By October 2007, a second-generation superconducting cable will be conduiting electrons along a 30-meter stretch connecting hydroelectric stations on the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers to the Grid at National Grid’s North Albany, NY Service Center.
Superconducting cables present negligible electrical resistance compared to copper wire when transmitting alternating current (AC). Small resistance allows transport of Grid electrons over long distances with low line losses. Direct Current (DC) can be transmitted through superconducting wire with virtually zero line loss, but would require a complete paradigm shift in the Grid (from AC to DC) for large-scale implementation.
Operating at 77 Kelvin (liquid nitrogen temperature), this new cable replaces an existing first-generation superconducting conduit whose composition is almost 2/3 silver, making it prohibitively expensive for commercial use. The second-generation wire uses much less silver and is also less brittle than its precursor. The wire’s manufacturer, Superpower, Inc., estimates that by 2011 their superconducting cable products will be equal in price to conventional copper wire. Details of the New York installation were revealed in a recent press release, “Shipment of Completed 30-Meter HTS Cable for Installation Into Albany HTS Cable Project Announced”, and further technical coverage of this installation appeared in a recent Transmission & Distribution World article, “Superconducting Cable Connects the Grid”.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.