SuperPower Receives No. 2 Ranking for MFCL

SuperPower Receives No. 2 Ranking for MFCL


Intermagnetics' SuperPower Subsidiary Receives No. 2 Ranking Among DOE's SPI Device Programs for HTS Matrix Fault Current Limiter (MFCL) Development Project at 2004 DOE Peer Review

  • SuperPower's Report on Results of Proof-of-Concept Testing of Pre-Prototype MFCL Device is Termed "Significant;" Results Called "Convincing." 
  • Plea is Made to Speed Up the Project to Address Longstanding Utility Need

Schenectady, NY - In July 2004 SuperPower completed the first major milestone for its MFCL program, the assembly and test of the proof-of-concept pre-prototype device. The results of the proof-of-concept testing were reported at the July 2004 DOE Annual Peer Review in Washington, DC. Of the nine programs presented during the session on SPI HTS devices, SuperPower’s MFCL Program, which formally reported on program results for the first time, was ranked No. 2. Intermagnetics also reported on the results of the proof-of-concept testing in its press release of August 30, 2004.

The objective of this first prototype was to demonstrate the current limiting performance of the MFCL, which is also referred to as a “Power Valve.” The pre-prototype reacts rapidly to a power surge and starts to limit the increase in short circuit current within about 4 milliseconds. The ability to provide limiting before the first peak of the fault current is of value to the utilities to limit the electrical and mechanical stresses placed on system components due to fault currents. The tests also showed that the device provides as much as 50% current limiting within about 50 milliseconds, which is the time at which conventional circuit breakers start to open to isolate a short circuit. This significant limitation of the fault current at the third cycle allows the circuit breakers to safely interrupt the fault current. This capability provides the utilities the ability to defer or eliminate expensive multiple circuit breaker upgrades when changes in the system significantly increase fault current levels. The testing, completed at KEMA Power Test, was conducted at short circuit current levels up to 27,000 amperes to demonstrate a rapid response and significant current limiting capability.

Peer Reviewers rated project performance, plans, results and research integration “good to excellent,” citing the “significant results” achieved in this first phase of the 4-year program, which is now at mid-cycle following two years of work. The reviewers noted that the pre-prototype MFCL with ratings of 8.6kV line to ground, 800Arms nominal current and the ability to significantly limit fault currents up to 25kA peak was effectively demonstrated. It was agreed that fault current reduction was clearly demonstrated at these levels, which show the possibility to apply the concept at distribution voltage levels. This leaves the project on track to move forward and develop the technology needed to apply the MFCL at the transmission voltage level. The resulting level of technological understanding achieved was deemed especially noteworthy.

Particular emphasis was placed on the strong team assembled for this project, including the partnership between SuperPower (program lead and device design and fabrication) and Nexans (bulk superconductor development and fabrication), as well as effective use of external research resources like KEMA Power Test. The team was termed “well integrated … with well defined roles” and Reviewers noted that the specific areas of expertise of each of the partners adds significant strength to the overall project. With Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) just joining the project, it was suggested this will certainly result in further benefits from their contributions in critical areas of subsystem design, testing and high voltage design.

Peer Reviewers were especially pleased with the “Technical Advisory Board” (TAB) concept implemented by the team for this project, noting that the research integration and risk reduction charters of the TAB “increases (the) probability of successfully developing and demonstrating” the MFCL. The TAB, comprised of a number of utility members, as well as the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), will serve to keep the target specifications of the MFCL on track, and also serve to increase awareness of this new device within the utility community, since they “understand the product requirements and know their need for such a solution.”

One concern echoed by a number of Reviewers is the absence of a host utility for the project at this time, a gap that will need to be filled before the project moves much farther along.

Glenn H. Epstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Intermagnetics commented, “These results complete the first major milestone for this program and provide us with the basis to proceed with scaling the design to transmission level operating voltages. The addition of a utility host company to our project team is high on the list of our near-term objectives.”

Philip J. Pellegrino, President of SuperPower added, “We were delighted to be able to report these positive results from the proof-of-concept testing and are already hard at work moving forward to achieve our next milestone: designing, building and testing the alpha prototype device which will be designed to withstand transmission level voltage requirements. Completion of this second project phase is scheduled for late 2005. A commercial stage unit is expected to be available in 2007.”

For access to the various presentations included in the 2004 Annual DOE Peer Review, please visit the following DOE web page:

Traute F. Lehner
MarCom and Logistics Specialist
SuperPower, Inc.
Tel.: 518-346-1414 ext. 3070
Fax: 518-346-6080

Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.
SuperPower Inc. is subsidiary
of Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.
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