SuperPower wins ARPA-E Award with ABB and BNL

SuperPower wins ARPA-E Award with ABB and Brookhaven National Laboratory for development of superconducting magnetic energy storage system

  • High risk project seeks to provide cost-effective solution for storing large amounts of energy
  • SuperPower and the University of Houston to receive $2.1 million to develop higher performance, lower cost superconducting wire

August 31, 2010 - Schenectady, NY – SuperPower, Inc., a leading developer and provider of second-generation high temperature superconducting (2G HTS) wire, and the University of Houston, together with ABB Inc. of Cary, North Carolina and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) of Upton, New York, have been awarded $4.2 million for a program to develop an advanced superconducting magnetic energy storage system (SMES) with direct power electronic interface by the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), a division of the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE).

SMES is a novel technology that stores electricity from the grid within the magnetic field of a coil comprised of superconducting wire with near-zero loss of energy. The team has proposed a 20 kW ultra-high field SMES device with a capacity of up to 3.4 mega Joules, a field of up to 30 T at 4.2K, instantaneous dynamic response, and nearly infinite cycle life.

Arthur P. Kazanjian, general manager of SuperPower commented, “In addition to providing essential backup power during outages, the SMES can be an important addition to the use of intermittent renewable resources such as wind and solar energy and we look forward to realizing the potential of 2G HTS in this promising application.”

According to the DOE, if the high-risk breakthrough technologies in this project are successfully developed, the result will advance SMES from a high-cost solution for delivering short bursts of energy to a technology that is cost-competitive for delivering megawatt hours of stored energy.

Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam, M.D. Anderson chair professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, head of the Applied Research Hub at the Texas Center for Superconductivity, and SuperPower’s chief technology advisor added, “We are excited to have the opportunity to combine the talents of our R&D team in Houston with the manufacturing expertise in Schenectady to provide a wire with the demanding performance specifications and price levels that the success of this device will require.”

SuperPower will receive $2.1 million of the grant to support the wire development work of its R&D group at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston and to supply the 2G HTS wire for the fabrication of the SMES coil by BNL. SuperPower will also support the coil technology development and fabrication activities of BNL.

ARPA-E, an agency within DOE that provides R&D funding for transformational new energy technologies and systems, made the award based on the proposal to propel the performance of each of the individual subsystems far beyond the present state-of-the-art and advance the SMES from a high-cost solution for delivering short bursts of energy to a technology that is cost-competitive for delivering megawatt hours of stored electricity to address the renewables ramping challenge.

Dr. Le Tang, vice president and head of the U.S. Corporate Research Center of ABB noted, “ABB will act as the project lead to develop the SMES device at an affordable price. Using the expertise we have developed over many years of working with the electric utility industry in high power applications and teaming with the experts at SuperPower and Brookhaven, we are confident that we will meet the challenges of this high-risk program.”

Dr. Doon Gibbs, deputy director for science and technology at Brookhaven National Laboratory commented, "We look forward to working closely with SuperPower and ABB to develop innovative, new ideas in the area of superconducting magnetic energy storage systems that will impact the nation's ability to store and use renewable energy. Collaborations between industrial and national laboratories on high-risk/high-impact research projects have the potential to change the game in energy security, so we are honored to be among the proposals funded by ARPA-E as it seeks to ensure the nation's energy security on a five-to-ten year time scale."

The awards were part of $92 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy for 43 research projects in 18 states. These recently announced grants were the third and final round of stimulus grants totaling $349 million.

ARPA-E received 529 initial concept papers and encouraged approximately 164 applicants to submit full applications, of which only 43 were selected for awards. Multiple review panels composed of leading U.S. science and technology experts reviewed each proposal and made recommendations based on scientific and technical merit and the potential to dramatically advance national energy and economic goals.


Traute F. Lehner, SuperPower
Tel: (518) 346-1414 ext. 3070

About SuperPower
SuperPower, Inc. a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI), was formed in March 2000 to develop and commercialize high temperature superconductor (HTS) technology for applications that benefit from high energy density, high magnetic fields and green attributes, including energy, medical, transportation, research and other sectors. To learn more, visit

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