Applied superconductivity

QUT has developed the capability to research, characterise and apply the fundamental properties of the new generations of high temperature superconducting (HTS) material compounds. Our engineers and materials scientists have experience spanning 20 years of researching and developing devices incorporating HTS, extending their knowledge into new and innovative industrial HTS applications including:

  • power systems
  • maritime and land based propulsion
  • microwave communications systems
  • environmental sensing.

Real world skills

The Centre for Clean Energy Technologies and Practices Applied Superconductivity Program has a broad skill set that covers the following research areas:

  • fundamental ab initio modelling and synthesising HTS material
  • full property characterisation of HTS material performance
  • modelling and real-world verification of commercial HTS tapes and wires applied to industrial devices
  • production and testing of HTS Josephson junctions (JJ) applied to sensor and microwave communication systems
  • prototyping and proof-of-concept production of HTS based devices covering cryogenics, vacuum technology and custom packaging.

Cutting edge equipment

QUT boasts a specialist superconductor laboratory at Banyo Pilot Plant to enable work related to:

  • power system devices
  • HTS materials characterisation and testing
  • cryocooling device studies
  • scaleable rotation machines for propulsion and traction
  • HTS microwave communications devices and detectors.

Our team also has access to the world-class equipment and expertise housed within QUT's Central Analytical Research Facility to enable real-world outcomes for our project partners.

Applied Superconductivity Laboratory

QUT's Applied Superconductivity Laboratory (ASL) was established as part of the Heavy Current Laboratory (HCL) at Banyo Pilot Plant. Initially, the HCL was established to assist the electricity distribution industry to test and characterise new network deployed technology. Most of the devices tested were specifically developed to manage the power network impact of the rapid take-up of solar power by the consumer.

As a result of interest from the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the HCL was augmented to begin research and development on applied superconductivity. This boosted existing superconductivity research at QUT, building on expertise in superconducting materials, cryogenics and industrial applications.

A four-way agreement has been established between Siemens Germany, Siemens Australia, the DSTG and QUT to research and test the potential of superconducting technology applied to maritime propulsion technology. This research is non-exclusive and has subsequently led to the further inclusion of Thales Australia, linking with the ASL to research superconducting applications in mine sweeping.

Distribution engineers are also concerned with emerging power network issues and are actively involved with the ASL to consider the potential of superconductivity being applied to:

  • distributed (embedded) generation (DG)
  • demand side management (DSM)
  • ageing network components
  • carbon pricing (tax).

For more greenfield electrical power projects, involving power network augmentation, refurbishment or establishment, the power industry is considering how superconducting components might be included. Based on a number of superconducting installation programs from around the world (Essen in Germany and Sumitomo in Japan and Korea), QUT has run seminars reviewing issues and considerations including:

  • network topology and flexibility
  • HTS cable types and configurations
  • overload provisions
  • system faults and protection
  • cable cooling options
  • cable laying
  • commissioning
  • system status monitoring and maintenance.

Our ASL team is actively involved in the Council on Large Electric Systems (Conseil International des Grands Réseaux Électriques or CIGRE) which allows a worldwide view of superconducting installations. CIGRE publishes a number of technical brochures to which the ASL has contributed. These cover applications by companies around the world using HTS material in power cables and wires for distribution of loads up to ten times higher than conventional underground cables. This work is continuing in companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

A very quick snapshot of HTS applications in the power grid around the world includes:

  • cables operating at 13kV, 3 kA up to 128 kV, 2.4 kA
  • rotating machines of 5MW and 1MW as ship propulsion
  • transformers of 500kVA, 6.6kV/3.3kV and 1MVA 23kV/6.6kV
  • fault current limiters of 12 kV at 600A and 35kV at 90 MVA.

Our projects

Our research program team oversees the following projects.

A partnership between QUT, Defence Science and Technology Group and Siemens is advancing high temperature superconducting technology to reduce the size of large motors, make more efficient electric car motors and improve remote power generation.

Power system devices

We specialise in testing the performance and efficiency of superconducting rotating machines.

High temperature superconducting materials characterisation and testing

We research HTS material behaviour in practical electrical operating conditions and specialise in testing and evaluation of long length of commercial HTS tapes and wires.

Cryocooling device studies

We characterise and evaluate cryocooler efficiency, using the state-of-the-art maritime emulation environment programmable for specified sea conditions.

Scalable rotation machines for propulsion and traction

We conduct evaluation of axial, radial and homopolar HTS rotating machines and composite material trails for cryogenic operation and high magnetic stress.

High temperature superconducting microwave communications devices and detectors

We specialise in designing customised Josephson junction based magnetic field detectors, low insertion loss filter, low noise amplifier systems, high conversation gain low noise mixers.

Program team

Adjunct Professor Else Shepherd

CEO in Residence, QUT Science and Engineering Faculty

Dr Adriana Bodnarova-Schloss

Project Coordinator

Mr Peter O'Brien

Research Fellow

Mr Robert Hickey

Senior Technician

Contact us

Centre for Clean Energy Technologies and Practices

Level 6, P Block
Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

Postal address

Centre for Clean Energy Technologies and Practices
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001