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ZIEHL II Conference in a historic venue. The former waterworks in Bonn acted was used by the German Parliament as a provisional plenar hall from 1986 to 1992.
Conference: High-temperature superconductors in energy technology

Superconductors in the electricity grid of the future

What role do superconductors currently play in energy technology? Where are they used, what is the research status and what can be achieved in the future? Representatives from industry, science and politics discussed these questions on 16 and 17 March in Bonn at the ZIEHL II Conference on future and innovation in energy technology with high-temperature superconductors. The speech presentations are now available online. The focus was on state-of-the-art grid technology applications. Further key areas under discussion were the progress and research interests in producing superconductor wires and experience in industrial applications of the technology.

In his introductory speech, Dr. Knut Kübler of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology presented the objectives of the German Government for a new energy research program. It focuses on research into energy efficiency, storage technologies, intelligent grid technology and second generation biofuels. High-temperature superconductors will play an important role for electricity grids of the future. A fundamental technology study 2050 by Fraunhofer ISI establishes transmission cables, transformers and current limiters as the main fields for research.

Current limiters were the subject of multiple presentations. Robert Dommerque (Nexans SuperConductors GmbH) presented the first current limiter in a power station based on high-temperature superconductors. Since the end of 2009, it has protected the electricity supply of coal pulverisers and breakers against short circuits in the Saxon lignite power station in Boxberg. Vattenfall, the operator, is of the opinion that the innovative technology will provide a significant gain in health and safety and plant reliability. If the design proves itself, such current limiters could protect the entire internal electricity supply of power station against short-circuit currents. This reduces investment costs, as the increased safety allows switching systems to be significantly smaller – great potential savings for short circuit currents up to tens of thousands of amperes. Superconductive current limiters are suitable for new power stations, as well as for extensions such as retrofitting CO2 separating systems. The project won the Energy Masters Award 2010.

In industrial applications, high-temperature superconductors not only contribute to saving energy, but also improve the quality and economy of processes. For example, Dr. Riedle presented the practical experiences of Wieland-Werke AG with a magnetic heater. It is used to preheat metals for hot forming. With similar investment costs, it uses approximately 50% less electricity compared with standard induction heaters, and increases productivity by 25%. The process also results in significantly higher temperature homogeneity of the materials. Zenergy Power GmbH and the mechanical and plant engineering company Bültmann GmbH won the 2009 Climate and Environmental Award for this system technology.


"ZIEHL" is organised by the Superconductivity Industry Association, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Project Management Jülich with the support of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technolgy.

The presentations

The speech presentations are now available for download from the website of the Superconductivity Industry Association.


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