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World First: Wind Turbine Upgraded with HT Superconductor

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posted on Nov, 28 2018 @ 04:39 PM
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Generators could be made from superconducting magnets […] offering significant savings in size and weight. ‘We can make a machine that will deliver the same amount of power for roughly half the weight and half the volume of a regular wind turbine,’ says Marc Dhalle, materials scientist at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The EU-funded project, EcoSwing, was coordinated by Danish turbine company Envision.

The new generator is 4m in diameter, 1.5m smaller than a conventional one. It sits inside an 88m high 3.6MW turbine in Thyboron, Denmark.

What’s new is the use of magnets made from a composite tape with a ceramic superconducting layer: gadolinium–barium–copper oxide (GdBaCuO). The superconducting layer sits on a steel ribbon for flexibility and strength. The tape was made by Theva in Germany.

The superconducting tape is also protected from metal poisoning by layers of magnesium oxide and silver. The magnesium oxide also acts as a template for the precise crystalline structure needed by the GdBaCuO. An outer copper layer offers electrical and thermal stabilisation. Tens of kilometres of this tape sits inside the new wind turbine.

‘When groups initially started trying to put this superconductor on a flexible metal substrate, people considered them to be – let’s be polite – overly optimistic,’ says Dhalle. ‘A lot of technical details needed to be mastered, but they turned out to be visionaries.’

A wind generator making 1MW of power will contain roughly a tonne of neodymium in its magnets. In our generator, we use about 1kg of [the rare earth] gadolinium, so we use orders of magnitude less of this relatively rare and expensive material,’ says Dhalle. Gadolinium, which replaces neodymium in the turbine, costs just $18.70/kg (£14.50/kg) of gadolinium oxide, compared with $45.50/kg of neodymium oxide, according to Roskill and Asian Metal.

Off-the-shelf cryo-coolers from SHI Cryogenics in the UK chill the superconductor to –240°C. These coolers are similar to those used in ordinary refrigerators, although they’re far more powerful.

ChemistryWorld.com, Nov. 22, 2018 - World first as wind turbine upgraded with high temperature superconductor.

I had posted about why there are no superconducting wind turbines before. It has a great rundown of how HT superconducting tapes are made which was the main point of that post. In that post, the tapes were too rigid to be reliable thus increasing their manufacturing costs which lead them to be undercut by the permanent magnets even though they cost more and weigh more.

Here, the superconductor has been layered on a bendable substrate. The whole thing gets cooled down to the critical temperature (Tc), where the YBCO crystals re-arrange their electrical formation and give up the fight, so to speak, and begin to conduct electricity without resistance – a superconductor [in the announcement they replaced yttrium with gadolinium].

A world's first! These are always fun announcements but there is also the "let's wait and see if it does any good" factor to them as well.

Personally, I am glad they are not sitting around waiting for perfect technology or the Holy Grail of room temperature superconductors. You have to try, even if it is wrong, to really know.

And in other HTSC news...

Energynew.us, Nov. 26, 2018 - Chicago superconductor project will link substations with high-capacity wires.

Here they are not using the wires for main transmission but as an alternate routing abilities (the article says, "like the internet") to make the electrical grid in Chicago more redundant. The project will not be done until 2021 so this is more of an announcement that it will be undertaken.

Anyway, news like that gets my "nuclear fusion fanboy" vibes a twitching! To me, I see it more as a proof of concept rather than a gigantic push of a new technology. And I have been saying, "a major upgrade in power distribution will be needed prior to a nuclear fusion reactor being added to the grid," which is what this announcement looks like: a step in that direction.

Besides "wind turbine kill birds," and "they create more pollution in their creation than green energy they generate" (both, in their way, and up to a limit, are valid points, but is not what this thread is about), what about the use of high temperature superconductors in electric generation? How about electrical distribution? Do you think it is the future, a nice step, or are you holding out for room temperature SCs??




posted on Nov, 28 2018 @ 05:49 PM
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YouTube - The Latest on EcoSwing Superconductor with Envision



A video showing the EcoSwing project in action with Envision was posted in October. Envision is one of the partners in the consortium making this possible.

Fundamentally, the news is that EcoSwing's actors have fulfilled an objective to install a superconducting drive train on an existing wind turbine in Denmark, on the Danish west coast. This is a large-scale wind turbine.

"Superconducting drive train" may be a mouthful but the three words highlight what is special about this effort in wind power. "Superconductivity" is now in focus. For the first time ever, a superconducting generator is about to be installed, said the video narrator, in a functioning wind turbine. The equipment was described as a multi-megawatt direct-drive superconducting wind generator.

Techxplore.com, news, Nov. 28, 2018 - Wind turbine swap in Denmark turns focus on superconductors. (Vid source)

A bit more info (although it looks like they lifted the content from nextbigfuture.com which is kind of the same as the chemistryworld article!).

Alex: Oh. I am sorry TEOT. We were looking for, "What is a superconducting drive train"
TEOT: "I'll take things I don't know about for 400, Alex..."

That is kind of the problem with PR tech news stories; if they are edited at all, the technical details are removed because, I guess, we are just too g-d stoopid to understand.

It is kind of explained in the TechXplore article but it is spread all over the place. In a nut shell, as the technology is demonstrated and then proven, manufacturing can ramp up which will drive the overall cost down (like has been seen in the Li-ion battery factories). And energy companies are nothing if not long term looking.

The best line in the article is the last:


The project is claimed to be "the world's first" such drivetrain, showing "a piece of engineering history."


I think that that is the aspect of the story I liked the best. The historical view.




posted on Nov, 28 2018 @ 05:54 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

Yay HT superconductors! It would be nice if this really boosts energy efficiency. I wonder how much energy it takes to keep the superconductors operable.



posted on Nov, 28 2018 @ 06:35 PM
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a reply to: BELIEVERpriest


I think if the cost was too high they would not put the thing up in the "real world" but keep it closer to home.

Liquid nitrogen is less expensive than liquid helium so there is a bit of savings on keeping the whole thing cold. The GaBCO has to be cooled to "–135°C" (for typical HTSC), which is in the liquid nitrogen range. It still costs you but IDK how much.

I think they are looking at this as an overall cost saving. The OP says they are using a ton of neodymium (at $45/kg, and mainly from China no less!) per turbine where as the SC tape is less than $20/kg. The cooling costs can be partially eaten at that moment. Over the long run, if it works, the whole TCO should even out. And over the scale of years, even decrease.

The swap was like-for-like (total energy generated) which actually decreased the overall size and weight. If they can get a bit more efficiency out that would really prove the point!

This will be fun to watch over time and see if others jump on SC bandwagon!




posted on Nov, 28 2018 @ 07:09 PM
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Another EU project called EcoSwing aims to prove that a superconducting generator can compete at more modest scales, and its engineers have nearly done it. By March 2019, the €14 million ($16.3 million) project plans to have installed such a superconducting generator inside a modified 3.6-MW turbine on land, where the installation and maintenance are easier.

Unlike the high-megawatt offshore projects, EcoSwing is aiming for the middle of today’s onshore market. Superconductor technology has let the designers double the turbine’s power density, allowing for a 40 percent smaller turbine generator and a 15 percent cost reduction over those of market leaders, says Jürgen Kellers, EcoSwing’s director at ECO 5, an engineering company that’s one of the nine contributors to the project.

Apart from its size, the EcoSwing generator differs from the InnWind and other offshore designs in that EcoSwing uses a single large cryostat instead of many modular ones. It also relies on a high-temperature superconductor—yttrium barium copper oxide—instead of MgB2. The company chose the former despite the cost, because it’s easier to cool YBCO. “You might say MgB2 is already at a cost that YBCO wants to be in the future,” says Kellers. “On the other hand, cryogenics is not as straightforward and rugged as with YBCO.”

spectrum.ieee.org, July 26, 2018 - The Troubled Quest for the Superconducting Wind Turbine.

The article spends a bunch of time on magnesium diboride as a SC because that is what several other wind turbine companies are working on implementing. That SC is somewhere between a HTSC and LTSC and is tricky to cool down (the article explains this in detail). I do not see the "brittle" aspect so it may have been a different article I was referring to. Basically, YBCO has an issue with the SC "grains" being spaced almost too far apart. Then when bent into a circle the spacing becomes non-even (inside radius vs. outside radius). And the YBCO is a crystal which can crack (which is what I was trying to say about why it is not the magnet of choice in all fusion reactors--yet). They are trying to surmount these problems by making twisted wires then bundling them together instead of using flat tape.

It is a good read for those interested in the problems and issues faced in trying to make this a reality!

Glad I found this and re-read it! Looks like EcoSwing beat their goal of March 2019 by a few months! Amazing what a difference of only 4 months can make!




posted on Nov, 29 2018 @ 03:15 AM
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Superconductors like this (EG. YBCO) are becoming practical because liquid nitrogen costs about the same as bottled water when mass produced. That probably just highlights the way we're being ripped off with bottled drinking water but, whichever way you look at it, relatively high temperature superconductors are becoming practical for scientific and industrial uses.



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