Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sustainable Energy

Superconductor Power

Some of the blackouts that struck California this winter might have been avoided if power companies could more quickly move large amounts of electricity between regions. Such a boost may be possible with a new type of superconducting tape invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Superconductivity Technology Center. Made from nickel alloy, the tape is coated with fine layers of zirconia using a pulsed-laser process that precisely orients the zirconia grains after deposition. Then subsequent layers of nickel are applied to create a superconducting film as thin as six micrometers. The tape carries one million amperes per square centimeter of current, about 14 times the capacity of today’s bismuth-based superconducting tape and 200 times better than copper wire. The liquid-nitrogen-cooled tape can operate at a relatively balmy -196 C, making it far more economical than many existing high-capacity tapes that require cooling by liquid helium at temperatures as low as -269 C. The new process is also much faster than earlier methods. Within two to three years the tape should appear in products including transformers, electric motors and transmission cables. -V. Herrera

More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.