This is according to a topical review `Superconductivity and the environment: a Roadmap', published today, 16 September, in IOP Publishing's journal Superconductor Science and Technology, which explains how superconducting technologies can move out of laboratories and hospitals and address wider issues such as water purification, earthquake monitoring and the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Lance Cooley, a guest editor of the article who is based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, said: "Superconductivity has been meeting some great challenges over the past 50 years. The Large Hadron Collider, mankind's largest machine, would not exist were it not for superconductivity."
"There are many uses of superconductors in other big science projects, laboratory devices, and MRI systems. Now, as the roadmap outlines, new materials and technologies enable researchers and entrepreneurs to be more versatile and apply superconductivity in other ways that contribute to our everyday lives, such as innovations to benefit our environment."
By utilising superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) – very sensitive contraptions that can measure extremely small changes in magnetic fields – one section explains how unexploded weapons, otherwise known as unexploded ordnances (UXOs), can be detected and safely recovered.
Thousands of UXOs are still discovered each year around Europe, especially in areas that were heavily bombed during the Second World War. They can be very unstable and still pose a major threat; however, the sheer scale and complexity of the terrain that needs to be surveyed makes detecting them very complicated.
A section by Pascal Febvre, from the University of Savoie, explains how a complete network of SQUIDs dotted around the globe could also aid the detection of solar bursts which send magnetic particles hurtling towards Earth, potentially wreaking havoc with our communication systems.
A similar network of SQUIDs could also help detect the specific magnetic signature of Earthquakes before they strike.
One area already progressing with the help of superconducting technology is high-speed rail travel. Magnetically levitating (Maglev) trains, whereby the carriage is levitated by magnets and has no contact with the track, have already been deployed in Germany, China, Japan and Brazil.
These countries are now looking to develop high temperature superconducting maglev trains which use liquid nitrogen instead of liquid helium to cool the tracks. This is expected to simplify the cooling process, reduce operational costs, offer more stable levitation and allow lighter carriages to be used, according to Motoaki Terai from the Central Japan Railway Company.
Kyeongdal Choi and Woo Seok Kim, from Korea Polytechnic University, explain how high temperature superconducting technologies can be used to effectively store power from wind and solar plants, as the weather dictates how much power can be generated at any one time, unlike non-renewable sources such as coal and oil which have a constant output.
Superconducting cables could also carry an electrical current with no resistance across large distances from the wind and solar power plants to cities and towns. According to Steven Eckroad, from the Electric Power Research Institute, and Adela Marian, from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, advances in cryogenics, the development of low-cost wires and ac-to-dc current converters will make this technology cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Professor Shigehiro Nishijima of Osaka University points out the increasing need for clean water for domestic purposes and describes the possibility of using high field magnetic separation systems based on superconducting magnets for this purpose.
For more information about the environmental applications of superconductivity, including high-end computing and motors for ship propulsion, the paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.org/0953-2048/26/11/113001/article.Superconductivity Fast Facts:
A superconducting material – usually metals or ceramic materials – is one which has zero resistance to an electrical current, usually induced when the material is cooled to temperatures near absolute zero.
An electric current flowing around a loop of superconducting material will experience no resistance and keep going indefinitely, even without a power source.
As superconducting wires can conduct much larger currents than ordinary wire, they create much more intense magnetic fields around them.
These 'superconducting magnets' are used in MRI machines as well as scientific equipment such as mass spectrometers and particle accelerators.
Notes to EditorsContact
For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy.IOP Publishing Journalist Area
Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform.
To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email Michael Bishop, IOP Press Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username.Superconductivity and the environment: a roadmap
We combine the culture of a learned society with global reach and highly efficient and effective publishing systems and processes. With offices in the UK, US, Germany, China and Japan, and staff in many other locations including Mexico and Russia, we serve researchers in the physical and related sciences in all parts of the world.
IOP Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics. The Institute is a leading scientific society promoting physics and bringing physicists together for the benefit of all. Any profits generated by IOP Publishing are used by the Institute to support science and scientists in both the developed and developing world. Go to ioppublishing.org.The Institute of Physics
Michael Bishop | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Compliance Officer > IOP > Large Hadron Collider > MRI > Physic > SQUIDs > Superconductivity > Superconductor Science > ceramic material > communication system > greenhouse gas > information technology > magnetic field > power plant > superconducting magnets > superconducting material
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences