2010 Interagency Partnership Mid-Continent
Dream teams are what legends are made of— and not just in the sports arena. Take, for instance, the highly productive, skilled, motivated, and independent players who successfully came together to transfer critical technology resulting in yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) high temperature superconductor (HTS) coated conductor wire. This union between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) comprised personnel from science, technology, military, industry, and business under the administration of the Defense Product Act (DPA) Title III program. The overall Title III program directive is to create viable commercial production capabilities and capacity of HTS YBCO, an enabling technology for several military and industrial applications that will eventually save billions of dollars annually by increasing energy efficiency and reducing pollution. In this project, Title III and the DOE identified and ultimately worked with two commercial vendors to produce HTS YBCO wire: American Superconductor (AMSC), based in Devens, Mass.; and SuperPower, Inc., based in Schenectady, N.Y. Each company sought to utilize its unique manufacturing capabilities to achieve the goals set forth by the joint steering group comprised of individuals from DOD and DOE, national laboratory representatives, and Title III. These goals included sets of performance metrics such as conductor length, critical current, engineering current density, production capacity, and business metrics for long-term viability such as sales, production capacity, and cost. While creating affordable production lines of HTS YBCO coated conductor wire was important, having a market in which to sell it was essential. To ensure market viability, system integrators and manufacturers worked together to provide “no kidding” demonstrations of the HTS YBCO wire’s capabilities to industrial users, utility companies, and the military that, once implemented, stand to save billions in energy costs. Both SuperPower and AMSC are working with multiple customers using HTS YBCO wire. Among the products that have greatly benefited are power generators, motors, power cabling, transformers, fault current limiters, and magnets. Notable production projects include the recently announced renewal energy market hub to be built in Clovis, New Mexico. AMSC joined forces with the Tres Amigas Project to unite America’s three power grids for the first time, enabling faster adoption of renewable energy. This partnership created a mechanism and a forum for very different missions to come together to produce a valuable product with immeasurable potential impact. The added benefit of having two independent businesses working to produce and deliver HTS YBCO ensures the DOD and other customers an ample supply of HTS conductor. The successful production of high-volume, high-quality, and affordable HTS YBCO is a direct result of the teamwork exhibited throughout this project.