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Eurotapes: boosting the European superconductivity industry

The Eurotapes Project is the biggest effort ever launched by the European Commission for the development of superconductor materials and their applications. 20 partners from 9 countries are involved in this consortium, which is led by the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona (ICMAB).

 

 

Superconductor wire.The Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona (ICMAB) coordinates the Eurotapes project, the biggest effort ever launched by the European Commission for the development of superconductor materials and their applications.

Eurotapes (European development of Superconducting Tapes) is aimed at boosting the European superconductivity industry. The goal is to achieve the tapes, wires, generators and other superconductor components to be competitive and cheap enough for its use to be general. The project has a €20M budget; €13,5 M of which are funded by the European Union.

The project, with 20 partners, including companies, universities, research and technological centers, is coordinated by the CSIC’s professor Xavier Obradors Berenguer, director at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona.

Improving performance, reducing prizes

More than 25 years after the high temperature superconductor discovery, its future uses are wide and promising. Nevertheless, its industrial production is still expensive, which is the major obstacle to achieve its general application.

To overcome this obstacle is the main goal of EUROTAPES. The laboratories involved, many of them pioneers in the development of superconductors, will work to obtain these materials improved at reduced cost. In order to achieve this, they will apply different strategies, such as modifying the superconductor tape structures or implementing new manufacture methodologies.

The laboratories will realize the essays at small scale. Xavier Obradors, Eurotapes coordinator, says that this stage could last for two years. Afterwards, the industrial partners will reproduce the processes at a larger scale.

The superconductors developed within Eurotapes are made for different applications.  For instance, wires for a more efficient electricity distribution with safer and less invasive grids; generators for wind turbines, and magnets for biomedicine (magnetic resonance and molecular design) and scientific facilities (accelerators and fusion power generation).  

"If a conventional generator achieves 4 megawatts, a superconductor generator similar in size and weight will achieve from 10 to 12 megawatts"

The wind power offers a good example of the big expectations raised by superconductors. As Xavier Obradors explains, a superconductor generator is much lighter than a conventional one (a third of its weight) and produces more electricity. If conventional generators were replaced by superconductor generators, a single turbine would achieve as much energy as two or three. In other words: if a conventional generator achieves 4 megawatts, a superconductor generator similar in size and weight will achieve from 10 to 12 megawatts.

Eurotapes website: European development of Superconducting Tapes: integrating novel materials and architectures into cost effective processes for power applications and magnets (EUROTAPES)