The World's First
Industrial Field Test of a High-Temperature Superconducting
recently dedicated the world's first high-temperature superconductor
(HTS) power delivery system to provide power for industrial
use. The system was dedicated on February 18, 2000 at Southwire's
manufacturing plant in Carrollton, Georgia, USA.
The system, which
includes three 30-m long HTS power distribution cables, provides
electricity to three Southwire manufacturing plants. It is
the first time a company has made the difficult transition
from laboratory testing to a practical field application.
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"As the global population
continues to boom and the world economy grows, those involved in
the distribution of electricity will have to explore new ways of
delivering power to blossoming customer bases," said Roy Richards,
Jr., Southwire's chief executive officer. "Southwire is proud to
play a role in the development of one of those alternatives."
Helping Richards throw
a series of switches activating the system were U.S. Secretary of
Energy Bill Richardson and Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.
"This is an exciting
step toward the first practical deployment of superconducting technology,
which promises to do for electric transmission what fiber optics
is doing for communication," Richardson said. "These cables, developed
through a partnership with the Energy Department and the private
sector, will move large amounts of electricity using the same space
or less space than traditional cable, increasing energy efficiency,
enhancing grid reliability and reducing costs for businesses and
Nearly immune to resistance,
superconducting power cables lose only about a half-percent of power
during transmission, compared to 5 to 8 percent lost by traditional
power cables. HTS cables also deliver more power, about three to
five times more power than traditional power cables.
As the rapid growth of
urban areas increases demand for electricity, while limiting the
space for overhead and underground cable installations, the ability
of HTS cables to transmit more power using the same amount of space
as traditional cable will be increasingly important. While they
will not replace overhead lines, HTS cables can be used underground
in areas where more power is needed but space for additional lines
is not available.
HTS cables also could
be used to construct power distribution rings around moderate-sized
cities, where lower-capacity cables could tap in and carry power
to customers throughout the community.
"For years, superconductors
have represented the promise of more energy- efficient and cost-effective
electrical power delivery," Richards said. "The live installation
of this HTS system is a giant step forward in making that promise
include the U.S. Department of Energy, which has co- funded the
project, and Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories. Industrial
partners include Intermagnetics General Corporation and EURUS Technologies,
Inc. Electrical utility partners include Southern Company, Georgia
Transmission Corporation and Southern California Edison. The world
market for HTS materials is estimated to be $30 billion by the year
"The installation of
these load-bearing cables make Southwire one of the world leaders
in superconducting technology development," said R.L. Hughey, Southwire's
superconductor project manager. "We're proud of this groundbreaking
achievement and we're excited about being able to bring our customers
the benefit of this leading-edge technology that will be capable
of handling the power demands of the new century."
Southwire's cables carry
up to 1250 amperes at 12.4 kilovolts. The cables are insulated with
Southwire's proprietary cryogenic dielectric tape material, "Cryoflex."
The cables can carry enough electricity to power the entire city
of Carrollton, Georgia.
Oak Ridge's contribution
included the work of three divisions - Fusion, Life Sciences and
Energy. ORNL and Southwire formed a cooperative research and development
agreement (CRADA) in 1995 and began testing prototype cables one
to five meters long.
"They (Southwire) built
the prototype cables and we tested them," said John Stovall, ORNL's
project manager for superconducting cable. "We then worked together
to develop the new technology leading to the 30-m cable demonstration."
The Fusion Energy Division
developed the HTS cables and terminations, performed high current
and high voltage tests on the prototype five-meter cables at an
ORNL test facility. The Life Sciences Division conducted high-voltage
tests of the cable dielectric.
"You have to have electrical
insulation that will work at cryogenic temperatures in liquid nitrogen
at high pressure and at high voltage," said Isidor Sauers of the
Life Sciences Division, who worked on the project. "We used Southwire's
Cryoflex tape insulation for the testing.
Mike Gouge of Fusion
Energy noted the prototype cable for the Southwire facility was
developed at the Fusion Energy Division facilities at the Y-12 Site.
Southwire employees in the superconductivity area trained at Oak
Ridge while ORNL personnel helped in 30-meter cable system testing
and commissioning at Carrollton.
"It has been a pleasure
working with a results-oriented company," said Bob Hawsey, manager
of ORNL's Superconductivity program. "Southwire made development
of superconducting cable knowledge a high priority from day one."
With annual sales of
US $1.4 billion, Southwire Company is one of the leading wire and
cable manufacturers. Southwire technologies and products, including
building wire and cable, copper and aluminum rod and utility cable
products, are distributed to countries worldwide. Southwire's world
headquarters is in Carrollton, Ga., USA, about 40 miles west of
Atlanta. Founded in 1950 by Roy Richards, Sr., the company celebrates
its 50th anniversary in March.