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What you need to know for 01/21/2017

SuperPower sets announcement on wire tests

SuperPower sets announcement on wire tests

SuperPower Inc. announced Friday that it will conduct a news conference with state officials Thursda

SuperPower Inc. announced Friday that it will conduct a news conference with state officials Thursday at its Duane Avenue headquarters to discuss details of a plan to use the company’s second generation nickel and nanotech high temperature superconducting wire at its Albany demonstration project.

Since 2006, SuperPower, a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics, and its partner Sumitomo Electric Industries have been testing the use of silver superconducting wires as part of a live electricity grid in the northern part of the city of Albany. That project cost $26 million, with $13 million in funding coming from the U.S. Dept. of Energy and $6 million in funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Superconductivity is a phenomenon that occurs when certain materials develop no resistance to electricity when cooled to very low temperatures. SuperPower’s superconducting wires promise to transmit electricity with much greater efficiency than conventional copper wires.

Although superconductivity was discovered nearly a century ago, technological barriers have prevented it from being commercialized. At first, wires were cooled with expensive liquid helium to bring temperatures down to -450 degrees Fahrenheit. Breakthroughs allowed cheaper liquid nitrogen to cool silver into a superconductive state at -320 degrees Fahrenheit, but the cost of silver limited those wires, known as high-temperature wires, because they are 130 degrees warmer.

SuperPower’s new second generation wires use a combination of nickel and nanotechnology to make a potentially cheaper high temperature superconducting wire.

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