Low-cost, high-efficiency superconductors and the scalable methods for their production



The Need

Current leads are conductors that transport current to cryogenic temperatures and back again. These devices play a critical role in protecting electrical transmission and distribution systems as well as upstream devices from surges. Existing technology requires energy inputs of five to ten times the cryogenic losses to mitigate those losses. By significantly reducing heat loss, the Ohio State University's MgB2-based Fault Current Limiter (FCL) dramatically reduces energy losses while providing the same protection of existing technology.

The Market

Having grown 102.7% annually from 2010-2012, the market for superconductive electrical equipment is poised to pass the $3 billion mark by 2017.Fault current limiters account for nearly one-quarter of the overall market for superconducting electrical equipment–expected to surpass $2 billion by the end of 2014–making that application a $500 million space alone. Total Addressable Market: $603 billion

  • Electric Utilities: $380 billion / 4% CAGR
  • Scientific Research & Development Services: $180 billion / 8% CAGR
  • Electromedical, Electrotherapeutic & X-Ray Apparatus Manufacturing: $40 billion / 7% CAGR
  • Superconducting Electrical Equipment: $2 billion / 12% CAGR
  • Industrial Magnets: $2 billion / 5% CAGR

Potential Applications

  • Electrical transmission and distribution systems
  • High energy physics particle accelerators
  • Fusion containment devices
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NRM)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Compact accelerators for proton therapy, a highly effective cancer treatment
  • Compact accelerators for medical isotope generation
  • R&D and industrial magnets

The Technology

The Fault Current Limiter (FCL) provides improved protection to electrical transmission and distribution networks versus existing technologies. Enabled by superconductive MgB2, the FCL minimizes total heat in the cryogenic portions of a current lead, the device responsible for transporting current to cryogenic temperatures and back, in turn minimizing both energy loss and damage to upstream devices stemming from an electrical surge.The Ohio State University researchers, led by Dr. Michael Sumption, have made a series of significant contributions to the development of commercial superconductors. Notable among them:

  • A practical, economical, and scalable method for the preparation of an improved superconductive material (T2012-213);
  • A method for producing a superconductive material with critical current densities far in excess of current state-of-the-art technologies (T2012-242); and
  • The invention of a new superconductor that represents a major improvement over the superconductors produced using the method set forth in T2012-242, one with a wide range of potential applications



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