European team announces superconductivity breakthrough

March 15, 2017
"This new material (Eurotapes) could be used to make more potent and lighter wind turbines," Xavier Obradors said, predicting it will make it possible to manufacture wind turbines one day with double the potency than existing ones

European researchers said Tuesday they had developed a cheaper and more efficient superconducting tape which could one day be used to double the potency of wind turbines.

Eurotapes, a European research project on superconductivity—the ability of certain materials to channel electricity with zero resistance and very little power loss—has produced 600 metres (1,968 feet) of the tape, said the coordinator of the project, Xavier Obradors, of the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona.

"This material, a , is like a thread that conducts 100 times more electricity than copper. With this thread you can for example make cables to transport much more electricity or generate much more intense magnetic fields than today," he told AFP.

"This new material could be used to make more potent and lighter wind turbines," he added, predicting it will make it possible to manufacture one day with double the potency of existing ones.

In the long run the project could "revolutionise the production of renewable energy," the Institute said in a statement.

Eurotapes is a four-year project involving world leaders in the field of superconductivity from nine European nations—Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

The European Union covers the bulk of its budget of 20 million euros ($21 million).

When an electric current passes through a conductor such as copper and silver, part of the charge is lost as heat, a loss that increases with the distance the charge travels.

In superconductivity—first discovered in mercury in 1911—electrical resistance suddenly drops to zero in some metals when they are cooled to near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius, -459 Fahrenheit).

This also produces a strong magnetic field—an effect which has found applications, including in MRI body scanners.

To achieve zero-loss power transmission now, cables encased in tubes can be cooled with liquid nitrogen to make them superconductive—but the complex and expensive technology has not been commercially used on a large scale.

Power companies have run only small-scale and pilot projects.

The aim is to one day find materials that can become superconductors at room temperature, which would allow zero-loss transmission of power over vast distances.

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not rated yet Mar 15, 2017
So how does this new "breakthrough" differ from the REBCO tapes already available; and proposed in the ARC reactor design.
not rated yet Mar 15, 2017
I totally fail to see how this is a noteworthy "breakthrough"; the superconductor still needs expensive cooling and that means it still economically has only very limited application.
Only if and when they find a way of greatly increasing the max operation temperature thus greatly reducing cooling costs can that be a noteworthy "breakthrough" worth talking about and get excited about else I don't think it deserves to be called a "breakthrough" at all; its merely an "incremental improvement".
5 / 5 (5) Mar 15, 2017
From their website:
The Eurotapes project has managed to produce 600 meters of superconducting tape with a process that reduces the cost of production of superconducting materials, simplifies its architecture and improves its capacity in high magnetic fields through various temperature scales.

The integration of the latest developments into simple conductor architectures for low and medium cost applications and delivery of +500m tapes. Definition of quality control tools and protocols to enhance the processing throughput and yield to achieve a pre-commercial cost target of 100 €/kAm.

2.- Use of advanced methodologies to enhance performance (larger thickness and Ic, enhanced pinning for high fields, reduced ac losses and increased mechanical strength).

Demonstration high critical currents (Ic>400A/cm-w, at 77K and self-field and Ic>1000A/cm-w at 5K and 15T) and pinning forces (Fp>100GN/m3 at 60 K).


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