Superconducting Cable Can Increase our Electrical Supply

As much as half of the electricity transmitted through those ugly overhead high-tension wires is lost through resistance. The dream has been to replace them with superconducting cables, which can be buried, are much smaller, and have no electrical resistance. The problem has been the very low temperatures required for superconductivity, needing expensive liquid helium for cooling. Now Sumitomo Electric Industries has developed a bismuth-based cable that goes superconductive at the high temperature of -200C (-328F)- that's toasty, warm enough for cheap liquid nitrogen. In May it will be tested in Albany, New York, connecting two power stations. The implications: if one gets more electricity out of the existing infrastructure, then you don't need new nuclear plants. You can tap distant wind, hydro or geothermal sources and transmit without loss. How much smarter is it to use what you have efficiently than to burn more coal or build more nukes. ::Trends in Japan

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