Schenectady County

SuperPower research unit goes to Texas

SuperPower, the Schenectady-based superconducting wire manufacturer, has moved its research and deve

SuperPower, the Schenectady-based superconducting wire manufacturer, has moved its research and development operations to Houston, but will maintain manufacturing operations in its Duane Avenue facility, the company announced.

The company also announced a breakthrough in the development of an all-superconducting magnet with fields in excess of 30 Tesla, a measure of magnetic induction. Current niobium-based superconducting magnets operate at 23.5 Tesla.

SuperPower has also developed a new superconductivity wire that will be manufactured in Schenectady. The wire is used to achieve increasingly powerful coils for electric power applications such as transformers and motors.

SuperPower employs 65 people in Schenectady. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics, which does not reveal SuperPower’s financial numbers.

Arthur P. Kazanjian, SuperPower general manager, said the company moved its research and development operations to Houston following the relocation there of Venkat Selvamanickam.

Selvamanickam, SuperPower’s chief technology adviser, joined the faculty at the University of Houston as the M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Selvamanickam is also principal investigator with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston.

SuperPower is working with the Texas center to develop with advanced wire architectures. The center recently created an applied research hub to enhance industrial collaboration, with SuperPower as its first member.

“To continue to achieve ambitious technology performance goals and to meet the demands of customers, SuperPower has spent the past 12 months restructuring its organization to place a strong, concentrated emphasis on both technology development and manufacturing.” Kazanjian said in a presentation early August before the U.S. Department of Energy’s Annual Peer Review of Superconductivity for Electric Systems held in Alexandria, Va.

“We recognized that our rapidly growing customer orders needed a routine manufacturing operation directed by manufacturing engineers. Likewise, the strong advances needed in technology for high performance wires, highly efficient processes and advanced wire architectures remained critical for the commercialization of 2G wire,” Kazanjian said.

Selvamanickam said that based on the research at Houston involving the Texas center and SuperPower scientists, with support from Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories, SuperPower developed advanced superconductivity wires with improved in-field performance. The company is building the wires in Schenectady, he said. SuperPower’s manufacturing operations are under the operations of John Dackow, formerly director of operations at Intermagnetics.

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