America
  • SuperPower Exceeds 2002 Milestone for HTS Material Performance

Latham, NY - Intermagnetics General Corporation’s (Nasdaq: IMGC) Energy Technology subsidiary, SuperPower, Inc., today announced that a definitive agreement has been signed with Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. (SEI) outlining the terms of a collaboration covering a previously announced high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable project in the Albany, N.Y., power grid. SuperPower also reported it exceeded its calendar year 2002 performance milestone toward its long-term goal of achieving commercial-level manufacturing of second-generation HTS wire.

“This is a groundbreaking partnership on the cable project, with a global leader in HTS cable technology,” said Philip J. Pellegrino, Intermagnetics’ sector president - Energy Technology. Speaking at Intermagnetics’ annual meeting of shareholders today, Pellegrino added: “SuperPower also will have the first right to supply second-generation wire for SEI’s HTS activities in North America.”

SEI is a major international developer and manufacturer in the fields of the electric power, electronics, telecommunications and automotive industries. It reported more than $12 billion in sales for the year ending March 31, 2002. SEI has been involved in superconductivity research and development for about 30 years, including more than 15 years in HTS R&D.

Ryosuke Hata, senior general manager, R&D Group of SEI, said: “This partnership plans to execute the world’s first-of-a-kind in-grid demonstration effort of “3-core” HTS cable technology. A 350-meter long first-generation HTS cable system will be installed and operated. After that, a 30-meter long section of the cable will be replaced by a second-generation cable. SEI has been involved in multiple HTS demonstration efforts in Japan, including a recently completed 100m, 66 kV project with Tokyo Electric Power Company installed at the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry. That successful project demonstrated one year of trouble-free operation.”

Pellegrino noted that construction of new power plants and other alternative power-generation technologies are expected to greatly increase generating capacity over the coming decade. Little is being done, however, to improve the ability to transmit and deliver that energy more reliably and efficiently. In fact, annual investments in the U.S. power grid have been declining dramatically, from a peak of about $6 billion in 1960, to a current level of less than $500 million.

“Meanwhile, the demand for electricity continues to grow at a rate of 2-3 percent annually,” Pellegrino said. “HTS devices could help ease the gridlock that has evolved in delivering power to many dense urban areas and large industrial users.”

Under terms of the collaborative agreement, initial activities will consist of SEI fabricating the cable assembly and associated refrigeration system for the project. SuperPower will coordinate overall planning and oversight, procure the first-generation HTS wire and ultimately supply the second-generation HTS wire. SuperPower and SEI will share equally in development costs of the project that are not covered by third-party funding sources.

“While the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has already agreed to provide $6 million in funding, we will aggressively seek additional contributions from other partners along with potential local, state and federal sources of funding,” Pellegrino said. “One of SuperPower’s business objectives has been to pursue all potential avenues to reduce both the technical and financial risk of the Albany cable project. This partnership is an important step that substantially addresses both issues.”

The project consists of a 350-meter long, 34.5 kV, 3-phase HTS cable to be installed in Niagara Mohawk’s distribution system in Albany. Niagara Mohawk’s parent company is National Grid, a U.K.-based company that is among the 10 largest electric utilities in the United States.
James Daley, electric reliability team leader in the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, added: “By installing the HTS cable in an underground duct, SuperPower, SEI and Niagara Mohawk will demonstrate a key attribute of HTS cables: the ability to replace a conventional copper cable in the same space it occupied, while distributing three to five times the power, a substantial benefit in any crowded urban right-of-way.”

Pellegrino said the newly defined statement of work under this partnership is expected to result in a fully energized first-generation HTS cable during 2005, followed by the insertion of a 30-meter second-generation cable segment thereafter. Total project cost is estimated at about $25 million.

“This field demonstration is an important step towards commercial reality for this technology,” Pellegrino said. “It will include splices and terminations, and we expect it to demonstrate that the refrigeration plant is capable of providing reliable, cost-effective performance.

NYSERDA President William M. Flynn added: "Sumitomo's partnership with SuperPower is yet another example of how Governor Pataki's focus on emerging high-tech industries is paying off with new investments and economic development opportunities for the Capital Region. New York's Tech Valley is fast becoming recognized as a source of innovation and development for the next generation of energy technologies and companies like SuperPower are leading the charge. I congratulate SuperPower on bringing Sumitomo to the project."

Continued Significant Gains in HTS Wire Production

Pellegrino reported that since demonstrating continuous wire processing in SuperPower’s second-generation HTS pilot manufacturing facilities in January, the performance and the length of HTS wires it has produced have improved steadily.

“SuperPower has exceeded its 2002 calendar year milestone of 100 amp-meter performance. Using continuous reel-to-reel processing in all fabrication and quality-monitoring steps, second-generation HTS wire has been produced with performance of 315 amp-meter,” Pellegrino said. “Wire with greater than 100 amp-meter performance, in lengths greater than 1 meter, is now being routinely produced.

“This demonstration of HTS wire performance in greater than meter-long lengths by scalable, cost-effective manufacturing methods in pilot manufacturing facilities is an important step in our scale-up of second-generation HTS technology to full-fledged manufacturing,” Pellegrino added.

SuperPower is collaborating with Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories in efforts to commercialize second-generation HTS manufacturing. SuperPower holds exclusive licenses in the relevant process technology with Los Alamos. SuperPower also recently announced that it has executed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This CRADA positions SuperPower to have significant technical collaboration with all the major national laboratories currently focused on HTS development.

“SuperPower’s achievements to date have demonstrated the viability of the technology,” Pellegrino said. “Our challenge now is to obtain reproducibility with increasing lengths, while maintaining absolute uniformity in materials, and to accomplish this consistent with a high-throughput, low-cost manufacturing process.

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, including Niagara Mohawk’s continued participation in the Albany Cable Project; (2) invest sufficient resources, and receive additional external funding to continue its development efforts (specifically, the Albany Cable Project may be terminated if 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 commercial viable; and (6) 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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