Prototype high temperature superconducting technology transferred from Germany to Australia by engineering heavyweight Siemens is the exciting outcome of a three-way research and development agreement aimed at advancing the use of superconducting innovations locally.
Potential applications of the high-temperature superconductors, known as HTS, include transforming large scale motors — reducing the size and weight by a full third — through to levitation of trains, more efficient electric motors for cars, and remote power generation.
The research partnership is expected to have positive implications for an array of Australian industries, says Assistant Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy, who along with Siemens Australia Chief Executive Jeff Connolly unveiled the prototype technology in Brisbane in recent weeks.
Siemens transferred the HTS technology from Germany after agreeing to join with the Defence Science and Technology Group and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) late last year to spearhead this unique initiative.
“This first innovation launched out of our partnership gives people a clear view of the potential for more energy-efficient ships and more effective capacity utilisation. These ships will also have less environmental impact and will be cheaper to operate,” Mr. Connolly said. “It has the potential to completely change the design of Australia’s future defence maritime ships.”
Siemens invests around $7.5 Billion each year in research and development and has been operating in Australia for 144 years. “Ingenuity and innovation are our lifeblood that has kept us relevant around the world now for 170 years,” said Connolly. “However, we also know that the best developments come through willing partners who have real life applications, which is why we are so pleased to transfer our knowledge and IP in the form of a prototype HTS motor into Australia.”
HTS technologies under development in superconducting motors, generators and magnets can carry high-density currents with virtually no loss and in this way have the potential to reduce the size and weight of conventional motors by more than 30 per cent.
“This partnership … highlights the meaningful, world-changing innovation that can come from collaboration between research, the private sector and government,” said Minister Roy.
“It’s also a strong sign of the confidence in Australia’s innovation ecosystem,” he said.
The collaboration, which marks a significant step forward in Australia’s innovation journey with global partnerships, opens a pathway to more energy-efficient Australian Navy vessels, with significant reductions in size and weight for large electric machinery.
The technology may lead to less environmental impact and reduced operating costs.
It reinforces Siemens’ legacy of Australian investment and exemplifies the benefits of defence knowledge transfer.
“This is a proud moment for Siemens. We have invested over 15 years HTS knowledge from Germany and together with local industry partners we are transferring that knowledge to Australia,” Mr Connolly said.
That would help the nation revolutionise how power is used in maritime defence, shipbuilding, and transport amongst other things.
Mr. Connolly said the partnership is aligned to the Federal Government’s vision for the future of the domestic manufacturing sector to be increasingly based on local R&D.
The application of HTS technologies could renew high energy-use sectors outside defence such as power and transport, with the potential to radically transform many industries including maritime propulsion and transport drive systems, said QUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Commercialisation, Professor Arun Sharma.