Dec. 21, 2009 Waukesha Electric Systems, SuperPower, University of Houston, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Southern California Edison are partnering in a $10.7 million smart grid demonstration project award announced by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu on November 24. The funds will be used to manufacture a transformer for electric utilities that will boost the reliability of the nation's power grid.
"The project is for a fault current limiting (FCL) superconducting transformer. Waukesha Electric will build the transformer, SuperPower will manufacture the superconducting wire that will be used in the transformer, and will collaborate on the development of a new wire architecture and testing of its functionality with the Texas Center of Superconductivity at the University of Houston," said Venkat (Selva) Selvamanickam, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering. "We look forward to seeing our technology employed in a physical device when the transformer is installed four years from now in California's largest grid at the Southern California Edison utility substation."
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the technology used by utilities has not changed much in decades and in some cases has not changed for over 100 years. It is estimated that 40 percent of the nation's total grid energy losses are from aging conventional transformers and that the use of superconducting transformers could reduce energy losses on the grid by one-third equivalent to eliminating about 15 million tons of CO2 annually.
"Superconducting transformers are half the size and weight of conventional transformers and occupy less space, which results in increased power handling capability without the requirement for more or larger substations in already crowded urban areas. Additionally, they can be installed within buildings since they don't use flammable oil for cooling, which is a benefit in urban areas,
|Contact: Melissa Carroll|
University of Houston