Irish tech firm SuperNode and European Particle Physics Laboratory CERN have announced a groundbreaking partnership to create next-generation insulation for superconducting cables, with the goal of revolutionizing energy transmission and speeding up the adoption of renewable energy sources. SuperNode CEO, John Fitzgerald, expressed his excitement about teaming up with CERN, a global leader in innovation. He believes this collaboration will advance the development of superconducting transmission cables, which are crucial for the future of sustainable energy transmission. As demand for electricity surges, transmission networks must effectively deliver high volumes of electricity over vast distances, linking power generation sites to consumption hubs. This collaboration aims to develop inventive solutions to strengthen global energy infrastructure and ultimately achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
CERN, renowned for its pioneering research, has a long history of advancing superconductivity and operating some of the world’s most extensive vacuum systems. Paolo Chiggiato, leader of the Vacuum, Surface, and Coating group at CERN, believes that their expertise in achieving extreme vacuum levels will prove invaluable in evaluating SuperNode’s proposed insulating solutions for superconducting cables. The partnership will utilize CERN’s knowledge in cryogenics and vacuum technologies to test and analyze various materials and subsystems for use in SuperNode’s cutting-edge cable systems. The proposed materials will undergo rigorous testing to simulate the operational conditions of submarine and land-based superconducting cables. CERN will also create an advanced test rig for validating scale prototypes, and a SuperNode engineer will receive training at CERN to foster knowledge exchange between the organizations. The custom test rig will ultimately find a home at SuperNode’s European Cryogenic Centre for Superconductors in Dublin.
This alliance signifies a monumental step for SuperNode as it seeks to develop transformative power transmission solutions that meet global energy demands while reducing environmental impact and carbon emissions. SuperNode’s focus is on pioneering energy transmission cables that harness the unique properties of superconducting materials, which exhibit zero electrical resistance and high power density when cooled below their critical temperature. Superconducting cables are ideal for efficiently transferring vast amounts of power over long distances, requiring a smaller surface area compared to conventional cables. These innovative cables can also operate at higher currents and lower voltage levels than traditional copper-based cables, significantly reducing the need for infrastructure, materials, and space, thus diminishing their environmental footprint. Superconducting cables are poised to become a vital technology in achieving a sustainable, renewable energy-powered future. CERN’s mission, through its cutting-edge particle accelerators and research, is to explore the fundamental laws of nature, foster global collaboration, and push the boundaries of science and technology for the benefit of all. This initiative is part of CERN’s Innovation Programme for Environmental Applications (CIPEA), supported by the CERN Knowledge Transfer group, which offers access to CERN’s expertise and technologies for scientific and commercial purposes through various technology transfer opportunities.