European EcoSwing Builds First Full Scale Superconductor Wind Turbine

The European EcoSwing project swapped a compact and lightweight electric superconducting generator for a conventional generator in a 3.6 Megawatt wind turbine.

The new generator is 4 meters in diameter, 1.5 meters smaller than a conventional one. It sits inside an 88 meter tall 3.6MW turbine in Thyboron, Denmark.

The magnets made from a composite tape with a ceramic superconducting layer: gadolinium–barium–copper oxide (GdBaCuO). The superconducting layer sits on a steel ribbon for flexibility and strength.

The superconducting tape is protected from metal poisoning by layers of magnesium oxide and silver. The magnesium oxide also acts as a template for the precise crystalline structure needed by the GdBaCuO. An outer copper layer offers electrical and thermal stabilization. Tens of kilometers of this tape sits inside the new wind turbine.

A conventional wind generator making 1MW of power will have about one tonne of neodymium in its magnets. The superconductor uses about 1 kilogram of the rare earth gadolinium. It costs just $18.70/kg (£14.50/kg) of gadolinium oxide versus $45.50/kg of neodymium oxide.

There have been supply issues for the neodymium. China has most of the rare earth supplies.

Off-the-shelf cryo-coolers from SHI Cryogenics in the UK chill the superconductor to –240°C.

21 thoughts on “European EcoSwing Builds First Full Scale Superconductor Wind Turbine”

  1. With the discovery of ways to use Graphene will may soon not need rare metals for batteries. Graphene can be used as a capacitor to charge vehicles.

    Reply
  2. Yes, but superconductors are technical complex stuff, getting it approved for aircraft will be hard.
    You don’t want engine fails in an plane, an windmill shutting down is just lack of power during downtime.
    Three marked for electrical planes, small private planes, puddle jumpers and hybrids say two electrical propellers and an jet engine.

    Reply
  3. Saving weight also matters for the efforts to create electric planes. The motors in that app do currently rely on permanent magnets for efficiency. If this stuff is ready for use in generators, it is ready for use in motors. Since they are already looking at short haul flights with the heavier alternatives, seems like this could be a game-changer.

    Reply
  4. The only reason China has most of the rare earth supplies is that green zealotry has closed the California mines, once the largest source in the world.

    Reply
  5. “China has most of the rare earth supplies.” No it doesn’t. The reason we do not mine it here in the US is that it is typically found with radioactive material like Thorium. That puts it under the NRC regulatory system and requires companies to store it in expensive facilities. In China or other sensible nations it is put in a shed.

    Reply
  6. China doesn’t have most of the rare earth supplies. They are the only one who bother mining them. Economically speaking it is a very work intensive type of mining with low profit margins. Now that China has become a monopoly and started manipulating it, everyone is looking at it differently.

    Reply
  7. Yes, but superconductors are technical complex stuff, getting it approved for aircraft will be hard.
    You don’t want engine fails in an plane, an windmill shutting down is just lack of power during downtime.
    Three marked for electrical planes, small private planes, puddle jumpers and hybrids say two electrical propellers and an jet engine.

    Reply
  8. Saving weight also matters for the efforts to create electric planes. The motors in that app do currently rely on permanent magnets for efficiency. If this stuff is ready for use in generators, it is ready for use in motors. Since they are already looking at short haul flights with the heavier alternatives, seems like this could be a game-changer.

    Reply
  9. “China has most of the rare earth supplies.” No it doesn’t. The reason we do not mine it here in the US is that it is typically found with radioactive material like Thorium. That puts it under the NRC regulatory system and requires companies to store it in expensive facilities. In China or other sensible nations it is put in a shed.

    Reply
  10. China doesn’t have most of the rare earth supplies. They are the only one who bother mining them. Economically speaking it is a very work intensive type of mining with low profit margins. Now that China has become a monopoly and started manipulating it, everyone is looking at it differently.

    Reply

Leave a Comment