Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - NESPA (Nanoengineered Superconductors for Power Applications)

High Temperature Superconductors (HTS) have an enormous potential for significantly improving existing power systems, such as cables, motors, transformers, magnets and generators, because higher power densities and reduced losses can be achieved by replacing copper or low temperature superconductor wires. Superconducting materials will also enable completely new technologies in the power sector, such as fault current limiters or inherently stable magnetic levitation. As examples for innovative applications, advanced energy systems for "all-electrical" ships, off-shore windmills and transportation systems should be mentioned.

The project developed high performance nano-engineered superconducting materials for power applications and investigated their properties to accelerate their integration into industrial systems. The development of these HTS materials for power applications was a highly multidisciplinary task involving chemistry, physics, materials science and electrical engineering. It was addressed along three quite differently oriented routes:
(i) to support the construction and implementation of the first "real" industrial systems based on HTS materials,
(ii) the development of HTS coated conductors (CC) and MgB2 tapes and wires that will result in economic conductor production and
(iii) the controlled nano-engineering of superconducting materials (highly textured HTS bulk materials and thin films, polycrystalline MgB2) to enhance flux pinning and thus to improve the material to the necessary performance in magnetic fields.

NESPA supported the developments towards industrial applicability by forming a multidisciplinary research team with leading experts from European universities (University of Cambridge, Vienna University of Technology, ILTSR Wroclaw), research centres (IFW Dresden, Slovak Academy of Science, Research Centre Karlsruhe, ICMAB Barcelona) and both large companies (Siemens AG, Nexans, Ansaldo) as well as SME´s (Stirling, Columbus).

The project focused on the most promising superconducting materials, preparation techniques, applications and cryogenic developments for the envisaged power application systems. Therefore, the materials research topics were restricted to RE123 coated conductors, RE123 bulk material and MgB2 wires and tapes. There the critical current density as the central figure of merit of superconducting materials for power applications was improved by the controlled incorporation of a high density of nano-scale defects into an undisturbed crystalline matrix. The electrical engineering issues under consideration concentrated on understanding and reducing ac-losses in superconducting wires and tapes by innovative conductor designs. The industrial aspects were focused on scale-up the material preparation and the realisation of superconducting cables, motors, magnets and the cryogenics involved.

Within NESPA 23 Early Stage Researchers and 11 Experienced researchers worked on these research topics and published over 130 peer reviewed publications. As well as important as the scientific research was the training and transfer of knowledge to the NESPA fellows. It was a major aim of the network to integrate the knowledge of industrial partners and academia. NESPA offered valuable training by a set of special training courses for early-stage researchers from industry in the field of materials science, physics, nano-engineering and chemistry, as well as for early-stage researchers from academic institutions in industry relevant topics, such as intellectual property rights, quality management or special application requirements like refrigeration, cryogenics and ac-losses. Additionally, the NESPA training programme included training of early-stage researchers in general management topics and soft skills.

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