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$21M HTS program set

Issue 11 and Volume 100.

$21M HTS program set

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a $21 million cost-sharing program with American Superconductor Corp. and Reliance Electric to produce the world`s first high-horsepower, commercial-scale electric motors using high-temperature superconductors (HTS).

The program, an extension of development work done by Reliance and American Superconductor since 1989, has significance for industrial users of large electric motors with outputs of 1,000 hp or more. HTSs transmit electricity without resistance, allowing motors built with HTS wire to be smaller, lighter and more efficient. Industry experts estimate that U.S. industry could conserve more than 9 billion kWh annually with the application of large commercial HTS motors.

“With such extraordinary potential for power savings, the smaller, lighter, high-hp HTS motors will have an immediate impact on the bottom line of U.S. industry,” said Greg Yurek, American Superconductor president and CEO. “The program … starts the final step toward harnessing the performance benefits that long have been envisioned as a result of applying HTS technology to electric motors.”

The group expects large electric HTS motors to be introduced for commercial use around 2000 or 2001.

Under the terms of the program, called the Phase II Superconductivity Partnership Initiative, Reliance will receive $3.1 million, and American Superconductor will receive $6.3 million over the next four years from DOE. The two companies will invest corresponding amounts to bring the total value of the effort to $21 million.

Both companies, along with Centerior Energy Corp. and Sandia National Laboratory, demonstrated a 200 hp prototype in March. The commercialization program will include those organizations, plus the Electric Power Research Institute, Air Products, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.