SuperPower Achieves Top Ranking From DOE Peer Review Panel for 2G HTS Wire Program

SuperPower Achieves Top Ranking From DOE Peer Review Panel for 2G HTS Wire Program


  • Panel Cites 'World-Class Project' and 'Focused, Goal-Oriented Effort'

Schenectady, NY - SuperPower Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation, has been recognized in a federally sanctioned review as having the top ranked program over the past year for advancing second-generation high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wire technology. SuperPower was one of 14 industry and national laboratory participants in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2003 peer review event. HTS wire is being developed as a higher capacity replacement for copper wire currently being used in devices such as transmission and distribution cables, transformers, motors and generators. HTS wires have as much as 100 times the current carrying capacity as ordinary conductors.

Philip Pellegrino, president of SuperPower, stated: “It was a special honor to be so distinguished in view of the intense competition and deserving programs at this year’s peer review. The Department of Energy is the major sponsor of HTS programs in this country and, as such, all participants in the program showcase their very best at the annual review.” Pellegrino added, “The strength of our second-generation HTS wire program is that we have a clear roadmap to full-fledged production and we are addressing not only present-day issues but also those that we anticipate to be critical along the pathway to production”

The progress of SuperPower and other participants in the peer review process was ranked by an independent committee based on performance against previously stated goals, goals for the next year and the level of research integration with the national laboratory (or industry) partners. SuperPower reported that it met or exceeded all goals it had established a year ago at the 2002 peer review. In the 2002 peer review, SuperPower reported a second-generation conductor performance level of 90 A-m over 1 m lengths. In the 2003 peer review, this performance level was increased by more than an order of magnitude to almost 2000 A-m over 18 m lengths. More importantly, these performance levels were demonstrated using a superconductor deposition process that offers the advantage of the highest tape throughput among all processes that are being developed by companies worldwide at relatively low capital cost.

Tape throughput obtainable in the HTS manufacturing process is expected to have the most impact on the cost of second-generation HTS conductor. Unlike first-generation HTS conductor, where there is only one known manufacturing technique, numerous manufacturing techniques are possible with second-generation conductor. SuperPower has chosen an HTS manufacturing process that is at least 15 times faster than processes used by other companies.

In awarding SuperPower the top ranking, the peer review committee noted that the second-generation HTS wire program at SuperPower is a “world-class project” and a “focused, goal-oriented effort” with a “strong innovative streak fostered by management, leading to strong team effort achieving and exceeding stated (ambitious!) goals.”

The peer review panel commended SuperPower not only for the high performance levels achieved over long tape lengths, but for an overall effort that addressed broader issues in scaling up second-generation HTS wire to commercial production. The panel commented that SuperPower’s “risk mitigation through planning/ingenuity enabled tremendous strides in throughput, performance and practical conductor development.” SuperPower disclosed major advances in the development of a practical, robust second-generation conductor at the 2003 peer review.

SuperPower reported development of a new process for application of a copper stabilizer overlayer and demonstrated that with such an overlayer, the second-generation HTS tapes can be overloaded to three times critical current without loss in performance. SuperPower also reported advances with slitting technology, where tapes are slit into numerous narrow tapes more appropriate for device fabrication. A significant development announced at the peer review was that SuperPower’s tapes could retain twice as much current in a magnetic field of 1 Tesla as compared to other state-of-the-art second generation HTS tapes. Tape performance in a magnetic field is important to all HTS devices, especially generators and motors.

SuperPower scored high on research integration with its national laboratory partners, particularly, Los Alamos National Laboratory. SuperPower and Los Alamos, which amply supported SuperPower’s accomplishments this year, recently concluded a three-year cooperative research and development agreement and signed a follow-on two-year agreement.

One example of a successful integration of LANL’s technology at SuperPower’s pilot manufacturing facilities is the electropolishing process for producing very smooth, clean substrates. This technology was first disclosed by LANL at the 2002 peer review. Within a year of its announcement, SuperPower’s personnel were trained in the process technology at LANL, following which SuperPower designed, procured, and installed a pre-production scale electropolishing facility in-house. Furthermore, SuperPower demonstrated 100 m long highly polished substrates with a quality similar to that reported by LANL. In the process, a 6-fold increase in tape throughput was demonstrated in the polishing of high quality substrates.

The peer review panel also commended SuperPower for “establishing QC for long length production and thoroughly ‘sleuthing’ poor performance to find the cause”. They added that SuperPower had developed “great investigative procedures to determine problems and follow up to correct processing. Reel-to-reel diagnostics and controls are a strength.” A major advancement by SuperPower in the area of QC for long-length second-generation HTS tape production was a breakthrough design for a quality control tool for texture measurement. This QC tool is valuable not only in SuperPower’s manufacturing process, but also for any manufacturing process used by any company that is scaling up second-generation HTS wire. A QC tool similar to that developed by SuperPower has prominently featured as an important necessity in second-generation HTS wire development roadmap issued by DOE.

SuperPower expects to demonstrate the performance of its HTS wire in an underground cable demonstration project currently underway in Albany, New York, where a 30 meter section of first generation cable will be replaced with a cable utilizing 2nd generation HTS wire. This is expected to be the world’s first in-grid demonstration of a device powered by 2nd generation HTS wire.

SuperPower, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation (Latham, NY) focusing on Energy Technology. Intermagnetics, 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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