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Superconducting technology enters the cable industry? Will it be the future direction?

Superconducting cables have been called a miracle in the field of electrical connections and are currently attracting widespread attention and becoming a hot topic. In particular, recent breakthroughs in superconductor research under normal temperature and pressure conditions will lead to a new round of technological revolution.

As society approaches a fully electrified future, it is particularly urgent to increase urban power supply. As the main energy source, electricity must ensure 100% reliability of power supply.

Why choose superconductors?

As a miracle in the field of electrical connections, superconducting cables have unique advantages and are perfectly adapted to the needs of modern urban high-capacity electrification projects. First, superconducting cables can carry extremely high currents, far exceeding the capacity of traditional copper or aluminum cables, making it possible to transmit and distribute power at lower voltages. This means less need for substations in city centres, resulting in significant cost savings. Secondly, superconductors are small but can transmit huge amounts of power. For example, a superconducting cable with a diameter of just 17 centimeters can transmit 3.2 gigawatts of power, enough to meet the electricity needs of a large city. Finally, superconducting cables do not generate heat, can completely shield electromagnetic interference, and will not interfere with the intricate power, telecommunications and pipe networks in cities.

In addition, superconductors are incredibly efficient. Superconducting cables produce almost no resistance when transmitting alternating current and no resistance when transmitting direct current, so energy loss is very small.

Application of superconducting cables on railways

Nexans has embarked on a pioneering project with the French National Railways (SNCF) to use superconducting cables to power the Montparnasse station in Paris. Similar to the challenges of upgrading electricity in city centres, the main issue facing Montparnasse station is introducing a new electricity supply system without damaging the surrounding roads, a process that can be very long, expensive and cause huge disruption.

Superconducting cables can perfectly solve this problem. Nexans has implemented a solution that uses just two cables, each less than 100mm in diameter and therefore very easy to pass through existing pipes. Despite its small size, each cable can carry 5.3 megawatts of power (or 3,500 amps at 1,500 volts DC), which is a lot of power.

future outlook

The Montparnasse project highlights the huge potential of superconducting cable systems to improve the city's electricity supply.

Superconducting cable systems will play an increasingly important role in meeting growing power demands. In addition to meeting the growing demand for ultra-high power, superconducting systems will play a key role in improving the resilience of urban power grids.
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