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Korean superconducting motor starts spinning

08 May, 2007

Two South Korean organisations – Doosan Heavy Industries and the Korean Electrotechnology Research Institute – have built and demonstrated a compact, high-efficiency superconducting motor for civilian and military applications. A government-backed development programme which started in 2004 has culminated in the 970kW demonstration motor, capable of spinning at 3,600 rpm. Doosan plans to offer commercial superconducting motors by 2010-2011.

The Korean super-motor contains 5km of superconducting wire supplied by American Superconductor (AMSC), which has recently completed factory acceptance tests on its own 36.5MW high-temperature superconductor motor which it is developing for the US Navy.

AMSC reckons that the annual global market for industrial motors rated above 745kW is worth more than $1bn and believes that compact, efficient superconducting motors could capture a significant slice of this business.

º AMSC has also supplied the superconducting wires for a 30m-long 138kV power transmission cable that has been manufactured and tested successfully by the cable-maker Nexans at its high-voltage facility in Hannover, Germany. The cable is the first to use second-generation high-temperature superconductors and needs just 33 hair-thin conductors to transmit 435MVA - enough to power 250,000 homes. This capacity is more than 50% higher than conventional copper-based cables of a similar voltage rating. Nexans says the tests show that the technology is approaching the commercialisation stage, and will help utilities to transmit power efficiently especially in areas such as city centres where space is limited.

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