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Photo Friday: Superconducting wires for long-distance electricity transmission

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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The superconducting wires shown in the photo above are capable of moving 5x the amount of electricity as copper wires, with lower heat and energy losses, which make it possible to more efficiently transmit electricity over long distances.

Photo Credit: “Superconducting wires by epitaxial grown on SSIFFS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory” taken on July 29, 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy


Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. jtdwyer 9:13 am 11/15/2013

    This could be a major breakthrough in the ability or wire to operate at high temperatures and high current flows, although the application primarily suggested by the current work is in wound applications such as motors and generators.

    The press announcement contains links to two related research reports – see

    Link to this
  2. 2. jerryd 6:00 pm 11/15/2013

    Nice and happy stuff but still costs way too much for transmission lines both the buy and run.

    Facts are much of the future power will be made on homes, buildings making transmission lines needed less, not more.

    Same with utilities as they cost far more than making it where consumed by the consumer. For the price of transmission lines, utility overhead, profit, you could make a lot of RE locally that after 2-4 yr payback, nearly free power for 20-50 yrs.

    This is the 3rd yr straight that the US has used less electricity than the yr before. And it’s going to accelerate shrinking them as people find out how easy, cheap making your own power is right now with well shopped, done PV and being more efficient in it’s use.

    And soon with wind, solar CSP, biomass/CHP, etc making not only power but heat too, making them even more cost effective.

    Interesting for me as I don’t use that much power, going off grid is much cheaper/kwhr as not paying the base rate and fees. As 1kw will handle my 34′ sailboat and it’s A/C here in Fla it’ll cost me just $1.2k/kw for 20-25 yrs of power. sunelec for parts among others.

    Link to this
  3. 3. bucketofsquid 4:49 pm 11/22/2013

    @jerryd – You must live where electricity is expensive and sunlight extensive. For most people that simply isn’t true.

    Link to this
  4. 4. bucketofsquid 4:49 pm 11/22/2013

    At what temperature does this stuff super conduct?

    Link to this

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