George Crabtree, Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory
Superconductivity as an Energy Carrier
Physics Division Colloquium - 12 December 2008

Electricity is unrivaled as an energy carrier for its versatility, cleanliness once produced, and efficiency. Electricity use is projected to grow 50% in the US and 100% globally by 2030. The electricity grid faces daunting challenges of capacity, reliability and long distance transmission to meet this demand. Overhead power lines and underground cables in cities and suburbs are operating near their capacity, and construction of additional lines and cables is expensive, requires precious space, and is esthetically challenging. Renewable energy requires efficient long distance transmission of power. Superconducting cables carry up to five times the power of conventional cables in the same cross sectional area, enabling a five-fold increase in capacity in urban and suburban areas by replacement. Superconducting switches enable a new generation of smart, high power, self-healing power control devices that increase the reliability of the grid. The higher efficiency of superconducting cables enables them to transport power over longer distances without disabling losses. A survey of the current status of the electric grid and the transformative changes enabled by superconductivity will be presented.

ANL Physics Division Colloquium Schedule