Out With the Old
and in With the
By Tim Corrigan
• Overhead Power lines
• Superconductivity & History
• Difference between Type 1 & Type 2
• Current Projects
• Additional Uses
Pros And Cons Of Traditional Overhead
Aluminum Wires are cheap
System that Works
Wire is not covered by Insulation
Susceptible to the elements
Running out of space to add new lines to meet increasing demand.
10% of energy transmitted is lost due to natural resistance in the wire.
Wire is relatively close to people and homes.
New Energy Generation
Wind and Solar Farms are being set up in remote areas and Energy needs to
be transported much further to reach its customers.
What is Superconductivity
• Superconductivity is when
elements are cooled to their
critical temperature or
temperature where the
resistance is zero.
• At this temperature DC current
can be sent across a wire without
• They would be cooled by super
cooled gases and or Liquids. (Ex.
H2, He, N)
History Of Superconductor
• In 1911 superconductivity was first observed in mercury by Dutch physicist Heike
Kamerlingh Onnes of Leiden University in 1911.
• He cooled mercury it to the temperature of liquid helium, 4 degrees Kelvin, its resistance
suddenly disappeared. Later, in 1913, he won a Nobel Prize in physics for his research in
• 1933. German researchers Walter Meissner and Robert Ochsenfeld discovered that a
superconducting material will repel a magnetic field
• 1957 American Physicist John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Schrieffer, wrote Theories of
Superconductivity which is currently known as BCS Theory and it explains
superconductivity for elements and simple alloys. (Doesn't explain type 2 Superconductors)
History Of Superconductor Cont.
• 1962 when Brian D. Josephson found that electrical current would flow between 2 superconducting
materials - even when they are separated by a non-superconductor or insulator. Known as “Josephson
effect” the theory is used for building SQUID’s (Superconducting QUantum Interference Device).
Strongest magnetic field detector.
• 1964 Bill Little of Stanford University had suggested the possibility of organic (carbon-based)
superconductors. The first of these theoretical superconductors was successfully synthesized in 1980 by
Danish researcher Klaus Bechgaard of the University of Copenhagen and 3 French team members.
(TMTSF)2PF6 had to be cooled to an incredibly cold 1.2K transition temperature (known as Tc) and
subjected to high pressure to superconduct.
• 1986, a breakthrough discovery was made. Alex Müller and Georg Bednorz (above), researchers at the
IBM Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, created a brittle ceramic compound that
superconducted at the highest temperature then known: 30 K.
• These discoveries paved the way to increase research in high temperature superconductors and
superconductor field in general. There is a lot more history that I did not go through and I recommend
to read up on it if you are interested.
• Mainly comprised of metals and metalloids that show some conductivity
at room temperature.
• Require incredible cold to slow down molecular vibrations sufficiently to
facilitate unimpeded electron flow (No Resistance) in accordance with
what is known as BCS theory.
• Characterized as the "soft" superconductors - were discovered first and
require the coldest temperatures to become superconductive. They
exhibit a very sharp transition to a superconducting state and perfect
• Category of superconductors is comprised mostly of metallic compounds and alloys. With
some exceptions such as the recently-discovered superconducting "perovskites" (metal-
oxide ceramics )
• They achieve higher Tc's than Type 1 superconductors by a mechanism that is still not
• To date, the highest Tc attained at ambient pressure for a material that will form
stoichiometrically (by formula) has been 138 K. And the highest Tc overall is 254K for a
material which does not form stoichiometrically.
• Type 2 superconductors - also known as the "hard" superconductors - differ from Type 1 in
that their transition from a normal to a superconducting state is gradual across a region of
"mixed state" behavior. Since a Type 2 will allow some penetration by an external magnetic
field into its surface, this creates some rather novel mesoscopic phenomena like
superconducting “stripes” and “flux-lattice vortices.”
Pros And Cons Of Superconductor
No Energy Loss
• Carries 150 times the power of Copper wire at a similar size (keep up with the increased
• Protected from the Elements (underground)
• Have an Intercontinental Energy system to help offset peak demand. What I mean by this is
that if we need a lot of extra energy on the east coast some of the plants from the west coast
could send us extra energy to meet our demands. This could eliminate blackouts.
• Quality over quantity. Have better Energy Transportation system that will be able to handle
new demand on the system.
• Ability to have Nuclear reactors , solar farms, and wind farms, away from urban areas
• Being commercially explored by Countries such as the US ,Japan, China, and many more.
• Unknown effects such as strong magnetic fields.
• Hard to Regulate energy
• Huge amounts of energy in the superconductor and an abrasion in the wire could have serious
How it works
Liquid Hydrogen is used to cool the
The wire is protected by Electrical and
Thermal Insulators. This keeps energy
out, out and energy in, in.
The pipes will be stored below grown
to be protected from the elements and
to reduce opposition to the new
Note – Different projects call for
different cooling agents at different
• Increasing reliability, efficiency and safety of the power grid.
• Enabling decentralized power generation so homes can be both an energy client and supplier (provide
consumers with interactive tool to manage energy usage).
• Flexibility of power consumption at the clients side to allow supplier selection (enables distributed
generation, solar, wind, biomass).
• Increase GDP by creating more new, green-collar energy jobs related to renewable energy industry
manufacturing, plug-in electric vehicles, solar panel and wind turbine generation, energy conservation
• Be able to heal itself
• Motivate consumers to actively participate in operations of the grid
• Resist attack
• Provide higher quality power that will save money wasted from outages
• Accommodate all generation and storage options
• Enable electricity markets to flourish
• Enable higher penetration of intermittent power generation sources
• Transmit Energy using superconductors
• Use either H2 g or liquid to cool the superconductor
down and then use the hydrogen as an energy
source for car, heating, ext.
• Have some nuclear plants dedicated to making
hydrogen instead of electricity.
• Transmit Energy over long distances.
Link To SuperGrid Workshop & Tres
• Maglev Train
• Stronger MRI machines
• New generators
• Superconducting Magnets
• Energy Storage
• Many More
• Times are changing as well as energy
generation techniques and transmission.
• To reduce our carbon footprint and to make
way for the future we must adapt and start
• Superconductors are ready for commercial
application and we should start as soon as