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[Energy] #2 Superconducting technology to revolutionize energy use

by Eco Generation | 20-03-2020 13:35 Comments 9 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

Superconducting technology to revolutionize energy use



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko



With rising global temperatures, more and more people are insisting that the world is in crisis. Some even say that it is too late to reverse climate change. If we continue to live like this without realizing the severity, it seems certain that we will face a great disaster.

Almost all activities conducted to maintain modern civilization emit carbon dioxide that causes global warming. These include activities for generating and consuming energy. However, we cannot give up civilization and go back to primitive times. We can slow down the catastrophe until we find a solution only by saving energy resources as much as possible.

No matter how many resources we save, however, some things are out of our control. One of them is electricity. After being generated at power plants, some electricity is lost in the process of transmission to households. This occurs due to the resistance in transmission lines.

Resistance is a tendency to oppose the passage of an electric current. No matter how conductive a material is, there is always resistance to some extent. It is the reason why inevitable energy loss occurs when sending or storing electricity.

Then would it be possible to make a material with zero electrical resistance? Yes, it is possible. Some materials have zero electrical resistance at very low temperatures. This phenomenon where electrical resistance disappears is called superconductivity, and the material that causes superconductivity is called a superconductor.

Various superconductors have already been found, and they are being utilized in our daily lives. It has recently been revealed and highlighted that graphene, a new material of the future, is also superconductive.

One problem is that superconductivity only occurs at very low temperatures. Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, who first discovered superconductivity, found out that electrical resistance becomes zero when the temperature of mercury falls to -268.95 degrees Celsius. However, he could not identify the reason.

Since then, several materials that exhibit superconductivity at temperatures higher than that of mercury have been found. Among them, ceramic-based materials display superconductivity at the highest temperature, at about -138 degrees Celsius.

As discussed, it is difficult to produce superconductivity in ordinary environments. You need to create a cryogenic environment with liquid helium whose boiling point is close to -270 degrees Celsius. Since helium is an element not abundant on Earth, its shortage has long been a problem. If it is depleted to the point where it is not available anymore, we may face great inconvenience in our daily lives.

The most familiar application of superconductors in everyday life would be Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) used in hospitals. MRI produces a powerful magnetic field that enables us to look inside the human body; it takes an electromagnet made of a superconductor in creating a magnetic field. Superconducting magnets are also used for fusion power generation, which is being studied as a future energy source. Nuclear fusion energy is a technology that solves energy issues by replacing fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide and nuclear power that produces radioactive waste.

If a material that exhibits superconductivity in a normal environment is discovered, we can use energy much more efficiently than we do now. If a transmission line was made with a superconductor, no energy loss would take place in the process of transmitting electricity. We can prevent waste of energy by saving electricity when there is extra and using it little by little only when needed.

Superconductors are also a core technology of smart grids. A smart grid is a system integrated with information and communication technology in the process of generating, transmitting, and using electricity. Power plants and consumers exchange information in real time, producing as much electricity as they need or distributing surplus electricity as appropriate. In this way, fewer power plants are required and less carbon dioxide is emitted, enabling efficient use of electricity while preventing warming.

Using superconducting transmission lines for smart grids allows transmitting more electricity in a smaller size without energy loss. The number of required substation facilities will also decrease, because there will be no need to increase the voltage to send electricity far away. Although we still have a long way to go to realize this, discovering a room-temperature superconductor that does not require cooling will significantly contribute to solving our energy issues.


#2 Superconducting technology to revolutionize energy use

▲ Replacing all transmission lines with superconductors will enable the transmission of electricity from power plants to users without any energy loss.


Eze Amobi

  • Eze Amobi says :
    Thank you for this great and educative article
    Posted 04-07-2020 04:31

Asmita Gaire

  • Asmita Gaire says :
    Greetings Eco generation
    I hope you are doing well.
    In the context where energy is an integral part of life however it's adverse effects must be minimized and learning about superconductor, it feels awesome.
    Thank you so much for this report.
    Green cheers
    Asmita Gaire
    Posted 08-05-2020 15:45

Bal krishna Pandey

Vazira Ikhtiyorova

Sonika Pariyar

  • Sonika Pariyar says :
    Greeting Tunza!!!
    Thanks for sharing this with us!
    This was very informative!!


    Posted 31-03-2020 17:20

Rachu Khanal

  • Rachu Khanal says :
    Thank you for this amazing article.
    Loved ready this
    Posted 28-03-2020 20:27

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    Thank you for this amazing article.
    Looking forward for the next one.
    Reading these column is interesting and great learning experience
    Posted 22-03-2020 12:36

Dikshya Parajuli

Anima Pokhrel

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