Electric motors consume 70% of the electric power used by the domestic manufacturing sector and more than 55% of the total electrical energy generated in the United States, with about half of this amount used by large motors (greater than 1,000 hp). In order to improve the power density and efficiency of conventional electric motors and generators new materials and construction methods need to be implemented.
Superconductors offer the ability to carry very high direct electric current density without losses, and motors and generators represent some of the most promising applications for superconductivity. Producing more efficient electrical machines will benefit industry in several ways:
- Reduced pollution per energy produced
- Lower life-cycle costs
- Increased production space due to smaller and lighter devices
- No iron teeth in the armatures thereby reducing a significant source of noise
Potential users of HTS motors and generators include steel milling, pulp and paper processing, chemical, oil and gas refining, mining, and other heavy duty applications – processes all requiring continuous operation for pumps, fans, compressors, blowers and belt drives.
Other industrial applications that will benefit from HTS enabling technology:
HTS magnetic separators generate stronger magnetic fields and larger magnetic field gradients then their conventional counterparts enabling the separation of larger amounts of material in a shorter time span. Magnetic separators have a variety of industrial applications including pharmaceutical, environmental, and chemical fields. They are used to process ores, waste solids and gases, and in isotope separations and water treatment. Magnetic separation is currently used to purify kaolin clay, a material used in high-quality paper.
Conventional induction heaters use copper coils to generate a magnetic field resulting in more than 50% loss in efficiency due to resistance within the coil. HTS would nearly double the efficiency and productivity of an induction heater with reduced levels of energy consumption required for operation, eliminate the need for massive water cooling systems, and require less maintenance than traditional induction heaters.