Ultra-conductive copper UltraWire Project heats up Mineweb

 

  • Ultra-conductive copper is a composite of less than 1% of nano-carbon suspended in more than 99% copper. “It has an electrical conductivity, at room temperature, up to double that of pure copper,” according to press reports.
  • If new ultra-conductive cables come available then it could help European government’s and others meet their energy saving targets.
  • The EU target is for a 20% cut in Europe’s annual energy consumption by 2020.
  • This could be simply achieved through the replacement of existing cabling from power stations and into homes and factories through the use of ultra-conductive copper.  Not that you can re-cable a nation overnight.
  • It may not cut demand but it sure would cut much of the power lost through resistance in the grid network.
  • As usual there is a pathetically small €3.3m funding contract through the EC FP7 program for a project which could save billions in a relatively short space of time.  Consortium members are adding an additional €1.7 million of their own funding to the project.
  • If the superconducting wire can be scaled up then key components of power generation, such as transformers and distribution wiring, could be half the weight they are today. It would also mean significantly more efficient power transmission – more watts per $ of infrastructure.
  • Superconducting wire has very low electrical resistance. Commercial superconductors in use today use copper with Niobium Tin, or Niobium Titanium and have to be cooled down to temperatures of 4-70k using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, not something you want to do at home! – systems are costly compared with copper for electrical transmission however, the super conductors produce high currents and magnetic fields.
  • Commercial applications for existing superconducting technology ranges  from MRI Scanners to producing the ultra high magnetic fields required for particle accelerators. UK quoted Oxford Instruments (OXIG.L) is a large producer of superconducting wire and cooling technologies.
  • The technology is in the laboratory at present, the funding is to bring the project to pilot plant stage in 3 years. It may be early days for Ultraconductive copper but the future potential looks exciting!
  • Expanding the use of ultra-conductive copper into electric motors, transformers and generators could enhance energy efficiency further.  Eg electric motors could become yet more efficient again requiring

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