A New Kind Of Superpower In Geneva

HIGH-TEMPERATURE SUPER-conductors (HTS)--ceramic compounds that conduct electricity with no resistance at around the temperature of liquid nitrogen--are poised for a leap out of the lab. The Swedish-Swiss ABB Group, the world's largest maker of the sort of transformers used by utilities to transmit electricity, is building the world's first HTS transformer with support from Electricite de France and SIG, the electric utility of Geneva. When completed in 1996, the prototype will be tested in Geneva's electric power grid. The HTS transformer is anticipated to have much lower energy losses than conventional power-transformer technology. That advantage, combined with advances in HTS technology, is expected to make the transformer cost-competitive by the end of the decade.