SupraMotion: superconductor characteristics and potential

What are superconductors?

Characteristics and potential of the technology

Superconductors are materials with very special characteristics: if they’re cooled to below a certain temperature, their electrical resistance suddenly drops to zero. Below this so-called transition temperature, they can also freeze the field of a permanent magnet at a defined distance – meaning that either the magnet or they themselves start to levitate.

Stable levitation at a constant distance

The superconductor (or the magnet) also resumes its saved position if it has been temporarily taken away or moved. The air gap remains steady in any spatial plane and and makes it possible to move objects on the other side of a wall without contact. This principle can be used in liquid and gas media, and even in a vacuum.

Active cooling with a long service life

We use high-temperature superconductors made of ceramic materials for SupraMotion. Their transition temperature is roughly 93?K (-180°?C), so that the applications can be operated in an energy efficient way, independent of cooling media such as liquid nitrogen. Currently used Stirling coolers have a maximum energy consumption of 80?W per cryostat (cooling container). Operating costs are low as a result. In and of itself, the levitation effect is free.

Thanks to the stored cooling energy, operation is guaranteed for several minutes even in the event of a power failure. Already now, the coolers have a service life of more than ten years.

How much potential do they have for automation?

The use of superconductors in industrial automation is still in the developmental stage. Yet even today, completely new and efficient processes are conceivable with the help of this technology.

The factory of the future is becoming more and more networked, intelligent and flexible. And the requirements for very clean and reliable working environments are becoming more and more demanding as well. This is why we’ve been intensively investigating superconductor technology and its industrial use for years.

A wide range of possible applications

There’s huge potential wherever contactless handling is called for – for example for cleaning purposes, in the event of spatial separation and when handling sensitive objects. Possible applications also include steadily levitating suspension which can make do without high levels of energy and control.

Search for pilot customers and concrete applications

We’ve already tested a broad range of various types of suspension and motion within the context of SupraMotion projects, and implemented them as possible applications. We’re currently conducting concrete investigations in cooperation with partners and customers whose application ideas can be implemented as pilot projects.