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GE Power Conversion has successfully completed trials of Hydrogenie, a power generator incorporating technologies using superconductors that enable highly efficient production of electricity in a small space.

Hydrogenie makes use of superconductors instead of copper for the rotor windings on the motor, operating at 43 Kelvin (-230 degrees C). In a test late last year, the Hydrogenie did well beyond its full rated load of 1.7 MW spinning at 214 rpm and met expectations and design predictions.

"This technology is a true breakthrough," says Martin Ingles, Hydrogenie project manager at GE Power Conversion. "It could radically improve the efficiency of equipment producing electricity from water and from wind and may also be suitable for further applications down the road."

The latest superconductors are made by depositing a superconducting layer of ceramic onto a relatively cheap base metal. They have virtually no resistance to electrical current when cooled to very low temperatures, so windings can be made with wires having a cross section around 2% the size of a conventional copper wire winding. In turn, more windings can be fitted into electromagnet coils, resulting in a higher-power magnet that is substantially smaller and lighter.

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