Partnership simplifies design using high-temperature superconductors

Paul Boughton
Sumitomo Electric, the manufacturer of superconducting wire, and Cobham Technical Services, the electromagnetic simulation software company, have joined forces to offer an advanced package for the design of electrical machines and power equipment.
Cobham's Quench electromagnetic software tool for modelling the quenching process in superconducting materials now comes with a library containing comprehensive manufacturer-supplied material characterisation data for Sumitomo's DI-BSSCO bismuth-based superconducting wire. According to the companies, the combination will greatly simplify the design and prototyping stages of applying high-temperature superconductors (HTS). Among the application sectors currently exploring HTS-based designs are electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure, hydroelectric and wind turbine generators, electric motor propulsion systems for ships, and high-performance magnets.
John Simkin of Cobham Technical Services states: "Design activity using HTS superconductors is growing very rapidly - driven by the maturing of HTS technology and the critical need to improve energy efficiency. This co-operation agreement provides an important means of simplifying and speeding design projects. It eliminates a major step in the design process of specifying the non-linear properties of the wire materials - which might involve testing under highly controlled operating conditions - allowing a designer to create an accurate model of an electrical component such as a coil simply by specifying the number of turns."
Kan Kinoshita of Sumitomo Electric adds: "Utilising this Quench electromagnetic software tool with DI-BSCCO data, many designers around the globe, who are not familiar with HTS wires until today, can more easily design and simulate their design. We hope this software will accelerate the HTS system developments that provide a benefit to our present and future society."
Sumitomo Electric was said to be the first company in the world to produce long bismuth-based superconducting wire, a material that has become an industry standard and is considered to be the major candidate for commercial HTS applications. Sumitomo's bismuth-based superconducting wire - DI-BSSCO - is made of bismuth-strontium-calcium-copper-oxygen and operates at temperatures up to 110K. Sumitomo's BSSCO materials have been used in pioneering superconducting applications for almost 20 years, including the world's first superconductor electric vehicle, the first underground in-grid cable, transformers for high-speed trains, and windings for ship propulsion motors.
The Quench tool for modelling the superconducting 'quenching' process - when a wire turns from a superconducting to resistive state - is available as part of Cobham's Opera CAE software suite for low-frequency electromagnetic simulation. Cobham claims that Quench has become the standard simulation tool for superconducting equipment because of its sophisticated multi-physics modelling that couples the electromagnetic and thermal modelling processes. Results can be post-processed to provide users with clear views and analyses of the potentially damaging effects of quench propagation as the wire heats up and becomes resistive, including displays of the voltages between coil layers, temperature gradients, and so on. This analysis helps users to quickly find the optimal design, and incorporate protection circuitry.
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