Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Hot Time For Cold Superconductors

Date:
December 9, 2003
Source:
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Summary:
A new way to manufacture a low-cost superconducting material should lead to cheaper magnetic resonance imaging machines and other energy-efficient applications, say Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists.

BOSTON, Dec. 3, 2003 -- A new way to manufacture a low-cost superconducting material should lead to cheaper magnetic resonance imaging machines and other energy-efficient applications, say Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists.

Hot isostatic pressing of wires made of magnesium diboride, or MgB2, significantly increased the amount of electrical current the wires can carry without electrical resistance. Wires made from MgB2 would reduce the costs of such products as MRIs and electrical generators, say the researchers: Adriana Serquis, Leonardo Civale, Xiaozhou Liao, J. Yates Coulter, Duncan Hammon, Yuntian Zhu, Dean Peterson and Fred Mueller from Los Alamos' Superconductivity Technology Center; and Vitali Nesterenko from the University of California, San Diego. They presented their findings on Dec. 3 at the Materials Research Society meeting in Boston.

"This material will likely serve as a bridge to the energy future in a variety of cost-driven applications, because potentially this is the lowest-cost superconducting material," said Peterson, who leads the Los Alamos Center. "There's nothing to prevent making this material into wires that are many miles long."

Since 1911, researchers have known that certain materials can conduct electricity without resistance at temperatures near absolute zero. However, few commercial applications for superconducting materials have been developed due to high costs of materials, manufacturing and cooling. Coated conductor tapes based on deposition of high temperature superconducting films on flexible metal tapes offer the highest potential for broad scale applications; however, alternative materials also have potential uses.

The discovery of superconductivity in MgB2 in early 2001 generated high interest because this material is several times cheaper to make than other superconductors.

"Initially, everybody was excited about this material because of the lower manufacturing costs, but the performance wasn't good enough for most applications," Serquis said. After two years of research into the properties of MgB2, Serquis and her fellow researchers devised a way to improve the amount of electricity that wires made of the material could carry.

Using commercially available powders and the so-called powder-in-tube method common to the manufacture of many superconducting wires, the scientists initially found MgB2 wires were too porous to achieve high critical current density, or maximum current-carrying capacity proportional to the wire size.

They treated the material in a commercial high-pressure furnace with hot isostatic pressing and prepared wires approximately 80 feet long and one-sixteenth of an inch thick, which they wrapped into a coil. Hot isostatic pressing reduced the porosity of the wires and increased their current carrying capacity by 45 percent as compared to the best MgB2 wires prepared with traditional annealing methods.

"After hot isostatic pressing, we found that the materials had more of the structural defects that are beneficial in increasing the current carrying capacity," Serquis said.

Higher carrying capacity means that smaller wires can carry more current using the same amount of material.

"With a smaller conductor, the cost of wire used in MRI magnets could be reduced from $3-10 per kiloampere of current per meter of wire to only $1-2," Peterson said. "Because many miles of wire are wound into the coils in a typical MRI, the development of less expensive wires by the private sector could put an MRI machine in every doctor's office and even in veterinary hospitals."

Today's MRI machines use niobium-alloy wires that are much more expensive than MgB2 wires and require costly liquid helium refrigeration to maintain superconducting properties. Los Alamos scientists fabricated a prototype MgB2 coil that generated magnetic fields in the range useful for MRI applications (above 1 tesla) operating at a temperature of 25 degrees above absolute zero. This temperature can be reached using commercially available refrigeration units at much lower operating costs.

The researchers are now working on further improvements to the MgB2 wires.

###

The Department of Energy's Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution supported the work.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism; and solve national problems in defense, energy, environment and infrastructure.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Los Alamos National Laboratory. "A Hot Time For Cold Superconductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031209075117.htm>.
Los Alamos National Laboratory. (2003, December 9). A Hot Time For Cold Superconductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031209075117.htm
Los Alamos National Laboratory. "A Hot Time For Cold Superconductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031209075117.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins