Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


New superconductor research laboratory dedicated

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 19, 2001 — A new high-temperature superconductor research laboratory was dedicated today at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The new laboratory is part of the Accelerated Coated Conductor Initiative, a collaborative effort between ORNL and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The initiative will help accelerate the development of power cables, motors, generators and transformers using new "second-generation" wire technology.

Superconductors have virtually no resistance to electric current, offering the possibility of developing new electric power equipment with more energy efficiency and higher capacity than today's systems. Superconducting technology may help reduce the future need for new electric power generation during the next three decades.

The ORNL-invented superconducting tape is a roll-textured buffered metal material that carries a critical current density of at least 1 million amperes per square centimeter in liquid nitrogen. This compares to standard household wires that that typically carry less than 1,000 amperes per square centimeter.

The new laboratory will help accelerate the development and application of high-temperature superconductor technologies through joint efforts among DOE laboratories, universities and industry.

Scientists are using technologies adapted from the semiconductor and photographic film industries to learn to make longer lengths of these superconductor wires.

Congress allocated $6 million in FY 2001 to accelerate the development of this second-generation wire.

"U.S. industry and national laboratory researchers will work side by side to develop this technology," said Bob Hawsey, manager of ORNL's Superconductivity Program.

ORNL is a national leader in developing superconducting technology that has been licensed to private industry and is being evaluated through several cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs). Among ORNL's CRADA partners participating in today's dedication were American Superconductor Corp., MicroCoating Technologies, Oxford Superconducting Technology and the Southwire Co.

ORNL is a DOE multiprogram facility operated by UT-Battelle.