Superconductors May Help Smooth Out Power Surges

When a spike of electricity comes down a utility's distribution lines, a so-called recloser switch pops open to protect electrical equipment from being fried. The current surging into--but not through--an open switch damages its metal, so reclosers must be replaced frequently, costing utilities around $100 million annually. And since reclosers cut off power while they're open, they can wreak havoc on computers and other sensitive gear.

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