For this reason, this field of research has always generated enormous interest, and considerable resources are utilised on techniques that can transform these materials into good energy conductors in technical components.
Today the industry preheats huge meter-long aluminium cylinders known as billets in induction heaters with copper conductors. When the temperature reaches 500 °C, the billet is extruded to profiles.
“This heating process leads to large losses in energy,” says Runde. “Only half the energy supplied is used to heat the billet. The remaining 50 percent is waste energy. This is something super conductors can improve.”World’s largest
In the basement laboratory, Magnusson and Runde proudly show the two large super conducting coils, with a 1.5m diameter. The super conducting material, magnesium diboride, is in thin, brittle filaments enclosed by a nickel matrix.
“These will be the world’s largest super conducting coils made from this special material,” says Runde.Generating interest
Magnusson and Runde have continued with the research in a parallel and competing race with Zenergy Power. In an EU project with eight other partners, SINTEF now has a model under construction that is expected to be cheaper than the German model. In this model, the Trondheim research scientists designed and built the super conducting coils.
“We have deliberately kept a low profile to see if Zenergy Power succeeded in building a complete model,” says Magnusson. “We now believe the time is right to mark that it is in fact a SINTEF invention behind the product.”
With around 500 extrusion lines in Europe, the super conductors will be a typical niche product. However, given that the industry stands to make energy savings of up to NOK 1 million for such induction heaters, the energy researchers believe there is a market for the product.
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Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
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