There is a serious misconception in this post. The only
place where the grid is in serious problem - in mouths of
politicians and those seeking free government funding.
Look at the NERC.COM reliability report for years 2002-2011.
Most all the grid is sufficient - the weakness only being in
the NY ISO to NYC and SW Conn where political problems have
created transmissions problems.
Hypesters will be quick to have you believe half truths and
outright lies before the facts arrive. Reality is that the
grid is sufficient - predicated on proper maintenance and
proper operation. You now want to visit
alt.engineering.electrical in a thread entitled "Power
Outage - a deliberate calculation" or [Only registered users see links. ] to see why such failures happen.
Therein lies why proper maintenance and operation is not being
done. Therein lies why something good called deregulation is
being subverted by those who come from where?
In the meantime, superconductivity is not a solution as
hypsters would have you think. A superconductor cable is
being installed in Detroit Edison only because the
superconductor takes less space than a conventional cable.
Space is the problem being solved by superconductivity.
Always go first to where 85% of all problems are directly
traceable. Read those posts in alt.engineering.electrical.
then go back to news articles or even last nights Nightline
([Only registered users see links. ]) to see what they also report at
the broadcast's start.
Only the ill informed are claiming we need more power plants
and more transmission lines. Notice how PJM which is properly
managed probably saved the entire east coast to FL and the TX
border from a blackout. Facts before speculation is what
those hypsters don't want you to do.
Staying clear of the MBA vs engineering tension, one fact appeared and that is the very short period of time (9 seconds) for the grid to respond to a defect. Even this appears to be long considering that the electricity travels at the speed of light (maybe a little less for index of refraction). There must be some mechanical relays in the system.
You mentioned that good reliability is ensured out to 2011. That really is not too far away. Perhaps we should be looking for a better way 20 years down the road when grid complexity surely will be increased with much larger demand.
My question, is whether there is something inherently characteristic to superconductivity that would make a transmittion system more reliable??
More concretely, is it in the nature of superconductivity that the electrical current travels at a much slower speed (7.84E+05 cm/sec or 17,500 mph) than conventional electrical current (3 x 10^10 cm/sec or 669,600,000 mph) making grid system decision making and execution inherently more reliable??
And then their is Admiral Hyman George Rickover who engineered the
nuclear submarine. He ran a very tight ship. His selection process for
his Naval Officer submarine corps was very demanding. He interviewed
every one and subjected each to his sometimes vitriolic personality.
It is said that in his later years, he had misgivings about having
developed this technology because of potential adverse effect.
There is something in the nature of a technology that includes a wide
spectrum of people from financiers, engineers, scientists, customers,
politicals etc. The overall mix is necessary for the technology's
existence and perhaps sows the seed of its doom.
What happened to the dirigible? Zeppelin did all the engineering and a
passenger transport industry developed around it. The Hindenburg
spelled the end as well as the US Navy Akron and Macon. A large
structure filled with gas (helium or hydrogen) meant to be lighter than
air does not stand up well in a thunderstorm and the cost per passenger
mile is too high.
I am just saying that if a 298K superconductor were available to
transport DC energy at 10^5 amp/cm^2 under very low tension, without
loss, from any place on earth to another, that would result in a
paradigm shift in the way human kind looks at energy usage and with
significant (beneficial?) political consequences. Rivers of Energy Flow.
What are the losses in current electrical energy transmission in say:
I no longer remember the efficiency numbers. They were
posted some years back in a newsgroup. However recently in
one tech magazine, (maybe Scientific American), a researcher
proposed a way of making superconductors cost effective. Idea
is to use superconductor also as a pipe for supercooled
hydrogen. Homes would burn hydrogen for heat and electric.
Sell excess power back to the grid if available. And hydrogen
keeps the wires at superconductor temperatures.
Appreciate the engineering problems with this scheme. First
we don't have a good system to send electricity back to the
grid. This is a serious load balancing problem as well as
even a safety problem for linemen. Also just too complex for
electricians. We don't have safe efficient hydrogen
generators for electricity and heat (yet). Whole new
standards need be created just for those two problems - that
is multiple decades of work. Then there is the complication
with keeping hydrogen cold inside those superconductors.
What happens when no one consumes hydrogen? Entire
neighborhoods need be dug up to bury these cables.
In the 1950s and 1960s were another period of 'technology is
the solution to everything'. Then the 1970s happened - and
the rise of the MBA.
In the 1970s, everything was about costs. Look on a home
construction job. Most all those power and pneumatic tools
were available in 1970 but never used. Only simple things
like portable circular saws were on a job. Even generators
were considered a luxury. They cost money! Everything was by
hand. That was the 1970s mindset.
History says we will return again to that mindset. All this
hype associated with technology is a temporary trend as
repeatedly demonstrated by history. When America gets
'technology crazy' again, I suspect the above application of
superconductors will suddenly become ubiquitous. But
currently, superconductors even in a period of 'technology
hyper-pshyche' are not a solution to most electrical power
transmission problems. I believe it will become standard with
the next wave of 'technology hype'.
Based upon how technology really advances, I don't expect to
see widespread application of superconductors in our
lifetimes. I expect the value of superconductors and other
sub-atomic science applications to be part of a next
technology wave. Already we are seeing a fear of basic
research. $tens of millions for a space station that has no
science application; build at the loss of a TX super-collider.
One must remember that technology appears in spurts.
Electric motors were available in the late 1800s but never
really utilized until the 1920s. Most computer technology
that made the 1990s was really developed and stifled in the
early 1970s. Simply review the Xerox Star as an example. Or
Unix. Or preemptive multi-tasking. Or xDSL. Even concept
and efficiencies of a hybrid vehicles were demonstrated but
limited to pre-WWII diesel electric locomotives - until now.
Superconductors currently don't have the cost advantages
necessary to compete with current transmission technologies.
There is an old benchmark for whether a new technology is good
enough to replace the current technology. The new technology
must be about 10 times better - or else it is not 'ready for
prime time'. Superconductors for a national electrical grid
just don't (yet) meet that requirement.
In sci.physics, w_tom
<[Only registered users see links. ]>
on Thu, 21 Aug 2003 19:39:54 -0400
<[Only registered users see links. ]>:
-183 Celsius, at standard atmospheric pressure.
Pressure sufficient for what? That question's already answered
routinely; "natural gas" is mostly methane.
If you're referring to keeping a superconductor cool,
then -183 C = 90 K. This is barely cool enough
to cause a ytterbium-barium-copper-oxide mixture
to superconduct (92K). It might be adequate for a
thallium-barium-copper-oxide mixture, which requires 125K.
There are some issues here regarding freezup of the
methane, similar to water icing of pipes in winter,
although probably not quite as destructive, since I
doubt methane expands upon freezing. Nor do I know the
particulars regarding the Meissner effect, and thereby
how much current a superconductor can pass while still
superconducting, relative to current copper wiring.
I do not know the stability of these compounds when
exposed to air; pure thallium and ytterbium do not remain
pure for long in the presence of air or water, at normal
temperatures. Of course, for superconductors that may
not be much of an issue, as they're too cold to react. :-)
Methane boils at -164 C, which means any equipment operating
with liquid methane may have to contend with wildly differing
pressures in an emergency. Admittedly, this isn't much
of a problem -- a flare pipe does the job in a pinch.
#191, [Only registered users see links. ]
It's still legal to go .sigless.