November 27, 2000
Navy places follow-on superconducting motor contract
American Superconductor Corporation, Westborough, Mass., has received a follow-on contract for $1.6 Million from the U.S. Navys Office of Naval Research (ONR) for the design and development of high temperature superconducting (HTS) motors for electric ship propulsion. The company expects to complete this contract within the next six months.
Superconductors are materials that carry large quantities of electricity with zero electrical resistance when cooled to very low or cryogenic temperatures. While superconductors have been known for decades, the only commercial application until recently was in medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. These devices utilize low temperature superconductor (LTS) wires. In 1986, two IBM scientists discovered a new family of superconductor materials that still require cooling to cryogenic temperatures, but that operate at 5 to 20 times higher temperatures than the old LTS materials. The new materials, which are ceramic compounds, have become known as high temperature superconductors (HTS). The lower cost of cooling these new materials significantly enhanced the commercial economics of superconductor applications, and created the possibility of using high power density superconducting wires in electric power applications, such as power cables, motors and generators.
American Superconductor recently completed its initial ONR contract for a preliminary design of a 33,500-horsepower, AC synchronous, HTS ship propulsion motor. The follow-on contract covers completion of the motor design and the start of component fabrication and testing. The company expects to receive additional contracts from the U.S. Navy within the year that will lead to the manufacture and test of HTS motors on Navy ships.
Initial sea trials of a sub-scale prototype 5,000-horsepower HTS motor are expected to commence within three years, coincident with the companys planned introduction of industrial HTS motors.
American Superconductor says its HTS wire today can carry more than 100 times the power of copper wires with the same dimensions. The company has used this dramatic increase in power density of its wires to design proprietary, ultra-compact HTS ship propulsion motors. These motors are expected to be one-fifth the size and one-third the weight of standard induction motors, which use copper wire technology.
American Superconductor (AMSC)
AMSC, with headquarters in ., was founded in 1987 and is a world leader in developing and manufacturing products utilizing superconducting materials and solid-state power electronic devices for the power infrastructure. The companys products, and products sold by electrical equipment manufacturers that incorporate its products, can dramatically increase the capacity and reliability of power delivery networks, significantly reduce the manufacturing costs of electrical equipment such as motors and generators, lower electrical operating costs and conserve resources that are used to produce electric power. AMSCs web site is http://www.amsuper.com. `
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