Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Long-distance transport of green power: First successful testing of a 20 kA superconducting cable

11.03.2014

The growing deployment of renewable energy sources (RES) will have to be accompanied by a significant expansion of the electricity grids.

The places where the generation of energy from wind, solar or hydro would be most economically competitive are often located in remote areas (offshore wind for example), distant from the densely populated zones where the energy is needed.


The test station at CERN

In this perspective, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) together with CERN (European European Organization for Nuclear Research) reached an important milestone on February 20th with the successful testing of a prototype superconducting cable able to carry 20 kA of current.

Nobel Laureate and IASS Scientific Director Carlo Rubbia commented on this result: “This is really a breakthrough. For the first time, we have a real cable which offers a practical way of transporting large amounts electricity over long distances, using a simple configuration and cheap, widely available materials”.

The experiment, which was the first of its kind, took place in the laboratories of CERN in the framework of an IASS-CERN collaboration aimed at assessing the potential of electric power cables based on the superconducting material magnesium diboride (MgB2). The tested configuration consists of two very thin, 20 m-long MgB2 cables combined in series for direct current (DC) transmission, and placed inside a semi-flexible cryostat that uses helium gas to maintain the very low temperatures required to enable superconductivity.

During this latest test, the cable setup, which has a total diameter of only 16 cm, housed two MgB2 cables able to transfer a current of 20 kA at low temperatures of about 24 K, and showed very good and homogeneous superconducting properties.

In the future, this type of superconducting cable could be installed underground, with periodically spaced cryogenic stations; a technology that is similar to the widespread natural gas distribution grid. It would achieve capacities of 2 to 10 GW, or even higher, with operating voltages that can be tailored for optimised performance. To give an example, the planned German Suedlink transmission line, meant to connect the North Sea to Lower Fraconia, would have a capacity of 4 GW with a subsequent uprating to 12 GW by 2032 (Netzentwicklungsplan).

In comparison to the alternatives, these superconducting underground cables would provide several significant advantages ranging from efficiency, cost, ease of implementation and environmental impact. First of all, superconducting materials like MgB2 are able to transmit electrical power without incurring resistive losses, which on the contrary affect conventional HVDC (and AC) lines and increase with the length of the line. Fewer losses translate into increased economic profitability and better resource management, as less energy is wasted.

Another distinctive feature of MgB2 SC cables is their small size: the whole installation for a 4 GW 800 km-long bi-polar cable, including the cryogenic envelope, is expected to have a total diameter of about 30 cm, which is less than most existing natural gas pipelines and much smaller than the corridor width needed for standard HVDC underground cables (about 20 m for 10 GW in central Europe). These latter also suffer from heat dispersion issues that severely limit the maximum capacity and have negative consequences for soils; in the case of SC cables, this drawback is entirely eliminated.

Finally, the choice of underground cables instead of overhead lines carries the usual benefits: it enables underwater crossings and transmission within densely populated areas and avoids the need to build massive transmission towers. Public opposition to invasive and environmentally harmful overhead lines has become an important factor in the decision-making process regarding grid expansion projects. Therefore, the search for technological alternatives is paramount. Additionally, existing rights-of-way could be used to install SC cables.

The first cost estimates show that the investment costs for the construction of a 4 GW MgB2 transmission line would be up to several times lower than for a standard ±320 kV HVDC underground cable, and competitive with HVDC overhead lines. The relatively low cost of MgB2 SC cables stems from their low cost per kA and meter (due to inexpensive materials) and simple manufacturing process.

Presently, IASS and CERN are pioneering the development of MgB2 cables. The results of the recent test have confirmed the promising nature of magnesium diboride, especially with respect to alternative materials like the expensive high-temperature superconductors (HTS). Additional tests of the prototype cable are planned in the coming weeks with the purpose of conducting further measurements and experimenting under various conditions. In parallel to these experimental activities, IASS has established contacts with partners from European industries and transmission operators in order to undertake the next steps in the R&D process and move towards industrial application.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.iass-potsdam.de
http://www.iass-potsdam.de/research-clusters/earth-energy-and-environment-e3/sci...

Corina Weber | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: CERN HVDC IASS Sustainability capacity construction diameter materials temperatures underground

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information
29.05.2015 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Physicists precisely measure interaction between atoms and carbon surfaces
29.05.2015 | University of Washington

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lasers are the key to mastering challenges in lightweight construction

Many joining and cutting processes are possible only with lasers. New technologies make it possible to manufacture metal components with hollow structures that are significantly lighter and yet just as stable as solid components. In addition, lasers can be used to combine various lightweight construction materials and steels with each other. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen is presenting a range of such solutions at the LASER World of Photonics trade fair from June 22 to 25, 2015 in Munich, Germany, (Hall A3, Stand 121).

Lightweight construction materials are popular: aluminum is used in the bodywork of cars, for example, and aircraft fuselages already consist in large part of...

Im Focus: Solid-state photonics goes extreme ultraviolet

Using ultrashort laser pulses, scientists in Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have demonstrated the emission of extreme ultraviolet radiation from thin dielectric films and have investigated the underlying mechanisms.

In 1961, only shortly after the invention of the first laser, scientists exposed silicon dioxide crystals (also known as quartz) to an intense ruby laser to...

Im Focus: Advance in regenerative medicine

The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.

Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quasi-sexual gene transfer drives genetic diversity of hot spring bacteria

29.05.2015 | Life Sciences

First Eastern Pacific tropical depression runs ahead of dawn

29.05.2015 | Earth Sciences

Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information

29.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>