SuperPower Reports Successful Testing of Prototype Superconducting 'Power Valve' Device

SuperPower Reports Successful Testing of Prototype Superconducting 'Power Valve' Device
08/30/2004

 

Intermagnetics' SuperPower Subsidiary Reports Successful Testing of Prototype Superconducting 'Power Valve' Device

  • SuperPower, Nexans Pass Critical First Milestone in Developing Matrix Fault Current Limiter to Protect Utility Transmission Grids from Power Surges
  • US Senator Charles E. Schumer Notes Importance of Device in Addressing Need for More Reliable Power, Benefiting Local Economy
  • Department of Energy Emphasizes Ability of Device to Ensure Secure Power Networks

Latham, NY - Intermagnetics General Corporation’s (NASDAQ: IMGC) Energy Technology subsidiary, SuperPower, Inc., U. S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and other dignitaries today announced that successful proof-of-concept tests have been conducted on the Matrix Fault Current Limiter (MFCL) development program. The MFCL is a new high-temperature superconducting (HTS) ‘power valve’ that is intended to protect utility transmission grids from damaging power surges. SuperPower is leading the development of the MFCL in partnership with Nexans SuperConductors, GmbH. The MFCL is based on SuperPower’s proprietary patented technology.

The MFCL development program is being undertaken as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Superconductivity Partnerships with Industry (SPI) program. The DOE is contributing $6.1 million, or one-half of the projected $12.2 million development cost for the MFCL. As previously announced, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit energy research consortium of utilities, has committed $600,000 toward the MFCL project.

“This completes the first major milestone for this program and provides us with the basis to proceed with scaling the design to transmission level operating voltages,” said Glenn H. Epstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Intermagnetics. “The proof-of-concept tests were performed on the first of a series of MFCL prototypes. This first prototype validated our expectations on the almost instantaneous response of the MFCL to reduce significant levels of short circuit current. We are pleased to be achieving our targeted milestones on this challenging development program.”

Senator Schumer said, “Not only does this project further establish the Capital Region as a center for new energy technology, but the new trial results show that this has a real chance of helping provide more reliable, better quality power to citizens everywhere. Eliminating power interruptions is important for the ordinary citizen and crucial for the digital economy in which we live. And the added bonus is that this project could give the local economy a real shot in the arm.”

“It is unacceptable in this modern economy that trees growing outside of Cleveland could put the lights out on Broadway in New York City - or on Broadway here in Schenectady,” said New York Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko. “Last year’s historic Blackout should have provided a much needed wake up call to policymakers that it is time to make the intelligent investments necessary to renew and expand the critical electric delivery infrastructure. Superpower’s MFCL holds the promise of protecting the grid and electric consumers from catastrophic system failures by preventing cascading events similar in magnitude to the one we experienced last August.”

Philip J. Pellegrino, president of SuperPower, further elaborated on the proof-of-concept tests: “The objective for this first prototype was to demonstrate that the MFCL reacts rapidly to a power surge and starts to limit the increase in short circuit current within about 4 milliseconds. This almost immediate response is attractive to electric utilities because it minimizes electrical and mechanical stress on system components, such as bus work, connectors, cables and transformers. There are many causes of power surges such as lightning strikes, animal interference, tree limbs, etc.”

Pellegrino added, “The tests also showed that the MFCL provides significant current limiting (as much as 50% limitation) within about 50 milliseconds, which is the time at which conventional circuit breakers start to open to isolate a short circuit. This feature could obviate the need to upgrade multiple circuit breakers in transmission substations because, without the addition of an MFCL, their interrupting capability would eventually be exceeded. Depending upon the number of breaker replacements, or in a worse case, the necessity to build a new substation, the avoided cost could be many millions of dollars. The tests were conducted at KEMA Power Test, the largest short circuit test facility in the United States, located in Chalfont, PA. That enabled us to test the MFCL at short circuit current levels up to 27,000 amperes to demonstrate a rapid response and significant current limiting capability. We will continue to use this first prototype as a test bed and gather additional data needed to scale the MFCL to transmission level applications. SuperPower expects to test the next prototype, which will be designed to withstand transmission level voltage requirements, in late 2005.”

Dr. Joachim Bock, managing director for Nexans SuperConductors GmbH, located in Germany, said: "We are proud that, based on our well proven Melt Cast Process (MCP) tubes, we have succeeded in developing reliable superconducting components for the MFCL in a rather short time frame. Such components were able to sustain the very high electrical and mechanical demands of the new device. We believe these MCP components provide the
best technical solution for this innovative new technology, and with our efficient manufacturing process, we fully expect that the MFCL will be a commercial success. We are quite pleased with the team spirit that has developed in this partnership with SuperPower, bringing both organizations to the leading edge of fault current limiter technology development."

David Garman, acting undersecretary for energy, science and environment at DOE, said "These results are a significant milestone on the pathway to creating more secure power networks and to increasing the electrical efficiency of large-scale electric equipment."

Clark Gellings, vice president of power delivery and markets for EPRI, added: "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. The successful high voltage testing of a pre-prototype version of the superconducting matrix fault current limiter, being funded by EPRI and DOE, is a major milestone toward obtaining relief for increasing fault current duties on our nation's transmission systems. EPRI is proud to be a contributor to the development of this 21st century technology."

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 ($5.2 billion). Nexans is listed on the Paris stock exchange. More information on www.nexans.com

SuperPower, Inc. (www.superpower-inc.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation, uses core capabilities in materials, cryogenics and magnetics to develop state-of-the-art second-generation HTS wire and electric power components such as underground transmission and distribution cables, transformers and fault current limiters.

Intermagnetics (www.intermagnetics.com) draws on the financial strength, operational excellence and technical leadership in its expanding business of Medical Technology that encompasses Magnetic Resonance Imaging Systems & Components and Patient Monitoring. Intermagnetics is also a key supplier to the markets within Instrumentation and 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, high-field magnets, medical systems and components and other specialized high value-added devices.

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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; (3) attract and retain the personnel necessary to achieve its objectives; (4) attain commercial acceptance for and adoption of its products and technology; (5) successfully develop commercially viable production methods, and successfully improve those methods to meet the cost-benefit ratio that will be critical to making HTS technology commercially competitive; and (6) avoid the potential adverse impact on the company of emerging patents in the highly competitive energy technology field. In addition, DOE’s funding of the MFCL project is subject to successfully obtaining appropriations annually in the federal budget. 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.

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