AMSC Completes Ship Propulsion Motor HTS Tests

March 26, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC, Westborough, MA) announced the successful completion of no-load factory testing for the world's first high-temperature superconductor (HTS) electric ship propulsion motor. The company's HTS motors are claimed to be as much as half the weight, one-third the size, operate with higher fuel efficiency and have lower maintenance costs than equivalently priced copper-based motors at the same power and torque rating.

The patented 5MW, 230rpm HTS propulsion motor was designed by AMSC's SuperMachines™ business unit under contract to the US Navy's Office of Naval Research. Its power and speed rating are typical for copper-based electric propulsion motors that are currently used in ferries and small cargo ships. This class of superconductor motors also is expected to become a standard for certain military ships. AMSC built the superconductor rotor assembly, including the rotor refrigeration system, for the 5MW motor.

"Successful no-load testing of this motor is a major milestone in developing superconductor machines for military and commercial ship propulsion systems," said Dave Paratore, vice president and general manager of AMSC's SuperMachines business unit. "Our success to date is attracting multiple potential customers who are seeking to incorporate our superconductor machines into their next generation of ships."