Fast-Track : Scalable Production of High-Quality Bi2212 Precursor Powder
The United States Department of Energy, along with researchers in industry, and academia has identified an urgent need for Bismuth Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide superconducting precursor powder. This material is a high-temperature superconductor that will be used in powerful magnets for commercial magnetic resonance imaging devices. It is also desired to achieve very high magnetic fields required for high-energy physics colliders in an energy-efficient manner, but there currently exists only one commercial source for the material. Furthermore, this supplier is an overseas company that is changing its business model away from powder production on which the entire United States Superconducting community relies. Through this Small Business Innovation and Research program, a new method for high-quality powder production will be developed and the emergence of a powder-focused supplier will drive costs down. The problem of superconductor quality and supply will be addressed by using a continuous combustion technique to produce the powder in a scalable manner. Through the Phase I and Phase II efforts, research and scale-up work necessary to produce commercial- quality powder will be executed. Following the Phase II program, an enhanced powder product will become available on the commercial marketplace. Phase I will focus on using a scalable combustion process to develop and optimize precursor powder with low carbon content. Collaboration with superconductor experts in academia will yield state-of-the art powder characterization and the optimized material will be formed into superconducting wire for testing. Phase II will see continued enhancement of powder as well as a scaled-up process capable of producing up to 10 kg/day of material. Superconducting wire will be made in Phase I and at multiple points during the Phase II effort and sourced to the superconducting community for evaluation. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The current primary application for superconductor precursor powder is in superconducting magnets used in high-energy physics colliders. While the commercial marketplace is mostly centered around this application, the market is expanding to include insert coils for magnets in commercial Magnetic Resonance Imaging devices as well. Bismuth Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide outperforms conventional superconducting materials in such magnets, but the issue of cost typically constrains the material to only in high-end niche applications. However, as the cost of precursor powder decreases through this research program, its price point will reach a competitive level which will enable its use in more widespread commercial applications.
Small Business Information at Submission:
2436 Over Drive Suite B Lexington, KY 40511-2637
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