Southwire, nkt cables Join Forces to Produce Superconducting Power Cable

HTS Pioneers to Develop Cable That Will be Installed

In a Working Utility Substation

Dec 06, 2002, 00:00 ET from Southwire Company

    CARROLLTON, Ga., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwire Company and nkt cables,
 both pioneers in the development of high-temperature superconducting (HTS)
 power cables, have formed a joint company to continue development and eventual
 commercialization of HTS cable systems.
     Named ULTERA(TM), the new company will design and produce a 300-meter
 cable that will be installed during late 2005 in an electricity distribution
 system operated by American Electric Power (AEP) in Columbus, Ohio.  Southwire
 and nkt cables will split the cost of developing the cable with the U.S.
 Department of Energy, which will fund half of the project.
     "Having developed the only two working HTS power delivery systems in the
 world, Southwire and nkt cables truly are operating at the cutting edge of
 this new technology," said Stuart Thorn, Southwire's president and chief
 executive officer.  "Through this partnership, we multiply our technical
 expertise and expand the resources available to us, ensuring the most-
 efficient use of both."
      With facilities in Carrollton, Ga. and Copenhagen, Denmark, ULTERA will
 include 25 Southwire and nkt cables employees, each of whom has years of
 experience with HTS systems.  Southwire, which three years ago unveiled the
 world's first HTS power delivery system to provide electricity for industrial
 use, already has developed one-meter and five-meter cables under a new design
 and tested them at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
     Part power line and part vacuum bottle, Southwire's superconducting cables
 are nearly immune to resistance, losing only about a half-percent of power
 during transmission.  That compares with 5 to 8 percent lost by traditional
 power cables.  HTS cables also deliver more power, about three to five times
 more power than cables in use today.
     Taking efficiency a step further, the new design used by Southwire and nkt
 cables combines a three-phase system, which before required three separate HTS
 lines, into one cable.
     "The new design provides several advantages," said David Lindsay, director
 of ULTERA.  "First, we're using about half of the superconducting materials
 required by the earlier design.  We've also cut the amount of space needed to
 install an HTS system.  Now a single cable does the job of three."
     While the design has changed, the basic operation of the cable remains
 much the same.  A hollow pipe forms the core.  A layer of superconducting
 materials is wrapped around that tube, followed by a layer of electrical
 insulation.  A second layer of HTS tape is added, acting as the second phase
 conductor.  Another layer of insulation is added and the process is repeated.
     The final cable is wrapped in a copper shield and fed into a doubled-
 walled stainless steel tube.  Liquid nitrogen is pumped through the tube's
 inner chamber to cool the cable to an optimal superconducting temperature,
 around --321 degrees F.  A vacuum between the two layers of stainless steel
 provides thermal insulation for the cable.
     "We've proven the technology works," Lindsay said.  "Now we're excited
 about putting our new, more-efficient design into practice.  This is another
 step toward being able to bring our customers the benefit of this leading-edge
 technology that will be capable of handling the power demands of the new
     A technology leader for more than 50 years, Southwire Company is North
 America's largest building wire producer and one of the world's leading wire
 and cable manufacturers.  The company's product line includes copper and
 aluminum building wire, industrial power cable, flexible power cord, metal-
 clad (MC) cable, utility products and copper and aluminum rod.
     Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, nkt cables is the Danish member of a
 European cable group owned by NKT Holding.  Working with the Technical
 University of Denmark and with support from Danish utility companies, it has
 conducted research on cable-related superconducting technology for years.
 Last year, nkt cables installed the world's first working superconducting
 cable in a public utility grid, serving some 50,000 homes and businesses.
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SOURCE Southwire Company