Philosophical Society of Washington

Superconductivity

An Emerging, Energy Efficient Technology

Donald U. Gubser
Naval Research Laboratory


2158th Meeting Abstract
Friday, February 21, 2003 at 8:15 PM

Abstract:

As the world becomes more “electrified”, efficient distribution and use of electrical power becomes increasingly important. Loss of electrical energy due to resistance to current flow translates into wasted energy and wasted economic resources. Superconductivity offers zero to near zero resistance to electrical flow; thus, the use of superconducting materials significantly reduces electrical energy loss in the distribution and use of electrical power as well as producing a reduction in size and weight of power components and machinery. Although superconductivity was first discovered in 1911 the requirement of an extreme "cryogenic" environment (near absolute zero temperature) limited its utility. With the discovery in 1986 of a new class of “high temperature superconductors (HTS)” that operate at substantially higher temperatures (although still cryogenic), remarkable progress has been made in advancing a broader use for superconducting technology. Full scale demonstrations are now being built to develop engineering skills required for systems implementation of this new HTS technology and to better quantify system benefits. This talk will briefly review some of the fundamental attributes of superconductivity and some of the past policy decisions directed toward advancing the HTS technology. The main focus of the talk will describe ongoing demonstration projects, what they mean from a systems perspective, and what it will take to realize the full potential of this emerging superconducting technology.

About the Author:

Donald U. Gubser is Superintendent of the Materials Science and Technology Division at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). He was graduated from the University of Illinois (PhD Physics, 1969) and has been employed at NRL for his entire professional career. Dr. Gubser's scientific training and personal research has been in superconductivity, magnetism, solid state physics, and cryogenic properties of materials. In 1983, Dr. Gubser received the Naval Meritorious Service Award for his scientific leadership and research accomplishments, and in 1992 he received the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Service Award for excellence in science management. Dr. Gubser is active professionally, having served on several external advi-sory committees and national scientific study panels. He has taught at both the George Washington University and The Catholic University in Washington DC. Dr. Gubser is a Fellow in the American Physical Society (APS), chairperson of the Division of Condensed Matter Physics of the APS, vice chairperson of the International Cryogenic Materials Conference Board, and served as program chairperson of the 2002 Applied Superconductivity Conference. He is co-editor of the Journal of Superconductivity and is currently the IEEE Council for Superconductivity's Distinguished Lecturer of the Year (2003).

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