Energy Department funds superconductivity research

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On August 13, 2003

Imagine living in a superconductive world. Electricity is transmitted through wires with no resistance and no loss of energy. Trains levitate above their tracks. An electric charge moving in a loop circles indefinitely — the closest thing known to perpetual motion. Although this sounds like science fiction, a group from the UMR is trying to make it a reality.

UMR is one of seven universities selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct research for their program in the field of high-temperature superconductivity (HTS). Headed by Dr. Jay Switzer, Castleman/FCR Professor of Discovery at UMR, the university’s work will augment existing efforts in developing HTS electric wires.

The universities’ proposals were selected based on their technical merits and their expected contributions toward advancing DOE’s strategic HTS technology objectives. "The goal of our work at UMR is to produce inexpensive superconductors for power transmission," Switzer says.

"Superconductors are elements, inter-metallic alloys or compounds that will conduct electricity below a certain temperature without resistance," Switzer says. "They are normally deposited onto expensive single crystals. We are working with Sandia National Labs to develop a technique to electrodeposit, or deposit by electrolysis, buffer layers onto inexpensive copper tapes," Switzer says.

"Dr. Paul Clem of Sandia will then use chemical processing to produce high-temperature superconductors," he adds.

Switzer’s research is funded through a three-year $450,000 grant from DOE.

"The advanced technology developed for the next generation of HTS wires is expected to play an important role in relieving congestion on electric transmission and distribution systems, reducing consumption, and increasing energy supplies during periods of peak demand, while reducing environmental emissions, including greenhouse gases," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, who announced the selection of universities in June.

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On August 13, 2003. Posted in Research