AMSC, a global energy equipment provider serving wind and power grid industry leaders, says it has been selected for an award of $4.5 million for applied research and development of superconductor wire by The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) as part of the agency’s Next Generation Electric Machines program. The award is subject to completion of a contract which is expected to be entered into in the coming weeks.
“We are focused on delivering system level value to enable a more resilient electric grid and a resilient fleet. We expect that this funding will enable us to continue advancing wire technology specifically for rotating machines for the fleet,” said Daniel P. McGahn, President and Chief Executive Officer of AMSC. “This work with the DOE is complementary to our efforts to enable the U.S. Navy’s ‘Electric Ship‘ objective and will allow our team to continue to develop wire technology focusing on specific system level applications like motors and generators for naval ships.”
In 2009, AMSC and Northrop Grumman Corporation announced the successful completion of full-power testing of the world’s first 36.5 MW high temperature superconductor (HTS) ship propulsion motor at the U.S. Navy’s Integrated Power System Land–Based Test Site in Philadelphia. This accomplishment was the first successful full-power test of an electric propulsion motor sized for a large Navy combatant and, at 36.5 MWs, doubled the Navy’s power rating test record. This system was designed and built under a contract from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to demonstrate the efficacy of HTS motors as the primary propulsion technology for future Navy all-electric ships and submarines. Naval Sea Systems Command funded and led the successful testing of the motor. This new DOE program is expected to help further the advance of wire technology in preparation for what could be next with the U.S. Navy.
The projects selected by EERE will address the limitations of traditional materials and designs used in electric motor components by cost-effectively enhancing their efficiency, improving their performance, and reducing weight. The effort will support innovative approaches that are expected to significantly improve the technology in industrial electric motors, which use approximately 70 percent of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally, according to EERE.
“AMSC has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy, and other U.S. government agencies for many years to extend and enhance the application of HTS,” said McGahn. “This recent award is an opportunity to continue to demonstrate our leadership in developing high performance HTS systems for the evolving electric grid and motors of the future.” A few AMSC developments include:
- In 2006, AMSC partnered with American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio and DOE to demonstrate a HTS cable system to efficiently deliver electric power to approximately 8,600 homes and businesses in suburban Columbus. The HTS power cable installed in AEP’s distribution grid connecting its Bixby substation in Groveport, Ohio to commercial and industrial customers was developed, installed and energized on time and on budget.
- In 2008, AMSC, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and DOE celebrated the commissioning of the world’s first HTS power transmission cable system in a commercial power grid capable of delivering 500 MWs, or one half gigawatt of power. The 138 kV system (operated at 115 kV), which consisted of three individual HTS power cable phases running in parallel, was successfully energized and operated to demonstrate the power density advantage of transmission-voltage HTS cables utilizing far less wire, but conducting up to five times more power, in a smaller right of way than traditional copper based cables. HTS cables can deliver transmission level power at distribution level voltages enabling the deployment of transmission assets on the grid in an environmentally appropriate format.
- Also in 2008, AMSC supplied critical components to the ONR and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) Ship Engineering Station Philadelphia for a HTS degaussing coil system for initial electrical testing onboard the USS Higgins (DDG 76), an 8,000 ton Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Powered by AMSC’s HTS wire and magnet cable technology, the coil system successfully completed a multi-year U.S. Navy sea trial, and is the program that enabled the creation of AMSC’s ship protection system solutions for the U.S. Navy, which is expected by the company to be an annual market opportunity of between $70 million and $120 million by 2020.
- In 2011, AMSC and LS Cable deployed a HTS power cable utilizing AMSC’s proprietary 2G HTS wire, to energize a 22.9 kV cable system that was installed in Korea Electric Power Corporation’s (KEPCO) commercial power delivery network at the I’cheon substation located near the city of Seoul. At nearly one-half mile in length, the HTS power cable was successfully energized and tested at delivering up to 50 MWs of power, making it the world’s longest distribution-voltage HTS cable system.
- In 2011, AMSC, Nexans, and Siemens, along with DOE, successfully qualified a transmission voltage resistive fault current limiter (FCL) that utilizes AMSC’s 2G HTS wire for power levels suitable for application in the transmission grid (138kV insulation class and nominal current of 900 A). This smart grid system demonstrated its ability to strengthen the grid by reducing the destructive nature of faults, extending the life of existing substation equipment and allowing utilities to defer or eliminate equipment replacements or upgrades. The resistive nature of the HTS-based FCL improves the ability of the high voltage transmission power grid to remain stable, reducing the likelihood of more widespread system collapse. The Company, in conjunction with Nexans, is now offering stand-alone FCL’s for the North American market.
- In 2013, AMSC was selected by Nexans, for HTS wire to be used in a superconductor FCL (SFCL) to be integrated into the electric grid in Essen, Germany, as part of the “AmpaCity” project being undertaken by Nexans, RWE Group, and the German research institute KIT. The AMSC/Nexan SFCL provides overload protection to the HTS cable, lowering the fault current levels, and allowing for a safe and reliable interconnection to the grid. Nexans and AMSC agreed in 2016 to jointly develop and deliver projects using both companies’ capabilities.
- In 2014, AMSC and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, initiated the development of a deployment plan for AMSC’s HTS technology to build a HTS cable system designed to strengthen Chicago’s electric grid.
The Resilient Electric Grid (REG) effort is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s work to secure the nation’s electric power grids and improve resiliency against extreme weather, acts of terrorism, or other catastrophic events. The company estimates that the U.S. market opportunity for its REG system is between $5 billion and $6 billion annually.
In 2016, AMSC and BASF Corporation agreed to jointly develop an advanced low cost manufacturing process for second-generation high temperature superconductor wire. In the joint development, AMSC’s manufacturing know-how for its Amperium superconductor wire and BASF’s chemical solution deposition production technology are being combined. As part of the agreements, AMSC and BASF also entered into a royalty-bearing, non-exclusive license under which AMSC is providing BASF a specified portion of AMSC’s second-generation (2G) HTS wire manufacturing technology. We are working with BASF to possibly refine and advance wire process technology.
The parties expect these agreements to result in the development of a potentially low cost manufacturing process at BASF and to let AMSC focus resources on driving down the total system cost. If the development is complete and successful, AMSC may use wire produced by this advanced manufacturing process for its systems business. AMSC’s strategy is to continually research, develop, and deliver its HTS technology for integration into system level solutions for its customers with the help of its public and private funding partners.
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