Quick Take: While the story below outlines what is certainly promising technology for eliminating loss in electricity transmission, it currently requires super-cooling, so it's a decade or three away. We sometimes forget that progress is being made on fundamental science while we're out there grappling with our mundane realities. Could this someday become our version of "fracking" â€“ a new technology that unlocks more energy than we previously thought possible? - By Jesse Berst
Researchers from RIKEN, a science and technology research institution affiliated with the Japanese government, and the University of Tokyo have developed a new material they say shows great promise in eliminating electricity losses during transmission.
While the scientific details and background on the new technology are very complex, what the researchers have come up with is a magnetic topological insulator. An article in R&D Magazine notes that scientists have worked toward bringing alternative energy resources like wind and solar to maturity and improving electric grid infrastructure. One of those efforts has been to solve the problem of power loss during transmission which eats up about 10% of all power generated.
Described as a "proof of principle," the technology needs to advance before it can become a practical solution. The insulator now requires cryogenic conditions to operate, but researchers say design improvements should improve the stability of the magnets, which would make it possible for them to operate at higher temperatures, eliminating the need for super-cooling.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.
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