29 Feb '12, 8pm

Superconductors for Whopping Wind Turbines

Superconductors for Whopping Wind Turbines

29 February 2012—The U.S. energy agency devoted to big dreams and blue-sky ideas is funding research on something really big that could stir up that blue sky. In September, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) awarded US $31.6 million in grants to groups looking for alternatives to rare earth materials , which are critical to energy technologies. Two of those groups are trying to develop next-generation superconducting wire that can replace rare earth permanent magnets in the rotors of wind turbines. This research could lead to smaller, lighter, and more-powerful rotors that could enable giant offshore wind turbines capable of generating 10 megawatts of power each. Despite their name, rare earth elements are not particularly rare in the Earth’s crust. They have become more scarce only since most companies mining them closed down their rare earth mines ...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/wind/superconductors-...

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