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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Superconductivity breakthrough can revolutionize power generation, power distribution and electronics industry.

European researchers on Tuesday announced the development of Superconducting tapes. The statement said that the breakthrough could one day revolutionize the power transmission and power generation industries. The statement went as far as to claim that the technology is already being used in many appliances.

Eurotapes, a European research project on superconductivity has produced 600 meters superconducting tape, said the coordinator of the project, Xavier Obradors, of the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona.

Superconductivity is a phenomenon discovered in 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes. Superconductivity is the ability of any material to conduct electricity with zero loss of electric charge. Conventional conductors like copper losses up to 10% of the charge in form of heat.

All superconducting materials discovered till now show their superconductive property at low temperature.  The highest temperature known superconducting material is highly pressurized hydrogen sulfide, whose critical temperature reaches 203 K (−70 °C), the highest accepted superconducting critical temperature as of 2015. The aim is to one day find a material that can work as superconductor at room temperature.

The use of superconductor, if any discovered to work at room temperature, can revolutionize the power distribution, power generation and electric appliances. The use of the material in appliances and other electronics would help manufacture of supercomputers, much lighter and cheaper than today. The power generation can be revolutionized by manufacture of much lighter and much more efficient wind turbines. It can convert small wind turbines into an electricity generation power house.

Wind turbines are a series of wire coils attached to the rotor blade spin in the presence of strong magnetic fields, provided by stationary magnets.  Making the coils from resistance free material can boost power generation.

The power distribution can be changed altogether. Right now, if you want to send electricity from the East coast of the US to the West coast, you could lose at least 60 percent of the energy because of the resistance within the wires. Imagine the superconducting transmission lines carrying charge from Gobi desert in China to London, without any line losses.  The solar panels near the equator can be linked to transmission lines helping better and much more efficient energy mix in favor of renewable energy as at all time there will be sun shining somewhere.

The discovery can one day lead to environment friendly power generation and power consumption. The race to develop first superconducting material at room temperature is yet to yield any viable results. The team in United States has announced the production of metallic hydrogen, a possible superconductor at room temperature, through application of pressure much more than at the center of Earth.

Australian researchers earlier mentioned that wind turbines two to three times more efficient than present ones can be manufactured using superconductors and would be ready to be installed on Australian shores till 2019.

Japanese team has hinted that they have discovered that critical temperature of materials can be enhanced by soaking materials in red wine.

Superconductivity research can one day free us from dependence on fossil fuel and make Earth a better place to live in for our children.

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