Sumitomo prototype superconductor motor for buses in 2013 and mass production by 2020

Greencarcongress – Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) Ltd. hopes to have a prototype of a superconducting motor for electric buses ready by next spring to present to OEMs. SEI hopes to start mass-producing the motors by 2020 and envisions applications in not only buses, but also forklifts and small trucks.

In 2008, SEI unveiled an electric vehicle equipped with a prototype superconducting motor cooled by liquid nitrogen and built using SEI’s high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires. The Sumitomo motor developed around 30kW with 120 N·m torque.

In September, 2007, a Japanese research group coordinated by IHI Corporation and including SEI unveiled a 365 kW HTS motor cooled by liquid nitrogen and using SEI’s DI-BSCCO superconducting wire. SEI’s bismuth-based superconducting material is made of bismuth – strontium – calcium – copper – oxygen (Bi-Sr-Ca-Cu-O).

Superconductors have zero resistance to the flow of electricity, so a vehicle with such a motor could consume 20-30% less energy than a conventional electric car using copper wire, according to the company


Sumitomo sees eventual widespread use of superconducting wires in the field of transport technology Superconducting wires can be used for electric vehicles, linear motor cars, and railroad vehicles one-half of which operate on DC. Furthermore, superconducting cables are thinner and weigh only one-fourth as much compared to traditional copper cables. These advantages make it possible to lay them along highways and other pathways, thereby opening up the possibility for new road services. Though I cannot predict when the above ideas will be put into practice, it is undeniable that superconducting technology will support our everyday lives in the future.

The number of research and development personnel in charge of superconductivity at Sumitomo has increased from the initial 5 to about 100.

Furukawa Electric owns SuperPower Inc. Furukawa and Sumitomo often work closely together.

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