Researchers at Tel Aviv University have just developed the next generation of superconductors, that have the potential to revolutionize energy transfer, carrying about 40 times more electricity than today’s copper wire, in a move that changes the financials of electricity costs completely.
According to Eureka Alert, Dr. Boaz Almog and Mishael Azoulay working under Professor Guy Deutscher at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University have developed a new kind of superconducting wire for use in high-powered cables, made not using copper, but using fibers made of single crystals of sapphire.
These single-crystal sapphire fibers are only slightly thicker than a human hair. It takes far less coolant to keep them from overheating, a problem with today’s copper wires affecting outdated grids in Israel and other MENA nations. Even with the benefit of liquid nitrogen for cooling, researchers need to find the ideal material to make superconductors. This is that find.
High power superconductor cables represent the future of renewable energy because they take up much less space and conduct energy more efficiently. But not forty times more efficiently, till now.
Reducing the energy loss over long distances is important because greater distances must typically be covered in bringing the best wind energy from the distant windy plains, and solar power from the distant sultry deserts that seem to produce it best far from where humans find it comfortable to live. (Grid Interconnection to Save Billions in Energy Hungry Gulf)
Desertec is one project sure to be the beneficiary of this advance, once commercialized. The World Bank has put in massive funds to move Desertec solar power from the deserts of Africa all the way to Europe. Even before this innovation, there are real financial benefits to a controversial project some describe as Neo-Colonialism. Now, this changes the Desertec equation, and more.
This fall, the superconductor innovation will be presented at the European Conference on Applied Superconductivity and the Association of Science Technology Centers Conference.
Curbing climate change depends on developments like this because efficient long distance transmission is what’s needed to add more renewable energy, so a 40-fold improvement in energy transfer bodes very well for the future.