Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

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


ORNL negotiating with companies on cryogenic systems

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 24, 2003 — The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has entered into negotiations for awarding two three-year contracts worth more than $8 million to develop advanced cryogenic systems to support new high-temperature superconductors.

The lead companies entering into negotiations with ORNL are Praxair of Danbury, Conn., and Cyromech of Syracuse, N.Y. Praxair will help ORNL develop two advanced refrigeration systems while Cryomech will assist on a third one.

The work will focus on supporting efforts under way in DOE's Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution to develop advanced cryogenic refrigeration systems for cooling the next generation of electric power equipment based upon high-temperature superconductors.

Cryogenic cooling - cryocoolers - are required for the wires in superconducting equipment. Superconductivity is the ability of certain materials to carry large electrical current without the resistance losses of conventional materials such as copper. Superconductors can enable more efficient, reliable and secure electricity transmission, distribution and use.

Cryocoolers typically can chill equipment to temperatures far below those in a household refrigerator - minus 321 degrees F and below. High-temperature superconducting wires cooled to these temperatures have the ability to dramatically increase the capacity of transmission systems.

Praxair will be partnering with other companies and institutions in the development of cryocooler systems. The objective of this work will be to accelerate the development of cryogenic enabling technology for superconducting electrical power systems. Key goals of the research are to drastically improve the cryocooler efficiency and reliability in systems with the capacity to cool future cables, motors, generators, transformers and like devices.

The development of high-temperature superconducting technology was a key recommendation of the National Transmission Grid Study released last year. Superconducting power equipment can help modernize and expand the electric grid, which will be required to support continued economic growth in the United States.

Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2002 sales of $5.1 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric and process gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technologies bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair is available on the Internet at www.praxair.com.

Cyromech is a world leader in development and manufacture of single and double-stage Gifford-McMahon and Pulse Tube cryorefrigerators. Cryomech has developed the AL300 and AL330, which have the highest efficiency and highest cooling capacity to date of any available GM cryocooler at temperatures from 20 to 60 Kelvin. Cryomech is also the only company to provide larger commercial pulse tube products in the United States. Cryomech's research will include the development of a new generation of Stirling-type (valveless) pulse tube cryocoolers for 60 to 80 Kelvin and higher efficiency Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers for 20 to 40 Kelvin.

ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.