As part of a wind energy project, a superconducting wire that can generate and transport electricity brought to a team of engineering researchers at University of Huston, the massive $900,000 additional funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE).
In addition, the project was given $ 1 million grant extension totaling up the award to almost $4 million.
The team, led by Venkat “Selva” Selvamanickam, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor in UH’s mechanical engineering department is currently developing wind turbines that integrate these superconducting wires.
The project is conducted in a close collaboration with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory- SuperPower Inc,TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company as well as Tai-Yang Research.
The superconducting materials have no electrical resistance, which allows transportation of electricity without any loss. Currently, the main problem that the researchers face is the fact that wind turbines generate magnetic fields, resulting in magnetic flux lines. These interfere with the ability of the wires to transport electricity and therefore lower the performance.
The project has an aim to increase the performance with 400% by the end of the three-year period. To begin with, the team received $2.1 million for the first 18 months, which end in June 2013. Additional $1 million will be given at that point, if the progress is sufficient.
The researchers, however, managed to exceed even their own expectations. Their initial plan was to reach the 50% improvement mark by the end of the year. What they managed to do was to improve the performance with 65 % and this is by the end of September.
This was the reason ARPA-E not only to release the additional $1 million earlier than planned, but also to give extra $900,000 to the project.
Selvamanickam is certain that these extra funds will allow them to expand the team by bringing graduate students and improve the quality of research. He is especially proud that the additional funding was given based on exceeded performance.