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Now, a US $78 actor U.S. Navy accomplishment is abiding address propulsion to the complete beginning of avant-garde technology. In a affairs with extensive implications–not alone for approaching argosy but additionally for the cargo, cruise ship, and conceivably alike the electricity-generating businesses–the U.S. Appointment of Naval Analysis (ONR) is testing a 5-MW, 23-ton superconductor address motor and is additionally already able-bodied into the architecture of a full-scale, 36.5-MW superconductor motor.

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“Superconductor technology will advice abate the admeasurement and weight of motors, generators, [and] ability manual and acknowledging components,” says Rear Admiral Jay M. Cohen, the Chief of Naval Research. Cohen additionally expects the technology to bang into aerial accessory the Navy’s advancing accomplishment to move from mechanical-drive to electric-drive propulsion for its ships.

The superconductor motors backpack the aforementioned bulk of ability into a amalgamation that can be about 70 percent abate and lighter than a accepted motor, alike with all of the superconductor’s accessory cooling systems ample in. That affectionate of accumulation is an astronomic advantage on the aerial seas, area it would construe into added burden amplitude or ordnance-carrying capabilities, or, on a cruise ship, as abounding as 20 added berths. As a bonus, the motor’s ability additionally goes up by 1 or 2 percent, depending on the load–an advance that in a high-power appliance like address propulsion agency hundreds of bags of dollars in armament accumulation over the advance of a year for a archetypal burden ship.

The primary architect for both superconductor motors is American Superconductor Corp., in Westborough, Mass., the maker of the superconductor wire at the affection of the motors. The 5-MW motor, congenital at a amount to the U.S. Navy of $8 million, was delivered aftermost July and is now sitting in a analysis bay at the Center for Avant-garde Ability Systems at Florida State University, in Tallahassee [see photo, ” Motor Man”]. For the aing nine months or so, the motor will be pushed to the complete as tests are conducted in a dynamometer controlled by a real-time agenda simulator. The after-effects will be caked into the assignment now demography abode beneath a $70 actor Navy arrangement for the 36.5-MW motor.

If the tests of these machines accomplish designers’ expectations, they could point the way to the aboriginal lucrative, all-embracing appliance of the alleged high-temperature superconductors, referred to as HTS, apparent and apparent in a amazing common media assault 17 years ago. Although Sumitomo, Ultera, Pirelli, Southwire, and others accept congenital and activated superconducting electric manual cables in the years since, bartering sales accept been bashful so far.

Part of the adversity for the cable makers stems from the actuality that “high temperature” is in this case absolute abundant a about term: it is “high” alone in allegory with the near-absolute-zero temperatures that were bare to accomplish superconductivity afore the 1987 discovery. High-temperature superconductors become complete conductors, accident absolutely all trace of electrical resistance, at a temperature as aerial as 100 degrees aloft complete aught (100 Kelvin). That’s still 173 °C beneath freezing, but it’s mild in allegory with the 10 K (-263.15 °C) bare to get acceptable superconductors to afford their resistance. That enables cooling to be done by about bargain options like aerial helium, neon, or aqueous nitrogen instead of cher aqueous helium. Cooling costs for accessories that accomplish at beneath 10 K are 10 times those for ones that accomplish at 100 K.

Still, alike the abundant added favorable costs of aqueous nitrogen are a claiming for makers of manual cables, because the cables charge be cooled forth their absolute length. In a superconductor alternating apparatus like a motor or generator, on the added hand, alone key rotation-producing components, such as the rotor, charge to be cryocooled to an operating temperature of about 32 K.

The adjustment could be huge. Superconductor motors would be a accustomed for cruise ships, which started activity electric several years ago. Cruise and burden argosy are already a $400 actor anniversary bazaar for motors and generators, according to amphibian consulting aggregation MSCL LLC, in Alexandria, Va. Ironically enough, although the Navy is advantageous for the tests on the 5-MW motor, superconductor address propulsion ability absolute able-bodied booty authority in the bartering apple first–a development that experts say would about accelerate aggressive accepting not alone in the United States but additionally in Britain, France, and Italy. Each of their navies is planning a move to electric drive for next-generation destroyers or frigates.

Greg Yurek, American Superconductor’s CEO, told IEEE Spectrum that he expects to “see some 5-MW HTS motors on bartering ships by the aboriginal bisected of 2005, about a year afterwards orders are placed.” He beneath to name companies, however, citation acquaintance agreements with abeyant customers.

Attractive admitting the opportunities are in the abyssal world, there are alike bigger ones in added markets, such as automated electric motors–a $1.2 billion-a-year industry. And electrical generators, too, could benefit, because the aforementioned advantages of baby admeasurement and weight and aerial ability would administer to generators congenital with superconducting materials. In a abstracted project, General Electric Co., in Fairfield, Conn., is alive on a $12.3 actor activity sponsored by the U.S. Department of Activity to body a 100-MVA superconducting generator. “We’re watching the technology because it ability be ill-fitted to shipboard use” already units are in the 20- to 30-MW range, says ONR’s administrator of address science and technology Scott Littlefield, “but we’re focused on the motors.”

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To accept the Navy’s attraction with superconductor technology, accede the archetypal U.S. Navy destroyer. It generates ability application seven gas agent engines afire marine-grade agent fuel. The engines aftermath pressurized gas that spins the agent blades to aftermath power. But alone four of those turbines advance the address forward, bearing 70­80 MW for the task. These turbines are angry anon to the drive shaft through a gearbox. The added three accomplish 7.5 MW of electricity for the ship’s apartment of high-power radars, computers, lighting, appliances, navigation, and communications systems.

When a address isn’t affective at top speed–about 90 percent of the time–all four turbines aren’t appropriate for propulsion. Typically, alone two propulsion turbines are acclimated for circadian operations. But balance ability from those abandoned or underworked turbines can’t be put to added uses, such as lights or radar, because the propulsion turbines are all mechanically affiliated to the ship’s huge drive shafts. Add in the amplitude taken up by the turbines, gearbox, and ballista shafts, and you get, well, shafted. Ships charge be advised about propulsion shafts; they’re over 60 meters continued in a destroyer.

Winner: Superconductor Motors

Goal: Body and analysis full-size superconductor electric motors for address propulsion

Why it’s a Winner: Ships of all kinds are activity to electric propulsion. Although the Navy will be aboriginal to analysis a complete superconductor motor, cargo, cruise, ferry, and added big bartering ships will all be prime candidates for the new technology

Organizations: U.S. Appointment of Naval Research, American Superconductor Corp., Center for Avant-garde Ability Systems at Florida State University

Centers of Activity: 5-MW motor testing at the Center for Avant-garde Ability Systems in Tallahassee, Fla.; 36.5-MW superconductor motor architecture and development at American Superconductor in Westborough, Mass.

Cardinal of Bodies on the Project: 25 total

Budget: US $78 actor for two motors

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The Navy already has a abundant eyes of what its aing bearing of destroyers will attending like: it’s alleged the DD(X). The barge will be the aboriginal chic of address that the Navy affairs to booty all electric, in 2011. (Though the Navy calls it the all-electric ship, gas turbines will still be acclimated to accomplish electricity to ability motors and generators.) In the DD(X) destroyers, no turbines will be anon affiliated to the ballista shafts. Instead, they’ll circuit generators that will augment motors, and aggregate abroad that needs electricity. Electric propulsion allows the turbines to run at their best fuel-efficient speed, and lets all the ship’s electricity needs behest the cardinal of turbines operating at any accustomed time.

Although converting the automated ability to electricity afore it gets to the propellers accordingly agency some losses, they can be bound to about 10 percent at abounding speed, Littlefield notes. And these baby losses will be added than account by the huge advantage of absolution the ship’s aggregation alter ability to a host of new, electrically accelerated systems and weapons that assume pulled from the pages of science fiction–advanced multifunction radars, ultrapowerful bake aegis systems, and baleful lasers, electric abuse guns, and electromagnetic barrage and accretion of aircraft, says Rear Admiral Cohen.

The Navy hasn’t clearly absitively to use superconducting motors for the DD(X) yet; it is still weighing–literally, in this case–other options, such as motors with abiding magnets. But amid the advantages of the superconductor technology is the actuality that motors able abundant to drive ships aren’t accepted to amount essentially added than accustomed copper-wound motors, according to American Superconductor’s Yurek. The capital acumen is bargain accomplishment costs–assembled superconductor motors can be alien aloof weeks afore sea trials, rather than actuality branch built, disassembled, shipped, and reassembled in abode during the aboriginal months of shipbuilding. It is additionally difficult, some experts say, to see how the Navy’s admirable eyes could be accomplished with accepted motors, which in this case would counterbalance several hundred bags apiece, as adjoin to 75 bags for superconducting units, with their cooling accouterments included.

To the advantages of superconductor motors, some accomplishments may be helpful. Motors catechumen electrical activity into automated energy. They do it by spinning a rotor central a about nonmoving anatomy alleged a stator. Both the rotor and the stator are magnetic, with pairs of north-south poles abiding about their circumferences. North poles on the rotor are admiring to south poles on the stator, and carnality versa, causing the rotor to spin. As the poles approach, a ascendancy arrangement swaps the stator poles at aloof the appropriate instant, befitting the rotor going.

Simple motors accept two pairs of poles, the 5-MW motor has three pairs, and the 36.5-MW motor will accept eight rotor pole pairs. In the electric drive arrangement of a ship, the rotor is affiliated anon to the ballista or drive shaft.

Like all electromagnets, those in the stator and possibly in the rotor are coils (some motors use abiding magnets for the rotor). In a big accepted motor, these coils are usually copper; in a superconducting motor, the rotor coils are fabricated of a high-temperature superconductor and the stator coils are copper. The absolute of best is bismuth strontium calcium nut oxide (BSCCO–pronounced bisco), a bowl that can be cooled with off-the-shelf, closed-loop refrigerators that use aerial helium.

The basal advantage of superconducting rotor coils is that their affairs can backpack over 100 times added accepted than a nut wire of the aforementioned cantankerous area does. So the coils can aftermath abundant stronger alluring fields in the aforementioned space. Stronger fields in the motor beggarly added torque, or rotational force. A ancillary benefit: the aerial ability of superconducting motors is affiliated beyond best of their ability range.

The two basal types of electric motors are ancillary and induction. In a ancillary motor, the stator interacts anon with the rotor’s alluring field. In an consecration motor, on the added hand, the rotor does not accept anchored alluring poles, and it spins because the stator sets up a affective alluring field, which in about-face induces a accessory alluring acreage in the rotor. Superconductor motors are ancillary machines, because the rotor currents accept to be absolute current. Both ancillary and consecration motors are acclimated in the electric drives of bartering cruise ships today, but the added cher ancillary motors boss because they are added efficient.

Conventional electric motors accept afflicted about little in decades, in agreement of efficiency. For superconductor units, alike aback ability losses from the motor cooling systems are ample in, the motors can best accepted ability plants by about 1 percent. Crucially, that aerial ability is constant, behindhand of the ship’s speed. As it happens, the capricious that has the better appulse on ability is the rotor-coil ambagious material, and that’s area superconductors appear in.

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In the 5-MW motor, the anchored stator ambagious is fabricated of copper, but the rotor ambagious is fabricated of BSCCO [see diagram, ” Special Rotor”]. The BSCCO band is anguish into an egg-shaped racetrack shape. Yes, BSCCO is alleged tape, because it’s thin, wide, and flat; the absolute isn’t annular like metal wire.

Another advantage of superconductor motors is that they accept no adamant teeth in their stator windings. A accepted motor has these teeth to strengthen the alluring acreage and advice arrest the stator conductors. But the superstrong acreage in the stator of a superconductor motor would artlessly bathe adamant teeth. Getting rid of the teeth makes the motor not alone abate and lighter but much, abundant quieter.

Still, architecture a superconducting motor has its own different challenges, and conceivably the better is air-conditioned the coils of the spinning rotor. American Superconductor did not put the cryocoolers on the rotor itself; it would be too adamantine to advance them if they were central the motor. Instead, the cooling arrangement circulates frigid helium gas about the rotor, accustomed abroad the calefaction through tubes to the anchored cryocooler nearby.

The cryocoolers can be abounding and replaced as bare alike while the motor is running, Yurek says. They’re additionally a little abate than a two-drawer filing cabinet, so stocking spares aboard a address doesn’t eat up the amplitude you’ve aloof acquired by switching to a superconductor motor.

At American Superconductor’s wire accomplishment bulb in Devens, Mass., David Paratore, chief carnality admiral of the company’s affairs business, leads a bulb tour. It’s an adorable place, if you like blue. BSCCO starts out as bristles salts, abstinent and mixed. Afterwards the aboriginal annular of processing, it’s a aristocratic dejected powder, Paratore explains. And as it happens, about all the plant’s wire-making accouterment is corrective a analogous bright, abysmal blue, absolutely for artful reasons, Paratore assures me.

To drive home his beforehand point about the current-carrying accomplishment of BSSCO, Yurek easily me a array of nut wires, as blubbery as my forearm, that can backpack 1200 amperes. Again he easily me a array of BSSCO strands that can backpack the aforementioned current: they’re like nine strands of stainless animate linguine.

Though it is accomplished at bearing those arresting strands, and it did wind the superconducting rotor of the 5-MW unit, American Superconductor isn’t in the business of authoritative complete motors. So it angry to Alstom Ability Conversion in Rugby, UK, to aftermath an oil-cooled stator application nut wire and to accumulate all the pieces into a complete motor.

After those jobs were done, aftermost summer, Alstom performed abrupt tests in which technicians absorbed the motor up to addition one, which provided a analysis amount [see photo, ” Passing Grade”]. The point was to accomplish abiding the motor could aftermath the accepted akin of torque–a whopping 208 000 newton-meters. “I saw the end of it,” ONR’s Littlefield says of the Rugby test. “It was the aboriginal time I saw the accomplished motor put together,” he says of the momentous moment and motor his appointment funded. It’s an ONR project, so the Navy acquainted “it was a high-risk technology at this stage,” Littlefield recalls. “There was at atomic a achievability it would fail. But it didn’t. Seeing it analysis after any cogent agitation was gratifying. I’ve seen–and heard–motors. This one was abate and quieter than the accepted motor bartering fractional amount for the branch testing.”

Since then, the motor and its cyberbanking ambassador from Alstom accept been alien to a class at Florida State University for amount tests on a dynamometer to affirm abounding torque at abounding speed, and at capricious torques and speeds to simulate astute loads. A dynamometer is a analysis bureaucracy based on a additional electric motor that opposes the spinning of a motor actuality tested, as in the abrupt balloon at Alstom. In this case, two 2.5-MW amount motors will accomplish in tandem.

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“We don’t appetite to accident the apparatus in testing,” Littlefield continues. “But we’ll charge to analysis abounding RPMs and abounding torque at load–plus do a backing-down maneuver, area the address aback slows and feeds ability aback up the shaft, axis the motor into a generator.” The fun will alpha this ages at the Florida class alleged the Center for Avant-garde Ability Systems (CAPS) and is adjourned by the Appointment of Naval Research.

CAPS was congenital accurately to analysis motors up to 5 MW active at up to 450 RPM and with the adaptability to board a array of accessories for testing. The three-story, basal red-brick CAPS architecture is so new that doctoral candidates mark their cubicles with cardboard signs, and Florida’s all-over all-overs haven’t had time to set up boutique yet in the anew laid grass framing the parking lot.

In November, CAPS engineers took a anchorman on a bout of the facility, starting with the high-ceilinged analysis bay area the superconductor motor sits, accessible to go, cat-and-mouse for the two amount motors that accomplish up the dynamometer to arrive. The academician of the analysis ability is absolutely upstairs, in a ample second-floor bend room. It’s a mostly serene and aerial place–the home of the real-time agenda simulator. The simulator’s disks hum faintly, sunlight streams in from huge windows overlooking the alluvium account backyard area transformers accumulation the aerial voltages bare by all the analysis equipment, and occasionally, there’s a thunk as a bird swoops bottomward into the big bottle windows.

It’s additionally the area of Stephen Woodruff, a affable aeriform architect at CAPS. For the accomplished six months, Woodruff has been agilely creating a software archetypal of the motor in the simulator. “We’ll appraise the archetypal by active it adjoin the alive tests,” he says.

Woodruff will run simulations of his archetypal ability tests alike as those tests are run on the absolute affair downstairs. The actor will ascendancy the dynamometer, which will accommodate the superconducting motor with the altitude it would acquaintance at sea.

As the motor runs through assorted acceleration scenarios, the actor reads the real-time test-bed data, such as torque, speed, appearance currents and voltages, and stator and rotor temperatures. Then, additionally in absolute time, it computes such activating furnishings as that of motor drive currents on the blow of the ship’s ability arrangement and the absolute amount torque. Finally, the actor tells the motor drive converters how to aftermath the adapted torque.

“That’s how the motor is able to anticipate it’s in that apish environment,” says Tom Baldwin, an IEEE Chief Member and abettor assistant of electrical engineering at Florida State. The dynamometers will actor automated loading in absolute time, so the actor can be programmed to ascendancy the dynamometer and use it to carbon address movements in the baptize or in ice or aback the ballista or alike the ship’s ascetic hits a rock.

The academician abaft the testing is a programmable-logic ascendancy (PLC) unit, from Rockwell Automation Inc., in Milwaukee, Wis., which sits in a first-floor room. From the two touchscreens on it, testing operators will be able to adviser and ascendancy the analysis setup, including the superconductor motor and the dynamometer. The PLC is consistently in ascendancy of testing except aback it easily ascendancy over to the real-time simulator, which can act in its account in some situations.

Michael Coleman has been programming the PLC for about a month. He’s advised the interface for the PLC touchscreens. From actuality he can ascendancy the cooling for the stator, the dynamometer, and lots of added variables. And he can duke off ascendancy of the testing to Woodruff and the actor or aloof accredit the actor to accomplish the motor feel like it’s benumbed ocean after-effects to see how it reacts.

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The Navy wants a motor that’ll run for 30­40 years, but no one has that affectionate of time to run tests. So CAPS will run the motor about the alarm for a ages and see how it does. Afterwards that, the Navy will address the motor to Philadelphia to addition lab for tests with a absolute propeller.

Perhaps the better benefaction of the simulation, though, is that it will let next-generation machines be congenital on a solid foundation of accurate engineering data. In this case, that aing bearing is the full-size, 36.5-MW motor. “You save R and D money with validation,” addendum Steinar Dale, an IEEE Fellow and the CAPS class director.

Trends in abyssal propulsion advance that all the simulation and validation activity into the 36.5-MW motor is time able-bodied spent. Not alone are the drive systems of big bartering ships activity diesel-electric, they are additionally added actuality congenital in a agreement accepted as “podded” [see diagram, ” Able Pod”].

In-hull propulsion is what best bodies anticipate of as address propulsion. Ballista blades are at the end of a continued drive shaft afraid out of the aback end of the ship’s hull. In turn, the drive shaft is affiliated to a agent or agent either anon or through a gearbox. In a diesel-electric system, the diesels drive a architect that admiral a motor that connects to a beneath drive shaft.

In podded propulsion, the motors are installed in pods that adhere from the ascetic of the baiter beneath the waterline. The generators and turbines or engines can be several decks aloft the lowest, from which the pod hangs. The pod, including the ballista blades, can be swung in a advanced arc, administering advance as bare to maneuver. So the pod itself serves as the ship’s rudder. Instead of afraid out the aback of the pod as an in-hull ballista does from the hull, the ballista sticks out the advanced of the pod. It’s absorbed to the shaft of the electric motor sitting in the pod.

Pods aerate maneuverability and hydrodynamic efficiency, and chargeless up amplitude for advantageous passengers, cargo, or ammunition. For example, the Queen Mary 2, advancing achievement in France for Cunard Line Ltd., in Southampton, UK, has four propulsion pods and allowance for 15 or so cabins area the aboriginal Queen Mary had ballista shafts. Shipbuilders appraisal that a alembic address application podded superconductor propulsors could backpack anywhere from 2.5 to 4 percent added containers, about 40 for every 454 bags adored in ship’s weight. The two 44-MW accepted motors aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 counterbalance about 400 bags each; the 36.5-MW superconductor motor is accepted to appear in at 75 tons.

The U.S. Navy is absorbed in pods, but ability body is the issue, according to ONR’s Littlefield. The power-density requirements on a crave a motor too big to fit in a pod. But superconductors action a way to compress the motor, accretion ability density, and “at atomic accede pods,” Littlefield says.

Industry experts put the all-around bazaar for electric motors and generators for electric-drive address systems at $400 actor in 2002 and upwards of $2 billion a decade later. Bartering cruise ships and some burden argosy accept spent the aftermost decade switching to electric propulsion: low-speed, high-torque electric motors that anon about-face the propellers that drive the ships. The low-speed (230 RPM), high-torque (208 000 N*m), 5-MW motor sitting in the aerial bay at CAPS is aloof the ability appraisement appropriate today to move commuter ferries, analysis ships, cable-laying vessels, and tanker and oil-rig accumulation ships.

With all those ships assertive to go electric-drive, the U.S. Navy intends to chase clothing and booty it a footfall further, eventually converting around all shipboard systems to electric power. That will appear as anon as American Superconductor and its partners–ONR, Northrop Grumman Address Systems, Northrop Grumman Abyssal Systems, Ideal Electric, Syntek Technologies, CAPS, and amphibian consultancy MSCL–deliver the 120 RPM, 36.5-MW motor for testing and aggregate turns out shipshape.

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