Superconductor technology -what's it all about?

During the necessary energy turnaround, it is increasingly necessary today and, in the future, in addition to the fundamental conversion to resource-saving processes, to design the entire process from energy generation to the consumer as sustainably as possible and thus minimize greenhouse gas emissions. On the one hand, this includes the efficient design of conversion processes, for example in the generation of electrical energy from renewable sources or in innovative drive concepts. On the other hand, in this context, topics such as minimizing losses in electricity transport and energy storage as well as the necessary stabilization of grids are inextricably linked to efficiency issues. One technology that has great potential regarding the points described above is superconductor technology. In the SupraHEET (Superconducting High-Efficiency Energy Transformation) network, the participating partners aim to exploit and advance the potential.

What is superconductor technology?

Superconductors are materials whose electrical resistance suddenly approaches zero when the temperature falls below the so-called transition temperature. Cables based on superconductors can transport current without loss if they are cooled to sufficiently low temperatures by suitable systems. The current density is many times higher than that of conventional cable materials with the same cross-section, such as copper or aluminium. Together with the fact that superconducting cables, unlike standard cables, are completely electromagnetically and thermally neutral externally and do not affect the environment in any way, this represents a decisive advantage of superconducting materials. In the case of pure transmission lines, this has a direct impact on the required installation space and route widths. Superconducting generators and motors are characterized by their pronounced compactness and associated weight savings compared with conventional components.

The SupraHEET Network - Goals

The aim of the network is to develop new products, processes, and services in the field of superconductor technology, particularly regarding synergy effects from the use of liquid hydrogen LH2 as a coolant and as a storable energy carrier. In concrete terms, the initial plan is to develop components for the direct current connection of a data centre, combined with the use of the cooling medium for the air conditioning of the infrastructure.

In addition to the development and optimization of the special superconductor components, the focus will also be on the requirements for the cooling system (e.g., energy demand, leak tightness, service life, interaction of cooling, storage, and conduction functions). Specific development work for rapid safety diagnostics is also required, as superconductors have short thermal and electrical time constants and overload situations must be detected in real time. Similarly, the issue of energy management and the development of appropriate control of energy and coolant flow will play a not inconsiderable role in the efficient use and distribution of available energy.

Increasing the efficiency of generators, e.g., in wind turbines, will be a focus of the group's work. This requires the development of advanced superconductor materials and new coil geometries. Various new developments of individual components are being considered, especially regarding the conversion of the cooling system to nitrogen or hydrogen as coolant.

The transfer of know-how and results from the field of generating energy conversion (e.g., wind generators) to the field of drives and motors will be considered in order to advance superconductor technology in marine propulsion systems, in highly dynamic superconducting industrial drives or in rail or heavy-duty road transport. In principle, the network aims to help transfer development results from one application area to other areas by scaling up the components involved.

Facts & figures of the network

  • Start: 01 October 2021
  • Duration Phase 1: until March 31, 2023
  • Funding: 218.500€
  • nationale project partners:
    • ERT Refrigeration Technology GmbH
    • KIT Karlsruhe Institute for Technology
    • Konstandin GmbH
    • Krämer Energietechnik GmbH
    • SkyWind GmbH
    • Sumitomo Cryogenics of Europe GmbH
    • Vision Electric Super Conductors GmbH
  • internationale project partners:
    • Advanced Electromagnetics (Netherlands)
    • Delmeco Group B.V. (Netherlands)
    • Mark & Wedell (Denmark)
    • Subra S/A (Denmark)
    • TNO Energy Transition (Netherlands)
    • University of Twente (Netherlands)

Unterstützung durch EurA

With over 90 established national and international associations of companies and research institutions, EurA is the market leader in technology networks. EurA develops and manages a wide range of company networks in which the partners work together to develop solutions for current and future challenges.

We are still looking for partners for the network SupraHEET, which have connecting points in the above-mentioned fields!

If you have any questions or are interested in the SupraHEET network, please contact us at any time!

 

Author: Joke Brodersen

Dr. Knut Behnke

Your contact person
Dr. Knut Behnke

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