American Superconductor Initial Sales of Gen 2 HTS Wire

January 23, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

American Superconductor Corp. has booked orders for the first 2,500 meters of second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire (also known as "344 superconductors") from 18 customers in seven countries (U.S., China, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Switzerland). The first 1,000 meters of 344 superconductors were shipped to customers by December 31, 2005 at an average selling price of $100 per meter. Customers expect to utilize the 344 superconductors to characterize its properties and performance and to make the first prototype power devices such as fault current limiters, cables, motors and electromagnets.

"The demand for 344 superconductors was strong immediately after we started regular processing of 2G material in September 2005," commented Greg Yurek, AMSC's chief executive. "We expect to ship the balance of the 2,500 meters of booked orders this quarter. In addition, the demand we have for over 14,000 meters over the next 12 months is already exceeding our planned shipments of 10,000 meters during this period. We are doing everything we can to accelerate the specification, purchase, commissioning and qualification of additional full-scale manufacturing equipment to meet the anticipated growing demand going forward."

Yurek also stated that the company is solidly on track to be able to ship 344 superconductors at a rate of 300,000 meters per year by December 2007. "We expect to have all of the equipment, procedures and methodology in place to be producing this wire at a high yield rate by December 2007," he said. "Our ability to meet customer demand for high performance, high quality HTS wire on the customer's schedule is what created our market leadership in first generation HTS wire - and we expect to maintain this market leadership with second generation wire."

AMSC's 344 superconductors is a drop-in replacement for customers who are already using the company's industry-leading first generation HTS wire (over 90 customers in 20 countries), as well as customers who are utilizing first generation HTS wire made by others. This means these customers for first generation wire will not need to re-tool their manufacturing operations once they adopt 344 superconductors. The same machinery can simply utilize 344 superconductors to make the next HTS cable, motor, synchronous condenser, etc. without costly re-design or re-tooling.

AMSC started regular processing of 4-centimeter-wide strips of 2G material on schedule in September 2005. The 4-cm strips are slit near the end of the manufacturing process into industry standard HTS wire dimensions of about 4 millimeters in width and about 0.1 millimeters in thickness.

After lamination of the slit wire, the final product is known as a 344 superconductor. As a result of the slitting operation, eight wires are obtained from one manufacturing pass through of the 4-cm strip - a key to significant reductions in the cost of manufacturing 344 superconductors.