THEVA Super­con­duc­tors — From a rese­arch pro­ject to indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion

THEVA is suc­cess­ful­ly working on the pro­duc­tion rea­di­ness of high tem­pe­ra­tu­re super­con­duc­tors (HTS)
Super­con­duc­tors are mate­ri­als that do not exhi­bit any electri­cal resis­tance when their tran­si­ti­on tem­pe­ra­tu­re (cri­ti­cal tem­pe­ra­tu­re, Tc) falls below their tran­si­ti­on tem­pe­ra­tu­re. In order to reach this tem­pe­ra­tu­re point and thus trans­mit as much cur­rent as pos­si­ble on the smal­lest pos­si­ble cross sec­tion, the high-tem­pe­ra­tu­re super­con­duc­tors can be coo­led with lique­fied nitro­gen. Alrea­dy sin­ce 2015, the com­pa­ny loca­ted in Isma­ning near Munich has been manu­fac­tu­ring high-tem­pe­ra­tu­re super­con­duc­ting wires (HTS wires) under the name THEVA Pro-Line using its own paten­ted pro­duc­tion tech­no­lo­gy. With this inno­va­ti­ve solu­ti­on, the loss-free trans­port of extre­me­ly high electri­cal cur­r­ents has beco­me rea­li­ty.

Nobel Pri­ze in Phy­sics for Dr Johan­nes Georg Bed­norz and Dr Karl Alex Mül­ler
The histo­ry of super­con­duc­tors is alrea­dy over 100 years old. The phe­no­me­non was dis­co­ve­r­ed at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry by the Dut­ch­man Hei­ke Kamer­lingh Onnes, but at very low tem­pe­ra­tures near abso­lu­te zero. In the fol­lowing deca­des, the fin­dings were main­ly used to gene­ra­te magne­tic fiel­ds, for examp­le in lar­ge par­ti­cle acce­le­ra­tors or in magne­tic reso­nance ima­ging. The bre­akthrough for super­con­duc­tors came in 1986, when the two phy­si­cists Dr. Johan­nes Georg Bed­norz and Prof. Karl Alex Mül­ler dis­co­ve­r­ed a com­pound that beco­mes super­con­duc­ti­ve at a much hig­her tran­si­ti­on tem­pe­ra­tu­re. The high tem­pe­ra­tu­re super­con­duc­tors were born. The two rese­ar­chers were awar­ded the Nobel Pri­ze in Phy­sics the fol­lowing year “for their ground­brea­king dis­co­very of super­con­duc­ti­vi­ty in cer­a­mic mate­ri­als”. Becau­se of the lower coo­ling requi­re­ments, the new cer­a­mic super­con­duc­tors were now also of inte­rest for ener­gy tech­no­lo­gy. With their rese­arch work and the atten­ti­on this topic recei­ved through the awards, the sci­en­tists laid the foun­da­ti­ons for the first prac­ti­cal app­li­ca­ti­ons. The Ampa­Ci­ty pro­ject fun­ded by the Federal Minis­try of Eco­no­mics and Tech­no­lo­gy (BMWi) and the EU pro­ject EcoSwing are pro­mi­nent examp­les of the ongo­ing bre­akthrough. They are trend-set­ting in their app­li­ca­ti­on of HTS tech­no­lo­gy becau­se they pro­vi­de com­ple­te­ly new approa­ches for space-saving and par­ti­cu­lar­ly ener­gy-effi­ci­ent power trans­mis­si­on. THEVA as sup­plier of the HTS coils for a com­pact 3.6 MW wind tur­bi­ne gene­ra­tor wit­hin the EcoSwing pro­ject con­tri­bu­tes to this suc­cess sto­ry. Sin­ce a few mon­ths this world­wi­de first HTS wind tur­bi­ne gene­ra­tor has been rota­ting and deli­vering ener­gy in Thy­borøn on the stor­my Danish north coast. “I am con­vin­ced that super­con­duc­ti­vi­ty with its mani­fold app­li­ca­ti­ons will find its way into many are­as of our ever­y­day life”, said phy­si­cist and Nobel Pri­ze win­ner Dr. Georg Bed­norz in an inter­view in 2011. Sin­ce 2017, the sci­en­tist is a mem­ber of THEVA’s Seni­or Advi­so­ry Coun­cil and par­ti­ci­pa­tes as an expert con­sul­tant in making this a rea­li­ty…

Super­con­duc­tors on the way to com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness
The pro­duc­tion of HTS wires is high­ly com­plex and exp­lains the long deve­lo­p­ment time. But the visio­na­ry makers from Isma­ning belie­ve that this tech­no­lo­gy is on the ver­ge of a bre­akthrough for widespread use. With a lot of per­se­ver­an­ce and stami­na, they are on the ver­ge of crea­ting some­thing that will set stan­dards in the field of power trans­mis­si­on. Fol­lowing the con­struc­tion of the pro­duc­tion hall in 2014 and the start of pro­duc­tion in 2015, the focus is now pri­ma­ri­ly on opti­mi­zing the manu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess and thus redu­cing cos­ts. The manu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess deve­lo­ped and paten­ted by THEVA allows sca­ling to lar­ger pro­duc­tion volu­mes and thus redu­cing cos­ts. Thus, the inno­va­ti­ve com­pa­ny is well on the way to make high-tem­pe­ra­tu­re super­con­duc­tors che­a­per than cop­per and thus to offer a real alter­na­ti­ve to con­ven­tio­nal tech­no­lo­gy. The fol­lowing are­as of app­li­ca­ti­on are at the fore­front: Super­con­duc­tors are con­si­de­red to be a for­ward-loo­king solu­ti­on for space-saving and par­ti­cu­lar­ly ener­gy-effi­ci­ent trans­mis­si­on of electri­ci­ty in cities but also over­land. Com­pact super­con­duc­tor ground cables are repla­cing lar­ge cop­per ground cable sys­tems or even over­head lines over shor­ter distan­ces and at cri­ti­cal points. The advan­ta­ges of the tech­no­lo­gy are a tight and simp­le lay­out, retro­fit pos­si­bi­li­ties, no ground hea­ting and no elec­tro­ma­gne­tic fiel­ds to the out­side. This is a decisi­ve advan­ce for effi­ci­ent manage­ment and lay­ing in agri­cul­tu­ral are­as and resi­den­ti­al are­as.
As far as electric machi­nes are con­cer­ned, the focus will be on the con­struc­tion of smal­ler and more com­pact gene­ra­tors for wind tur­bi­nes, as in the EcoSwing pro­ject, the con­struc­tion of lar­ge gene­ra­tors, lar­ge engi­nes for ships, and light high-per­for­mance pro­pul­si­on sys­tems that make electric fly­ing pos­si­ble in the first place.
The­re is also the broad field of magne­tic tech­no­lo­gy with fusi­on, medi­cal tech­no­lo­gy (MRT) and induc­tion hea­ters — for the lat­ter Petra Bült­mann-Stef­fin and Dr. Cars­ten Büh­rer recei­ved the Deut­schen Umwelt­preis 2009 (Ger­man Envi­ron­men­tal Award). Now THEVA, tog­e­ther with part­ners from indus­try and the Karls­ru­he Insti­tu­te of Tech­no­lo­gy (KIT), has taken up the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of this high­ly effi­ci­ent device for metal forming again to con­ti­nue a pie­ce of Ger­man indus­tri­al histo­ry. With its 50 employees, THEVA Dünn­schicht­tech­nik GmbH, foun­ded in 1996, con­sist­ent­ly pur­su­es the goal to use its know­ledge advan­ta­ge and to keep the know-how on super­con­duc­tor tech­no­lo­gy at the busi­ness loca­ti­on Ger­ma­ny. With con­ta­cts in Asia and the USA, the com­pa­ny is also pre­sent for its cus­to­mers world­wi­de. Whe­ther electric fly­ing, e‑mobility, smart city or ener­gy revo­lu­ti­on — only with super­con­duc­tors can the full poten­ti­al of all the­se deve­lo­p­ments be ful­ly explo­i­ted. The demand for strip con­duc­tors will the­re­fo­re incre­a­se. THEVA is alrea­dy plan­ning to expand its pro­duc­tion capa­ci­ties for several major pro­jects. Fur­ther invest­ment part­ners are the­re­fo­re being sought.

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bGVtZW50b3ItZmllbGQgZWxlbWVudG9yLXNpemUtc20gIGVsZW1lbnRvci1hY2NlcHRhbmNlLWZpZWxkIiByZXF1aXJlZD0icmVxdWlyZWQiIGFyaWEtcmVxdWlyZWQ9InRydWUiPgoJCQkJPGxhYmVsIGZvcj0iZm9ybS1maWVsZC1kYXRlbnNjaHV0eiI+PHNwYW4gc3R5bGU9ImZvbnQtc2l6ZTogMTNweDsgbGV0dGVyLXNwYWNpbmc6IDA7Ij5JY2ggYmluIGVpbnZlcnN0YW5kZW4gbWl0IGRlciBWZXJhcmJlaXR1bmcgbWVpbmVyIE5hY2hyaWNodCBnZW3DpMOfIGRlciA8YSBocmVmPSIvZGF0ZW5zY2h1dHoiPkRhdGVuc2NodXR6ZXJrbMOkcnVuZy48L2E+PC9zcGFuPjwvbGFiZWw+CQkJPC9zcGFuPgoJCTwvZGl2PgoJCQkJCQk8L2Rpdj4KCQkJCQkJCQk8ZGl2IGNsYXNzPSJlbGVtZW50b3ItZmllbGQtdHlwZS1yZWNhcHRjaGFfdjMgZWxlbWVudG9yLWZpZWxkLWdyb3VwIGVsZW1lbnRvci1jb2x1bW4gZWxlbWVudG9yLWZpZWxkLWdyb3VwLWZpZWxkXzVjNjFmZjIgZWxlbWVudG9yLWNvbC0xMDAgcmVjYXB0Y2hhX3YzLWJvdHRvbXJpZ2h0Ij4KCQkJCQk8ZGl2IGNsYXNzPSJlbGVtZW50b3ItZmllbGQiIGlkPSJmb3JtLWZpZWxkLWZpZWxkXzVjNjFmZjIiPjxkaXYgY2xhc3M9ImVsZW1lbnRvci1nLXJlY2FwdGNoYSIgZGF0YS1zaXRla2V5PSI2TGZiWHhJZ0FBQUFBTkxyR2VpRXhWQm5EUkJ3X213XzNKNG56bzBlIiBkYXRhLXR5cGU9InYzIiBkYXRhLWFjdGlvbj0iRm9ybSIgZGF0YS1iYWRnZT0iYm90dG9tcmlnaHQiIGRhdGEtc2l6ZT0iaW52aXNpYmxlIj48L2Rpdj48L2Rpdj4JCQkJPC9kaXY+CgkJCQkJCQkJPGRpdiBjbGFzcz0iZWxlbWVudG9yLWZpZWxkLWdyb3VwIGVsZW1lbnRvci1jb2x1bW4gZWxlbWVudG9yLWZpZWxkLXR5cGUtc3VibWl0IGVsZW1lbnRvci1jb2wtMTAwIGUtZm9ybV9fYnV0dG9ucyI+CgkJCQkJPGJ1dHRvbiB0eXBlPSJzdWJtaXQiIGNsYXNzPSJlbGVtZW50b3ItYnV0dG9uIGVsZW1lbnRvci1zaXplLXNtIiBpZD0iYWJzZW5kZW4iPgoJCQkJCQk8c3BhbiA+CgkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCTxzcGFuIGNsYXNzPSIgZWxlbWVudG9yLWJ1dHRvbi1pY29uIj4KCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQk8L3NwYW4+CgkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCQk8c3BhbiBjbGFzcz0iZWxlbWVudG9yLWJ1dHRvbi10ZXh0Ij5BYnNlbmRlbjwvc3Bhbj4KCQkJCQkJCQkJCQkJCTwvc3Bhbj4KCQkJCQk8L2J1dHRvbj4KCQkJCTwvZGl2PgoJCQk8L2Rpdj4KCQk8L2Zvcm0+CgkJCQk8L2Rpdj4KCQkJCTwvZGl2PgoJCQkJCQkJPC9kaXY+CgkJ