On the ground beneath a forest of power transmission towers in suburban Long Island, experimental wires cooled by liquid nitrogen carried 138,000 volts in flat strands about the size of linguini.
Power executives, engineers, and the media gathered recently to officially throw the switch at the $60 million Holbrook Superconductor project, the world's first transmission power cable transmitting waves of electricity from the grid to a substation that feeds actual U.S. homes.Surrounded by stainless steel tubing and insulation, the three superconductors at Holbrook move power down a corridor only four feet wide. The 600-meter-long underground cable system consists of about 99 miles of superconductor wires from American Superconductor chilled to minus 371 degrees.
"These are electricity pipelines," said Greg Yurek, CEO of American Semiconductor as he waved his hand at the giant power lines above. "Just look at the right of way, 200 to 300 feet wide. That costs a lot of money. Compress all that down to those three simple superconductor cables, and that's a lot less right of way. That's going to reduce overall system cost. That's gonna go right to the ratepayers.">>>MORE