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€100,000 prize goes to first industrial use of `warm` superconductors

20 April, 2008

This year’s €100,000 Hermes technology award, announced at the Hannover Fair, has gone to a German company which has developed the first industrial application for high-temperature superconductors (HTSs) – an induction heater that more than doubles the efficiency of industrial extrusion processes.

Zenergy HTS induction heater

The heater (above), developed by Zenergy Power with its manufacturing partner Bültmann, uses superconducting coils to soften metal components before they enter the extrusion process. Traditional induction heaters have operating efficiencies of just 35–45% and account for up to 5% of industrialised countries’ electricity consumption. The new HTS technology achieves an efficiency of more than 90% and is said to result in improved product and manufacturing characteristics as well.

The first application of the HTS heating technology will be at the Weseralu aluminium profile pressing plant in Germany. Zenergy has recently announced a second order for an unnamed customer which plans to use the technology to heat copper and copper alloy billets.

One of the five runners-up for the Hermes award was the German sensor-maker Sensitec which has developed a technology for detecting rotary and linear motion based on the giant magnetostrictive principle. Another runner-up was Pepperl+Fuchs’ explosion protection system called Dart, which detects the voltage change caused by a spark in an electrical circuit in Ex zone and turns off the circuit before the spark’s temperature reaches the ignition point. The technology can improve the intrinsic safety of high-power consumption components such as HMIs, PCs and alarms used in hazardous areas, without needing increased safety measures.

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