Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) may offer promise for meeting peak energy demands
(3 June 2009). As part of the Magnetic Technology Centre in Finland, Luvata has joined forces with six other key business partners, three universities and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES) for a 3-year SMES project that will build, test and develop a SMES device for pulse power applications.
With a Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) system the energy is stored in a high magnetic field produced with a non-resistive superconducting coil until the required energy is needed. The current can circulate in the coils as long as the coil is cooled below its critical superconducting temperature. The only energy losses come from the equipment required for cooling. With SMES the coefficient of utilization for charging and discharging the device is as high as 95 %, compared with traditional batteries the ratio is about 85 %.
A SMES device is relatively small, only a cubic metre, but it can handle tens of megawatts of power and can release all of its stored energy in just milliseconds. SMES systems are very reliable as there are no mechanical moving parts and they are especially compatible where a large amount of energy is stored and released in fast cycles. Examples of such applications are large particle accelerators, systems enhancing the quality of electricity, metal melting and processing systems.
The operation of large cranes or industrial lifts also requires megawatts of power when lifting heavy cargo; however using the brakes when the cargo is lowered typically loses the potential energy. With SMES the potential energy could be recovered and stored for use later. In this instance, a SMES system could be a more economic alternative to upgrading the power grid required to operate powerful cranes; delivering infrastructure cost savings along with reduced carbon dioxide emissions and increased handling speeds.
“The future of SMES and the knowledge gained from the project may have potential applications for the renewable energy industry, including windmills and fuel cells as well,” states Mikael Holm, Development Manager with Luvata Pori Oy.
Luvata has an unrivalled track record of delivering superconductors (NbTi, Nb3Sn) used in producing high-power superconductive conductors. Luvata superconductor strands were used at the heart of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Switzerland, and more recently delivering copper wire as part of the ongoing scientific project, ITER, the international fusion energy reactor project. Luvata also produces superconductors for more than one third of the World’s MRI scanners.
Project business partners
Prizztech Magnetic Technology Centre
Instrumentti Mattila Oy
Luvata Pori Oy
MSc Electronics Oy
UTU Elec Oy
Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES)
Project university partners
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Tampere University of Technology
Luvata is the leading international metals supplier of solutions, services, components and materials for manufacturing and construction. Luvata’s solutions are used in industries such as renewable energy, power generation, architecture, automotive, transport, medicine, air-conditioning, industrial refrigeration, consumer products and construction. The company’s continued success is attributed to its longevity, technological excellence and strategy of building partnerships beyond metals. Employing over 7,500 staff in 18 countries, Luvata works in partnership with customers such as Siemens, Toyota, CERN, Shaaz, and DWD International.