Opportunities in power applications of superconductors
Since the discovery of high temperature superconductors in 1986/87, rapid progress has been made in the development of these materials in forms suitable for engineering applications. Amongst the most important are flexible silver/superconductor composite wires or tapes capable of carrying tens of amperes at liquid nitrogen temperatures essentially without loss. Diverse applications in areas such as electricity supply, medicine industry and transportation now seem accessible and a total market in excess of US $l5O billion is forecast for the year 2020. A consortium consisting of Metal Manufactures Ltd. (MM), the University of Wollongong and CSIRO has produced high quality tapes on the laboratory scale, and is planning the establishment of a pilot plant within MM Cables for the production of 1 km long tapes. This paper reviews the present status of superconducting technology, discusses its likely impact on power transmission and other applications and outlines opportunities for Australian collaboration in the development of prototype devices.