Stacks of high temperature superconducting tape as trapped field magnets for energy applications
The world demand for energy is estimated to increase by up to 70% from 2016 to 2040. To meet this demand in a sustainable way, the power density of electric motors and generators can be increased by using superconducting materials. In particular, trapped field superconducting magnets, where the field is generated by a circulating persistent current in the sample, can create magnetic fields an order of magnitude higher than possible using conventional ferromagnets, thus increasing the power density of motors and generators. This is of great interest where added weight comes at a premium, such as for naval propulsion motors, wind generators and motors/generators for future electric aircraft.
This work investigates the suitability of stacked tape layers of second generation high temperature superconductors (HTS), such as YBa2Cu3O7-x (YBCO) for trapped field applications. The present limits for trapped field magnitude have been determined, which provide a basis for the optimization of pulsed field magnetization techniques for in-situ magnetization in motors and generators. Trapped fields were increased by optimising the magnetic pulse sequence, using thermally conductive material to reduce temperature rise during pulse and changing the duration of the magnetic field pulse.
Finite element method computer modelling was used to model and predict the behaviour of the trapped field magnets made of HTS tape with good agreement to experiment for both field cooling and pulsed field magnetisation. The models rely on critical current data for the HTS tape and its dependence on magnetic field and temperature. For this reason, a critical current testing facility was developed and constructed as a part of this work capable of measuring critical current up to 900 A, magnetic field of 1.5 T and down to temperatures of ~10 K in forced and dynamically controlled helium vapour flow.
Lastly, first steps into scaling up by pulse magnetising an array of HTS tape stacks were made, allowing for larger overall trapped flux values. Such an array exhibits geometry, similar to what is going to be used in a functional motor prototype being developed in our research group (Applied Superconductivity and Cryoscience Group, ASCG). The work done culminated in the highest trapped field achieved to date using both field cooling (13.4 T between two stacks) and pulsed field magnetization (2.1 T above a single stack), for this type of trapped field magnet.