Dr J. Georg Bednorz, Nobel laureate in Physics, assured himself on market-readiness of superconductor systems at Nexans Hanover plant

Energy turnaround in the distribution network: compared to conventional systems, superconductors minimise losses and save valuable space in urban locations

Dr J. Georg Bednorz assured himself on market-readiness of superconductor systems at Nexans Hanover plant

Dr J. Georg Bednorz, who received the Nobel Prize 26 years ago together with Professor Karl Alexander Müller for the discovery of the high-temperature superconductor, on a visit to the Hanover plant
Left to right: Frank Schmidt, Superconductor Activity Manager; Christof Barklage, CEO Nexans Deutschland; Dr Bednorz, Dr Mark Stemmle (project manager AmpaCity)

Hanover (Germany), 27 March 2013 – High-ranking visit to the Nexans superconductor technology plant at March 22: Dr J. Georg Bednorz, who, along with Professor Karl Alexander Müller, is winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of high-temperature superconductors, visited the Hanover plant to convince himself of the market readiness of superconducting cable systems. High-temperature superconductor cables, for the development of which Dr Bednorz laid an important foundation, can conduct large amounts of power with almost no loss, making a big improvement over conventional copper conductors.

“This paves the way for intelligent distribution of energy in urban areas, a system that transports electricity from A to B with almost no loss,” stated Dr Bednorz. This would, lead to a massive potential for savings in comparison with conventional lines. In addition to low-loss transportation of electricity, superconductors will enable space-saving power distribution in cities in the future, resulting in lower capital costs. “The energy turnaround starts in the network,” said Dr Bednorz.

Nexans engineers are currently working intensively on a superconductor cable about 1-km long, which the grid operator RWE Germany will install this year between two transformer stations at medium-voltage level in Essen in the Ruhr district. This will be the longest superconductor cable installation in the world. Dr Bednorz is confident that superconductors will become widely accepted for high-power applications in the long term. “It may have taken almost a quarter of a century to turn our discovery into a viable product, but technical challenges are there to be solved.”

The modern high-temperature superconductors (liquid-nitrogen-cooled) have been market-ready for power applications for some years now. However, they have not yet been used on a large scale. Thanks to improved production processes, superconductor wires are now available in sufficient quantities and quality for a variety of technical applications. Superconductivity is an efficiency technology that helps to save material and energy resources. Experts anticipate that these innovative cables will soon be in a position to compete with conventional copper technology in energy-intensive applications. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) considers superconductor equipment as a key pillar of future energy supply concepts.

The technical advantages of superconductor cables can be attributed to the material properties of the conductor. At temperatures of around -180°C, the material is transformed into an almost perfect electrical conductor that can carry at least 100 times more current than copper. Despite the cooling jacket, the compact design of the superconductor means that it can transmit five times the electricity of a similarly sized copper cable – and with much fewer electrical losses.

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Nexans Germany is one of the leading cable manufacturers in Europe. The company is offering an extensive range of high performance cables, systems, and components for the telecommunications and energy sectors, rounded off by superconducting materials and components, Cryoflex transfer systems and special machinery for the cable industry. Producing at manufacturing plants with 8.560 employees in Germany and abroad, the sales in 2011 amounts to approx. 940 Mio Euro. The full integration into the Nexans Group Nexans Germany also benefits from excellent opportunities to use the available synergies in all corporate fields, which not only applies to worldwide projects but also to research and development, the exchange of know how, and to other areas. More information on www.nexans.de