American Superconductor and Rockwell Announce Successful Operation of HTS Motor

July 18, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

American Superconductor Corp. (Westborough, MA) and Rockwell Automation, an operating unit of Rockwell International Corporation (Milwaukee, WI), announced the successful operation of the world's first 1,000hp high-temperature superconducting (HTS) motor. This new motor was designed to utilize HTS wires instead of copper wires on the rotating shaft of the motor. American Superconductor studies indicate the key benefits of using HTS wires are significant reductions in size and manufacturing costs of industrial and ship propulsion motors and increases in electrical efficiency."The successful demonstration of the 1,000hp HTS motor is a significant engineering achievement," stated Joseph D. Swann, president of power systems at Rockwell Automation. "Through our participation in this project, Rockwell Automation hopes to further the development of this important energy-saving technology, paving the way for ground-breaking research and development that will contribute to the commercial success of superconductivity."Industry experts estimate that the current market for industrial motors with power ratings of at least 1,000hp is approximately $1.0 billion per year worldwide. The market for electric generators over 30Mw, which involve the same fundamental technology as motors, is approximately $2.0 billion per year worldwide. "Our HTS wires not only operate with higher electrical efficiency, they are able to carry more than 100 times the power of copper wires with the same dimensions," said Greg Yurek, chief executive of American Superconductor. "The higher power density of HTS wires is the basis for disrupting the global industrial motor business, making it increasingly profitable through reductions in motor manufacturing costs by 25 to 40 percent. These reductions are achieved through the implementation of innovative designs and reductions by up to a factor of three in the size of industrial motors, all made possible by HTS technology." The 1,000hp HTS motor was developed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy's Superconductivity Partnership Initiative. The intention of the program is the promotion of advanced high-efficiency motors based on superconducting technologies.