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Superconductors Are Real, But Are They Good Enough?

A friend likes to chide me sometimes for believing in “technologies that don’t exist yet”. It is certainly important to distinguish between technologies that could be implemented quickly given proper investment, and scaled to cialis canadian pharmacy the proper degree (such as EVs) and technologies that will always be 10 to 20 years away, no matter how promising they sound (such as nuclear fusion).

What about superconductors? Superconductors are wires that transmit much more electricity than is carried over regular high-voltage lines, and do so in relatively thin wires (described in one article as “about the size of buy tramadol online cod linguini”). There is hope that one day these superconductors will form the backbone of our national grid, transmitting huge amounts of power quickly and wow look it levitra samples in canada efficiently across the nation – the electric equivalent of the only here buy viagra at a discount interstate superhighway system.

But on the aforementioned scale of around-the-corner to always-10-years away, the general impression is that superconductors are a futuristic technology that doesn’t, as my friend would say, exist yet.

American Superconductor, however, would say otherwise. They have recently signed a contract with Korea Electric Power Corp., South Korea’s national power utility, wherein American Superconductor will provide 80,000 meters of superconductor wire to run a half mile long distribution system. The company also built a 600 meter long system last summer for LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority in New York. It was the first ever transmission cable using superconductor technology.

The advantages of superconductors are many. First and foremost, they carry more power. A big problem many wind farms are facing, for example, is that they generate power far off the grid, and can’t find a pipeline wide enough to carry it, so to speak. Secondly, they lose less power in the transmission, which means less needs to be generated in the first place (which saves us fuel). Lastly, the wires are small, and can be built underground; besides the aesthetic value, it also helps protect the wires from the 50 mg cialis elements.

But there are still big disadvantages that still hold the technology back, American Superconductor’s contracts notwithstanding. The wires need to be chilled to click here soft levitra -371 degrees Fahrenheit using liquid nitrogen. Sure, maybe one could argue that the electricity saved in efficiency is more than enough to run the chillers and compressors to keep things going… but even so it’s just not the kind of technology that can is feasible when you stop talking about half-mile projects and start talking about coast-to-coast projects.

Companies like American Superconductor and Zenergy, another superconductor manufacturer from the UK, are definitely struggling – both companies have been reporting losses over the last couple years. Until they come up with some breakthrough engineering, that’s not likely to change, and this technology will have to be filed under “future”.

Via Greentech Media

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Comments (20)Add Comment
written by Andrew Leinonen, April 24, 2009
I've always wondered about the potential of using a combined hydrogen pipeline/superconducting transmission cable, with liquid hydrogen providing the cooling...
written by John Rowell, April 24, 2009
This is one cool technology, in both meanings of the word! However, the only way it's going to make any meaningful difference is over hundreds or thousands of miles - which at this point sounds extremely expensive. Andrew, you might be onto something here...
written by bill, April 25, 2009
The "survey" ad your are running on this website is extremely annoying.
written by Glenn, April 25, 2009
And maybe the enter site buy levitra online without prescription most important question: Are they cheap enough?
written by al, April 25, 2009
How is this better than HVDC, that already has low losses of power, I think its 5% per 1000km, though thats from memory. And is already in use and proven.
written by TheGeek, April 25, 2009

I think you miss the point. Superconductors move more power over less wire and the best place cialis 50mg their loss in near zero. So if they could create a superconductor that work at say zero Celsius. You could transmit power from the windy Midwest to New York with no loss.

Andrew, liquid hydrogen plus a few gigaw
written by jello, April 26, 2009
nothing could possibly go wrong there...
Room Temperature Ultraconductors
written by Mark Goldes, April 26, 2009
Ultraconductors will do everything superconductors can do, at ambient temperature.

Wire and cable are on the horizon.

No cooling needed whatsoever. These polymer materials operate up to 200 degrees C (380 F). A 1-2 micron diameter Ultraconductor will always carry 50 amperes. That's 1/50th the diameter of a human hair.

Four Small Business Innovation Contracts have been completed to date.

See the website for the most current information.
Superconductor cable length of 1400 mile
written by jrin, April 27, 2009
LHC cables are longer and in use as well. See
Low temperature superconductors
written by Kris, April 27, 2009
Jrin's link to the Luvata product seems to be in step with Yoni's article on low-temperature superconductors. i.e. their products are clearly successfully in use, but still commercially non-viable for long-haul power transfer.

I had posted another comment heavily criticising the above post from Mark Goldes; it appears it has been censored. I sincerely hope this is not a case of on line pharmacy australia cialis EcoGeek being overly conservative at the cost of critical scientific journalism.
Re-post: High-temperature superconductor
written by Kris, April 28, 2009
Even Wikipedia has a more thorough account of modern high-temperature superconductivity: T_c=138K~=-144.15C is not "ambient temperature".
Re-post: High-temperature superconductor
written by Kris, April 28, 2009
The link was borked above. Try:
Ultraconductorsâ„¢ Technical Papers and
written by Mark Goldes, April 29, 2009
1. Interpretation of Large Room Temperature Diamagnetism at Low Magnetic Fields in Films of Oxidized Atactic Polypropylene in Terms of Superconducting Current Loops [1]. D..M. Eagles [2]
2. Observation of Extremely Large, Field-Dependent Diamagnetism at 300 K in Certain Disordered Organic Materials [3]. D.N. Rogachev et al. [4]
3. Room Temperature Superconductivity in Films of Certain Polymers [5]. L.N. Grigorov et al.
4. Superconductivity at Room Temperature in Oxidized Polyproylene [6]. V.M. Arkhangorodskii et al. . A.F. Ioffe Physicotechnical Institute, Acadamy of Sciences of i use it viagra canadian the USSR, Leningrad
5. Highly Conducting State in Oxidized Polypropylene Films [7]. V.M. Arkhangorodskii et al. . A.F. Ioffe Physicotechnical Institute, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Leningrad.
6. Possible High-current Superconductivity at Room Temperature in Oxidized Polypropylene and other Quasi One-dimensional Systems [8]. Eagles D..
7. Observation of Extremely Large, Field-Dependent Diamagnetism at 300 K in Certain Disordered Organic Materials. (Same title as paper in Journal of Superconductivity which proceeded from this poster paper, presented in Switzerland) [9] .
8. Evidence of a "Supra-Conducting" Electron Liquid Crystal Phase in Insulating Organic Matrix: A New State of Matter? [10]
[1] Journal of Superconductivity: Incorporating Novel Magnetism, Vol.15, No.4, August 2002
[2] E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
[3] Journal of Superconductivity: Incorporating Novel Magnetism, vol. 13, No. 6, 2000
[4] Vysokomol. Soedin. B 35 (1993) 1921 [Polymer Science 35 (1993) 1625]. Polymer Science vol. 31, No 11, 1993
[5] JETP Lett. 51 No. 4, 25 Feb 1990, 258].(1989)
[6] JETP Lett. Vol 51, No 1, 10 Jan. 1990, 67-72. 603 [Sov. Phys. Doklady 34 (1989) 1016].
[7] Pis'ma Zh. Eksp. Teor. Fiz. 51 (1990) 56 [JETP Lett. 51 (1990) 67].
[8] Physica C, #225 (1994) p.222-234
[9] Paper Presented at Klosters Switzerland, Conference on "Major trends in Superconductivity in the New Millennium" Mar 31-April 4, 2000
[10] Paper Presented at Klosters Switzerland, Conference on "Major trends in Superconductivity in the New Millennium" Mar 31-April 4, 2000

Several more recent papers will be added when this list is updated on the Chava Energy website.
So where's the new results?
written by Kris, April 29, 2009
Thanks for the reply Mark.

Sorry for the terse tone above, but I can't stand disrespect for Science. I still can't see how your claims are viable. Most the above papers are over a decade old and, as far as I can tell, haven't had replicable results. Indeed, if the results were replicable, then there should have been a flood of research happening in the last 10 years. This clearly isn't the case. As I stated before, there would already have been a Nobel prize awarded for such work, but clearly it has fizzled out.

If you can prove the results to be correct, though, that would be fantastic. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong. I just can't see how the current scientific understanding can help. Again: where are the recent papers? The "recent" (read: 9 year old) conference papers you cite appear to be reviews, rather than groundbreaking new research.
Understandable confusion
written by Mark Goldes, April 30, 2009
There are more recent papers that will be listed but there has been a gap in the work.

The Ultraconductor program had strong Angel investor support until the crash. Then, as with all high tech work in California that did not yet have revenue, it slowly wound down until it came to a halt 3 years ago.

It is also difficult for superconductor scientists, who know a great deal about metals and ceramics that superconduct, to comprehend these very different polymer materials.

Chava is bringing major new funding into this program and it is coming back to life. But, the process if just beginning.

We do believe Dr. Grigorov, who pioneered the work, deserves a Nobel Prize. I very much hope he will one day receive that recognition.

written by Kris, May 01, 2009
Yes, but there are many other polymer scientists who would surely be in a position to replicate the results. If you're honest about your claims, I just can't see how others (not associated with your own research/company) haven't replicated the results you claim to have observed. That is the major credibility factor missing from your claims. Everything thus far has been an unverifiable claim from either yourself or someone closely related to your company. Until independent groups can replicate the phenomena, it just wont stick; it just wouldn't be science.

Having said that, being a commercial endeavour, I can see how you'd be frugal in your publications and collaborations in order to protect your intellectual property. Regardless, it still doesn't help your credibility to make the claims and withhold the details.

I, like most others, am still very sceptical. If you're sincere, I very much look forward to seeing your promised publications (or the product, whichever may come first).
High-Temp Superconductors are being phas
written by ed, May 07, 2009
High Temp Superconductors are being phased in by some utility companies for almost a decade.

This technology is not new and there are consumers out there that are already benefiting from it, albeit at a small scale.

Upgrading the National Grid with High temp superconductors is not impossible but a second generation HTS wire is needed in order to increase the temperature treshold of the wire. I don't think that it's ten years away, as the pdf file on the link states, there are companies that have installed HTS cable and are getting positive results. I'm surprised the ecogeek doesn't know about those trials.
Ultraconductors have been independently
written by Mark Goldes, June 02, 2009
Fractal Systems successfully reproduced them. The founder and CEO of that firm will join Chava this summer to lead the commercialization program.
written by Fred, June 30, 2009
hopefully superconductors will be safer and more efficient
Fractal Systems produced almost 1,000 samples!
written by Mark Goldes, August 28, 2009
Since my earlier post above, I learned that Fractal successfully produced a very large number of samples of our Ultraconductors(tm) on a Contract with the US Air Force.

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