APPPHYS 79Q Fall 2006

Stanford University
Energy Choices for the 21st Century
An Undergraduate Energy Science Seminar Course for Non-Science Majors
Instructors:  John D. Fox and Theodore H. Geballe
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Supplemental Web Site Material by
Paul M. Grant
Visiting Scholar, Applied Physics
Home Page:
This Page:

To see how much electricity Californians are using right now, click here
Now have a look at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Sun Field Station
For the rest of the country, go to Current Energy

               Course Description
APPPHYS 79Q. Energy Choices for the 21st Century—Stanford Introductory Seminar. Preference to sophomores. Choices for meeting the future energy needs of the U.S. and the world. Basic physics of energy sources, technologies that might be employed, and related public policy issues. Trade-offs and societal impacts of different energy sources. Policy options for making rational choices for a sustainable world energy economy.

                 "PMG Handouts"

"EE 101"

         Back to "PMG Handouts"


         Back to "PMG Handouts"


         Back to "PMG Handouts"


         Back to "PMG Handouts"

  Nukes (Fission)

The Need for Nuclear Power
[Published in 2000 in the prestigious policy journal, Foreign Affairs, Richard Rhodes (author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun) and Denis Beller, a nuclear engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory0, The Need for Nuclear Power is a thoughtful argument that nuclear power must be a major component of world electricity supply in the 21st century.]

Megawatts and Megatons
[A Nature book review of Richard Garwin's and Georges Charpak's treatise on the trade-offs between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.  Garwin is one of the original designers of the hydrogen bomb and Charpak, a Nobel Laureate, is a strong advocate for nuclear power and a vigorous opponent of weapons development.]

An Ancient Nuclear Reactor
[Two billion years ago, in the region of West Africa today known as Oklo in Gabon, water seeped into an uranium ore deposit unusually in the radioactive isotope U-235 and slowed its naturally fast neutron decay sufficiently to produce a fission reaction and thus "nuclear power" and plutonium!  So plutonium is, after all, a "natural" element.]


David Bodansky's Talk at APS at APS #100
[Talk at the 100th Anniversary Meeting of the American Physical Society in 1999 by the author of the most widely used textbook on nuclear power engineering.  Good source on numbers in the nuclear power industry and issues with recycling and disposal.]

David Bodansky's Paper from APS #100
[Very thoughtful and based on the above talk. Although Bodansky is a prominent advocate of nuclear power and its almost limitless resources, he speculates whether "really cheap energy" would spark an even larger exponential growth in population.]

         Back to "PMG Handouts"

   Plug-in Hybrids

         Back to "PMG Handouts"

  History of Electricity in the United States

         Back to "PMG Handouts"


         Back to "PMG Handouts"


Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin 
Gerry Kulcinski's fusion program at UWisc.  Contains links to most, if not all, fusion energy programs worldwide regardless of technology, e.g., FIRE and ITER, as well as the concentration on D-3He at Wisconsin]

Interview with Gerry Kulcinski on Lunar-Derived Fusion Fuel 
Gerry Kulcinski interviewed by The Space Review on his appointment to the NASA Advisory Council and the Chinese lunar exploration program and the possible effort to "mine" 3He for fusion energy]

New Horizons for Fusion - Advanced Fuels for the 21st Century 
Gerry Kulcinski's Plenary Talk at the Advanced Fuels for Fusion Session at the 1998 APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting in New Orleans.  Very technical in content.]



         Back to "PMG Handouts"

   Biofuels & Biomass




         Back to "PMG Handouts"

   Solar Roofs




         Back to "PMG Handouts"

   "Smart Houses"

         Back to "PMG Handouts"





         Back to "PMG Handouts"





         Back to "PMG Handouts"




Everything you wanted to know (or maybe not!) about Superconductivity
You can find on the links below

20th Anniversary of the Discovery of High-TC

The Discovery
Mueller-Bednorz Science Magazine Story
Mueller Nobel Lecture

Superconductivity & Power
Applications Bibliography

Be sure to read the fine print colored brown
Many of the files are huge (~40 MB) some SuperTunes while downloading


Recent Talks

"SuperCities and SuperGrids: Teratechnologies for an Exajoule World," P. M. Grant, Ohlone Community College Brown Bag Science Seminar, 7 April 2006 (Invited).  [A popular talk on the nuclear, hydrogen and superconductivity vision, the basis for an article in the July, 2006 issue of Scientific American.  This page contains links to a wide variety of energy-related publications and web sites for students majoring in energy and environmental sciences.]

"Quo Vadis, High-Tc?", P. M. Grant, 2006 DOE Wire Development Workshop, St. Petersburg, FL, 31 January 2006 (Invited). [An iconoclastic examination of the prospect for mass markets for HTSC applications in the utility sector, that looks at current domestic and foreign programs and the decision by Pirelli to park its cable development program.  It concludes that no markets with an EBIT return of greater than $20 M per year will emerge in the near future. (The Venn Diagram in this talk takes 30 seconds to display in pdf)]
"System, Construction and Integration Issues for Long Distance, High Capacity, Ceramic HTSC dc Cables," P. M. Grant, 6th Pacific Rim on Ceramic and Glass Technology - PACRIM6,Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui HI, 11-16 September 2005 (Invited).  [Restructuring the Garwin-Matisoo work in the context of HTSC with an eye to infrastructure development.]
"Garwin-Matisoo Revisited 40 Years Later!," P. M. Grant, Stanford-Wisconsin-Air Force MURI Workdshop on Coated Conductors, Palo Alto, CA, 24-26 April 2006 (Invited).  [A look at the practically of electricity trading constrained by the Bean Model of hysteretic losses over a high capacity, continental scale SCDC cable.]
"Cryodelivery Systems for the Co-Transmission of Chemical and Electrical Power," P. M. Grant, Joint Meeting of the Cyrogenic Engineering Conference (CEC) and the International Cryogenic Materials Conference (ICMC), Keystone, CO, 29 August - 2 September 2005 (Invited).  [This talk and subsequent paper focuses on the role of hydrogen as cryogen, chemical fuel and storage of electricity as an adjunct to superconductivity.]
"View from Electric Power Industry as a Whole," P. M. Grant,AFOSR-MURI Coated Conductor Workshop, Harpers Ferry, WV, 30 July 2004 (Invited).  [The situation in the aftermath of the August 2003 east coast blackout.  Concludes that strong Federal action is needed to subsidize and prod the transmission RTOs into adapting already mature and reliable technologies.]

Back to Bibliography

Recent Papers - Peer Reviewed

"The SuperCable: Dual Delivery of Hydrogen and Electric Power," Paul M. Grant, Power Systems Conference and Exposition,2004,IEEE PES,PSCE04 Panel Session on Future Power Delivery Options for Long-Term Energy Sustainability, 10-13 October 2004, New York, Pages 1745 - 1749, Vol. 3, Digital Object Identifier 10.1099/PSCE.2004.1397675 (  [Original SuperCable paper concentrating on physical dimensions and losses.]

"The SuperCable: Dual Delivery of Chemical and Electrical Power," Paul M. Grant, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 15, 1810 (2005).  [The general design of a dual-purpose cable to deliver electricity via superconductivity and chemical potential power via cryogenic hydrogen or natural gas is presented.  A universal dimensionless scaling parameter for sizing each type of power is defined.]
"Cryo-Delivery Systems for the Co-Transmission of Chemical and Electrical Power," Paul M. Grant, Adv. Cryo. Eng.  (appearing).  [Emphasis on the delivery of cryofuel in the form of liquid hydrogen or supercritical hydrogen gas at 77 K or as LNG along with wellhead generated electricity.]

Back to Bibliography

Power Apps of Superconductivity

"Superconductivity and Electric Power:  Promises, Promises...Past, Present and Future," P. M. Grant, IEEE Trans. Appl. Super. 7, 112 (1997).  [Based on a Plenary Lecture at the 1996 Applied Superconductivity Conference held in Pittsburg. An in your face review of where power applications have been, were at in 1997, and where they might be going.  Contains a description of the "electricity pipe" concept of Grant, Schoenung and Hassenzahl]

"Cost Projections for High Temperature Superconductors," P. M. Grant and T. P. Sheahen,, Applied Superconductivity Conference, Palm Springs, CA, 1998. [An engineering-economy based approach to estimating eventual cost/performance of both Generation 1 (OPIT/BSCCO/Ag) and Generation 2 coated conductor (textured YBCO) HTSC tape.  Unlike wires made from non-superconducting metals, e.g., copper, the cost/performance in $/kAŚm of HTSC tapes is highly application specific and cannot be reduced to a single number.]
"Potential Electric Power Applications for Magnesium Diboride," P. M. Grant, Mat. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. 689, 3 (2002).  [A quite controversial paper showing magnesium diboride promises to be cost competitive for power transformer application.]
"Superconductivity for Electric Systems 2005 Annual Peer Review," August 2-4, 2005, L'enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C. [Link to the latest DOE Office of Electricity superconductivity program content, containing downloadable pdfs of several talks.  A CD of all presentations can be obtained by contacting Joe Badin at Energetics,]
"Superconductivity Technology Center at LANL," [Home page at Los Alamos, with detail on their coated conducting program and links to other sites.]
"High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) R&D at ORNL," [Oak Ridge superconductivity home page containing details of its program in wire development and power applications.]
"DOE Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability - Superconductivity Program," [Home page of the DOE program in power applications of superconductivity.  For further information, contact Jim Daley.]

Back to Bibliography

Superconductor Cable Anthology

"Prospect of Employing Conductors at Low Temperature in Power Cables and in Power Transformers," K. J. R. Wilkinson, Proc. IEE (London) 113, 1509 (1966).  [First serious consideration of cryoresistive power cables, including Nb at 4 K operating in the Meissner state!]

"Superconducting Lines for the Transmission of Large Amounts of Electric Power over Great Distances," R. L. Garwin and J. Matisoo, Proc. IEEE 55, 538 (1967). [A Classic!  All subsequent considerations of superconducting dc cables derives from Garwin-Matisoo. This paper is necessary reading for anyone interested in power applications of superconductivity.]
"Multiple Use of Cryogenic Fluid Transmission Lines,"  J. R. Bartlit, F. J. Edeskuty and E. F. Hammel,  Proc. ICEC4, Eindhoven, 24/26 May 1972. [This prescient study from LANL explores the dual delivery of methane and/or hydrogen as energy agents in a "SuperCable" concept.  However, neither serves as a cryogen...liquid hydrogen was necessary...the discovery of high temperature superconductivity was still 13 years in the future!]
"dc Superconducting Power Transmission Line Project at LASL," ed. F. J. Edeskuty, US DOE Division of Electric Energy Systems, 1 November 1972 - 30 September 1979, Progess Report 24 (Final).  [Massive and inclusive study of a large capacity, 5 GW SCDC cable employing Nb3Sn, sponsored by DOE and the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) representing the interests of several eastern utilities (this was "before EPRI").  The project was discontinued after building and testing a few meters of conductor due to lack of funding and lack of utility interest (Thanks to Dean Peterson of LANL for making this report public).]
"Refrigeration and Heat Transfer in Superconducting Power Lines," D. E. Daney and R. H. Hammond, NIST Interim Report 275.05-75-2, April 1975.  [An interesting study of the use of slush hydrogen as cryogen for an Nb3Ge dc cable.  No intention to use the hydrogen as an energy source in and of itself is discussed.]
"Performance Summary of the Brookhaven Superconducting Power Transmission System," E. B. Forsyth and R. A. Thomas, Cryogenics 26, 599 (1986).  [A 1000 MVA, three phase ac cable built using NbTi at 4 K and tested at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the years just preceding the discovery of high temperature superconductivity.  The project was technically successful, but major utilities did not think the technology economically feasible (I know this information directly from several "personal communications.").]
"Practical Conclusions from Field Trials of a Superconducting Cable," P. A. Klaudy and J. Gerhold, IEEE Trans. Mag. MAG-19, 656 (1983).  [The first superconducting cable to be installed on a grid (near Arnstein, Austria).  It used Nb at 6.5 K as the superconductor and had a capacity of 60 kV at 1000 A and operated continuously from 1977-80.  It may be that the Nb was operated in the Meissner state...there is no mention of ac losses.  The emphasis was on the flexible design, rather than the superconducting properties.]
"A dc Transmission Cable Prototype Using High-Temperature Superconductors," T. P. Beales, et al., Supercond. Sci. Technol. 9, 43 (1995). [The first attempt at an HTSC cable, at least a short one. The design is an interesting one, targeting a 400 km European "ring buss" with a 400 MW, 40 kV, 10 kA capacity with cold He gas at 4.2 K blown in one end and warming to 40 K at the other, well within the critical parameter limits of Bi-2223 throughout that range.]
"System Study of Long Distance Low Voltage Transmission Using High Temperature Superconducting Cable," S. M. Schoenung, W. V. Hassenzahl and P. M. Grant, EPRI Report WO8065-12, March, 1997.  [This study was inspired by a talk I heard from ABB at the 1996 World Energy Conference in Yokohama, Japan, which compared the cost effectiveness for well head generation at a vast natural gas reserve such the Qatar region in the Persian Gulf and transport over HVDC lines.  We studied a third alternative, that using a superconducting "e-pipe" to transport power from Qatar to a future Egyptian-Palestine-Israel-Syrian industrial complex, and concluded this alternative was attractive for distances greater than 500 miles.]
"Superconducting Cable Construction and Testing," D. von Dollen and J. Daley, Final Report 1000160, November 2000. [This project was better known as the "EPRI/Pirelli Cable," and resulted from studies performed by EPRI and Pirelli in the early 1990s.  The intent was the design and construction of a 50-m long US standard "pipe type" cable to retrofit 115 kV ac cables with an increased 3-phase capacity to 400 MVA.  The design did not have a superconducting shield which simplified the insulation package (so-called "room temperature dielectric"), but exposed each phase to induced co-phase ac losses in addition to those arising from "self-current" flow.  This design was the basis for the Detroit-Edison demonstration, NKT's Copenhagen Airport, and China's Puji substation.  It was during final testing of this cable that the "blister/balloon" problem manifested, arising from leakage of liquid nitrogen into the BSCCO filaments through pinholes in the Ag tape, leading to its literal "exploding" when the cable was warmed up.  AMSC solved this by later solder-cladding the silver tapes with stainless steel.  Since this issue was considered proprietary at the time, there is no discussion of it in this report.
"ac Loss in Superconducting Power Cables," M. Daeumling, et al., Studies of High Temperature Superconductors (ed. A. Narlikar, Nova Science Publishers), Vol. 33, p. 73 (2000).
Probably the best treatise on ac losses in print.  Written by the design team of the Copenhagen Airport Cable.]
"Copenhagen Airport Demonstration," Dag Willen, NKT Cables Press Release, 28 May 2001.         [An RTD design like Detroit Edison.  Worked well, but no follow-on project.  The NKT superconductivity unit was later sold to Nexans.]
"Field Demonstration of a 24-kV Warm Dielectric Superconducting Cable at Detroit Edison," S. Eckroad and N. Kelly, EPRI FY2003 Annual Progress Report 1002040, Technical Update, March 2004. [The Detroit-Edison demonstration remains today the most realistic deployment of a superconducting cable, three cables, 120-m each, threaded though 50-year old clay ducts containing five 90-degree bends approximately 2-m radius of curvature.  Unfortunately, the cryostat welds contained a number of martensitic phases resulting in vacuum leaks which prevented the cable from being fully energized at specification voltage.  However, the critical current and ac loss properties of the superconducting tape were measured and found to have undergone little significant degradeation during the cablve installation.  A system study associated with the project on the impact of coaxial (shielded) superconducting cables resulted in demonstrating the network advantages a very low inductive reactance cable might present in utility operation.
"China's 30m, 35kv/2kA ac HTS Power Cable Project," Ying Xin, et al., EUCAS 2003.  [This project was essentially "Detroit-Edison without cryostat leaks" and performed to its specifications perfectly.  Unfortunately, there are now plans currently in place to follow-on.]]
"Feasibility of Electric Power Transmission by DC Superconducting Cables," P. Chowdhuri, C. Pallem, J. A. Demko and M. J. Gouge IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond 15, 3917 (2005). [Study of  GW and 500 MW SCDC cables.  Emphasis is on cryogenics, inverter/converter issues and harmonic control]
"Southwire HTS Cable Program Overview," D. Lindsay, 2005 US DOE Peer Review, 2 August 2005 [Altogether, this is one of earliest of US HTSC cable programs.  The 30-m installation at Southwire's Carrollton, GA plant has been in operation almost continuously for six years. The follow-on project will be installed in the Columbus, OH Bixby substation.  This is an adaptation of a conventional triaxial design wherein all three phases are enclosed.  The HTSC cable will be 200-m, 13.2 kV, 1000 A/phase 69 MVA circuit.]
"Albany Cable Project Progress Update," C. Weber, R. Lee and K. Hayashi, 2005 US DOE Peer Review, 2 August 2005. [Cable demonstration at a Niagara Mohawk substation using Sumitomo's "3-in-1" cable design. They plan to have a 15-m segment using Gen 2 YBCO tape.]
"LIPA Project Overview," 2005 US DOE Peer Review," 2 August 2005. [Long Island Power Authority 610-m 136 kV, 2400 A cable project with Nexans and American Superconductor.]
"HTS Transmission Network Will Be the Key of 21st Century's Power Grid," R. Hata,  Kunming Symposium, 24 June 2004.[A survey of all tape and cable programs in Japan by Ryosuke Hata of Sumitomo Electric Industries.]
"Getting the Metrics Right," D. Lindsay, 2006 DOE Wire Development Workshop, 30 January 2006, St. Petersburg, FL.  [A thoughtful appraisal the present approach to measuring and reporting "metric" presumed critical to commercial acceptance.  Lindsay suggests adopting a new metric with units "$/system-MVA/meter/30yr life."
"R&D of 22.9 kV/50 MVA HTS Transmission Power Cable in Korea," J. Cho, Kunming Symposium, 24 June 2004. [Review of the entire Korean program by all participating agencies and not limited to cables.]

Back to Bibliography

Past SC Application Surveys/Workshops

"Research Opportunities in Superconductivity," M. Tinkham, M. R. Beasley, D. C. Larbalestier, A. F. Clark and D. K. Finnemore, Report on the Workshop on Problems in Superconductivity, 22-23 August 1983, Copper Mountain, CO (Sponsored by NSF, ONR and NBS), November, 1983. [This workshop was held against the background of a substantial decline in funding for superconductivity by Federal agencies and the impending decision taken by IBM during the writing of this report to scale back its Josephson computer project.  On page 12 one can find the phrase penned by Mac Beasley, "At the extreme forefront of research in superconductivity is the empirical search for new superconductors...," which was quoted by Bednorz and Mueller as the first line of their discovery paper.  This report has only this one citation in the technical literature, but what a citation!  A lesson to be not try to justify basic research on the expectation of applications.  By the way, this report focuses overwhelmingly on electronics...the only mention of a power application is SMES.]
"Superconductors: The Long Road Ahead," S. Foner and T. P. Orlando, MIT Technology Review, February/March 1988, p. 36.  [Published the year following the YBCO discovery, this piece expresses great caution over the high expectations prevalent during this period.  The article is a very good survey of past superconductivity application attempts, their successes and failures, and the impact HTSC might or might not have in the future.]
"Report on Discussions with Utility Engineers about Superconducting Generators," D. Forbes and R. Blaugher, NREL/TP-413-20668, March 1996.  [Bottom Line: The major advantage perceived for HTSC generators was their projected low life-cycle costs.  Most respondents did not feel a significant US market would develop earlier than 15 - 20 years from the date of the report.  As far as I know, with the possible exception of a very small LTSC unit in Japan, no superconducting generators are deployed or planned for deployment anywhere in the world at present.]
"The US Market for High-Temperature Superconducting Wire in Transmission Cable Applications," D. Forbes, NREL/TP-450-20667, April 1996.  [This report summarizes a series of interviews with utility engineers on the market potential for HTSC cables, wires and tapes.  A number of interesting anecdotes are related which give insight into various aspects of utility culture.  The report concludes that HTSC wire sales for cables would reach $66 M in 2006.  The future is hard to predict.]
"Power Applications of Superconductivity in Japan and Germany," D. Larbalestier, et al., WTEC Panel Final Report ISBN 1-883712-46-7, September 1997.  [The infamous male bonding trip featuring lost colleagues and broken laptops.  This report had major impact on increasing the DOE superconductivity appropriation thereafter by 60%.]
"HTS Cable -- Status, Challenge and Opportunity," A. M. Wolsky, International Energy Agency Report, 2 December 2004.  [Alan Wolsky's "Magnum Opus," 407 pages of everything you need or would ever want to know about superconducting cables.  Lots of good tables on conventional HVDC transmission lines and cables installed worldwide.]

Back to Bibliography

Classic Superconductivity Papers

"Superconductivity: The Day Before Yesterday - Yesterday - Today - Tomorrow," V. L. Ginzburg, Physics - Uspekhi 43, 573 (2000). [A marvelous review of the ghosts of superconductivity, past, present and future, written in the style only Vitaly Ginzburg can create.  The bibliography spans the entire scientific history of superconductivity.]
H. Kamerlingh Onnes, Commun. Leiden 120b (1911).
"Ein neuer Effekt bei Eintritt der Supraleitfaehigkeit (A New Effect Concerning the Ability to Penetrate a Superconductor)",  W. Meissner and R. Ochsenfeld, Die Naturwissenshaften 44, 787 (1933).  [(In German) Discovery that when a superconductor is cooled in an external magnetic field, that field is expelled from within the superconductor.  It is this effect that differentiates a superconductor from a "perfect conductor."]
"The Electromagnetic Equations of the Supraconductor," F. London and H. London, Proc Roy. Soc London A149, 71 (1935). [An empirical reformulation of Maxwell's equations to accommodate the Meissner-Ochsenfeld field expulsion effect.  Introduces the key concept of a magnetic field penetration depth.]
"An Experimental and Theoretical Study of the Relation between Magnetic Field and Current in a Superconductor," A. B. Pippard, Proc. Roy. Soc. London A216, 547 (1953). [In this paper, Brian Pippard elucidates a fundamental key concept underlying all BCS-like theories of superconductivity, whether stroong or weak coupling.]
"Theory of Superconductivity," J. Bardeen, L. N. Cooper and J. R. Schrieffer, Phys. Rev. 108, 1175 (1957). [The BCS Nobel Prize paper.  Finally, an explanation of superconductivity some 46 years after its discovery.  The BCS theory is the crowning theoretical achievement of condensed matter physics in the 20th Century.]
"Transition Temperature of Strong-Coupled Superconductors," W. L. McMillan, Phys. Rev. 167, 331 (1968). [The "practical theory" of superconductivity which allowed relating the electron-phonon coupling to tunneling spectroscopy, the so-called alpha-2 F(omega).]
"A Research Investigation of the Factors That Affect the Superconducting Properties of Materials," GE Report AD480235, 15 November 1965. [The classic GE study done under Air Force sponsorship which contains the first detailed study of hysteretic losses in Type II superconductors, otherwise known at the Bean Model.]
"Structure and Properties of High-Field Superconductors,"  J. D. Livingston, GE R&D Center Report (ca. 1969-70). [Jim Livingston's great little review of critical currents and pinning in Type II superconductors, probably still the clearest exposition of these issues and eerily relevant to anisotropic superconductors yet to be discovered.]
"Critical Fields, Pauli Paramagnetic Limiting, and Material Parameters of Nb3Sn and V3Si," T. P. Orlando, E. J. McNiff, Jr., S. Foner and M. R. Beasley, Phys. Rev. B 19, 4545 (1978).  [The appendices of this paper contain a tremendously useful compilation of GLAG equations in various clean and dirty limits.]
"Type II Superconductivity: Quest for Understanding," T. G. Berlincourt, IEEE Trans. Mag. MAG-23, 403 (1987).  [Probably the definitive history of Type II (hard) superconductors.  Especially fascinating are the tribulations of Shubnikov and the complete ignorance in the US of the achievements of Abrikosov due to the curtain of the Cold War.]
"The Critical Current of a Superconductor: An Historical Review," D. Dew-Hughes,Low Temperature Physics 27, 713 (2001). [Probably the most up-to-date summary of the most important parameter for applications, next to Tc.]

Back to Bibliography

Popular Articles on SuperGrid

"Will MgB2 Work?," P. M. Grant, The Industrial Physicist, October/November 2001, p. 22.  [The original exposition of the nuclear/hydrogen/superconductivity symbiosis concept.]
"Energy for the City of the Future," P. M. Grant, The Industrial Physicist, October/November 2001, p. 22.  [This is "SuperCity," the elaboration of the symbiosis of nuclear/hydrogen/superconductivity technologies in the context of a futuristic city.  This article served as the basis for several undergraduate honors projects.]
"National Energy Planning for the Century: The Continental SuperGrid," C. Starr, Nuclear News, February 2002, p. 31.  [Chauncey Starr's extension of the SuperCity concept to that encompassing a Continental SuperGrid.]
"Nuclear Energy's Contribution to the City of the Future," P. M. Grant, Nuclear Future, Vol. 1, No. 1, p.17 (2005).  [Lead-off article in the inaugural issue of the trade journal of the British Nuclear Industry, just before the second article by El-Baradei!]
"A Power Grid for the Hydrogen Economy," P. M. Grant, C. Starr and T. J. Overbye, Scientific American, July 2006, p.76.  [Explores the vision of cryogenic, superconducting conduits connected into a SuperGrid that would simultaneously deliver electrical power and hydrogen fuel.]

Back to Bibliography

High-Tc Discovery Period Papers

"Possibility of Insulator to Superconductor Phase Transition," B. K. Chakraverty, J. Physique-Lettres 40,L-99 (1978). [Alex Mueller cites this paper, and the following two, as his principal inspiration to pursue mixed valent charge transition metal complexes as possible hosts for high temperature superconductivity.]
"Bipolarons and Superconductivity," B. K. Chakraverty, J. Physique 42, 1351 (1981). [A elaboration of the above paper.]
"Jahn-Teller Effect in Itinerant Electron Systems: The Jahn-Teller Polaron," K.-H. Hoeck, H. Nickish and H. Thomas, Helvetica Physica Acta 56, 237 (1983). [Mueller attributes great importance to this paper as pointing to tetragonal symmetry as hosting strong coupling of itinerant electrons to a Jahn-Teller distortion such as found in mixed valent compounds.  Quite curiously, several years after the publication of this paper, Hoeck seems to have "disappeared" from the scientific scene.]
C. Michel and B. Raveau, Chim. Min. 21, 407 (1984). [This reference is likely incorrect.  It does refer to the LA-4-1-5-13 paper Bednorz found.]
"Possible High TC Superconductivity in the Ba-La-Cu-O System," J. G. Bednorz and K. A. Mueller, Z. Phys B - Condensed Matter 64, 189 (1986) [The discovery publication.  Ironically, Bednorz chose initially the only copper oxide perovskite that's metallic at all temperatures and superconducting at none, but which is extremely difficult to make single phase.  It was soon recognized that it was a minor secondary phase responsible for the appearance of superconductivity and they were on their way.  There is quite a story behind this paper.]
"Susceptibility Measurements Support High TC Superconductivity in the Ba-La-Cu-O System," J. G. Bednorz, M. Takashige and K. A. Mueller, IBM Report RZ 1537, 19 November 1986. [This link is actually to a reprint received on 15 October 1986 by Rick Greene from Alex Mueller (with autograph!).  The Zuerich workers, contrary to popular belief, in reality were the first to confirm their own discovery.]
"Susceptibility Measurements Support High TC Superconductivity in the Ba-La-Cu-O System," J. G. Bednorz, M. Takashige and K. A. Mueller, Europhys. Lett. 3, 379 (1987). [The paper resulting from the above preprint. Read the note added prior to publication.]
"Flux Trapping and Superconductive Glass State in La2CuO4-y:Ba," K. A. Mueller, M. Takashige and J. G. Bednorz, Phys. Rev. Letters 58, 1143 (1987). [This is the third remarkable paper out of IBM Zuerich which started the whole subsequent study of flux dynamics in these anisotropic superconductors.]
"Superconductivity at 93 K in a New Mixed-Phase Y-Ba-Cu-O Compound at Ambient Pressure," W. K. Wu, et al., Phys. Rev. Letters 58, 908 (1987). [The Wu-Chu discovery of YBCO...but not 1-2-3.]
"Superconductivity Above 90 K in the Compound YBa2Cu3Ox: Structural, Transport, and Magnetic Properties," P. M. Grant, R. B. Beyers, E. M. Engler, G. Lim, S. S. P. Parkin, M. L. Ramirez, V. Y. Lee, A. Nazzal, J. E. Vazquez and R. J. Savoy, Phys. Rev. B35, 7242 (1987).  [First Report of the "1-2-3" Crystal Structure and Material Processing Conditions.  More story to follow. Until then, go here.]

"Superconductivity Above Liquid Nitrogen Temperature: Preparation and Properties of a Family of Perovskite-Based Superconductors," E. M. Engler, V. Y. Lee, A. I. Nazzal, R. B. Beyers, G. Lim, P. M. Grant, S. S. P. Parkin, M. L. Ramirez, J. E. Vazquez and R. J. Savoy, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 109, 2848 (1987).  [The best paper hands down, written by Ed Engler, that came out of the 1987 APS Meeting of March, 1987, the "Woodstock of Physics."  This is the first report, which I was honored to give at "Woodstock," on the structure, processing and properties, of the rare earth substitutions for yttrium.  There are two retrospective "blunders" in this paper.  One was the attribution for the lack of superconductivity in Pr-1-2-3 to the absence of the orthorhombic phase, which was due to low oxygen concentration, later the subject of a more comprehensive paper.  The other was reporting superconductivity in the Ba-Ca-Sr fractional substitution which turned out to be a blown labeling of samples!  What the hell...we were in battle!]

"Evidence for Superconductivity in La2CuO4," P. M. Grant, S. S. P. Parkin, V. Y. Lee, E. M. Engler, M. L. Ramirez, J. E. Vazquez, G. Lim, R. D. Jacowitz and R. L. Greene, Phys. Rev. Letters 58, 2482 (1987).  [This was a remarkable discovery.  In January, 1987, Rick Greene and I observed zero thermopower at 41 K, a clear signature of superconductivity, in an "undoped" sample of La2CuO4 given us by Georg Bednorz, one which was completely insulating!  Read the paper to find out what happened.  High-Temperature superconductivity could have been discovered in 1954!]
"The Discovery of a Class of High Temperature Superconductors," K. A. Mueller and J. G. Bednorz, Science 237, 1133 (1987). [Story of the discovery by the discoverers.]
"Critical-Current Measurements in Epitaxial Films of YBa2Cu3O7-x Compound," P. Chaudhari, et al., Phys. Rev. Letters 58, 2684 (1987). [The first epitaxial films of Y-123 were made the evening of Monday,10 March 1987, the week before Woodstock, by Bob Laibowitz, using structural and processing data supplied by IBM Almaden.]
"Orientation Dependence of Grain-Boundary Critical Currents in YBa2Cu3O7-δ Bicrystals," Dimos, et. al, Phys. Rev. Letters 61, 219 (1987). [This is the famous "Dimo" paper that provided the science to jump start the worldwide developmen of coated conductor, or Gen 2 tape.]
"Resistive Transition of High Temperature Superconductors," M. Tinkham, Phys. Rev. Letters 61, 1658 (1988).  [This paper scared the hell out of us when it appeared, because it implied the newly discovered HTSC compounds may not be practical because of thermal depinning of the Abrikosov vortex lattice. Its appearance engendered a column in Science by Robert Poole, "Superconductivity: Is the Party Over?" Tinkham concludes that a future rooom temperature superconductor may indeed be in the superconducting state, but not have zero resistance!  This is a great problem for future research.]
"Superconductivity: Is the Party Over?," R. Poole, Science 244, 914 (1988). [Column inspired by Tinkham's article supported by some of David Bishop's flux lattice melting work at Bell Labs.  The piece quotes a number of industrial leaders to the effect that "we're not going to quit."  No major corporation has a superconductivity program today, and one of them now belongs to a French company.]
"The Development of Superconductivity Research in Oxides," K. Alex Mueller (Monograph, date uncertain, ca. 1998-99). [The description of the science background and Mueller's thinking that led to the eventual discovery of high temperature superconductivity in the copper oxide perovskites.]
"Ich war wie in Trance," NZZ am Sonntag, 21 Januar 2006, p. 67.  [An interview (in German) of George Bednorz in the Swiss National Sunday newspaper on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his observation of zero resistance.  The "trance" refers not to the moment of discovery, but when he received the Nobel Prize and probably had to dance with the Queen of Sweden.]

Back to Bibliography

Conventional HVDV Transmission

Neptune Regional Transmission System [This is a merchant transmission company formed to sell power from New Jersey into the Long Island market over an HVDC submarine cable made by Pirelli/Prysmian with power electronics bySiemens.  The capacity 660 MW at 500 kV and 1320 A over a length of 65 miles, most of it under water.  Attempts have been made in several locations to establish merchant transmission links, but this is the only one to actually get built.]
ABB Tutorial on HVDC Using Itaipu as Example  [Itaipu is the longest and highest capacity HVDC transmission line in the world, 6.3 GW with a pole to pole voltage +/-600 kV, running 1590 km from the Itaipu Falls on the Parana River bordering Paraguay and Brasil to Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in the east.  The hydro generators output 50 Hz to supply Paraguay whereas Brasil uses 60 Hz, thus one of the reasons for this cable.  This "frequency issue" is the fault of the English in the 19th century...seriously...go look it up.]
"Comparison of Costs and Benefits for DC and AC Transmission," PI. J. P. Stovall, ORNL Report 6204, February 1987. [This is a great document which we used in the EPRI e-pipe study and which was underwritten by PECO, ConEd and BPA back in the days before deregulation. Be sure to check out Alan Wolsky's more recent tome as well which includes superconductivity.]
HVDC Interties in Japan [Map and specs of the 50-60 Hz back-to-backs in Japan.  Again, blame the English for this conundrum.]
"Solid DC Submarine Cable Insulated with PPLP (Polypropylene Laminated Cable)," R. Hata, Sumitomo Bakun Submarine 2005 Cable Project Proposal  [An interesting proposal by Sumitomo to build a 400 mile submarine cable from the Bakun hydro project in Malaysia to Indonesia and an equivalent to the Philippines, whose cost would be offset by carbon credits under Kyoto.  It is opposed by environmental groups because it would require more dam construction in the Bakun National Park.]
ABB Three Gorges Web Site [ABB has won the HVDC transmission contract for wheeling the 18 GW from Three Gorges to the industrial east coast of Chine.]

Back to Bibliography

Superconductivity at EPRI

SuperGrid White Paper [A slick brochure handout describing the project]
SuperGrid Functional Characteristics [Describes the overall technical specifications for two embodiments, 1) SuperSuburb, loosely based on the electricity and transportation requirements of a Silicon Valley community such as San Jose, and 2) SuperTie, a 10 GW bi-directions cross-continental SuperCable to effect diurnal trading between California and an Atlantic Seaboard "California Equivalent."]
SuperGrid Executive Presentation [A massive PowerPoint file (11 MB) for use by EPRI executives and members.  It contains material from just about every SuperGrid talk I've given over the past 5 years]
EPRI Program 122: Power Delivery Applications for Superconductivity  [Web site for the non-SuperGrid EPRI superconductivity program involving SMES, FCL and system impact projects.]

Back to Bibliography

Room Temperature Superconductivity

F. London, Superfluids, 1950
"Possibility of Synthesizing an Organic Superconductor," W. A. Little, Phys. Rev. 134, A1416 (1964). [In this paper, Little examines and elaborates a speculation by F. London that macromolecules might exhibit superfluid-like properties in the context of the BSC model formulated a few years earlier.  However, in the molecular structure proposed by Little, excitons on polarizable side group molecules replace phonons as the "boson glue" pairing carriers on a conducting polymer backbone. Curiously, Bill speculates that such a structure might be capable of self-replication or "reproduction."]
"Superconductivity at Room Temperature," W. A. Little, Scientific American 212, 21 (1965). [This was the paper that inspired Rick Greene and myself to begin our (to date unsuccessful) search for the realization of Bill's model in charge-transfer and polymer organics.  You can't always get what you want...go to SuperTunes below]
"Dynamic Effective Electron-Electron Interaction in the Vicinity of a Polarizable Molecule," W. A. Little and H. Gutfreund, Phys. Rev. B 4, 817 (1971).  [Numerical calculation of the spatial, but not momentum, dependence of the electron-exciton coupling.]
"Proposed Model of a High-Temperature Excitonic Superconductor," D. Davis, H. Gutfreund, and W. A. Little, Phys. Rev. B 13, 4766 (1976).  [The bottom line is that a very particular exciton-fermion coupling k-space dispersion is required to favor superconducting pairing over dimerization into a static Peierls-Froehlich state.]
V. L. Ginzburg, Usp. Fiz. Nauk 101, 185 (1970) [Sov. Phys. Usp. 13,335 (1970)].
"Model for an Exciton Mechanism of Superconductivity," D. Allender, J. Bray and J. Bardeen, Phys. Rev. B 7, 1020 (1973). [Speculation that carries at a metal-semiconductor interface may couple to excitons in the semiconductor leading to a Little-like pairing (curiously there is no reference to any of Little's papers).  Many have searched for this effect, and none (reproducible) have been found.]
"Comment on 'Model for an Exciton Mechanism of Superconductivity'," J. C. Inkson and P. W. Anderson, Phys. Rev. B 8, 4429  (1973). [Claims a technical error was made by ABB.]
"Comment on 'Model for an Exciton Mechanism of Superconductivity' -- A Reply," D. Allender, J. Bray and J. Bardeen, Phys. Rev. B 8, 4433 (1973). [Asserts the IA model does not correspond to theirs. Still no clear experimental one way or the other.]
V. L. Ginzburg, Sov. Phys. Usp. 34,283 (1991)].
June 2005 Notre Dame Workshop on the Possibility of RTSC
"Design for a Room Temperature Superconductor," W. E. Pickett, BES Workshop on Superconductivity, May 2006.  [Better bone up on Diophantine problems before reading this.  A review of Fibonacci sequences may be useful as well. I am NOT kidding!]
"Researchers Find Extraordinarily High Temperature Superconductivity in Bio-Inspired Nanopolymer," Paul M. Grant, Physics Today, May 1998. [My whimsical SciFi essay covering the great discovery in 2028 of an embodiment of Bill Little's model of exciton mediated superconductivity. You eventually "get what you need." (see SuperTunes)]

Back to Bibliography



Global Climate Change

Recently, my 15 year old son took a week long summer course in public speaking held at UC Berkeley.  At their "final exam," each of the 30+ students was free to hold forth on any subject of their choice.  More than half chose some aspect of global climate change...but few were aware of the scientific evidence, pro or can, that anthropogenic emissions might be the cause!

"Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb," J Hansen, Scientific American, March 2004, p.68.    [This article argues the source of the currently observed global warming arises from greenhouse-gas emissions and their accrued concentration.  On the other hand, the author points out that carbon dioxide and methane levels have not reached IPCC predicted levels and that amelioration of their effects is well within reach during the 21st century.]

"How Did Humans First Alter Global Climate?," W. F. Ruddiman, Scientific American, March 2005, p.46. [This article presents an hypothesis that the invention of agriculture some eight millennia ago and the resulting methane emissions actually forestalled a cyclical ice age that would be ending in the present era.]
"Design Elements of a Mandatory Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System," P. V. Domenici and J. Bingaman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, White Paper February 2006.   ["The purpose of this document is to lay out some of the key questions and design elements of a national greenouse gas program in order to facilitate discussion ant development of consensus around a specific (future) bill." A bipartisan White Paper targeted toward a potential Congressional action defining American policy on global climate change.]


The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to designate "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors" (NIETC) and grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the power to issue construction permits within the corridors. It also grants the developer of transmission lines within a NIETC the ability to acquire rights-of-way by eminent domain.   Several large utilities have already obtained NIETC permits for the construction of high-voltage overhead lines.  This means many, if not most, of the constrained interstate corridors in the "national grid" will be addressed by conventional line and cable technologies, well before superconducting cables are considered sufficiently tested and commercially available.  Below are some links to details about NIETC and relevant technologies.

Stephen Conant's Article in Platts T&D - 30 November 2005
Aluminum Matrix Composite Conductor Technology  [A 3M reinforced overhead line conductor that can be tensioned between towers to such an extent that three times the amount of power (current) can be carried before reaching the thermal sag limit.]


There is a mutual fungibility linking hydrogen and electricity.  Each can be rather readily converted into the other via electrolysis and the fuel cell cycle, and, in principle, can be transported over long distances.  There are even "hydrogen bigots" that believe hydrogen can almost completely supplant electricity!  Moreover, hydrogen can be more easily adapted to transportation than electricity.  The relative "hydricity" mix in a Hydrogen Society will be an interesting exercise for the next generation.

Really, Really BIG Projects

"High Capacity Superconducting dc Cables" as described in my BES Applications Panel presentation are enormous construction projects.  Here are some examples of others past, present and future.

Back to Bibliography


"You Can't Always Get What You Want...," M. Jagger and K. Richards, (Let It Bleed, ca. 1969). [Both Bill Little and I want this played at our respective funerals. The legend is that Mick wanted to get a "cherry coke" at a London "chemist's" who were out of cherries and cherry syrup.  He was thus told, "You can't always get what you want."  This typifies the long search for room temperature superconductivity.  Enjoy.}
"Tomorrow," R. Seger, (ca. 1970s). [A parable on the difficulties of predicting the applications of superconductivity!]
"Roddy McCorley," Ethna Carberry, (A Ballad of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, lyrics ca. 1890).  [Nothing to do with superconductivity, although the underlying ideas that eventually explained it were developed by the Irish physicists Michael Faraday and William Thomsen.  If you ever wonder why immigrants come to America, here's home you got hung if you spoke out.]
"The Skye Boat Song," Harold Boulton, (ca. 1930s, lyrics based on a 18th Century Scottish aire).  [Relates the escape of Charles Stuart to the Isle of Skye after his disastrous defeat at the hands of the English at Culludon.  Maybe he had some members of Clan Grant on board as well. Fortunately, many Scots remained to later create rise to James Clerk Maxwell, James Dewar and Peter Higgs.]

Back to Bibliography




Front Page