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John O | April 2019

New materials and cooling system used in CERN superconducting electrical transmission line

By Josh Perry, Editor


The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) created a 60-meter-long superconducting electrical transmission line for its future accelerator, the High-Luminosity LHC (due to begin operation in 2026), that transported 40,000 amps, which is 20 times what is possible at room temperature with ordinary copper cables of the same size.


Tests being carried out on the superconducting power line. (CERN)


According to a report from CERN, the cables are made of magnesium diboride (MgB2) and has no resistance but needs temperatures of 25 K (-248°C) to function. To keep the cables at this ultra-low temperature, they were placed inside a cryostat in which helium gas circulates.


“Having proven that such a system is feasible, at the end of March the team tested the connection to the room temperature end of the system,” the article continued. “In the High-Luminosity LHC, these lines will connect power converters to the magnets. These converters are located at a certain distance from the accelerator. The new superconducting transmission lines, which measure up to 140 m in length, will feed several circuits and transport electrical current of up to 100,000 amps.”


The use of high-temperature superconductors is a significant breakthrough for CERN scientists, as the materials can transport high current densities but are difficult to manage.


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