Applications of bulk high-temperature superconductors

John R. Hull, Masato Murakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Bulk high-temperature superconductors (HTSs) enable the opportunity to develop several unique applications in electrical power that are not feasible with superconducting or normal wires. The large current carrying capacity and low thermal conductivity of the HTSs allows relatively short lengths to carry large currents to low-temperature devices without introducing heat to the device. Such current leads can dramatically reduce the refrigeration requirements for devices such as SMES. The HTSs make a relatively sharp transition to a highly resistive state when the critical current density is exceeded, and this effect has suggested their use for resistive fault current limiters. The bulk HTSs may also take the form of large single-grained superconductors within which circulating currents may flow at large current density without loss. They are capable of developing magnetizations, similar to that of permanent magnets, but with much larger magnetic fields. In this case, they may be used as field-trapping components. Applications in this case include brushless synchronous motors, laboratory magnets, magnetic separation, and magnetron sputtering. The bulk HTSs may also be used as diamagnetic objects in magnetic circuits to provide new types of power devices. One application that uses this effect is an inductive fault current limiters, in which the HTS shields an iron core in an inductive circuit until some current level is exceeded. This transition increases the component from low impedance to high impedance. The diamagnetic property may also be used to create low-loss magnetic bearings for use in efficient energy-storage fly-wheel devices or sensitive instrumentation. The combination of diamagnetic shielding and field trapping has suggested their use in motor designs analogous to hysteresis motors. Laboratory prototypes for all of these devices have been constructed and tested, and in some cases the devices have been field tested in actual power systems. Improvements in HTS properties, such as flux pinning, me chanical strength, and the ability to grow large grains, have greatly improved the economics of applications that use bulk HTS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1717
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Oct


  • Current leads
  • Fault-current limiters (FCLs)
  • Fly-wheel energy storage
  • High-temperature superconductors
  • Magnetic levitation
  • Magnetic separation
  • Rare-earth compounds
  • Sputtering
  • Superconducting composites
  • Superconducting devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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