The nation’s electricity grid relies on power transmission from the production source—be it a coal-fired plant, solar array, or wind farm—to the consumer. Long-distance transmission results in sizeable energy losses due to resistance in the conducting material. Superconducting wires offer the potential for zero power dissipation and higher maximum current densities when contrasted with traditional copper or aluminum analogues, but it also requires costly manufacturing techniques.

Solution deposition planarization.

In an effort to lower manufacturing costs and to support higher power densities, Sandia collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop solution deposition planarization (SDP), a process used to create lower-cost superconducting wire. A precisely aligned crystal structure is required for superconducting wire to achieve its high electrical current capacity. Creating the required degree of alignment involves using SDP in conjunction with ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD).

The SDP process involves dip-coating rough metal tapes in a liquid precursor mixture and then annealing the coating to reduce roughness. The planarized coating enables kilometer-length deposition of ion beam-textured templates and bi-axially oriented superconductor films at high speeds and low production costs. In addition, the SDP process eliminates toxic waste and removes three expensive processing steps to achieve high-performance superconducting wires.

Superpower and Superconducting Technologies Inc. are implementing SDP as a critical process in their production of high-power-density-supporting superconducting wire. Superconducting wires will revolutionize efficient power transmission by enabling nearly-zero-energy-loss, long-length direct current transmission lines.

Read more about the Sandia, Los Alamos, Superconducting Technologies Inc., and Superpower partnership.