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September 21, 2011

Research towards superconducting direct-drive generator for wind turbines

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working toward generating 20 percent of the nation's electricity supply from wind power by 2030. To help make this vision a reality, DOE recently awarded six projects to help develop next generation wind turbines and accelerate the deployment of advanced turbines for offshore wind energy in the United States.

Advanced Magnet Lab, located in Palm Bay, Florida, is leading one of these projects to develop the first fully superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines with the goal of significantly reducing the cost of wind energy. DOE's Argonne National Laboratory is one of Advanced Magnet Lab's partners in this project.

"Direct-drive generators eliminate the need for a gearbox, which reduces weight, eliminates moving parts and reduces maintenance costs," said Jerry Nolen, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and collaborator on the project. "Turbines based on superconducting technology will have a huge impact on how future electricity is generated by reducing costs and increasing reliability and efficiency."




This early research and development project will focus on using superconducting wires, which have essentially zero electrical resistance, allowing for greater electricity flow and making generators smaller and lighter for their given output
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