WESTBOROUGH, Mass., Oct. 11, 2002 — American Superconductor Corp., announced it has been awarded a $2 million, two-year cost-sharing grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP).
The grant will be used by AMSC to accelerate the scale-up of its patented, high volume, low-cost process for manufacturing high temperature superconductor (HTS) wires having a coated conductor wire architecture. The funds will be used to develop and implement novel thermal processing equipment that AMSC expects will enable significant further performance and cost improvements in its coated conductor wires.
“We have developed a unique, proprietary manufacturing technique for making HTS coated conductors over a seven-year period,” said Greg Yurek, chief executive officer of American Superconductor. “During the last quarter, we achieved breakthrough results that put us on a path to beat the price/performance ratio of copper wire. The ATP award will help us accelerate the scale-up of our manufacturing process and bring coated conductor wires to market sooner than we anticipated.”
AMSC published results of its research and product development at a Department of Energy Peer Review in July 2002 and at the Applied Superconductivity Conference in August 2002 (see http://www.amsuper.com/webcopy/technicalpapers/190.pdf ). “We have been making coated conductors by a fully scalable, reel-to-reel process for over one year now,” Yurek added. “The results we presented this past summer demonstrate that we are now moving rapidly to commercially viable HTS coated conductors.”
AMSC’s proprietary coated conductor process requires significantly lower capital expenditures than competing technologies and focuses on producing high performance wire at high speeds and low cost. In its scaled-up version, the thermal processing equipment used in making the wire requires integrating manufacturing process control and cleanliness of a semiconductor fabrication process, the reel-to-reel web handling and process throughput of the textile industry, and the temperature capabilities of optical fiber processing. The ATP funding will help AMSC achieve these thermal processing goals in its coated conductor manufacturing operation.
“Our long-standing technology and business plan has been to continuously improve the performance and reduce the costs of our HTS wire,” said Yurek. “It looks like our coated conductor technology is going to give us the next big step in cost reduction sooner than we thought.” AMSC expects that its coated conductor wires will be available in long lengths in limited volume in 2005, two to five years ahead of previous industry expectations.
AMSC’s HTS coated conductor wires are designed to become a form-fit- function replacement for the company’s current HTS multi-filamentary composite wire at a price-performance ratio that will significantly broaden the use of HTS wire in electric power applications. A comparison of the multi- filamentary and coated conductor composite wire architectures can be seen at http://www.amsuper.com/wirefact.htm.
“We believe our HTS multi-filamentary composite wire produced in our new Devens manufacturing facility will continue to be the industry’s workhorse product-of-choice over the next three to four years,” said Yurek. “While coated conductors are expected to be only somewhat better in performance compared with our current wire product, coated conductor wire has the potential to cost two to five times less — a feature that we believe will greatly expand the market for HTS products.”
AMSC’s HTS multi-filamentary composite wires are commercially available today and have been used in full-scale prototypes of compact, high-efficiency industrial electric motors and in demonstration power cables for use in transmission network upgrades. AMSC’s wires are also being used in the development and demonstration of utility generators, in ship propulsion motors and in a variety of electro-magnetic applications. Industry experts believe the addressable market for HTS electrical equipment for electric power applications is greater than $15 billion per year.
About the Advanced Technology Program
The Department of Commerce’s 12-year-old Advanced Technology Program was established to fund research that propels promising technologies with a wide range of applications and potential benefits to the economy out of the laboratory and into the marketplace (see http://www.atp.nist.gov/www/02road/rslide2.htm ). The ATP provides a mechanism for U.S. industry to extend its technological reach and push out the envelope of what can be attempted.
About American Superconductor
American Superconductor Corporation is a specialist in the development and manufacture of products using superconductor wires and power electronic converters for the electric power infrastructure. Founded in 1987, the company is headquartered in Westborough, Mass. For more information, visit http://www.amsuper.com.