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PROTOTYPE OF STRAIN-TOLERANT HIGH TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTING CABLE CONDUCTOR ANNOUNCED BY AMERICAN SUPERCONDUCTOR

PROTOTYPE OF STRAIN-TOLERANT HIGH TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTING CABLE
 CONDUCTOR ANNOUNCED BY AMERICAN SUPERCONDUCTOR
 /ADVANCE/ WATERTOWN, Mass., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) today announced it has produced prototype high-current, multi-stranded conductors - such as those used in power transmission cables -- capable of carrying electricity under the strain and temperature conditions they will face in actual use outside the lab.
 The prototype multi-stranded conductors (PMCs), which consist of cross-layered wires wrapped about a flexible cylinder, are being shown at the Applied Superconductivity Conference this week in Chicago, a symposium held every other year for the scientific and engineering community to present results in the field. According to data being reported at the conference, the firm was able to transmit as much as 500 Amps of current through conductors at liquid nitrogen temperatures, the condition under which superconducting power transmission cables are expected to operate.
 Significantly, the firm's superconducting wires, used in the manufacture of its conductors, show virtually no loss in their ability to conduct electricity during strain tests. The bending strain put on them during the tests was significant -- equivalent to wrapping a wire around a small diameter such as one's index finger -- with no decrease in their superconducting properties.
 "This level of strain resistance is significant," said Gregory J. Yurek, president and CEO. "It represents much more bending than a cable would be expected to undergo in use. Advances in this area directly benefit our ongoing efforts to develop superconducting cable conductors for commercial applications."
 Special design characteristics of the wires provide their resistance to strain. Each individual wire is actually a composite of up to 10,000 internal filaments -- literally, microscopic superconducting wires in themselves that run through the wire. This composite structure provides the superconductor with the ability to maintain its special electrical properties despite being subjected to bending or similar stresses.
 Overall design of the conductors stem from American Superconductor's collaboration with Pirelli Cable Corporation, a world leader in the development and manufacture of wires and cables. The alliance combines Pirelli's expertise in developing, manufacturing and marketing cable with American Superconductor's proprietary processes in developing high temperature superconductors for commercial power applications. Pirelli's work is supported in part by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the research and development arm of the electric utility industry in the United States.
 Under proper conditions, high temperature superconductors carry electricity with near-perfect efficiency, making them extremely desirable in uses such as generators, motors, energy storage devices and power transmission lines. Superconducting transmission cables could have a major impact on the electric power industry.
 In this application, superconducting cables have the potential to provide distinct advantages over conventional cables by conducting electricity from the generation site to the power consumer with much lower energy loss. Development of superconductors could also permit utilities to transmit larger amounts of electricity than allowed by conventional cables of the same size, while providing cost and performance improvements.
 "The conductors being built by American Superconductor are the first critical steps in developing a superconducting cable system that utilities can use in underground transmission," said Ralph W. Samm, EPRI Program Manager, Underground Transmission.
 "A commercial, multi-stranded cable system will need to carry between 2000 and 3000 Amps in service. American Superconductor is making rapid progress in manufacturing the superconducting wire to hit this goal, both in terms of the electrical performance and physical characteristics that are required."
 High temperature superconductors often lose their special electrical characteristics when strained, as they necessarily would be in the production, storage and placement of transmission cables. However, American Superconductor has developed techniques to retain the flexibility and special electrical properties of superconducting wires.
 Materials used in the conductors belong to the bismuth-oxide family of superconductors. A 500 Amp version of the conductor was made with the Oxide-Powder-in-Tube (OPIT) process, a widely used method in the industry for producing superconductors. A second design was produced by the Metallic Precursor (MP) process, a patented fabrication technique for which American Superconductor holds exclusive rights and was developed in conjunction with the firm's materials partner, Inco Alloys International. This version carried 240 Amps.
 The conductors measure 3 centimeters (just over 1 inch) in diameter. The OPIT conductors are 1 meter (1.1 yards) in length and the MP conductor is a third of a meter (1 foot) in length. Both OPIT and MP production methods are scalable, allowing future conductor prototypes to be manufactured to longer and longer dimensions.
 Pirelli Cable Corporation is part of the Pirelli Group, which has operating subsidiaries in 13 countries. The Pirelli Group is one of the world's largest manufacturers of wire and cable for telecommunications and power applications, among other products.
 EPRI, founded in 1972, manages technical research and development programs for the United States electric utility industry to improve power production, distribution and use. Some 680 utilities are members of the Institute.
 American Superconductor Corporation develops and applies high temperature superconductor technology to create compact, cost-effective electric power and magnet systems. The firm is the largest industrial effort in the world dedicated to transferring this technology to commercial applications.
 -0- 8/27/92/1830
 /CONTACT: Gregory J. Yurek or Alex Malozemoff, of American Superconductor, 617-923-1122, John Barteld of Pirelli Cable, 201-377-7004, or 800-526-526-4595, Lori Telson of EPRI, 415-855-2272 or Jack Jackson or Carol DeMatteo, 617-536-0470/
 (AMSC) CO: American Superconductor; Pirelli Cable; EPRI ST: Massachusetts, Connecticut IN: CPR SU: PDT


TM -- NE015 -- 4120 08/27/92 16:45 EDT
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Date:Aug 27, 1992
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