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European Advanced Superconductivity Innovation and Training

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EASITrain (European Advanced Superconductivity Innovation and Training)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Superconductivity remains largely untapped due to the limited understanding of how to apply the fundamental principles at engineering level and the capability to deploy the technology at large scale cost-effectively.

Putting energy efficient technologies on a fast track to market adoption is therefore a prime concern. Developing new superconducting materials is essential for a possible successor to the LHC currently being explored by the Future Circular Collider (FCC) study. Beyond fundamental research, superconducting materials are used in applications as diverse as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the magnetic separation of minerals in the mining industry and efficient power transmission across long distances. Superconductivity is not only improving the energy efficiency of numerous applications at large scale, but for certain use cases it is the only feasible way. In addition, the improvement of cryogenic refrigeration systems is paramount for the deployment of superconductivity at large scales. Such systems are also key elements in the hydrogen production chain, another eco-friendly technology. Different production techniques are required to create devices that use this leading-edge technology. The advances of those techniques have numerous additional potentials to improve our daily lives that this project analyses.

This project enhanced our understanding of how different superconductors behave under diverse operating conditions and the factors limiting their performance, and advancing the production methods and performance of low and high temperature superconductors. New insights have been obtained into the factors limiting wire performance, and the mechanisms by which high-field performance can be improved by doping and artificial pinning centres, for Nb3Sn and MgB2 wires. New deposition methods have been developed for thallium-based coatings, and several production methods for superconducting RF cavities have been studied and optimised. Significant progress has also been made towards improving the efficiency of cryogenic refrigeration systems, including modelling the thermodynamic properties of cryogenic mixtures, a design study, and validation of the predicted characteristics with a test rig.

The activities of the EASItrain consortium were accompanied by “open innovation management”, analysing the value chains of the production processes for the different superconducting technologies to assess the market potential outside their core application fields.
The project has experimentally analysed the performance of superconducting wires, and investigated the mechanisms by which state-of-the-art artificial pinning centre (APC) and doping techniques enhance that performance. For niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconductors, compositional inhomogeneity limiting wire performance has been characterised in relation to wire design, and flux pinning models have been developed for APC wires. This is an important development since Nb3Sn is a candidate not only for future high-energy colliders, but also for other applications that can benefit from its higher current density at higher fields (10 T-16 T) and its high transition temperature (~17 K) wrt to Nb-Ti: medical imaging devices (MRI and NMR), cancer treatment particle accelerators and industrial materials analysis applications.

For magnesium diboride (MgB2), work has focused on enhancing its suitability for high magnetic field industrial applications and on electromechanical characterisation. Advancements in YBCO coated conductors for high field applications have also been made, including the development of improved quality assurance methods, for which an intellectual property (IP) disclosure has been made. Scientific articles have been published in journals and conference proceedings during the project.

High Temperature Superconducting thin films have also been studied. Two deposition methods for thallium-based coatings have been developed, resulting in enhanced morphology and superconducting properties, and a new study has been launched to realise their potential for beam screen coatings. Superconducting RF cavities are used in particle accelerators, in industrial free-electron lasers and energy-recovery linear accelerators. In the field of radiofrequency (RF), several methods for depositing Nb and NbN coatings have been optimised and factors limiting performance (e.g. surface preparation) have been identified and addressed. Electrohydraulic forming has also been studied for cavity applications: comparative studies of different forming techniques of Cu and Nb have been performed, assessing the microstructural effects of different strain rate processes, in order to optimise the shape and performance of complex structures. Two IP disclosures have been issued in relation to these activities, ~20 scientific publications have been made, and results have been presented at an international conference.

For cryogenic refrigeration, the work focused on efficient cooling of high-field superconducting magnets and on an energy-efficient refrigeration cycle based on a neon-helium (“nelium”) gas mixture. For magnet cooling, a numerical model for transient heat transfer in superfluid helium and in the confined geometry of coolant micro-channels has been successfully developed and validated with experimental data. Equation of state models for the thermodynamic properties of nelium and other binary cryogenic mixtures have also been successfully developed and validated experimentally. A design study for a nelium cryogenic refrigerator has been undertaken to validate the potential performance improvements and industrial applicability of this technology; a test rig has been designed, built and used to validate turbocompressor performance operated with these gas mixtures.
The economics analysis revealed that FCC’s technologies that are being developed are still underexploited today. In total, seven technologies were analyzed to assess their market potential, resulting in the identification of approximately 100 novel industrial application fields with added value for society. Some examples of application fields are:
• Superconducting Rutherford cables can be used in hybrid electric ship and aircraft, leading to more environmentally friendly transport systems
• The food market can profit from cheaper and more precise NMR systems for new markets such as quality management for high-priced vanilla and the avoidance of chicken culling through egg screening
• Significant reduction of water consumption in large-scale industrial systems can be achieved through filtration based on high-field superconducting magnets
• Superconductors with higher current density or which are lighter are enablers for compact and lighter particle accelerators that can be used for emerging light-ion beam cancer treatment
• HiPIMS is a standard technology in the (micro cutting) tools industry where HiPIMS-coated cutting tools have increased service life even with ultra-thin coatings
• HiPIMS’ most promising future application fields are in the aesthetic and functional coating of communication equipment, glass and automotive parts
• High and medium level radioactive waste treatment
• Large-volume, precision electric heat treatment can be used to separate precious materials in scrap-metal production lines to produce resources from waste in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way
ESR Linn presents market potentials of technologies at FCC Week 2019
Superconducting film production with magnetron sputtering at INFN LNL
A closed-loop, Nelium turbocompressor test facility
Compressor geometry comparison between the first and second geometry to be tested on the experiment
Code of the Universe exhibition at the Piazza De Ferrari in G
Experimental compressor performance comparison for gases of various molecular weights and specific h
ESR Jakub from CEA engages children in the physics of low temperatures during EASISchool 2
Superconducting cavity production at INFN LNL
EASISchool 2 participants at the top of the beautiful site of the Bastille summit, Grenoble.
Mattia Ortino and Alice Moros, Fellows of the H2020 MSCA EASItrain preparing the production of proto
The ESR project team at CERN
Selfie of ESRs with Nobel Laureate Georg Bednorz during EASISchool 1
Design of impeller for a novel turbo compressor for light gas mixtures