Superconductor screen: projects, materials, companies?

This superconductor screen summarizes all of our work on superconductors, screening past projects, active companies, superconductor materials and the properties of commercial HTS tapes. Five listed companies in Europe, Japan and the US are particularly important for superconducting cable projects to relieve grid bottlenecks?

Superconductors are amazing materials that can carry 10,000 to 100,000x more current than copper wires and cables, per mm2 of conductor area. However, they are delicate ceramic crystals, which need to be deposited onto Hastelloy superalloys then inerted with an overlying layer of silver, and then plated in other protective materials such as copper. The resultant tapes tend to be 100μm thick (of which just 1-2% is superconductor material itself), yet still have current densities that are 350x higher than pure copper wires (charts below, data in the file).

YBCO is the leading superconductor material to come up in our superconductor screen. YBCO is an example of a REBCO. Other materials include BSCCO, and first generation superconductors such as Nb3Sn and NbTi which have historically been used in scientific machinery from MRIs, to NMRs to particle accelerators and the ITER nuclear fusion project, albeit requiring helium cooling.

Transition temperatures of different superconductors versus the year they were discovered.

Despite needing to cool YBCO with liquid nitrogen, it has been deployed commercially. 10 past projects tabulated in the file have carried an average of 300MVA of power at 50 kV and 3,000A over a distance of 1.7km. These projects and their costs are also tabulated in the superconductor screen, in $/kVA, $/km and $/kVA-km (materially more costly than today’s transmission lines, but sometimes competitive with today’s distribution lines). For more details see the projects tab.

Amperages and costs of superconducting distribution projects.

20 companies make up the c$1bn pa superconducting cables industry. Leading companies in superconductors have been highly active in the past projects tabulated above. They include listed companies in Europe, the US and Japan. Privately owned companies such as MetOx are also scaling up in the superconductors space. Details are in the screen, summarizing each company, its size and estimated exposure to superconductors.

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