Around this time last year, engineers were preparing to hoist the first superconducting wind turbine generator to the top of a tower in Denmark. The turbine capped an ambitious group of European efforts to find a way to increase the power of offshore turbines without making them too massive to build. Now it’s the United States’ turn. The U.S. Department of Energy will dole out US $8-million for three advanced-drive train efforts, two of which rely on superconductors.
Ayer, Mass.-based American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) will build a generator based on high-temperature superconductors (HTS), which lose their resistance at around 77 Kelvins. General Electric Research, in Niskayuna, N.Y. will develop a generator using low-temperature superconductors, leveraging its experience using liquid helium to cool the materials below 10 K in MRI machines.