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Future technologies drive down power use

Posted: 24 Jun 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronic technologies  power revolution  Moore's Law 

But with Department of Energy funding for superconductivity eliminated most of the new demonstration projects and installations are overseas, in China, South Korea and Europe, said Jack McCall, managing director of American Superconductor's (AMSC's) Superconductor Cables and Systems business.

In April, for instance, AMSC announced that its HTS cable was being installed at an electrical substation in Baiyin, Gansu province, China. The first AMSC HTS transmission cable will be installed in the Beijing area this summer.

Amperium wire

American Superconductor's Amperium wire (right) conducts more than 100 times the electrical current of equivalently sized copper wire. And unlike copper wire, Amperium has zero resistance, so there is no power loss during transmission. (Photo courtesy of AMSC)

Like China, South Korea has a number of demonstration projects in the works that use AMSC superconducting cable. Last October, AMSC announced the sale of three million meters—about (80.5km) 50 miles—of superconducting wire to South Korea's LS Cable, which will manufacture HTS cable and install it in South Korea's high-profile smart grid project on Jeju Island. Also, AMSC is providing HTS cable to replace copper power supply cable in Seoul; the HTS cable will increase available power six fold without the need to install any new circuits, according to McCall.

Silicon carbide: Boosting energy savings in thousands of apps
Power electronics provide significant opportunity for delivering energy savings in a variety of applications. And when it comes to boosting the performance of power components, nothing beats energy-saving silicon carbide. By swapping out standard silicon components—diodes and MOSFETs, for example—for SiC components, power loss can be reduced significantly, resulting in more-efficient energy usage.

The use of SiC Schottky diodes, for instance, has already saved $600 million [Rs.2,678.57 crore] in electricity worldwide, according to Cree. That's the equivalent of the annual CO2 output from three coal-fired power plants or 650,000 cars. And that's just the start, as SiCs today account for only about 1.5 per cent of the power component market. Cree estimates that the potential of energy savings from SiC adoption could total upward of 300 million [30 crore] tons of CO2 or 240 coal-fired power plants per year.

Indeed, there are thousands of potential energy savings opportunities using SiC power switches and diodes. They include power supplies, air conditioners, variable-speed motors, home appliance applications and solid-state lighting, as well as inverters for the power grid, photovoltaic and wind generators, and power management components for electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

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