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Major breakthrough for electricity with 2G wire

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July 24, 2006

Major breakthrough for electricity with 2G wire

Major breakthrough for electricity with 2G wire

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July 25, 2006 Energy technologies company American Superconductor, announced today it has achieved commercial levels of electric current for the first time in long lengths of second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire. This is the first time commercial levels of electrical current have been successfully achieved in long lengths (over 300 feet) by a low cost industrial process, making possible the emergence of this technology from the laboratory into the marketplace. HTS wires conduct large quantities of electricity with 100% efficiency when cooled with environmentally friendly liquid nitrogen, the coolant of choice for superconductor electric power transmission and distribution cables. The company claims this achievement will have a significant impact on the future of power grids worldwide and is ramping up the manufacture of 2G Wire by its patented, low cost process to meet growing demand and expects the price-performance ratio of 2G wire to be equivalent to that of copper by the end of the decade. The few ultra-thin HTS wires on the right of this image, carry as much power as all the copper shown on the left.

"This is a major breakthrough in electricity. It is the first-ever, commercial grade 2G wire that has been produced by a high volume, low-cost, scalable industrial process. I expect that this achievement will have a significant impact on the future of power grids worldwide," said Greg Yurek, chief executive officer, American Superconductor.

"I believe this breakthrough will do for the electrical grid what optical fibers did for telecommunications. The emergence of optical fibers had a tremendous ripple effect on areas well beyond telecom, and I believe that HTS wire will produce similar results. Our ultra-thin wires - only the thickness of two human hairs - have the ability to transmit massive amounts of power to, and through, congested urban areas where the greatest demand for power exists. Because of the advances in electrical performance we are achieving day after day with 2G wire and with the continuous reductions we are driving in manufacturing costs, we expect the price-performance ratio of 2G wire to be equivalent to that of copper by the end of the decade."

"AMSC wire is being utilized to manufacture a power transmission cable that will be installed in LIPA's power grid where it will have the ability to transmit 600 megawatts of power - enough electricity to power 300,000 homes," said Mike Hervey, Vice President, Operations at Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). "A key value proposition of superconductor power cables is that they can deliver more power through our grid to meet growing customer demand for electricity."

American Superconductor is rapidly ramping up its 2G wire manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand for more efficient, higher performance electrical products that are more power dense - or deliver more power in a smaller, lighter package. AMSC utilizes a high throughput, low cost, proprietary manufacturing process to manufacture ribbon-shaped wires. "We have now produced lengths of commercial-grade 2G wire in excess of 300 feet that are about 4 millimeters wide and that conduct 140 Amperes of electric current with 100% efficiency when cooled with liquid nitrogen," said Alex Malozemoff, chief technical officer, American Superconductor. "You would need over 100 copper wires of the same dimensions to conduct as much current as one of these 2G wires. To put this into perspective, in high-voltage power transmission systems, just one of these wires would be able to carry enough power to serve the needs of approximately one thousand homes."

"This achievement continues American Superconductor's success in developing and delivering HTS-based electricity solutions to the market," Yurek added. "The need for superconductivity solutions to relieve highly congested electric power grids is being recognized in many levels of world governments and its importance was recently cited in the G-8's Energy Security Plan as one of the new technologies necessary in the construction of advanced electricity grids. This technology has the very real potential to change the world and offer a lower-cost, more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, energy solution."

About American Superconductor's 2G HTS Products

AMSC's 2G HTS wire, also known as 344 superconductors, are designed as a drop-in replacement for customers currently using first generation (1G) HTS wire. The 344 superconductors comprise 2G HTS wire clad with ultra-thin strips of copper or stainless steel. 344 superconductors offer significantly higher power density and efficiency compared with similar copper-based wire products. As a result, electrical systems that incorporate HTS wire are dramatically smaller, lighter and more cost effective than comparable systems based on copper wire. The applications for HTS wire include power transmission and distribution cables, propulsion motors and generators, degaussing cable systems, synchronous condensers and fault current limiters.

About American Superconductor Corporation

AMSC is the world's principal vendor of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire and large rotating superconductor machinery, and it is a world-leading supplier of dynamic reactive power grid stabilization products. AMSC's HTS wire and power electronic converters are at the core of a broad range of new electricity transmission and distribution, transportation, medical and industrial processing applications, including dynamic reactive power grid stabilization solutions, large ship propulsion motors and generators, smart, controllable, superconductor power cables and advanced defense systems. The company's products are supported by hundreds of patents and licenses covering technologies fundamental to its trademarked catchcry, "Revolutionizing the Way the World Uses Electricity".

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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