‘Superconducting breakthrough’

High voltage researchers last week announced a breakthrough in the development of a superconducting transmission cable.
The Delft high voltage laboratory collaborates with the German-Danish power cable producer NKT in the development of a high temperature superconducting (HTS) power cable.

The superconducting cable should replace one of the existing 6 kilometre long transmission cables connecting the centre of Amsterdam with a distribution point further north.

Losses in the cable should be kept below 1 Watt per meter for each of the three phases at maximum power (3,000 Amperes at 50,000 Volt). The breakthrough that researchers Roy Zuijderduin and Dr Oleg Chevtchenko (both from the faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences) have achieved is that the losses are “an order of magnitude lower” than this threshold value. NKT cables do not allow chief researcher Professor Johan Smit to give an exact value for the measured losses.

Smit explains that minimising the losses is vital for a superconducting cable, since any heat production has to be cooled off in order to maintain superconductivity.
On both sides of the Amsterdam HTS cable, cooling stations will be pumping liquid nitrogen down the hollow centre of the cable in order to keep its temperature below 90 Kelvin. All included, a superconducting cable features about half the loss of normal high voltage power transmission (typically 5 percent).

The main losses are due to thermal leakage and alternating electromagnetic fields. By spiralling the thin, 3 millimetre wide superconducting strips neatly side by side along the hollow centre, the researchers succeeded in closing any gaps between the tapes, thus minimising the electromagnetic losses.
Smit foresees HTS cables taking the place of copper wires in the next decade, not only in power transmission, but also in motors and generators for wind turbines. This will be especially true when copper prices rise.

After a fortnight of stressful exams, it’s time to relax and ‘Rejoice the brightest night in Delft’, as the organizers of TU’s Diwali ‘09 festival alluringly headlined their event. Diwali, a famous South Asian festival, is popularly known as the ‘festival of lights’, celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Back in India, this festival is celebrated over five days with multi-colored rangoli design floral decorations, offering prayers to the deity. Diwali evening is particularly spectacular, with fireworks, clay lamps and candles lit everywhere across the country. During Diwali, people wear their finest clothes and share sweets with neighbors and relatives.
Diwali ’09 in Delft is the place to be to learn more about Indian culture through compelling events, like traditional Indian songs, dance, a fashion show and more. There will also be an entertaining magic show by Arvind Jayashankar (3mE). Diwali ’09 is also a place to network and make new friends.
To experience Indian culture, one must experience Indian food – from spicy to sweet, all kinds of delicacies will be served to cater to the international audience’s taste buds. The TU’s annual Diwali festival is a popular event, but there is limited space for only twohundred people, so be quick in registering your attendance. IsaDelft cordially invites everyone to attend this event and start your second quarter with a memorable night celebrating Indian culture. 

Diwali ’09, at the TU Cultural Centre on Sunday, 15 November, from 16:00 to 20:00. To register, go to the IsaDelft website below or email

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