Follow On: The development of engineering applications for bulk (RE)BCO superconductors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


The aim of the project is to develop a batch processing route for bulk (RE)BCO high temperature superconductors utilizing two improvements that significantly advance the prospects for commercialization. The first improvement is that of incorporating a new phase, which improves the critical current densities and trapped fields. The second improvement is a seeding technique that simplifies the batch processing of large single grains. Both were developed under EPSRC-funded projects and have been patented. A recent independent market survey, commissioned by the University of Cambridge, has recommended focus on two applications which would make use of the higher field gradients provided by bulk (RE)BCO superconductors, compared with permanent magnets. The project will move fabrication from the current small-scale, highly supervised process to batch production by using a Taguchi fraction factorial approach. The business aim is to provide bulk (RE)BCO to equipment manufacturers. Products arising from the project will be incorporated into complete systems, including cryogenics, for benchmarking against permanent magnet systems by industrial partners.


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Description A key aim in the project was to demonstrate that the conventional melt processing technique, used previously to produce small diameter crystals, can be carried forward into batch production of large (circa 30 mm diameter) single grains capable of trapping high fields. It was shown that the trapped fields of single grain superconductors can be significantly enhanced by introducing Y2Ba4CuMOy phase inclusions. The size of these inclusions is in nano-scale and they are known to contribute for magnetic flux pinning. Successful experiments were designed and carried out in this project based on Taguchi fraction factorial experiment, which established the feasibility of batch processing of these materials.

We have estimated that the overall processing runs, to transform large number of single grains containing various amounts of Y-2411 nano-inclusions would be maximum of ten and the rest of the project time was aimed at quality check and system integration in collaboration with UK industries. However, the processing temperature profile was identified to be different to another for samples containing various types and amounts of Y-2411 phases.

A novel trapped field measurement set-up has been developed at IRC to enable us to characterise large number of samples relatively quickly compared to conventional Hall probe scanning measurements. In conventional method, a single Hall probe is scanned across sample surface and it takes about 45 minutes to scan 25 mm diameter specimen
Exploitation Route A start-up company, Cambridge Superconductors Limited, has been formed to exploit these developments.
Sectors Energy

Description None to report in this academic year
Description Dexter Magnetic Technologies 
Organisation Dexter Magnetic Technologies
Country United States 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
Description TGT Energy Limited 
Organisation TGT Energy Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
Description Teer Coatings Ltd 
Organisation Teer Coatings Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006